The Guide to British Airways Executive Club

A comprehensive look at earning, transferring and redeeming British Airways Avios points.
Ramsey Qubein
Elina Geller
By Elina Geller and  Ramsey Qubein 
Updated
Edited by Meghan Coyle
British Airways Avios Program: The Complete Guide

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This influences which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.

If you think that a U.K.-based frequent flyer program wouldn't have much to offer American travelers, think again. Since British Airways is part of the Oneworld alliance, which includes both Alaska Airlines and American Airlines, it can be a worthwhile option for globetrotters or those who travel within the United States.

With its main hub in London, British Airways flies to more than 200 destinations in 80 countries. Its frequent flyer program is called Executive Club, and when you fly with British Airways or any of its partners, you will earn Avios, which you can use to redeem for award flights, upgrades and other rewards.

Here’s what you need to know about earning Avios and how to redeem them.

About British Airways Avios

What is Avios? It’s the name of the travel rewards currency earned by members of British Airways’ Executive Club. These can be used on British Airways flights, Oneworld partners or transferred to other Avios-earning airlines.

Each time you fly on a paid ticket with British Airways or with its Oneworld and partner airlines, you will earn Avios.

🤓Nerdy Tip

British Airways flights also earn you Tier points, which count toward elite status. The more you earn, the higher the status you receive. They are not used for award flights, and they reset to zero every year.

Do Avios expire?

How long do British Airways Avios points last? If you don't have any activity in your account for 36 months — meaning no earning, spending, buying or sharing of Avios — they will expire. It’s easy to have activity though; it’s as simple as making a purchase through the British Airways shopping mall or doing business with an Executive Club partner.

NerdWallet values Avios points at 1 cent each. Use this calculator to understand the value of your Avios points:

How to earn Avios points

There are many ways to earn Avios, as a British Airways frequent flyer or even just as a new member of the program. These include flying, using a British Airways co-branded credit card, using business partners in the program, and transferring points from American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards and various hotel programs (e.g., Marriott Bonvoy).

Another great perk of Executive Club is that you can pool Avios points with up to six other people who live with you into a household account, making family vacations more rewarding. This is a great move if you’re short on points for an award since you can rely on loved ones to get you closer to a redemption.

Earn when you fly

British Airways is part of the Oneworld alliance, which totals 13 airlines, and also has independent relationships with other airlines. You can use your British Airways Avios to book award flights through Oneworld and other airline partners.

When it comes to earning elite status, you can earn Tier points (as well as Avios) with the following airlines:

Airline (alliance type)

Earn Avios

Earn Avios Bonus

Earn Tier Points

Alaska Airlines (Oneworld)

Yes.

No.

Yes.

American Airlines (Oneworld)

Yes.

Yes.

Yes.

Cathay Pacific (Oneworld)

Yes.

No.

Yes.

Finnair (Oneworld)

Yes.

Yes.

Yes.

Iberia (Oneworld)

Yes.

Yes.

Yes.

Japan Airlines (Oneworld)

Yes.

Yes.

Yes.

Malaysia Airlines (Oneworld)

Yes.

No.

Yes.

Qantas (Oneworld)

Yes.

No.

Yes.

Qatar Airways (Oneworld)

Yes.

No.

Yes.

Royal Air Maroc (Oneworld)

Yes.

No.

Yes.

Royal Jordanian Airlines (Oneworld)

Yes.

No.

Yes.

SriLankan Airlines (Oneworld)

Yes.

No.

Yes.

Aer Lingus (Partner)

Yes.

No.

No.

Fiji Airways (Partner)

Yes.

No.

Yes.

LATAM (Partner)

Yes.

No.

No.

The number of Avios and Tier points you earn will vary by airline, type of ticket and fare class. Keep in mind, award tickets do not earn points. Members with elite status may earn a percentage of bonus Avios when they fly with some airlines as well. 

On any given flight, the minimum number of Avios you can earn is 125.

Earn with British Airways’ other business partners

Members can collect Avios points when spending on partner hotels, car rental companies, airport parking services, Heathrow Express tickets and the British Airways shopping mall. You can even earn points by taking surveys. Here’s a handy guide on all of the ways to earn British Airways Avios.

