*Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.
This article was last updated May 17, 2019. Terms and conditions may have changed. For the most accurate information, please consult the issuer website.
If you fly British Airways frequently, are a member of its Executive Club loyalty program or have a credit card that lets you transfer points into BA’s Avios currency, you want to know the best ways to get the maximum value from your rewards.
Because BA is a member of the oneworld airline alliance, Executive Club members can use their Avios for award travel on 12 other member carriers. We take a look at what flights you can book with Avios, how to find award space, how to figure out how much an award will cost, and some of the better award travel deals with Avios.
In this article hide
- Credit cards that earn Avios
- Which airlines can you book?
- Where to search for award space
- How much do awards cost?
- Award change and booking fees
- When are award seats made available?
- Can you waitlist or put awards and upgrades on hold?
- What stopovers are allowed?
- What are the best award values?
- How much do upgrades cost
- Other ways to earn and redeem Avios
- Are upgrades to Premium Economy or business class worth it?
- Alternatives to British Airways flights
- Hotel points that transfer to Avios
- Can you book awards for others?
- Can you transfer miles to someone else?
- When do Avios expire?
- The bottom line
Credit cards that earn Avios
The British Airways Visa Signature® Card allows new cardmembers to Earn 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening. Earn an additional 25,000 bonus Avios after you spend $10,000 total on purchases within your first year of account opening for a total of 75,000 bonus Avios. Earn a further 25,000 bonus Avios after you spend $20,000 total on purchases within your first year from account opening for a total of 100,000 bonus Avios.
Earn 3 Avios for every $1 spent on British Airways purchases and 1 Avios for every $1 spent on all other purchases. The card has a $95 annual fee and a foreign transaction fee of $0.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve® and Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card cardmembers can transfer Ultimate Rewards points to British Airways Avios at a 1:1 ratio. Those with an American Express Membership Rewards® card can transfer points to British Airways Avios in a 1:1 ratio.
60,000 bonus points
2X points on travel and dining
1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
See additional details for Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
$300 Annual Travel Credit, Airport Lounge Access, and Flexible Redemption Options
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Named "Best Premium Travel Credit Card" for 2018 by MONEY® Magazine
- $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
- 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
- Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select
- Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
See additional details for Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Earn 80,000 bonus points
Earn 3 points per $1 in select business categories
Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year
- Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases–with no limit to the amount you can earn
- Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- Redeem points for travel, cash back, gift cards and more – your points don't expire as long as your account is open
- No foreign transaction fees
- Employee cards at no additional cost
- $95 Annual Fee
See additional details for Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card
The information related to the British Airways Visa Signature® Card has been collected by CompareCards and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.
Which airlines can you book?
Here is a list of oneworld and other BA partners that can be booked with Avios:
|Region||Airline||Bookable on BA.com?|
|Middle East||Royal Jordanian||Yes|
|North America||Alaska Airlines||No, but can be booked via AA.com|
|North America||American Airlines||Yes|
|South Asia||Sri Lankan||Yes|
Where to search for award space
All oneworld partner availability can be searched and booked online at BA.com, except:
- Alaska Airlines award availability can be searched on AA.com, but you will have to call BA to book a flight using awards at 800-247-9297.
- Air Italy will require a phone call to its customer service at +39 0789 52865.
All non-oneworld partner flights must be booked by phone. BA’s U.S. phone number is 800-247-9297. The BA Executive Club US phone number is 800-452-1201.
BA limits online redemptions to two flight segments, so multi-city trips should be booked by phone. BA’s inventory for more complex trips can be searched at AA.com.
How much do awards cost?
British Airways calculates the cost of an award in Avios based on how far you fly, along with your date of travel. It also offers peak and off-peak awards for those who have some wiggle room in their travel plans. Below are examples of off-peak award travel between city-pairs around the world.
Orlando to London
Here’s a one-way flight on British Airways:
And this is the one-way flight on partner American Airlines:
London to Moscow
Here’s a one-way flight option on BA:
And here’s a one-way flight on BA and oneworld partner Russia’s S7/Globus Airlines:
Sao Paulo to Paris
Fly on BA and connect through its London Heathrow hub:
Here’s an option with oneworld partner Iberia:
JFK to Hong Kong
BA doesn’t have a flight available, so it recommended the direct flight, below:
If you wanted to break up the trip with a stop in Doha, Qatar, this flight on Qatar Airways might work:
BA flights have the lowest redemption costs and offer peak and off-peak rates. If you book far enough in advance, you can get some real deals with off-peak flights. It costs more to do a multi-partner reward, which is the most expensive option and kicks in on trips where you are flying two or more non-British Airways airlines, like a trip that uses American Airlines to connect to a Qatar Airways flight. It charges based on the total distance you fly, rather than charging for each flight separately.
