Avios enthusiasts and current account switchers may have noticed that Barclays is now offering customers the chance to collect Avios points.
Those who have a Premier account or Wealth current account with the bank can collect 1,500 Avios each month to spend on future flights with British Airways.
It is the only UK checking account to offer Avios points as a bonus.
However, customers must pay £12 a month to participate in the program, which is called Barclays Avios Rewards.
To join Barclays Avios Rewards, customers must be a Premier Banking customer or have a personal Wealth current account.
New customers can also receive an additional 25,000 Avios Membership Bonus when they switch with the Current Account Switcher Service and join Barclays Avios Rewards within three months.
Those who have been with Barclays for four months or more will receive 2,500 Avios as an affiliation bonus.
It is possible to collect even more points if you also have eligible Barclays products – for example 700 extra Avios per month if you have a mortgage with Barclays.
Barclays claims that customers could therefore collect at least 20,500 Avios within the first 12 months – enough for a peak British Airways return flight in economy to Nice at the end of your first year.
Carolina Martinoli, director of brand and customer experience at British Airways said: ‘Whether it’s a flight or hotel, a day out in a hot air balloon or car hire in the UK or abroad, there are options to spend Avios for every kind of collector.’
There is also an annual upgrade voucher that allows customers to book seats for the price of one seat class (in Avios points), but take a seat in the tier above, as we explain below.
But there’s one major barrier: to become a Barclays Premier Account holder – which is required to join Barclays Avios Rewards – you need to earn £75,000.
The other alternative way to become a Barclays Premier Account holder is to put £100,000 into a savings or investment account with Barclays.
The biggest savings of 120,000 Avios is a business return flight to Australia, where you pay 130,000 Avios instead of 250,000 – the equivalent of £1,200.
We asked Rob Burgess, editor of frequent flyer website Head for Points, if it was a good deal for higher-earning customers.
He said: ‘Barclays Avios Rewards is an attractive package that has the potential to provide real value, but you need to be clear about how it works.
“Barclays Premier is free, and if you’re making a lot of money it makes sense to use a premium banking service like this – you don’t pay anything and you get a higher level of service.
Barclays will never top the ‘best buy’ tables for its savings routes, so you’ll be missing out on some interest by transferring your money, but with rates this low, the cost could be worth it if you’re not happy. with your existing payment account provider.’
Those who can overcome the barriers to entry and join Barclays Premier Banking should sign up for Barclays Avios Rewards as it is not automatic.
Head for Points values Avios at 1 pence each, and potentially more when used effectively, meaning customers should comfortably recoup the £12 monthly cost.
“You can’t lose money because you can convert your 1,500 Avios into 2,400 Nectar Points worth exactly £12,” Burgess said.
How to “pay” for premium economy, but stay in business?
Customers can get even more value out of the account by taking advantage of the annual upgrade voucher, which becomes available every 12 months.
This means customers will receive an annual cabin upgrade voucher from British Airways, which can be used for Avios rewards flight bookings within the next two years.
You get 25,000 Avios when you are a new customer, switch to Barclays Premier Banking using the Current Account Switcher Service and join Barclays Avios Rewards within 3 months
This allows customers to book an Avios return flight for one person or a one-way ticket for two people for the cost of the next cabin down.
Burgess said: ‘The best price by far is to book a flat bed long-haul business class, where you only need the Avios for premium economy.
‘Using the voucher to fly in premium economy by paying the Avios needed for economy is worth less.
“The gap between economy and premium economy is nowhere near the difference between business, with its six-foot flat beds in a private suite with a door in the latest plane, and premium economy.”
How much can you save?
You can save the most on the longest and more expensive flights.
“A typical savings using the Barclays Avios Rewards upgrade voucher would be to fly business class from London to New York,” says Burgess.
“On a peak day this requires 120,000 Avios plus business class taxes, but by using the voucher you only pay the premium economy cost – 80,000 Avios – so you save 40,000 Avios, which is a big savings.”
‘For a fictitious 1 cent per Avios, your Barclays Avios Rewards voucher has saved you £400 in points.
In the worst case scenario, you will save 120,000 Avios on a business class flight to Australia on an off-peak date, where the voucher reduces the cost from 250,000 Avios to 130,000 Avios.
This corresponds to approximately € 1,200.
‘Of course, if you were to use the voucher to fly business class instead of premium economy to Amsterdam, your savings would be very small!’ Burgess added.
A good Avios scheme for solo travelers
The real beneficiaries of this arrangement, according to Burgess, are individual travelers, or families and friends traveling in groups of three.
This is because couples have better Avios options elsewhere.
“For 20 years now, couples have been able to take advantage of the 2-4-1 voucher that comes with British Airways’ American Express credit card, which allows two people to fly for just one’s Avios,” he said.
‘This doesn’t help if you’re traveling alone, but solo travelers can do very well from [Barclays’] to offer.
‘Alternatively, two people can travel with a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher, while the Barclays Avios Rewards voucher can reduce the cost of the third ticket.’
What is the general verdict?
Barclays is the only current account in the UK that allows customers to collect Avios or other travel rewards, meaning the offer is certainly unique.
The biggest drawback is the strict eligibility standards required to become a Premier account holder.
The fact that you have to make £75,000 a year or have £100,000 left to keep in a savings or investment account will put it out of reach for most people.
But for those with the necessary income or savings, it may be worth considering.
“It is often said that the British are more likely to divorce than change banks, but Barclays hopes this will be a big enough incentive,” Burgess said.
‘The 25,000 Avios sign-up bonus is also a big carrot, of course, and I’d value this at around £250 if used for long-haul travel. In the worst case scenario, it would be converted into £200 worth of nectar points.
“It’s a decent return on the time it takes to set up your new Barclays Premier account.”
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