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Avios vs. Tier Points: British Airways Executive Club status explained

Sept. 05, 2020
6 min read
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Many airline frequent flyer programs distinguish between miles that count toward elite status and miles that essentially are a currency that can be used to redeem for flights. Part of the reason for doing so is that airlines award multiples of actual miles flown for passengers in premium cabins or those with elite status for 'spending', but only award progress toward status based on actual miles flown.

The British Airways Executive Club (BAEC) has a split. Rather than having elite qualifying miles, BA awards Tier Points, which count toward status. And, sometimes confusingly for those new to the world of air miles, BA calls its mileage currency — i.e. the miles that are earned and can be used for spending — Avios.

What Are British Airways Avios?

British Airways renamed 'airmiles' to 'Avios' in 2011. Confusingly, Avios also became the company that administers and runs the Avios scheme, though the Avios Travel Rewards Program closed this year.

In short, Avios are the miles earned for flying, and thus the currency that customers can use for reward flights, upgrades or other things. They can be earned and redeemed on any Oneworld flights, and are based on the actual miles flown.

For heavily discounted economy-class tickets, passengers earn 25% of miles flown (always a minimum of 125), and in premium cabins, BA awards flyers a cabin bonus as well as a tier bonus (based on status in the Executive Club).

A flight from London to New York for a Blue Member earns 865 Avios in heavily discounted economy class, which is 25% of the miles flown. A Gold member would earn 4,325 Avios for the same one-way flight. At the other end of the spectrum, a Gold member flying on an expensive (and flexible) first-class ticket would earn 13,832 Avios for the flight from London to New York, which includes miles flown, a cabin bonus and a tier bonus.

Avios can be redeemed for a number of things, though we recommend redeeming them for reward flights. A Reward Flight Saver to Europe in Zone 1, which covers Berlin, Paris and Amsterdam, among others, costs 4,000 or 4,500 Avios (off-peak vs. peak pricing) and $23 one-way. Avios can also be used on other airlines.

Check out our valuations to see how we value Avios to make sure you don't miss out on maximizing your hard-earned Avios.

Image courtesy of British Airways
Image courtesy of British Airways

What Are British Airways Tier Points?

British Airways awards Tier Points for all flights taken on British Airways or any of its Oneworld partners, and these count toward status in the Executive Club. The number of Tier Points awarded depends on the length of the flight and the class flown. For short flights of less than 2,000 miles, the minimum Tier Points earned is 5. At the other end of the spectrum, flying first class on flights of more than 6,000 miles earns 360 Tier Points per sector.

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Short economy-class flights can earn, 5, 10, 15 or 20 Tier Points, and this depends on the fare class booked, and essentially the price — the more expensive the ticket, the more likely you are to earn more Tier Points.

Short-haul business-class flights of less than 2,000 miles typically earn 40 Tier Points for each sector, though there are some short-haul plus routes (such as Helsinki, Athens and Malta) that earn 80 Tier Points.

Long-haul economy-class fares earn between 20 and 120 Tier Points — again, depending on the fare class. Club World long-haul business-class flights earn between 140 and 160 Tier Points, while first class earns a minimum of 210 on long-haul flights, 240 on longer flights and as many as 360 Tier Points for a one-way flight to Sydney. (Keep in mind that the tactic for maximizing Tier Points is to book that flight as London (LHR) to Singapore (SIN) and SIN to Sydney (SYD) on separate flight numbers, rather than the LHR-SYD flight. The separate flight numbers would boost Tier Points from 720 for the return flight to 900. Stay tuned for more information on how to maximize your earnings with Tier Point running.)

Once a year, Tier Points balances are reset to zero and earning for the next year starts from anew. BA does not use calendar years, but instead, each membership year is based on when someone joined the British Airways Executive Club (it always comes on the 8th of the month).

So, in short, Tier Points are awarded for Oneworld flights based on class and length of flight, and those Tier Points count toward status.

(Photo by Daniel Ross/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Daniel Ross/The Points Guy.)

What Is British Airways Executive Club Status?

As outlined, Tier Points count toward status, and there are four different status levels:

  • Blue — The level where everyone starts
  • Bronze — Achieved after 300 Tier Points earned in a membership year
  • Silver — Achieved after 600 Tier Points earned in a membership year
  • Gold — Achieved after 1,500 Tier Points earned in a membership year.

Like some other airlines, the British Airways Executive Club also has two additional levels of status that aren't published:

  • Gold Guest List — Achieved after 5,000 Tier Points earned in a membership year and maintained in subsequent years by earning 3,000 Tier Points in a membership year
  • Concorde Room Card — Achieved after 5,000 Tier Points or more in a membership year.

Requalifying for status with British Airways requires the same amount of Tier Points, with the exception of Gold Guest List. However, BA has a 'soft landing' for members who don't retain the same level of status in the following membership year. If a member fails to maintain their status, they'll slip to the level directly below. For example, a Gold member would only drop to Silver if they failed to requalify for Gold, no matter how many (or few) Tier Points they earned.

Status brings many benefits. Some can help save money, such as additional baggage allowance, while some are more intangible like priority check-in, lounge access and priority boarding.

British Airways Concorde Room Lounge / Image by Christian Kramer / The Points Guy
British Airways Concorde Room Lounge. (Photo by Christian Kramer / The Points Guy.)

Bottom Line

When it comes to the British Airways Executive Club, it can be confusing for a newcomer. However, by understanding the difference between the Avios program and Tier Points, you're well on your way to mastering the program.

Featured image by Getty Images

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Apply for American Express® Gold Card
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Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
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    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees