Earning and Redeeming Avios points

Avios Points

What is the Avios loyalty programme?

The Avios loyalty programme is quite simply a way to collect points with your everyday spending and then redeem these points in exchange for holidays and travel experiences. The most popular way to redeem points is on flights or upgrades, hotels, car hire, experiences and activities can points can now also be used on cases of wine, beer, champagne and spirits from Laithwaites.

If you’ve ever wondered how or why anyone pays so much for First Class flights, it’s worth noting that they’re often purchased using frequent flyer points!

How do you get started collecting Avios points?

There are so many ways to collect Avios points but the primary way is to collect points when you fly with particular airlines.

You will begin by joining one of the frequent flyer programmes connected to Avios.

There are currently four to choose from:

  1. British Airways Executive Club
  2. AerClub - Aer Lingus
  3. Iberia Plus
  4. Vueling Club

It’s worth signing up to the frequent flyer programme of the airline you fly with most but I also recommend signing up to the British Airways Executive Club, regardless of whether or not you fly with BA. The British Airways Executive Club makes it very easy to collect Avios points with your everyday spending, making it much easier and faster to collect your points.

You can sign up to all four programmes if you wish and you can move your Avios points around so you could earn them with one airline and redeem them with another.

How many points will you earn with each flight?

There are a few variables when it comes to how many Avios you earn when you fly. It can depend on which airline you fly with, how far you fly, the cabin you fly in, the type of ticket you hold and your Executive Club tier. 

Generally, you will earn a minimum of 0.25 Avios points for each mile you fly in economy class. When flying in Premium Economy you will earn a minimum of 1 Avios for every mile, in Business Class it’s 1.5 Avios and 2.5 Avios in First Class.

How many points do you need to book a flight?

The number of Avios points you’re going to need for a flight can vary massively depending on the destination and demand for that flight. At the lower end of the scale, you will need about 17,000 Avios points for a return flight to Paris. It’s about 50,000 Avios points for a return flight to New York and it will be about 122,000 Avios points for a return flight to Sydney.

BA Flights
Source: Arkin Si / Unsplash.

Combining Avios points and cash purchases

If you don’t have enough Avios points to purchase a flight then you can combine your points and pay some of the balance in cash. 

Your Avios points will expire if you don’t spend at least one Avios point every 36 months so this can be a good way to ensure you don’t lose those hard-earned points.

How to collect Avios points without flying

If you aren’t a frequent traveller then you’re probably doing the maths and realising it’s going to take you a long time to collect enough points for a flight! Thankfully, there are plenty of other ways to collect Avios points that don’t involve flying.

You can collect Avios points with everyday spending like groceries, fuel and online shopping. You can collect up to 15 Avios for every £1 you spend at over 1,100 online retailers! These online retailers include most of the big stores you probably shop with regularly such as John Lewis, Apple, ASOS, Currys, Argos, Just Eat and Screwfix and they do include some lesser-known stores too.

Let’s say you wanted to buy the new top-of-the-range MacBook Pro, if you bought it through the BA shopping portal and spent £3,299 on your new laptop, that would lead to 19,794 Avios points. Those Avios points could then be used on a flight to Paris!

Just make sure you shop via the British Airways Avios eStore. Make sure you login and then click through to the relevant store to ensure you collect your points. It does add an extra step for your online shopping but it’s worth it for those extra points, particularly on big purchases.

How to boost your Avios points with credit cards

One of the best ways to earn tens of thousands of bonus Avios points is by signing up to credit cards. Some credit cards offer enormous bonuses if you sign up and spend a specific amount on that card within a certain timeframe. 

The American Express Preferred Rewards Gold credit card is often a great example offering 20,000-30,000 Avios points when you sign up and spend £3,000 within three months.

If you’re planning a big purchase, whether it’s a new sofa, a holiday, a car or perhaps a big present or Christmas shopping, be sure to put those big expenses on your credit card and claim the Avios points.

British Airways American Express have a range of credit card options. The standard credit card holds no annual fee and you’ll get 5,000 Avios points if you spend £1,000 in the first three months. Big spenders may prefer the British Airways American Express® Accelerating Business Card which has a £250 annual fee but members receive 30,000 Avios points if they spend £5,000 in the first three months.

It’s worth noting that you need to be a ‘new’ AmEx customer so these sign-up bonuses won’t apply if you’ve taken out an American Express credit card in the past 24 months.

When you’ve got your new credit card be sure to redirect as much of your spending to that card as possible. Some household bills can be paid using credit cards so be sure to check them all out and redirect where you can.

A word of warning

While credit cards are a brilliant way to convert your everyday spending into Avios points (and ultimately free flights!) they should not be used as an excuse to overspend. The fees for late-payments on many credit cards can be extremely high, so if you can’t pay off your balance each month you’ll end up paying a lot in fees. These fees can ultimately cost more than your flights ever would, making the careful Avios collection pointless.

Spend wisely and never spend more than you have.

Collect Avios with Nectar

Many of us will already have a Nectar card. This is a loyalty card scheme used by Sainsbury’s, Esso, eBay, GWR, Avanti West Coast, Argos and Dulux.

You can convert your Nectar Card points into Avios points. This can be done when you reach 400 Nectar points which will be converted into 250 Avios points.

This can be a slow and steady way to collect Avios points but it’s brilliant for those of us who would be spending money at these stores anyway. If you spend £100 every week on food from Sainsbury’s, fuel from Esso or Sainsbury’s and a GWR train ticket, your Nectar card points will clock up quickly! 

It’s well worth downloading the Nectar app to search for offers. Within the app you can save any offers you like the look of and then when you buy them, (either online or in-store) you’ll get extra points. The offers change regularly but, to give you an example, this week you’ll get 100 points in Sainsbury’s when you buy any cereal, 50 points when you buy eggs and 40 points when you buy bananas. These are items many of us would buy anyway so you might as well collect extra points while you’re there.

What’s the best way to maximise your Avios points?

While it is possible to redeem your Avios points and put them towards hotels, car hire, travel experiences and alcohol, this isn’t the best use of your points. Pound for pound, it isn’t good value and you’ll get much more from your points if you use them for flights.

Unless your points are about to expire or you have so many Avios points you don’t know what to do with them, do not use them for anything but flights!

The best way to maximise your Avios points is usually on Premium Economy, Business and First Class flights. They can be used on Economy flights too but you will still need to pay the taxes which can be as much as the base fare for the ticket.

If you’re looking for the cheapest economy flights possible within Europe, you will probably notice that it’s cheaper to fly with a budget airline such as Ryanair than it is to fly with BA, even when you have Avios points to redeem.

Avios FAQs

How do avios points work?

Avios points work by signing up to a frequent flyer programme (usually British Airways Executive Club) and collecting points each time you fly with British Airways, oneworld® and other partner airlines. You can also collect points when you book hotels and on your everyday spending, like groceries, fuel and online shopping.

The points you collect can then be redeemed to give discounts or fully pay for your travel expenses such as flights, flight upgrades, hotels, car hire and travel experiences.

Which airlines give Avios points?

Do avios points expire?

How to collect to Avios

Are Avios points transferable?

Where can I spend Avios points?

How best to spend Avios points?

What airlines can you spend Avios on?

Can Avios points be used for hotels?

Can Avios be used on other airlines?

About the Author

Monica is a travel writer based in Wales and runs The Travel Hack, a blog sharing tips and advice to get out and explore the world.

Check out The Travel Hack.