Save money on flights using your credit card, plus six tips to turbo-boost your Avios

Using Avios points to book flights is a good money-saving hack. But how can you collect enough points to redeem against your flight to a far-flung destination?

The content of this article was relevant at the time of publishing. Circumstances change continuously and caution should therefore be exercised when relying upon any content contained within this article.

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After two years of pandemic travel restrictions, foreign holidays are finally back on the agenda. You may be dreaming of travelling to far-flung destinations for some much-needed sun. But the recent cost-of-living squeeze may also have put a dent in your personal finances. So, if you’re looking to save money, booking flights using Avios points is an option well worth considering.

Here are six tips to help you fly for less by maximising your Avios balance.

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What’s an Avios credit card?

Avios credit cards allow you to earn Avios points for every pound you spend. I have a British Airways American Express Premium Plus card that earns 1.5 points per £1 spent (and three points per £1 spent with British Airways).

Cardholders also earn a companion voucher for each year in which they spend £10,000. Companion vouchers are a good perk, allowing you to book two flights for the price of one. You use your Avios for the first flight, plus the taxes for both flights. That said, the card costs £250 in annual fees, finding reward flights can be time-consuming and taxes can be expensive in the premium cabins.

How can you earn more Avios?

If you’re looking to build up your stash of Avios, here are my top six tips for maximising your balance:

1. Welcome offers from credit cards

It’s worth taking a look at the various welcome offers for Avios credit cards. For example, the British Airways American Express Premium Plus card currently offers a 25,000-point bonus if you spend £3,000 in your first three months.

Alternatively, one of our top-rated credit cards, the British Airways American Express card has no annual fee. It awards one point per £1 spent plus a 5,000-point bonus if you spend £1,000 in the first three months.

2. Shopping via the British Airways eStore

The BA eStore allows you to double up Avios, by awarding points per pound spent with certain retailers, in addition to the points on your credit card.

The BA eStore is a similar concept to cashback websites such as Quidco and Topcashback. You simply visit the BA shopping website page, then click through to the retailer you want to purchase from.  

How many Avios can you earn? Well, up to 15 points per £1 spent with over 1,100 online retailers on the eStore. These include John Lewis, M&S, ASOS, Argos, Nike and Adidas.

And it’s not just shops. You can also earn Avios on a wide range of other purchases, including hotels, travel and mobile phone contracts. For example, you can currently earn eight points per £1 spent at Booking.com and 12 points per £1 spent at Hotels.com.

I’ve earned around 20,000 Avios through the BA eStore in the last year, partly by timing larger purchases when they’re running promotions. The downside is that some transactions are declined (rightly or wrongly) so you can’t rely on the points being awarded.

3. Converting Nectar points into Avios

BA recently announced a partnership with Nectar, giving the option of converting 400 Nectar points into 250 Avios (and vice versa). This allows you to earn extra Avios when shopping with retailers such as Sainsbury’s, Esso, Argos and eBay.

4. Completing surveys

BA has partnered with e-Rewards and Rewards for Thoughts to allow members to earn Avios for completing surveys. They typically offer a 600-point bonus for completing your first survey and then 25-150 points for each survey thereafter.

I’ve completed Rewards for Thoughts surveys on occasions, but they can be quite tedious and time-consuming for the number of points awarded.

5. Other Avios bonuses

You might like to keep an eye out for other Avios promotions, which currently include:

6. Pool your Avios with your household

You can set up a BA household account with up to six people you live with, including children. This enables you to share your Avios with family and friends.

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Where can your Avios take you?

Once you’ve collected your pot of Avios, how far can you fly? Well, it depends on whether you’re flying on peak or off-peak dates. For example, you’ll still qualify for BA’s off-peak pricing if you fly on a Monday to Wednesday in the school summer holidays.

Looking at a couple of examples, a peak return to Barcelona would cost 25,500 Avios in economy and 44,500 in business. Or an off-peak return to Los Angeles costs 60,000 in economy and 125,000 in business.

Although you still have to pay the taxes, booking Avios flights can be a great way of flying further for less.

Should you invest, the value of your investment may rise or fall and your capital is at risk. Before investing, your individual circumstances should be considered so you should consider taking independent financial advice.

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