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One of the most important skills that separate rookie award travelers from the points pros is their willingness and ability to utilize international carriers’ 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 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 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!
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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 American Airlines or Alaska Airlines flights to British Airways. Even though Alaska Airlines isn’t joining the Oneworld alliance until the end of March, 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.
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.
Related: Here’s why you should care about British Airways Avios
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 is issued by Chase and, therefore, subject to the 5/24 rule, is currently offering new applicants 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening. Plus, you’ll earn a Travel Together Ticket after you spend $20,000 total on purchases within your first year of account opening. After the first year, you can continue earning one after spending $30,000.
TPG values Avios at 1.5 cents each, making the full bonus worth $750, though you’ll also earn at least 20,000 additional Avios (worth $300) from the minimum spending requirement. Plus, a Travel Together Ticket could be worth more than 50,000 Avios depending on what flight you use it on, or nothing at all if you don’t use it.
The British Airways Visa Signature has a $95 annual fee and earns Earn 5 Avios per $1 spent on purchases with British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia, and LEVEL within your first 12 months from account opening, thereafter earn 3 Avios. Earn 3 Avios per $1 spent on hotel accommodations when purchased directly with the hotel within your first 12 months from account opening, thereafter earn 2 Avios. Plus, earn 1 Avios per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Related: British Airways Visa Signature review
Transferrable rewards cards
Of course, savvy TPG readers know that we usually recommend sticking with cards that earn transferable points because of the added flexibility they offer. 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. Plus, you’ll get 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 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in your first 6 months of Card Membership. 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.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve: Earn 50,000 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 3 months from account opening.
- American Express® Gold Card: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening. Terms apply.
Related: Best ways to redeem Chase points on Oneworld airlines
Transfer points to Avios
British Airways is a transfer partner of three major rewards currencies: Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy. Amex and Chase points transfer to Avios at a 1:1 ratio, with Amex occasionally offering transfer bonuses. Meanwhile, Marriott points transfer at a 3:1 ratio, with a 5,000-Avios bonus for every 60,000 transferred.
Since Amex and Chase transfers to British Airways are instant, this is a great way to quickly top off your account for an award redemption when you need it.
Related: 7 ways to earn miles for your next vacation without leaving the house
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, with some stores offering 10 Avios per dollar or more, 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 Heathrow Airport (LHR). You’ll earn 1 point per 1 GBP at most shops. You can then convert these Heathrow Rewards points to Avios at a 1:1 ratio.
Bicester Village Shopping Collection
Executive Club members earn 5 Avios for every 4 GBP or Euro spent at The Bicester Village Shopping Collection. This applies to upwards of 30,000 Euro of spending per year.
British Airways Executive Club members can earn up to 7,400 Avios for buying either a print or digital subscription to The Economist:
- 3,400 Avios for a one-year Digital subscription and 4,400 Avios for a one year print and digital subscription
- 5,400 Avios for a two-year Digital subscription and 6,400 Avios for a two-year print and digital subscription
- 7,400 Avios for a three-year Digital subscription and 8,400 Avios for a print and digital subscription
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.
Related: What does British Airways elite status get you, and how do you earn it?
Earn British Airways Avios with travel partners
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.
If you’re booking a vacation package, you may want to search British Airways’ website first since it can earn you an extra 1 Avios per $1 spent. BA partners with major hotel chains and Hotels.com, Kaligo and Rocketmiles, so you can earn Avios on hotels and vacation packages. The program even has a partnership with Airbnb to earn 2 Avios per $1 spent on vacation rentals.
British Airways partners with Avis and Budget Rental Car, allowing you to earn Avios on car rentals. You can earn 3 Avios per $1 spent with Avis and 1 Avios per $1 with Budget.
Related: Rental car promotions that will save you money this fall
Through BA’s partnership with Lounge Pass, you can earn 5 Avios per $1 spent when you buy access to a club lounge at over 350 airports worldwide.
British Airways offers many 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, it’s worth spending some time learning the ins and outs of this program to see how it might advance your future travel goals.
Additional reporting by Ariana Arghandewal and Benji Stawski
Featured photo of British Airways 777 first class by Ethan Steinberg
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