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Racking up British Airways Avios points and redeeming them for the holiday of your dreams requires commitment.
For many, earning enough points to make it worthwhile will seem like a pipe dream, and some will abandon the entire effort out of frustration.
But for those avid collectors who fly regularly and know how to use the system and maximize their profits, the rewards can be enormous.
Take the reader who told us he got BA Business Class flights from London to Los Angeles for £450, when the cash fare would otherwise have been 900 per cent more, at £4,500.
California Dreamin’: An Avios devotee managed to score two business class flights from London to Los Angeles for £450 each
Another used Avios to buy a new Apple iPhone and look through Argos.
We asked our readers to anonymously send us their best tips for earning Avios and we’ve summarized their insights below.
1. Think about nectar points
Nectar points can be converted into Avios points. They can be picked up from retailers such as Sainsbury’s, Esso, Ebay and Expedia.
You can set your Nectar points to automatically switch to Avios once you reach a certain level, 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 in the Esso app, so I don’t need to go to the kiosk to pay. I then get Nectar points which convert into 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, in addition to making big purchases.
However, you must pay off your card in full to avoid high fees, so some people transfer money after every purchase made with their Amex card or every few days.
You can 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 girlfriend and I have the BA Amex card and we spend all our daily expenses on the card, as well as big purchases.”
3. Try to get a companion voucher
If you spend £12,000 a year on a British Airways American Express card or £10,000 a year on a British Airways American Express Premium Plus card, you’ll get what’s called a companion bonus.
One reader says: ‘We’re using our companion voucher for a trip to Budapest in March for £1 each, flying on a Friday and returning on Monday night.
“The hotel is three star and costs £250 for four nights, so all in all it’s a cheap city break for two people.”
Companion bonuses allow you to receive a second seat for a companion traveling on the same flight as you without additional Avios.
The downside to 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 costs £250 a year and gives you a voucher that can be used on any class of travel and is valid for two years.
If you’re traveling alone, you can use your companion voucher to receive a 50 per cent discount on the Avios price of the flight.
Melissa Littlewood and her family used Avios points to visit Disneyland Paris during the school holidays, when cash prices were sky-high
4. Buy additional Avios
If you’re just a few thousand points away from being able to buy a flight with Avios, you can buy additional points or use the boost feature in the BA Rewards app to buy more.
Sometimes you can buy them for less than the value of their rewards, but always check the values.
A reader says: ‘I agree that you have to have deposited a lot of money for a flight, but you can pay some of it using it. I’ve just paid for an extra suitcase for a trip to Sweden in June – £50 off.’
5. Use Quidco
Instead of using the Avios shopping portal, you’re better off getting cashback using links on cashback sites like TopCashBack or Quidco.
More often than not, these offer better returns, meaning more money that can be put towards other purchases or expenses that will earn you Avios.
When making large purchases, stop by Quidco and pay with Amex. Not only do you get cashback, but you also accumulate Avios points.
This works particularly well for electronics, appliances, and insurance.
6. Pay for large group purchases
If you are organizing meals, excursions or trips with larger groups of friends and family, offer to pay for the group with Amex and then ask them to wire you the money.
This should help you accumulate points quickly and you will be able to pay off the card with the money they transfer.
It goes without saying, but only do it with people you really trust and who you know will pay you back.
A reader tells us: ‘I have a large family, there are 18 of us and we are going to spend a holiday in a cabin during Easter and we use Amex to pay for the cabins.
“This only really works if everyone agrees to split the bill equally, or it will be too complicated.”
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