Our guide to the ultimate Avios earning strategy in the UK

Jun 24, 2021

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There are a surprising number of ways to earn Avios every day — even if you aren’t travelling right now. We talk a lot about how valuable the British Airways Companion Voucher can be each year, so much so that I tend to plan my points and miles strategy around this redemption each year.

But with the best value Companion Voucher redemptions often needing a six-figure Avios balance, how do you earn enough Avios for big redemptions like this?

Related: How to Best Maximise a BA Companion Voucher With 100,000 Avios

Let’s say you are looking at a big Avios redemption this time next year when long-haul travel is hopefully back to something like normal. Or perhaps you are just starting out collecting Avios and not sure what to focus on.

Here is the ultimate strategy to earn as many Avios in a year as you can.

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A British Airways 787-8 in Seoul. (Photo by Alberto Riva/The Points Guy)

In This Post

1. Credit cards

One of the easiest ways to earn a stack of Avios is through points and miles-earning credit cards. Some come with very generous welcome bonuses for new customers, as well as earning additional points and miles for your everyday purchases. You can either use a card that earns Avios directly, or a card that earns other points, which can then be converted to Avios.

Here are the top sign-up bonuses available right now to boost your Avios balance.

The Platinum Card from American Express

  • Welcome bonus: Earn 30,000 Membership Rewards points after spending £4,000 in the first three months, which can be converted to 30,000 Avios.
  • Earning rate: 1 Membership Reward point per £1 spent on all purchases; 2 Membership Rewards points per £1 spent with American Express Travel.
  • Other key benefits: The benefits are incredibly comprehensive and include a complimentary Priority Pass membership, Centurion Lounge access, access to the Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts programme, purchase protection, worldwide annual travel insurance, concierge services, Addison Lee credits, elite status at a number of hotel chains including Hilton, Marriott and Radisson, elite status at Avis and Hertz for car hire and a supplementary cardholder for free gets all the benefits, too. It’s worth noting that some of the insurance benefits require enrollment.
  • Representative example and annual fee: This card is a charge card, rather than a credit card, so it has no spending limit or APR, but you must pay off the balance in full each month. There is an annual fee of £575.
  • You can apply for this card here.

Related: Credit card review: The Platinum Card From American Express UK

British Airways American Express Premium Plus Credit Card

  • Welcome bonus: 25,000 British Airways Avios after spending £3,000 in the first three months.
  • Earning rate: 1.5 Avios per £1 spent on all purchases; 3 Avios per £1 spent directly with British Airways or BA Holidays.
  • Other key benefits: 2-for-1 Companion Voucher earned after £10,000 in annual spend on the card. The Companion Voucher is the most valuable credit card benefit out there, allowing you to take a companion with you on the same flight and in the same cabin when you redeem Avios for a BA reward flight. Of course, taxes, fees and other carrier charges still apply to the companion. When earned with this card, the Voucher is valid for two years.
  • Representative example and annual fee: This card has an APR of 74.7% variable and a purchase rate of 22.2% variable with an assumed credit limit of £1,200. There is an annual fee of £195, which is increasing to £250 for fees charged after 1 September.
  • You can apply for this card here.

Related: The UK’s most lucrative credit card perk: A review of the British Airways American Express Premium Plus Card

Premier World Elite Mastercard From HSBC UK

  • Welcome bonus: 40,000 HSBC points after spending £2,000 in the first 90 days. These can be converted to Avios at a rate of 2:1, so this welcome bonus would become 20,000 Avios.
  • Earning rate: 2 HSBC Rewards points per £1 spent on all purchases in GBP; 4 HSBC points per £1 spent in foreign currencies.
  • Other key benefits: The card comes with a premium LoungeKey membership, which is similar to the Priority Pass programme, with complimentary membership to more than 750 airport lounges worldwide. It also comes with iPass, which grants cardholders access to millions of Wi-Fi networks in more than 120 countries.
  • Representative example and annual fee: 59.3% APR variable and a purchase rate of 18.9% per annum variable with an assumed credit limit of £1,200. There is an annual fee of £195.
  • You can apply for this card here.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold Credit Card

  • Welcome bonus: Earn 20,000 Membership Rewards points after spending £3,000 in the first three months, which can be converted to 20,000 Avios.
  • Earning rate: 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent on all purchases; 2 Membership Rewards points per £1 on airline purchases; 3 Membership Rewards points per £1 spent with American Express Travel.
  • Other key benefits: You’ll get two passes to visit airline lounges in the Priority Pass network each year. Each year that you spend at least £15,000 on the card, you’ll get 10,000 bonus Membership Rewards points — worth £140.
  • Representative example and annual fee: This card has an APR of 56.6% variable and a purchase rate of 22.2% variable with an assumed credit limit of £1,200. There is an annual fee of £140, though it is waived for the first year.
  • You can apply for this card now.

Related: A solid first credit card for beginners: A review of the Preferred Rewards Gold Credit Card from American Express

Note the restrictions on Amex welcome bonuses. If you’ve held a BA Amex or Amex Gold in the past 24 months, you would not be eligible for a welcome bonus on either of these cards if you applied for them again.

The bonus restrictions do not apply if you are applying for the Platinum Card.

(Photo by Josh Gribben/The Points Guy)

2. Barclays Avios Rewards

Barclays and Avios have joined forces to offer an exciting and unique new banking product for British travellers and Avios collectors and you can earn Avios just for having a bank account each month. It’s another great way to build your Avios balance.