Collect Avios with a British Airways credit card

British Airways offers a Chase-issued credit card specifically for U.S. residents: British Airways Visa Signature® Card.

This card comes with a $95 annual fee and offers the following sign-up bonus: Limited time offer! Earn 85,000 Avios after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.

You’ll also earn Avios when you spend in the following categories:

  • Earn 3 Avios per $1 spent on purchases with British Airways, Aer Lingus and Iberia.

  • Earn 2 Avios per $1 spent on hotel accommodations when the purchase is made directly with the hotel.

  • Earn 1 Avios per $1 spent on all other purchases.

You can also receive up to $600 in-flight statement credits each year to cover the cost of taxes, fees and other charges on award flights to London. You will receive $100 for economy and premium economy flights and $200 for business and first class, up to three times per year. This is a nice perk to offset the high taxes and surcharges levied on British Airways award tickets.

If you travel frequently on British Airways, these statement credits offer compelling reasons to consider this card.

Transfer points from credit cards to British Airways

British Airways is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Capital One Miles, which means that you can move points from those programs to Avios at a 1:1 ratio. This must be done in increments of 1,000.

These credit card programs sometimes run transfer bonuses, which could provide a nice boost to your balance if you move points at the right time.

American Express Cards

Personal cards

The Platinum Card® from American Express (annual fee: $695): Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $8,000 on eligible purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.

American Express® Gold Card (annual fee: $250): Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.

American Express® Green Card (annual fee: $150): Earn 40,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express (annual fee: $95): Earn 15,000 Membership Reward® points after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Terms Apply.

Amex EveryDay® Credit Card (annual fee: $0): Earn 10,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of Card Membership. Terms apply.

Chase Credit Cards

Personal credit cards

Chase Sapphire Reserve® (annual fee: $550): Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,125 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (annual fee: $95): Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's over $900 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

Business credit cards

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card (annual fee: $95): Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $8,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 cash back or $1,250 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Travel℠.

If you already have any of the cards mentioned above, you can apply for one of the following no-fee cards with Chase. The cash-back you earn can be combined with earnings from other cards as Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Having these cards in addition to the premium travel cards is a great way to increase your Chase Ultimate Rewards point balance.

No-fee personal credit cards

Chase Freedom Flex℠ (annual fee: $0): Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

Chase Freedom Unlimited® (annual fee: $0): Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!

No-fee business credit cards

Ink Business Cash® Credit Card (annual fee: $0): Earn $350 when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months and an additional $400 when you spend $6,000 on purchases in the first six months after account opening.

Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card (annual fee: $0): Earn $750 bonus cash back after you spend $6,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Convert hotel points to Avios

If you’re flush with hotel points, British Airways has several partners that allow you to convert hotel points to Avios:

Hotel loyalty program

Conversion rate

Marriott

3:1. Receive 5,000 bonus Avios when you convert 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.

Hilton

10:1. You must transfer in increments of 10,000 Hilton points.

IHG

5:1. You must transfer at least 10,000 IHG points.

Hyatt

2.5:1. You must transfer a minimum of 5,000 Hyatt points. Receive 5,000 bonus Avios when you convert 50,000 points.

Radisson

10:1. You can transfer in increments of 2,000, 50,000 or 100,000 Radisson points.

Accor

2:1. You must have a minimum of 4,000 ALL Rewards points to complete a transfer.

MeliaRewards

10:3. You must transfer a minimum of 100 MeliaRewards.

The most favorable ratios are with Accor (2:1), Hyatt (2.5:1) and Marriott (3:1), with the latter two providing transfer bonuses for converting a certain number of points. For example, transferring 60,000 Marriott points nets 25,000 Avios, including a 5,000-point bonus. Hyatt adds a 5,000-point bonus when transferring 50,000 Hyatt points, resulting in 25,000 Avios.

Moving hotel points to Avios may not be for everyone. But, if you find more value in a flight redemption than a hotel room, it can be advantageous, especially if there is a transfer bonus to sweeten the deal. 

Here’s a list of Hyatt and Marriott credit cards that could be used to earn points, which you could then transfer to Avios.

