The best ways to earn British Airways Avios
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One of the most important skills that separates rookie award travelers from the points pros is their willingness and ability to work with loyalty programs from international carriers. Not only will you find many more sweet spots if you look outside the U.S., but you can also do well adding a distance-based award chart to your repertoire to complement the mostly zone-based (or dynamic) award pricing that U.S. carriers offer.
Today we’re going to take a look at the best ways to earn British Airways Avios. Avios is also the mileage currency of Aer Lingus and Iberia (both of which are owned by IAG, the same company that owns British Airways), but in this post we’re going to focus mainly on British Airways Avios and BA’s Executive Club loyalty program.
In many ways it doesn’t matter whether you earn your Avios with British Airways or Iberia, because you can transfer Avios between your different IAG frequent flyer accounts as long as the account information matches up. Let’s dive in!
Earning Avios with credit cards
Perhaps the most direct way to earn a meaningful number of Avios is by applying for the British Airways Visa Signature Card. This card, which is issued by Chase and therefore subject to the 5/24 rule, is currently offering new applicants a tiered sign-up bonus of up to 100,000 Avios. You can earn 50,000 Avios after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months, and another 50,000 Avios after spending $20,000 on purchases total in the first year of cardmembership.
TPG values Avios at 1.5 cents each making the full bonus worth $1,500, though you’ll also earn at least 20,000 additional Avios (worth $300) from the minimum spending requirement. The British Airways Visa Signature has a $95 annual fee and earns 3x Avios on purchases with British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia, and Level, 2x on hotel accommodations and 1x everywhere else. It also offers a companion certificate valid in any cabin of travel after spending $30,000 each calendar year, which can be great to stack with the first year welcome bonus.
Of course savvy TPG readers know that we usually recommend sticking with cards that earn transferable points because of the added flexibility they offer, and this strategy still applies if you’re trying to accrue Avios. British Airways is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy, making Avios among the easiest miles to earn.
Points transfer from Chase and Amex at a 1:1 ratio (in addition to occasional transfer bonuses of up to 40%), while Marriott points transfer to Avios at a 3:1 ratio with a 5,000-Avios bonus for every 60,000 Marriott points transferred. The following cards all offer strong welcome bonuses that you could easily convert to Avios:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: Earn 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
- Ink Business Preferred Credit Card: Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first three months. Check to see if you’re targeted for a 100,000-point welcome offer through CardMatch (offer subject to change at any time). Terms apply.
Earn Avios by flying
In addition to earning Avios through your credit cards, you can also earn them by crediting flights on Oneworld or partner airlines to your British Airways Executive Club account. Flights on British Airways metal will accrue Avios at the following rates, based on your fare class:
|Cabin & fare class||Avios awarded||Minimum Avios|
|Economy Lowest (G,O,Q)||25% of miles flown||125|
|Economy Low (K,L,M,N,S,V)||50% of miles flown||250|
|Economy Flexible (Y,B,H)||100% of miles flown||500|
|Premium Economy Lowest (E,T)||100% of miles flown||500|
|Premium Economy Flexible (W)||150% of miles flown||750|
|Business Lowest (R,I)||150% of miles flown||750|
|Business Flexible (J,C,D)||250% of miles flown||1,250|
|First Lowest (A)||250% of miles flown||1,250|
|First Flexible (F)||300% of miles flown||1,500|
In addition to the above chart, British Airways elite members will earn bonus Avios at the following rates:
- Bronze: 25% extra Avios
- Silver: 50% extra Avios
- Gold: 100% extra Avios
U.S.-based travelers will also be happy to know that they can earn Avios by crediting flights on American Airlines or Alaska Airlines to British Airways. Even though Alaska Airlines isn’t a member of Oneworld or any major alliance, it has an individual partnership with British Airways that allows for reciprocal mileage earning and redemption. Avios accrual follows a distance-based chart for both carriers, and the good news is that British Airways treats American Airlines basic economy fares (B class) the same as other deeply-discounted tickets when it comes to earning rates as shown below.
Earn Avios with retail partners
Like most major airlines, British Airways also has a number of shopping and retail partners that allow you to earn extra Avios. British Airways has its own online shopping portal which you can use to earn bonus Avios from many online merchants, with some stores offering 10 Avios per dollar or more, a return of 15% based on TPG’s valuations.
You can also earn on select car rentals, hotel stays, vacation packages, and other shopping purchases like The Economist or certain wine sellers. Make sure to check out the British Airways website for a full list of retail partners.
British Airways offers a plethora of different options for travelers looking to top up their Avios balances, including a cobranded credit card, point transfers from popular programs like Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards and the ability to earn from flights and eligible shopping partners. Given how easy it is for the average person to earn Avios, if you haven’t already, it would be worth spending some time learning the ins and outs of this program to see how it might advance your future travel goals.
Featured photo by OLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty Images.
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