-Everything You’ve Ever Wanted To Know About British Airways Avios: Tips, Tricks, And Advice You Need To Know To Maximize Your Avios
-Chase British Airways Visa: Earn up to 100,000 Avios for a limited time only! Earn 50K for spending $2K in 3 months, earn an additional 25K for spending another $8K in 12 months, and earn an additional 25K for spending another $10K in 12 months.
Effective 02/02/16 at 5am EST British Airways is raising the cost of short-haul zone 1 flights between 1-650 miles in flight distance from 4.5K Avios to 7.5K in coach, from 9K Avios to 15K in business, and from 18K Avios to 30K in first.
This change is only for flights that are to, from, or within the United States. Short haul zone 1 flights like London-Milan, Iguazu Falls-Sao Paulo, Johannesburg-Victoria Falls, and Sydney-Melbourne remain 4.5K Avios in coach.
All other awards remain the same.
Still, with travel starting at 7.5K Avios with no close-in fees and just $5.60 in cancellation fees, Avios travel remains a bargain for domestic flights.
You can book a 9K round-trip award now and change the dates later without paying the additional 6K Avios. But BA charges $55/award for date changes and just charges the tax paid ($5.60/way for domestic flight) for cancellations, so if you need to change the date, that will eat up a lot of the savings. But if you might need to fly it’s worth hedging that bet for the cancellation penalty of $5.60 each way.
Note that for awards from Canada the taxes are about equal to the cancellation fee. In that case if you need to change your travel dates, you can spend $55 for a change fee when you do have dates and that will save you 6K Avios. You don’t forfeit the taxes paid on award changes.
The same story applies to 4.5K awards from Mexico or the Caribbean as well.
Normally I advise booking one-way with BA as it’s far cheaper to cancel a domestic flight than to change it and for several other reasons. But if you do plan on changing dates on an award instead of cancelling to beat the devaluation, be sure to book round-trip awards to limit your change fees.
Current BA award chart:
BA award chart effective 02/02/16:
|1 (Flights that don't touch the USA)||1-650||4.5K||9K||18K
|1 (Flights to, from, or within the USA)||1-650||7.5K||15K||30K
As you may recall from the “Everything You’ve Ever Wanted To Know About British Airways Avios” post, you can also transfer British Airways Avios back and forth to Iberia Avios and Avios.com Avios. Each of those programs have different partner airlines and different award charts.
You can combine points via this link via the BA site. Sometimes that link doesn’t work so you can also try this link on the Iberia site to combine points.
There is no minimum transfer amount:
There are 2 caveats to combine points though:
1. Both accounts have to have been open for 90 days.
2. Both accounts must be active and received points. Transfers from AMEX or earning miles from other sources activate an account.
I’ve posted previously about Iberia Avios being a useful account to have, so hopefully you already have one from deals like this which gave free Iberia Avios.
If not you can open an Iberia account here.
If you want to fly on Iberia to places like Europe or Israel you can save a fortune in fuel surcharges by transferring BA Avios to Iberia and using them on Iberia flights.
Assuming that you have an Iberia account older than 90 days you’ll be able to transfer points from AMEX MR to Iberia and then to BA at parity.
Here is a look at Iberia’s award chart for travel on AA:
There are at least 6 critical things to keep in mind. There may be more as personally I don’t have experience using Iberia Avios as of yet, so feel free to hit the comments.
1. While BA charges for each segment, Iberia charges for the total mileage of the trip.
BA’s zones are for each leg each way, while Iberia’s zones are for the sum total of all legs on a round-trip.
Let’s say I want to visit my in-laws in Kansas City (Oh stop that snickering!)
American doesn’t fly direct, so I’d have to connect in a hub like Chicago if I wanted to use Avios.
-Cleveland-Chicago is a 315 mile flight, therefore BA currently charges 4.5K Avios for it. That goes up to 7.5K for tickets booked after 02/01.
-Chicago-Kansas City is a 403 mile flight, therefore BA currently charges 4.5K Avios for it. That goes up to 7.5K for tickets booked after 02/01.
So the round-trip from Cleveland to Kansas City is currently 18K BA Avios, but will be going up to 30K after 02/01.
With Iberia the total flight distance is calculated without regard to the segments. So Cleveland-Chicago-Kansas City and back again is 1,436 flown miles, making it an Iberia Zone 3 award. That costs just 17K Avios round-trip.