Hyatt Credit Card

World of Hyatt Credit Card (annual fee: $95): Earn 30,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. Plus, up to 30,000 More Bonus Points by earning 2 Bonus Points total per $1 spent in the first 6 months from account opening on purchases that normally earn 1 Bonus Point, on up to $15,000 spent.

Marriott Bonvoy Credit Cards

Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card (annual fee: $0): Earn 30,000 Bonus Points after spending $1,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening with the Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card.

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card (annual fee: $95): Earn 3 Free Night Awards (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after spending $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card!

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card (annual fee: $650): Earn 95,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $6,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.

Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card (annual fee: $125): Earn 5 Free Night Awards after you use your new Card to make $8,000 in eligible purchases within the first 6 months of Card Membership. Redemption level up to 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points for a total potential value of up to 250,000 points, at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees. Offer ends 7/10/24. Terms apply.

How to redeem British Airways Avios

British Airways provides plenty of sweet spots if you know where to look. Of course, you can also redeem Avios on its two U.S. Oneworld partners: Alaska and American Airlines. It also has plenty of airline partners where you can take advantage of Avios points to get near or far.

British Airways’ Avios is also the program shared among three other airline loyalty programs: Aer Lingus AerClub, Iberia Plus and Qatar Privilege Club. This means you can transfer points between all four programs at a 1:1 ratio. Since each of these carriers has its own award charts, be sure to have a redemption in mind before transferring your points.

British Airways Award chart

British Airways relies on the distance between two cities to determine the number of Avios needed. This type of distance-based award system means that short-haul flights (like between Atlanta and Washington, D.C.) will cost fewer Avios than longer flights (like Boston to Seattle).

Because the program computes the award cost based on the distance between two destinations, if you have a stopover, each flight will be priced separately, potentially increasing the cost, which is important to keep in mind.

Like other airlines, British Airways has chosen to make things less transparent and no longer publishes an award chart. The cost in Avios, as well as any taxes, is based on the destination, date and class of travel, and you’ll have to do individual searches on its website to see the latest rates.

Best use of Avios for award flights

British Airways is notorious for the high taxes and fuel surcharges it tacks onto some award tickets, with seats in the premium cabin being the most expensive. 

Since the airline uses a distance-based award system, shorter distances cost fewer Avios points than on other airlines that use a region-based award chart, like American Airlines. Consider where you are traveling to determine which miles or points to redeem.

Avios also has promotional prices on off-peak awards and Reward Flight Savers, lowering the cost of award tickets even more. Reward Flight Savers offer discounts on award tickets available on round-trip British Airways flights, including to the U.S.

Sometimes, the price of a premium cabin ticket on a British Airways flight can be costly (factoring in the taxes), but it’s also possible to purchase an economy ticket and use Avios to upgrade. If you’re looking for the British Airways sweet spots, it requires taking into account all of these considerations.

Off-peak economy British Airways award from East Coast North America to Europe

The distance between the northeast U.S. and the U.K. is short enough to qualify for a lower award rate than flights from the West Coast.

For an off-peak award in economy class between New York and London, it only costs 13,000 Avios + $64 in taxes. On Oneworld partner American Airlines, it costs 22,500 miles for an off-peak award (or 30,000 miles for a peak award) between the continental U.S. and Europe, no matter the distance. In this example, using Avios is a better deal, and you can transfer points from a credit card program if you need more to make the redemption. If there’s a transfer bonus, then that’s even better.

In another example, say you want to fly from Los Angeles to Athens via London. For that trip, it would make sense to use American Airlines miles since the cost remains the same between the continental U.S. and Europe, no matter the distance. Taking such a route on British Airways would be more expensive (both because of distance and because Avios points are charged per segment), while American's awards would remain at the same price (because it is region-based).

West Coast U.S. to Hawaii

Another sweet spot using British Airways’ distance-based system is between Los Angeles and Hawaii on a one-way ticket. The British carrier charges only 13,000 Avios for an economy ticket. A redemption on American starts at 20,000 miles in the same cabin, and Oneworld partner Alaska charges 15,000 miles.

Cost in British Airways Avios:

Cost in American Airlines miles:

Using British Airways’ distance-based award system makes sense on both of these Oneworld partners since fewer miles are needed.