Award change and booking fees
- Phone booking fee: $25
- Change fee: $55
- Cancellation fee: $55 if you want to refund taxes/fees. No charge if you cancel and your taxes/fees are less than $55 (you forfeit the taxes/fees). Cancellations can be made online up to 24 hours before departure.
- Additional service center fee for changes/cancellation and Avios redeposit: $25
The service center fee and the cancellation/redeposit fee of $25 is waived for Executive Club Gold members. There’s also no charge for changes to Gold Priority Reward bookings. These bookings allow Gold Executive Club Members to redeem Avios by making a booking from available non-reward seats, using double the standard number of Avios.
When are award seats made available?
Award seats are made available to online booking 355 days from departure. At press time, flights could be booked through May 1, 2020.
Can you waitlist or put awards and upgrades on hold?
Waitlisting awards and upgrades are not allowed, and British Airways doesn’t let you put awards on hold. But with a maximum cancellation cost of $55 (or even free if you have Executive Club Gold status), you might want to book a ticket to lock in space if your plans are fluid.
What stopovers are allowed?
Given that every flight is charged individually, stopovers are unlimited. You’re given the option to add them after entering in your city-pair and travel date, but before you choose your flights.
What are the best award values?
West Coast to Hawaii. Those flying between the West Coast and Hawaii will be interested in 12,500 Avios (each way) redemptions on Alaska Airlines and American Airlines. Below is an example of a round-trip flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu.
BA had no availability in business or first class at press time. However, in the past, the airline charged up to 50,000 Avios each way. British Airways oneworld partner American Airlines charges 22,500 AAdvantage® miles for economy, 55,000 in business and 80,000 miles in first class one way from the contiguous 48 U.S. states and Canada to Hawaii for oneworld members. Partner Alaska Airlines charges 15,000 to 50,000 miles for coach and 40,000 to 80,000 for first/business class.
LATAM flights within South America. Flights within South American can be quite expensive when paying cash, but using Avios can save you money. Below is the cost of a one-way coach flight on Sept. 16, 2019, between Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Montevideo, Uruguay:
Here’s what the same flight costs in points between Brazil and South America for oneworld partners under the LATAM Pass loyalty program:
For travel using AAdvantage miles, you’ll redeem 10,000 miles for coach and 20,000 miles in business within South America Region 1, which covers Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Manaus (Brazil), and Peru. Between Regions 1 and 2 (which includes the rest of South America), you’ll redeem 12,500 miles for coach and 25,000 for business class. Economy-class flights wholly within Peru and Colombia are 6,000 each way in coach, while flights within Ecuador are 6,000 each way in coach.
Flights from Region 2 to Region 1 run 12,500 miles for coach and 25,000 for business class, while within Region 2, it’s 10,000 and 20,000 miles, respectively.
Premium Economy. We offer more details about this premium cabin further down in this story, but you can redeem your Avios for great deals. Below is an example of a one-way flight from Washington Dulles International Airport to London:
The same trip would cost you 13,000 Avios and $203.70 in taxes and fees for a coach seat. Here’s the Avios you would need for business class:
BA taxes, fees and carrier charges can be high, but they’re still cheaper than booking a full-fare flight with cash.
Flights within Australia. If you’re in Australia and want to travel throughout the country in comfort, Avios redemptions on Qantas domestic business class are a treat. A cash fare on the 450-mile flight between Brisbane and Sydney is AUD$769 (about US$527), but only 9,000 Avios plus $16.03 in fees.
The illustration below shows how many Avios are needed for the same flight:
How much do upgrades cost?
BA allows upgrades on its flights, as well as on Iberia and American Airlines, and they can be done any time before travel, subject to seat availability and the rules associated with the fare. Eligible bookings are on British Airways-operated flights and only for tickets in the following fare classes: J, C, D, R, I in Club World/Europe; W, E, T in World Traveller Plus and Y, B, H, K, L, M, N, S, V in Euro/World Traveller. See how to check if your fare is eligible below:
Upgrades can be done on the website under Manage My Booking, using cash or Avios.
An Avios upgrade always goes up to the next cabin, depending on the length of the route. For example, on a short-haul flight, you can upgrade from economy (World Traveller) to business (Club World). On a long-haul flight, you can upgrade from economy (World Traveller) to premium economy (World Traveller Plus), premium economy (World Traveller Plus) to business (Club World) or business (Club World) to first class.
The Avios needed to redeem for an upgrade is based on the Avios for reward flights in the cabin you are upgrading from and whether it is peak or off-peak travel. So if you wanted to do a peak upgrade on a flight from London to New York, from premium economy (World Traveller Plus) to business (Club World), the formula is Club World at 60,000 Avios minus World Traveller Plus at 40,000 Avios equals 20,000 Avios to upgrade.