What if I just want to go on my usual day trip to Chicago and hit up Milt’s, a ballgame, and some Shallot’s before flying home?
–Cleveland-Chicago is a 315 mile flight, therefore BA currently charges 4.5K Avios for it. That goes up to 7.5K for tickets booked after 02/01. So the round-trip from Cleveland to Chicago is currently 9K BA Avios, but will be going up to 15K after 02/01.
With Iberia the total flight distance is calculated without regard to the segments. So Cleveland-Chicago and back again is 631 flown miles, making it an Iberia Zone 2 award. That costs 12K Avios round-trip.
2. Iberia’s cheapest award will be 4K cheaper than using BA.
Come 02/02 and you may want to book a flight from Detroit to Chicago with Iberia. At just 469 miles in round-trip distance, it falls within Iberia’s limited zone 1 award for travel up to 600 miles and costs just 11K Iberia Avios round-trip.
With BA that’s currently a 9K round-trip award, but it will be 15K effective 02/02.
-A round-trip flight from Detroit to St. Louis via Chicago is now 18K BA but will go up to 30K on 02/02. With Iberia that round-trip is just 12K Iberia Avios as the total flight distance falls into a zone 2 award.
-A round-trip from NYC to Toronto or Montreal is now 9K BA Avios in coach or 18K in business. That goes up to 15K in coach or 30K in business on 02/02. Those are Iberia Zone 2 awards costing 12K in coach or 24K in business.
Or maybe you won’t want to do that for the following 4 reasons:
3. Iberia only has round-trip partner awards. BA allows one-way awards.
4. Iberia doesn’t allow for changes or cancellations to partner awards. BA allows cancellation of domestic awards for just $5.60/one-way award up to 24 hours ahead of the flight time.
5. Iberia charges more tax for domestic flights than BA.
While BA charges $5.60 for domestic one-ways and $11.20 for domestic round-trips, Iberia charges $20.20 for domestic nonstop round-trips and $29.20 for domestic connecting round-trips. It’s probably a mistake and/or illegal tax collection, but that’s what their system charges for now.
CLE-ORD-CLE on BA, now 9K+$11.20, soon to be 15K+$11.20:
CLE-ORD-CLE on Iberia, 12K+$20.20:
CLE-ORD-MCI-ORD-CLE on BA, now 18K+$11.20, soon to be 30K+$11.20:
CLE-ORD-MCI-ORD-CLE on Iberia, 17K+$29.20:
6. AMEX transfers into BA Avios instantly, but transfers from AMEX into Iberia Avios can take a day or 2. Transfers between BA and Iberia are instant.
So there will be times in the future that I’ll use BA and there will be times in the future when I’ll use Iberia. Namely when I need to fly round-trip, when I’ll definitely take the trip, and when the mileage savings is large enough to make it worth the extra tax and make up for the lack of ability to cancel. When connecting the advantage for Iberia is going to be even bigger after 02/01.
Good thing you can transfer points back and forth as needed!
Want to earn Avios?
-You can also earn Avios directly with the Chase British Airways Visa Signature card, which is offering up to 100K Avios currently!
-American Express Membership Rewards points can be earned from credit cards like The Amex EveryDay Preferred Card or The Amex EveryDay Card.
The Preferred card awards 1.5 points per dollar everywhere, 3 points per dollar on Uber and gas, and 4.5 points per dollar on groceries if you make 30 transactions per month.
The EveryDay card awards 1.2 points per dollar everywhere and 2.4 points per dollar on Uber and groceries if you make 20 transactions per month.
You can also earn Membership Rewards points from consumer charge cards like the American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card and The Platinum Card® from American Express, and from business charge cards like the AMEX Business Gold Rewards Charge Card or The Business Platinum Card.
The Blue for Business® Credit Card from American Express has no annual fee and a limited time increased signup bonus. It earns a generous 1.3 points per dollar everywhere, but you’ll need any of the membership rewards cards listed above to transfer points from that card into airline miles.
-The Starwood Consumer AMEX and the Starwood Business AMEX awards 25K signup points with no fee for the first year. 20K Starpoints can transfer into 25K Avios with the permanent 25% transfer bonus. Transfers can take a few days.
-Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred instantly at a 1:1 ratio into BA Avios from the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Ink Plus credit cards.
Cards like Chase Freedom and Chase Ink Cash can’t directly transfer points into miles, you’ll have to transfer those points to a Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus that belongs to an additional user before you can transfer those points to British Airways.