If you’re eligible for Barclays Avios Rewards, you can opt-in through the Barclays app. Once you’re enrolled, you’ll receive the following perks:

  • 25,000 bonus Avios if you are new to Barclays, open a Barclays Premier current account and perform a current account switch from your existing bank to Barclays Premier within 90 days — worth £275 based on our most recent valuations;
  • 2,500 bonus Avios if you have already held a Barclays Premier current account, or a Barclays Personal Wealth current account for at least four months — worth £28 based on our most recent valuations;
  • 1,500 Avios each and every month you are enrolled in the Barclays Avios Rewards programme (18,000 Avios per year, worth £198 based on our valuations); and
  • A British Airways cabin upgrade voucher at the end of every 12 months you are enrolled in Barclays Avios Rewards.

Related: How I’m earning at least 1,500 Avios every single month without leaving the house

3. Flying with British Airways and its partners

This part of the strategy is pretty straightforward. You will earn Avios each time you fly with British Airways or its partner airlines like Iberia, Aer Lingus, Qatar Airways, American Airlines and many others. If you hold elite status in the British Airways Executive Club programme, you can earn even more Avios for each flight you take.

It may not make sense to specifically choose British Airways or a partner airline if tickets are twice as expensive as a competitor, but if the prices are times are similar, your Avios balance will thank you for flying BA or its partner airlines.

Make sure you add your Executive Club number to your booking before you fly.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

4. Online shopping

If you’re not travelling much right now, you can still pick up Avios for your online shopping through the BA eStore, which you may have been doing a lot more of during lockdown.

You can earn bonus points and miles for making purchases that you’d be making regardless. You’re still purchasing the exact same things directly from the same retailer. But instead of going directly to the retailer’s website, you’ll first go to the airline shopping portal, log in, click through to the retailer’s website and make your purchase directly through that window.

Related: Everything to know about maximising online shopping portals for bonus points and miles

Many major retailers including Apple, Gucci, Harrods and notonthehighstreet.com are current partners with British Airways and its eStore platform, and shopping with them and others can earn you anywhere from 1 to 25 Avios per pound spent — and sometimes, even more. The amount of Avios you can earn at each of the retailers is subject to change, as are the retailers with which the airline is partnered.

Don’t forget to pay for your purchases with your points-earning credit card!

Related: A huge Avios reward for my online shopping — TPG success story

5. Hotel stays

Most major hotel groups have their own loyalty programmes where you can earn points in their programmes for your hotel stays. Some of these hotel programmes, like Hilton Honors, allow you to transfer these points to become Avios. Note, however, the transfer rates are usually very poor and not a great way of using these points. You can lose as much as 90% of your points by converting them into Avios.

Related: Get 30% extra Avios on hotel point transfers, but is it worth it?

Instead, you can book your hotel stays through the British Airways eStore and earn Avios for your booking. There are a range of options, including:

  • Hotels.com — 8 Avios per £1 (currently 12 Avios per £1 for a limited time)
  • Booking.com — 4 Avios per £1 (currently 8 Avios per £1 for a limited time)
  • Agoda — 6 Avios per £1
  • IHG — 3 Avios per £1
  • Marriott — Up to 5 Avios per £1
  • Accor — Up to 8 Avios per £1
  • Radisson — 6 Avios per £1

You will usually not earn points in the hotel’s own loyalty programme for booking this way (as you’ll be earning Avios instead), but if you’re keener on Avios than hotel programmes, it can be a great tool in your Avios earning strategy.

Related: How to Save 14% on Every Hotel Stay With the Hotels.com Rewards Programme

Hilton Rose Hall Resort Jamaica
Hilton Rose Hall Resort Jamaica (Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)

6. Supermarket shopping

Sainsbury’s and British Airways have joined forces to enable members to convet the supermarket’s points currency — called Nectar points — to British Airways Avios.

You can transfer 400 Nectar points to become 250 Avios. Alternatively, you can transfer 250 Avios to become 400 Nectar points.

Related: When does it make sense to transfer Avios to Nectar?

Also, note Nectar’s other partnerships. You can earn multiple Nectar points when spending at around 300 retailers including JD sports (2x Nectar points per £1), Booking.com (3x Nectar points per £1), Argos (10x Nectar points per £1) and hundreds more.

Meanwhile, when shopping at Sainsbury’s, you’ll earn 1 Nectar point for every £1 you spend. However, where the Nectar programme really shines is with its promotions. By downloading the Nectar app, you’ll be targeted for promotions to earn bonus Nectar points on your supermarket purchases. For example, we’ve seen up to hundreds of bonus points offered for purchasing select produce at Sainsbury’s. Before starting your shop, be sure to look through the Nectar app to ensure you’re not missing out on any bonus offers.

Related: How I use an app to earn thousands of bonus Avios

You can start converting your Nectar points into Avios once you’ve collected 400 Nectar points, for which you’ll get 250 Avios.

(Image courtesy of Nectar)

Bottom line

Even if you’re not travelling regularly, it’s fairly easy to reach a six-figure Avios balance in 12 months, especially if you’re eligible for more than one credit card welcome bonus.

There’s an impressive amount of ways to earn Avios every single day in the U.K. right now — your luxury dream redemption could be closer and more attainable than you think.

Featured image by Nicky Kelvin / The Points Guy

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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