Collecting British Airways’ Avios points and redeeming them for the holiday of your dreams takes commitment.
For many, getting enough points to make it worth it will feel like a pipe dream, and some will give up on the whole endeavour in frustration.
But for those enthusiastic collectors who fly regularly, and know how to play the system and maximise their gains, the rewards can be huge.
Take the reader that told us he got BA Business Class flights from London to Los Angeles for £450, when otherwise the cash fare would have been 900 per cent more at £4,500.
California Dreamin’: One Avios devotee managed to score two business class flights from London to LA for £450 each
Another used Avios to buy a new Apple iPhone and watch through Argos.
We asked our readers to anonymously send us their best tips for collecting Avios, and have summed up their nuggets of wisdom below.
1. Think Nectar points
Nectar points can be converted to Avios points. They can be collected at retailers like Sainsbury’s, Esso, Ebay and Expedia.
You can set your Nectar points to automatically switch to Avios once a certain level is reached, so you don’t even have to think about it.
One reader told us their strategy: ‘For petrol, I have a John Lewis card saved on the Esso app so I don’t need to go into the kiosk to pay. I then get Nectar points that are converted to Avios, and I also get John Lewis voucher points.’
2. Treat your Amex like a debit card
Some die-hard Avios collectors put all their day-to-day spending on their American Express cards, as well as large purchases.
However, you must pay off your card in full to avoid hefty fees – so some people transfer money after every purchase made with their Amex card or every few days.
You could also schedule your direct debit to your Amex card a few days after payday, so you don’t have to worry about not having enough in your account.
One reader says: ‘My wide and I both have the BA Amex card and out all our day-to-day spending on the card as well as large purchases.’
3. Try to bag a companion voucher
If you spend £12,000 in a year with a British Airways American Express card or £10,000 in a year with an British Airways American Express Premium Plus you get what is called a companion voucher.
One reader says: ‘We are using our companion voucher for a trip to Budapest in March for £1 each, flying on a Friday and returning on Monday evening.
‘The hotel is three star and £250 for four nights, so all in all a cheap city break for two people.’
Companion vouchers allow you to receive a second seat for a companion travelling on the same flight as you for no additional Avios.
The downside of the companion voucher is that with the BA American Express card this is an economy seat, and the voucher is only valid for 12 months.
The BA American Express Premium Plus card comes with a £250 a year cost and gives you a voucher that can be used in any class of travel and is valid for two years.
If you are travelling solo you can use your companion voucher to receive a 50 per cent discount on the Avios price for the flight.
Melissa Littlewood and her family used Avios points to visit Disneyland Paris in the school holidays when the cash prices were sky high
4. Buy additional Avios
If you’re only a few thousand points from being able to purchases a flight with Avios, you can buy additional points or use the boost function in the BA rewards app to buy more.
Sometimes you can purchase these for a lower amount than the value of their rewards, but always check the values.
One reader says: ‘I do agree you have to have banked a lot for a flight, but you can part pay using it. I have just paid for an extra suitcase for a trip to Sweden in June – £50 reduction.’
5. Use Quidco
Instead of using the Avios shopping portal, you might be better off getting cashback using links on cashback sites like TopCashBack or Quidco.
Most of the time these give better returns – meaning more money that can be put towards other purchases or spending that will get you Avios.
When making large purchases, go through Quidco and pay with Amex. Not only do you get cashback, you also collect Avios points.
This works particularly well for electronics, appliances and insurance.
6. Pay for big group purchases
If you are organising meals, days out or trips with bigger groups of friends and family, offer to pay for the group using Amex and then get them to transfer you the money.
This should help rack up points quickly and you can pay off the card with the money they transfer.
It should go without saying, but only do this with people you really trust who you know will transfer you the money back.
One reader tells us: ‘I have a large family, there are 18 of us going for a cottage break over Easter and we used Amex to pay for the cottages.
‘This only really works if you all agree to split the bill equally though, or it becomes too much hassle.’
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