Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information and offers.
Avios, the rewards currency of the British Airways Executive Club program, are easy to earn and redeem even if you don’t travel to the United Kingdom.
Long-haul premium cabin redemptions booked through the Executive Club program can also require significant fees, taxes and surcharges, making this currency appear less valuable.
However, Reward Flight Savers are a fantastic use of Avios, as they allow you to pay less than $1 per flight in fees, taxes and surcharges. That’s about as close to free travel as you can get.
Reward Flight Savers are available on all British Airways-operated flights worldwide in all cabins except first class.
Related: Lower fuel surcharges: Reward Flight Saver rolled out on all British Airways flights
Reward Flight Saver basics
Reward Flight Savers are priced per flight, not per journey. So, if you are flying from Edinburgh, Scotland, to Geneva via London on British Airways, the award is priced based on the distance per segment. Since you’ll have a stopover in London, it may be more convenient and a better value to book a paid ticket on another airline with a direct flight.
As well as having the Avios available in your Executive Club account, you must have earned at least 1 Avios in the 12 months before booking in order to take advantage of Reward Flight Saver.
Reward Flight Savers can be especially valuable for last-minute flights, as their fixed prices keep costs low. I have regularly used Reward Flight Savers for flights less than 650 miles a few days in advance when revenue fares were more than $200. That’s a fantastic use, based on TPG’s Avios valuation.
Reward Flight Saver awards are marked with a blue starburst with a bank note icon above the flight number.
Reward Flight Saver for short-haul flights
Reward Flight Savers are an especially great deal for short-haul flights operated by British Airways to or from the U.K. and within the Caribbean. You will need just 50 British pence (about $0.62) per flight plus Avios for flights less than 2,000 miles.
|Distance flown, per flight||Off-peak economy class||Peak economy class||Off-peak business class||Peak business class|
|0-650 miles.||9,250 Avios + 50 pence.||9,750 Avios + 50 pence.||15,000 Avios + 50 pence.||16,250 Avios+ 50 pence.|
|651-1,150 miles.||11,750 Avios + 50 pence.||12,750 Avios + 50 pence.||20,000 Avios + 50 pence.||22,250 Avios + 50 pence.|
|1,151-2,000 miles.||13,750 Avios + 50 pence.||15,250 Avios + 50 pence.||24,250 Avios + 50 pence.||27,250 Avios + 50 pence.|
This is a great option if you are Avios rich. Remember, all Avios redemptions include free checked luggage. You can also use any elite benefits with Oneworld partner airlines like American Airlines.
You can also elect to pay more cash and fewer Avios, if you wish. To get the best redemption value for your Avios, the sweet spot on short-haul redemptions is choosing the 17.50 British pounds ($21.90) option in economy or 25 British pounds ($31.30) in business class.
Reward Flight Savers for long-haul flights
Standard Avios pricing for long-haul flights on British Airways can allow you to fly to Europe in business class for as little as 50,000 Avios each way. There’s only one catch: There are very high carrier-imposed fuel surcharges.
If you instead choose the Reward Flight Saver option, you will pay more Avios in exchange for reducing the surcharges to a more reasonable level.
Whether you want to part with more cash or more Avios, the choice is yours.
Here’s how the Reward Flight Saver pricing breaks down on two popular routes from the U.S. to Europe with return flights on off-peak dates.
|Cabin||Avios required||Cost of fees, taxes and surcharges|
|New York to London||World Traveller (economy).||50,000.||$200.|
|World Traveller Plus (premium economy).||85,000.||$560.|
|Club World (business class).||160,000.||$700.|
|Los Angeles to London||World Traveller.||60,000.||$300.|
|World Traveller Plus.||95,000.||$660.|
Related: British Airways’ Club Suites don’t disappoint: On board a retrofitted 777 from London to New York
How to earn Avios
The easiest way to earn a meaningful number of Avios for everyday spending is by applying for the British Airways Visa Signature Card.
This card — issued by Chase and therefore subject to the 5/24 rule — currently offers up to 100,000 Avios to new applicants. Earn 75,000 Avios after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening and earn an additional 25,000 Avios after you spend $20,000 in the first 12 months of account opening. TPG values Avios at 1.5 cents each, making the full bonus worth $1,500.
The British Airways Visa Signature has a $95 annual fee and earns 3 Avios per dollar spent on purchases with British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia and Level. Plus, you can earn 2 Avios per dollar spent on hotel accommodations when purchased directly with the hotel. All other purchases earn 1 Avios per dollar spent.
Transferable rewards cards
Savvy TPG readers know that we usually recommend sticking with cards that earn transferable points because of their added flexibility. This strategy still applies if you’re trying to accrue Avios. British Airways is a transfer partner of Capital One, Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, Bilt Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy, making Avios one of the easiest currencies to earn.
Most points transfer from Chase, Bilt and Amex at a 1:1 ratio (in addition to occasional transfer bonuses of up to 40%). Meanwhile, Marriott points transfer to Avios at a 3:1 ratio. Plus, you’ll get a 5,000-Avios bonus for every 60,000 Marriott points transferred.
The following cards currently offer strong welcome bonuses that you could easily convert to Avios:
- American Express® Gold Card: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first six months of account opening. Terms apply.
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $6,000 on purchases within the first six months of card membership. Check to see if you’re targeted for a 125,000-point welcome offer through CardMatch (offer subject to change at any time). Terms apply.
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Earn 75,000 bonus miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening.
- Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card: Earn 75,000 bonus miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
- Ink Business Preferred Credit Card: Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
You can also purchase Avios, which sometimes go on sale.
British Airways rightfully has a bad reputation for its surcharges on redemptions in all classes. The airline has addressed this by allowing Executive Club members to use more Avios in exchange for lower surcharges by way of Reward Flight Savers. On short-haul flights, the option of paying less than a dollar plus Avios on a full-service airline across Europe is tough to beat.
For longer-haul flights, travelers with large Avios balances may wish to take advantage of this option to lower the cash cost of their next redemption.