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Quick points: Save on fuel surcharges by booking awards through partners

April 22, 2022
6 min read
British Airways 777 Club Suite
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Beginners in the points and miles space might assume that they should always transfer credit card points to the program of the airline they're flying on. However, thanks to airline alliances and partnerships, there are plenty of times when you'd be better off transferring credit card points to a partner program and booking the flight you want there.

In this edition of Quick Points, we're discussing how you can pay lower fuel surcharges by booking awards through partners. There are a number of programs like Air Canada Aeroplan, Avianca LifeMiles and United MileagePlus that don't impose surcharges at all. But today we'll focus specifically on long-haul British Airways awards and see how you might be better off transferring your points to and booking your flights through Cathay Pacific Asia Miles than British Airways Executive Club.

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Background

(Photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto/Getty Images)

In addition to already high U.K. Air Passenger Duty fees, British Airways tacks hefty fuel surcharges onto its transatlantic flights. These fees and surcharges are charged at a fixed rate based on the cabin in which you're traveling. Business and first-class passengers pay higher fees than economy class passengers.

It's not uncommon to see one-way premium cabin awards on flights originating from the U.K. with at least $700 in taxes, fees and surcharges. Of course, that's in addition to all of the miles that you're redeeming.

While there's no way around the U.K. Air Passenger Duty fees, you can leverage the Asia Miles program to book premium British Airways awards and partially avoid British Airways' fuel surcharges.

Let's run through a round-trip example in each cabin and see whether you're better off booking through Asia Miles or British Airways Avios.

Economy: O'Hare International Airport (ORD) to Heathrow Airport (LHR)

British Airways Executive Club

Miles: 40,000 Avios.
Taxes, fees and surcharges: $651.33.

(Screenshot courtesy of britishairways.com)

Asia Miles

Miles: 54,000 Asia Miles.
Taxes, fees and surcharges: $626.

Verdict: Book with British Airways to save 14,000 points.

(Screenshot courtesy of book.asiamiles.com)

Related: A review of British Airways’ A350 in economy

Premium economy: John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to LHR

(Photo by Caroline Tanner)

British Airways Executive Club

Miles: 80,000 Avios.
Taxes, fees and surcharges: $984.57.

Asia Miles

Miles: 86,000 Asia Miles.
Taxes, fees and surcharges: $825.

Verdict: It depends. Book with Asia Miles to save $160, or book with British Airways to save 6,000 points.

Related: A review of British Airways World Traveller Plus on the refurbished 777

Business class: San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to LHR

British Airways Executive Club

Miles: 150,000 Avios.
Taxes, fees and surcharges: $1,984.57.

(Screenshot courtesy of britishairways.com)

Asia Miles

Miles: 150,000 Asia Miles.
Taxes, fees and surcharges: $1,150.

Verdict: Definitely book with Asia Miles.

(Screenshot courtesy of book.asiamiles.com)

Related: Reviewing British Airways’ business class on the 787-9

First class: Dulles International Airport (IAD) to LHR

(Photo by Nicky Kelvin/The Points Guy)

British Airways Avios

Miles: 160,000 Avios.
Taxes, fees and surcharges: $1,784.57.

Asia Miles

Miles: 174,000 Asia Miles.
Taxes, fees and surcharges: $787.

Verdict: Definitely book with Asia Miles.

Related: A Review of British Airways first class on the A380

Earning Asia Miles

You can transfer points to Asia Miles from American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One and Citi ThankYou Rewards. If you're new to the points and miles world, you can quickly earn these types of rewards by picking up cards such as the following:

  • The Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $6,000 on purchases within the first six months of card membership. Earn 5 points per dollar spent on flights booked directly or on American Express Travel on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year, then 1 point per dollar; 5 points per dollar on prepaid hotel bookings with American Express Travel; 1 point per dollar on other eligible purchases. ($695 annual fee; see rates and fees.)
  • American Express® Gold Card: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards Points after you use your new card to make $4,000 in purchases in your first six months of card membership. Earn 4 points per dollar at restaurants, 4 points per dollar (on up to $25,000 per calendar year; then 1 per dollar) at U.S. supermarkets, 3 points per dollar on flights booked directly with the airline or on American Express Travel and 1 point per dollar on other eligible purchases. ($250 annual fee; see rates and fees.)
  • Citi Premier® Card: Earn 80,000 ThankYou bonus points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening. Earn 3 points per dollar on air travel, hotels and at restaurants, gas stations and supermarkets; and 1 point per dollar on other purchases. ($95 annual fee)
  • Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card: Earn 75,000 bonus miles after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Earn 2 miles per dollar on all purchases. ($395 annual fee.)

Bottom line

While you might be better off booking British Airways economy flights with British Airways Avios, as we begin to move into more premium cabins, the Asia Miles program becomes a clear winner. Despite there being no way to fully avoid taxes and fees on British Airways-operated flights, Asia Miles can offer as much as $1,000 in savings on select flights.

Some of the Asia Miles bookings will require slightly more miles, but if your goal is to spend as little possible out of pocket, Asia Miles is your go-to for long-haul premium British Airways award flights.

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Gold card, click here.

Featured image by (Photo by Ben Smithson/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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1 - 3X points
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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.

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
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Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
Best starter travel card
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

3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • 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

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases