How to Earn British Airways Avios Points
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
I've done a few posts recently (here) about how useful British Airways Avios are for family travel when you use them to fly domestic (or quasi-domestic to Canada, Caribbean, etc.) short-ish routes on BA partners like American Airlines and Alaska Airlines. They come with some amazing hidden powers (AA Priority Access, potential free checked bags on AA, and more), plus there are no fees for last minute reservations and very affordable cancellation penalties. I have been using Avios since they were introduced about a year and a half ago to fly British Airways partners, but just finally used them last week to fly on an actual British Airways flight, and that worked out quite well. I don't recommend necessarily flying on Avios from the US to Europe on British Airways as they charge some insane fees, but it was just fine for an intra-European flight on BA. Basically, they can be a very valuable type of point to have on hand in certain situations.
Of course, to be able to use Avios you have to first have them. So, this post is dedicated to some of the easy ways to rack up Avios in a hurry.
The fastest and easiest way to rack up Avios in a hurry is via rewards credit cards. Avios are unique in that you can get them from so many different credit cards.
British Airways Visa Signature Card (EDIT: Expired) - this card gives 50,000 Avios after spending $1,000 within the first three months. If you are a big spender it also awards 25,000 bonus Avios after you make $10,000 in purchases within the first year of account opening and an additional 25,000 bonus Avios after you make an additional $10,000 in purchases also within the first year of account opening. There is a $95 annual fee. In addition to the bonus miles from the sign-up bonus, you earn 1.25 points per dollar charged on the card.
Chase Ultimate Rewards - Since British Airways is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, that means that the points you get from the sign-up bonus, everyday spending, and points earned via the online Ultimate Rewards shopping portal with the Ink Bold Business Card, Ink Plus Business Card, or the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card can transfer 1:1 to British Airways.
American Express Membership Rewards - British Airways is also a transfer partner of the Membership Rewards program at a 1:1 ratio, however for the last few years there have been several transfer bonuses as high as 50% from MR to BA. That would mean that if you are transferring 50,000 Membership Reward points during a 50% bonus, you end up with 75,000 Avios. This is how I have racked up most of my Avios.
Starwood Preferred Guest Amex - The SPG program allows you to transfer SPG points to Avios at a rate of 20,000 SPG points to 25,000 Avios. You don't need a credit card to earn SPG points - you can do it via the SPG program. Personally I love my SPG points for use at SPG hotels, but this is technically an option.
Like many airlines and hotels, there is an online e-shopping portal that you can use to shop at retailers like drugstore.com, Jcrew, Home Depot, Nordstroms, and more. Some current example payout rates include:
Pottery Barn 4x
You can purchase up to 24,000 Avios annually from British Airways. This is kinda pricey, but there is currently up to a 25% bonus if you purchase 24K miles. Your 30,000 Avios (24K + 6K bonus) will set you back $658 or about 2.28 cents per point. That is more than I would want to purchase Avios for personally, but as always it will vary from person to person as to whether it makes sense in any individual situation.
You can also earn Avios when you stay at hotels, via Avis car rentals, or when you fly on British Airways or one of their OneWorld partners. You can also transfer in Avios from hotel partners, but many of the transfer rates (other than SPG which was mentioned previously) are pretty bad.
I personally get most of my Avios from the Membership Rewards program during transfer bonuses, but about a year ago also enjoyed a 36x promo from the online BA shopping portal at Nordstrom's. I am also seriously considering getting the Chase British Airways Visa for the sign-up bonus as well as some of the other built-in perks like the "Travel Together" perk. While in Europe recently I also noticed you can get Avios if you use some of the airport foreign currency exchange desks. I don't use those services personally as I typically get a better deal just using an ATM, but if you happen to use those exchange desks anyway, then you get get Avios that way as well.
I'm liking Avios more and more everyday, so would love to hear if you have any additional suggestions on ways to rack up Avios!
Disclosure: I do receive a commission if you are approved for a credit card using one of my affiliate links. Some of the links is this post are to my affiliate links. As always, thanks for your support.