Other ways to earn and redeem Avios
British Airways gives Executive Club members plenty of ways to collect Avios aside from booking flights. British Airways Visa Signature® Cardmembers Earn 3 Avios for every $1 spent on British Airways purchases and 1 Avios for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
Earn them by booking hotel rooms, rental cars and vacation packages, online shopping at top merchants such as Nordstrom, Apple and eBay, airport parking, rail transfers, Sky TV, Broadband Superfast and subscriptions to The Economist and the Financial Times.
Aside from award flights, redeem your Avios for seat upgrades, pay for flights and upgrades with cash and Avios, buy in-flight food and drinks, reserve hotel rooms and rental cars and book unique experiences.
Are upgrades to Premium Economy or business class worth it?
BA’s Club World business class includes power outlets, a comfortable seat, with a fully-adjustable headrest and lumbar support, that converts into a fully flat bed with bedding and amenity kits designed by The White Company. Travelers enjoy gourmet food and drinks, including afternoon tea, using fresh, local ingredients. There’s also dedicated check-in desks and priority boarding.
World Traveller Plus is BA’s premium economy service for long-haul flights. It’s perfect for those who want a more upgraded experience that won’t break the bank. Perks include wider seats with more legroom, greater recline, lumbar support, a headrest and footrest, a separate cabin, in-seat power outlets, upgraded meals, a complimentary bar service, a personal entertainment system with noise-canceling headphones, a larger free baggage allowance and priority boarding.
Alternatives to British Airways flights
AAdvantage and Alaska Airlines both have substantial earning opportunities, while Asia Miles members have access to points transfers from American Express Membership Rewards® and Citi ThankYou® Points.
Hotel points that transfer to Avios
The following hotel loyalty programs allow members to convert points to Avios, showing the minimum amount of points that can be transferred:
- Marriott Bonvoy™: 3,000 points into 1,000 Avios, along with receiving 5,000 bonus Avios when you transfer 60,000 Bonvoy points.
- Hilton Honors: 10,000 points to 1,000 Avios in increments of 10,000.
- IHG® Rewards: 10,000 points for 2,000 Avios, with at least 10,000 points in your account.
- World of Hyatt: 5,000 points for 2,000 Avios plus a 5,000-Avios bonus when you convert 50,000 points.
- Radisson Rewards: 10,000 points to 1,000 Avios.
- Shangri-La Golden Circle: 1 point equals 1 Avios, at a minimum of 2,500 points in 500-point increments.
- Le Club Accorhotels: 4,000 points for 2,000 Avios.
- Best Western Rewards: 5,000 points for 1,000 Avios.
Can you book awards for others?
Executive Club members can book awards for anyone out of their account for free. You can also use a household account to pool your points with up to six members of your household at no cost. Even children can join, so everyone in the family can collect Avios each time you travel.
Note that household account members can’t redeem their Avios for anyone outside of the account. Changes to the registered household account address can only be made once every six months and Executive Club members must be 18 years or older before they can spend their Avios.
Can you transfer miles to someone else?
You can pay to transfer up to 162,000 Avios, with a maximum of 27,000 Avios to any Executive Club Member, in a calendar year. You will be charged a nonrefundable fee of $20, plus a fee of $40 per 1,000 Avios.
BA Executive Club Gold members may transfer up to 162,000 Avios a year for free to those on their family and friends list. However, Gold members can only transfer a maximum of 27,000 Avios points for free to those not on the friends and family list per year; recipients can receive up to 54,000 Avios points every year, half of which can be free and the other half paid.
When do Avios expire?
Avios expire after 36 months of inactivity. Anytime Avios are earned or used will reset the activity clock and keep them from expiring. That includes flying on BA or one of its partner airlines; staying in a hotel or booking a holiday using Avios; renting a car with Avios; using a British Airways credit card; shopping with BA partners; booking a reward flight with Avios or Avios and cash; and upgrading your seat with Avios.
The bottom line
British Airways flies to more than 200 destinations in 75 countries around the world. When you add BA’s membership in the oneworld alliance, that expands to 1,100 destinations in 180 territories.
Like many global airlines, British Airways has eliminated set award charts, but offers excellent off-peak deals when using Avios for flights. You also have the usual options — hotels, car rentals, vacation packages, experiences and merchandise — to redeem your Avios.
Executive Club members get generous flexibility and the best value when it comes time to redeem Avios for flights. With so many partner airlines, members have the chance to fly on some of the best carriers in the world — including Cathay Pacific Airways, Japan Airlines and Qatar Airways — as determined by aviation consultancy Skytrax.