One of the most important skills that separates rookie award travelers from the points pros is their willingness and ability to use international airline loyalty programs. Not only will you find many more sweet spots if you look outside of U.S. carriers, but you can also do well adding a distance-based award chart to your repertoire to complement the dynamic award pricing that U.S. carriers now offer (much to the disappointment of many).
While there are several international currencies to consider, one that should be on your radar is Avios, the points currency used by the following loyalty programs:
- British Airways Executive Club.
- Iberia Plus.
- Aer Lingus AerClub.
- Qatar Airways Privilege Club.
Avios can be transferred between any of these programs at a ratio of 1:1, so they are theoretically worth the same in each program. However, one of the best programs for earning Avios is the Executive Club, as British Airways is the largest full-service airline in the United Kingdom and flies to more destinations in the U.S. than any other European carrier. As a result, you’ll have lots of opportunities to easily accrue Avios.
Flying isn’t the only way to earn Avios, though. Here are all the best ways to rack up British Airways Avios.
Earn Avios by flying
You can earn Avios by crediting British Airways flights, plus flights operated by Oneworld carriers and other partner airlines to your British Airways Executive Club account.
Flights on British Airways will accrue Avios at the following rates, based on your fare class:
|Cabin and 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.
You can earn (and redeem) Avios on these Oneworld alliance airlines:
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The earning dates differ slightly from airline to airline. However, U.S.-based travelers will be happy to know that they can earn Avios by crediting American Airlines or Alaska Airlines flights to British Airways.
British Airways treats American Airlines’ basic economy fares (B class) like other deeply discounted tickets for earning rates, as shown below.
Similarly, British Airways awards Avios for Alaska Airlines’ Saver fares (X class) — the airline’s version of basic economy — at the same rate as other deeply discounted tickets.
Earn Avios with credit cards
As is the case with most airline currencies, Avios can be earned via spending with the right credit card.
Avios-branded credit cards
The easiest way to earn a meaningful number of Avios for everyday spending is by applying for the British Airways Visa Signature Card. This card offers new applicants 75,000 Avios after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening an account. TPG values Avios at 1.5 cents each, making the bonus worth $1,125.
The British Airways Visa Signature Card has a $95 annual fee and earns 3 Avios per dollar spent on purchases with British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia and Level. Plus, you can earn 2 Avios per dollar spent on hotel accommodations when purchased directly with the hotel. All other purchases earn 1 Avios per dollar spent.
Remember that Avios can easily be transferred 1:1 between the different programs that use this currency, so if you’re not interested in the British Airways Visa Signature Card, you can instead sign up for a different credit card that earns Avios, such as the Aer Lingus Visa Signature Card or the Iberia Visa Signature Card. Both offer the same low annual fee, generous earning rate and welcome bonus of 75,000 Avios.
Transferrable rewards cards
Savvy TPG readers know we usually recommend sticking with cards that earn transferable points because of their added flexibility. This strategy still applies if you’re trying to accrue Avios. British Airways is a transfer partner of Capital One, Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, Bilt Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy, making Avios one of the easiest currencies to earn.
Points transfer from Chase, Bilt 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. You’ll also get a 5,000-Avios bonus for every 60,000 Marriott points transferred.
The following cards all currently offer strong welcome bonuses that you could easily convert to Avios:
- American Express® Gold Card: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first six months of account opening. Terms apply.
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $6,000 on purchases within the first six months of card membership. Check to see if you’re targeted for a higher welcome offer through CardMatch (offer subject to change at any time). Terms apply.
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 120,000 bonus points after spending $15,000 on eligible purchases on the card in the first three months of card membership.
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Earn 75,000 bonus miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening.
- Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card: Earn 75,000 bonus miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: Earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
- Citi Premier® Card (see rates and fees): Earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
- Ink Business Preferred Credit Card: Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
British Airways Executive Club will also sell you Avios directly.
While purchasing at full price is usually far more than we value Avios at, the price is regularly discounted through bonus offers. You might also want to consider the monthly subscription service; it allows you to purchase Avios for under 1.3 cents each.
Earn Avios with retail partners
Like most major airlines, British Airways also has several shopping and retail partners that allow you to earn extra Avios.
British Airways shopping portal
British Airways has its own shopping portal, which you can use to earn bonus Avios from many online merchants. Some stores offer 10 Avios (or more) per dollar spent, netting you a return of 15% based on TPG’s valuations.
British Airways’ partnership with Heathrow Rewards allows you to earn Avios when you shop, dine or park at London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR). You’ll earn 1 point per British pound ($1.25) spent at most shops. You can then convert these Heathrow Rewards to Avios at a 1:1 ratio.
If you’re booking a vacation package, you may want to search the British Airways Vacations website first since it can earn you an extra 1 Avios per dollar spent. British Airways partners with several major hotel chains, as well as Hotels.com, Kaligo and Rocketmiles.
By reserving hotels and vacation packages directly through British Airways or one of its partners, you can earn Avios for other vacation expenses. The program even partners with Airbnb, meaning you can earn 2 Avios per dollar spent on vacation rentals.
Through British Airways’ partnership with Lounge Pass, you can earn 5 Avios per dollar spent on a club lounge membership. With Lounge Pass, you’ll receive access to more than 600 lounges at over 350 airports worldwide.
British Airways Executive Club partners with both e-Rewards and Rewards for Thoughts to allow members to earn Avios for completing surveys. Both sites offer 600 Avios when you complete your first survey.
British Airways offers many ways for travelers to top up their Avios balances, including point transfers from popular programs like Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards, a cobranded credit card and the ability to earn from flights and eligible shopping partners.
Given how easy it is for the average traveler to earn Avios, it’s worth learning the ins and outs of this program to see how it might advance your travel goals.
Additional reporting by Ethan Steinberg, Ariana Arghandewal and Benji Stawski.