How I earned 20,000+ Avios in the past year without flying British Airways

Mar 2, 2021

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Earning British Airways Avios is for everyone, not just frequent flyers and big spenders — and I’m here to prove it.

When I explain to people about points and miles, reward credit cards and airline loyalty programmes, I’m often listened to with a sceptical ear. They say things like: “I don’t spend enough,” “I don’t fly enough,” “It sounds too complicated for me” or, quite simply, “I can’t be bothered.”

So when I figured out how many Avios I’d actually earned in the last year during the pandemic for very little or zero effort and no expense at all, I just had to write about it. Not only will it hopefully be of benefit to you, our TPG readers, but I’ll also now have an article I can send to those sceptics to save me from explaining over and over again. Everyone’s a winner!

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Let’s talk numbers.

In total, I earned a rather tasty 22,129 Avios just by going about my usual spending.

That’s a fair amount of Avios earned based on one person’s spending. Just think of how many more Avios you would earn as a couple or a family of three, four or more?

For the purpose of this article, I’ve discounted any Avios I earned from the very few flights I took with British Airways over the course of the past year. I also discounted the 5,000 Avios I’d earned from converting my Nectar points into Avios after collecting them over a couple of years.

Oh, and that’s not including miles I earned in other schemes like American Express Membership Rewards points and Virgin Points.

Learn more about British Airways’ Avios programme:

So, how did I do it?

Spending through airline Shopping portals

Total earned: 16,909 Avios
Value: £186 as per TPG’s latest points valuations

It’s actually really simple. All you need to do is make a couple of extra clicks of your mouse and taps of your keyboard before you make an online purchase at many of your favourite retailers.

First of all, you’ll need to make sure you have a membership with the British Airways Executive Club to be able to use the programme’s eStore, and a Virgin Atlantic Flying Club membership to be able to use its Shops Away portal. Then, all you do is log in to the relevant shopping portal with your credentials and you’ll be able to choose from a list of retailers that your airline has partnerships with, which is why you’re able to earn the extra miles.

The below example shows how I earned 1,726 on a single purchase from Harrods. If I recall correctly, It was a purchase of around £100, meaning I earned about 17 Avios per pound on that purchase.

Some retailers, like Appleyard Flowers, often have offers of up to 30 Avios per pound spent. It has lead to the flower delivery service becoming one of my go-to retailers when looking for flowers and gifts.

Related: Ordering flowers online? Use a shopping portal to earn more rewards

Over the course of the year, I’ve earned Avios from many retailers, from purchases on everything from personalised gifts to a set of dumbbells. These retailers include AllSaints, Apple, Argos, Asos, Appleyard, Booking.com, Etsy, Harvey Nichols, John Lewis & Partners, Nike, Notonthehighstreet.com, Reiss, SportsDirect.com, The White Company and Trainline U.K.

With a couple of simple changes to your spending habits, you, too, could earn thousands of miles each year.

Related: Your guide to maximising shopping portals for your online purchases

The hardest thing you have to do — which really isn’t hard at all — is remember to double-check shopping portals before making any online purchase.

Credit card spending

Total earned: 5,220 Avios
Value: £57, as per TPG’s latest points valuations

This is the part where you’ll have to make no extra effort whatsoever.

The most Avios I earned in one month last year was 2,522 after paying for flights and hotels for a trip to Brazil. I earned them just by spending on my British Airways American Express Credit Card, which I recently upgraded to the British Airways Premium Plus Credit Card.

Related: Which British Airways American Express credit cards is the better choice for you?

The beauty of cobranded airline credit cards is that you get rewarded with near enough free travel just by going about your normal spending.

I actually spend across three different credit cards, which is why I only earned 5,220 Avios in a year. In fact, I do the least amount of spending on my cobrandeed British Airways credit card, as I prefer to earn Amex Membership Rewards using my Platinum Card from American Express.

In this respect, I could have earned thousands of more Avios over the course of the year had I done all of my spending on my BA credit card alone.

How much are Avios worth?

Good question.

So, what does 22,129 Avios actually mean I hear you wondering?

In terms of cash value, TPG’s February valuations would value 22,129 Avios at £243. Not bad, huh?

Let’s decide just how valuable they really are by working out exactly how far those Avios will get you.

Get a load of this.

You’d be able to spend your 22,000 Avios on a return flight from London in business class (Club Europe) to destinations like Athens, Greece, and Barcelona, Spain.

Related: 7 things no one tells you about the Greek islands

Thanks to British Airways’ Reward Flight Savers, you can choose a combination of cash and Avios that suits your wallet and Avios balance.

For example, the “cheapest” one-way off-peak flight to Barcelona in Club Europe is 50p, plus 19,250 Avios. With 22,000, you wouldn’t quite have enough for a return trip with that combination. What you have the option to do instead is select to pay 12,750 Avios + £25 for your flight there, then 9,250 Avios + £57.50 for the return flight. In all, you’d pay 22,000 Avios and £82.50 for a return flight that can cost upward of £500!

Here’s another example using the pricing for Athens this time.

Another option to consider would be using your Avios to get from the U.K. across the Atlantic.

Related: 6 mistakes tourists make in London

A one-way flight from London to New York now also falls under BA’s Reward Flight Saver scheme. That means customers can choose one of six Avios and cash combination that will suit their wallet and Avios balance the best. However, this is one to watch, as using Avios to redeem long-haul economy flights doesn’t always give you the best value. Thanks to cheap return flights across the Atlantic, sometimes the value of the Avios with the additional cost of taxes and fees works out as more than the cost of buying an economy ticket in cash.

This is always something worth checking before you go ahead and make your redemption.

How do I check how many Avios I’ve earned?

This is really simple.

All you need to do is log in to your British Airways Executive account. Next, hit “manage my account” followed by “my statement,” and you’ll arrive at a screen that looks something like this:

Bottom line

Are you kicking yourself thinking of all the miles you could have earned over the years just by being clever about your spending?

Don’t worry. It’s exactly how I felt when I realised the same thing before I started working at The Points Guy.

Who’d have thought being rewarded for your normal spending habits would be so quick, easy and, the best part, free?

What are you waiting for…

Featured image by Ethan Steinberg/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.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.