There are lots of ways to earn British Airways Avios, but this is one of the best choices if you:
British Airways’ program is a little unusual compared to the mile programs you might be used to.
It charges for flights based on the distance you fly, with distance bands defining how many points you’ll need to pay, which you can see here.
Every flight segment you take gets charged in points. So if you fly from San Francisco to Atlanta via Dallas the San Francisco to Dallas flight will be charged one price, and the Dallas to Atlanta flight will be charged a separate price and added to the total.
The way it all works out is that nonstop flights are often cheaper than if you used American or Alaska’s own miles to book the trip.
But if you have a connection it’s often more expensive.
With Avios you can fly to Hawaii from the West Coast for 25,000 points roundtrip on nonstop flights while short flights like New York to Montreal cost just 9,000 points roundtrip (4,500 points one-way). These are great deals that are much cheaper than using traditional airline miles if you’re flexible, and you can read more about them here.
Unfortunately British Airways flights have fuel surcharges and taxes of around $700 roundtrip for Economy Class and $1,000 for Business and First Class when you travel on long flights via London.
So unless you travel on BA often and end up accruing points that way it’s not worth saving up for Economy Class flight awards. They’re rarely a good deal with points.
Business and First Class can be an OK deal as they often cost $3,000 or more, so the $1,000 surcharge isn’t so close to the price of a ticket.
You can avoid surcharges by booking flights that are entirely within North and South America on partners including American, Alaska, LAN, and TAM.
You can also avoid the charges by flying Air Berlin across the Atlantic, or pay smaller fees if you transfer your points to an Iberia account and redeem for Iberia flights. That’s a lot to think about, so only use this card for long flights across the ocean if you’re prepared to do some legwork.
The Travel Together ticket lets you buy two award tickets on British Airways flights for the point price of one, plus the taxes and fees for both tickets. You just need to spend $30,000 on the card each year to qualify.
That can be a very good deal for Business and First Class tickets. For example you can go from New York to London in Business Class for about $2,000 + 80,000 Avios roundtrip.
The challenge is finding two reward seats on the dates you want to fly.
That’s doable out of New York, which has lots of flights, but if you’re flying from a city like San Francisco, Los Angeles, or Dallas, which has just a few flights you’ll have a harder time finding reward seats available to take advantage of this deal, so keep that in mind.
If you’re interested in earning Avios, a popular card that can earn them is the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, which earns 2x points on dining and travel purchases. It also lets you transfer points into several other programs including United and Southwest, giving you additional flexibility. Another alternative is the Amex EveryDay with no annual fee. It earns Membership Rewards points that you can transfer to Avios as well as Delta and several other airline programs, though transfers from Amex are diluted by 20%, with 1,000 Amex points getting you 800 Avios.
Get this card if you can take advantage of nonstop flights on American or Alaska Airlines at great prices.
If you live in Chicago, Dallas, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Charlotte, Phoenix, Seattle, or Los Angeles you’re well positioned to get some great deals on reward travel. It’s not the most intuitive thing around, but once you try it you’ll be hooked.
You can book most of the flights right on the British Airways website, and the best part is the change fees are tiny. If your plans change you can refund your ticket at any time and just eat the taxes and fees. For domestic tickets that’s usually less than $20, so you have lots of flexibility to change your plans and make reward travel fit your schedule.
That’s a lot better than traditional airline miles which charge you $100 or more if you decide to make changes.
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Or, consider other cards for 50,000 more miles or points that transfer into United miles with additional flexibility for your everyday spending.
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