Sydney to Adelaide in economy and business class

Using Avios to book a one-way, economy class ticket from Sydney to Adelaide on Qantas Airways costs 9,000 Avios + $27 in taxes, while a business class award is 16,500 Avios + $27 in taxes. No matter which cabin you book, the taxes are the same in this example.

Watch for award ticket taxes and surcharges

The downside of using Avios is that British Airways premium economy, business and first-class awards can tack on high taxes and fuel surcharges, which makes using them on many itineraries less enticing. For an off-peak flight between New York and London in British Airways business class, it would cost 50,000 Avios + $679 in taxes. Region-based award charts (like American Airlines) tend to make more sense on premium cabin redemptions.

How to avoid fuel surcharges on awards booked with Avios

Using Oneworld airlines that avoid fuel surcharges can save you quite a bit of cash when it comes to taxes and fees. You’ll notice that on certain routes, Avios holds off on excessive fuel surcharges, like on domestic Australia flights using Qantas, domestic Japan flights using Japan Airlines, Aer Lingus or Iberia awards to the U.S. and some flights between Asia and Europe. In these instances, Avios can be a good use of miles without the excessive taxes.

Avios + cash

If you don't have enough points, you can also pay with a combination of points and cash, which provides flexibility to members. When doing so, you’ll also cash in on another benefit: the ability to earn Avios and Tier points, since it counts as a revenue ticket.

This option to use both points and cash works on all British Airways and American Airlines flights between the U.K. and North America as well as British Airways codeshare flights on partner airlines.

While this may seem like a great idea, it can represent a poor value of Avios points on a per-point basis, so be sure to calculate the true cost of the ticket first.

British Airways status

Within the British Airways Executive Club program, there are four elite status tiers: Blue (entry), Bronze, Silver and Gold.

These levels are achieved by collecting a minimum number of Tier points and paid, flown flights or a set number of eligible flights alone.

Here's how to earn elite status on British Airways:

Membership tier

Tier points + flights

Or flights only

Blue

0.

0.

Bronze

300 + 2 flights.

25.

Silver

600 + 4 flights.

50.

Gold

1,500 + 4 flights.

N/A.

New members automatically receive Blue status, which allows you to choose a seat 24 hours before departure (except when traveling on a basic fare) and provides member-only travel and shopping offers. Bronze, Silver and Gold status levels offer more perks.

British Airways Bronze

British Airways Bronze members receive:

  • 25% bonus Avios points on flights.

  • Priority check-in and boarding.

  • Free seat selection starting seven days before the flight.

  • The ability to keep status for maternity, paternity or adoption leave.

British Airways Silver

British Airways Silver members get:

  • All of the Bronze perks plus the ability to choose a seat for free at the time of booking.

  • A 50% bonus in Avios earnings.

  • Lounge access when flying on British Airways or one of its partners.

  • Extra baggage allowance on checked bags.

  • Oneworld Sapphire status match.

British Airways Gold

British Airways Gold members get:

  • All of the Silver perks plus a 100% Avios bonus on flights.

  • Access to the British Airways First lounge.

  • The ability to earn upgrade vouchers.

  • Additional availability on reward tickets.

  • Oneworld Emerald status match.

Tier points

Tier Points reset at the end of each membership year when members go back to zero to earn for the next year’s status. Once you reach a particular elite tier, you will keep that status for the rest of that membership year and all of the next membership year.

Tier Points expire each year, but they do get cumulatively added to your Lifetime Tier Points balance. If you want Gold membership, it’s yours once you have earned 35,000 Lifetime Tier Points.

British Airways Executive Club, recapped

British Airways’ Executive Club and its Avios program can be quite rewarding. Be sure to take advantage of its sweet spots, but don’t forget to keep an eye on when Avios points expire to avoid losing them. If you’re interested in understanding more about frequent flyer programs and if it’s worth the effort, see our beginner's guide to frequent flyer programs.

To view rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, see this page. To view rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, see this page. All information about the Amex EveryDay® Credit Card has been collected independently by NerdWallet. The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card is no longer available through NerdWallet. To view rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card, see this page. To view rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card, see this page.

Photo courtesy of British Airways.

All information about the American Express® Green Card has been collected independently by NerdWallet. The American Express® Green Card is no longer available through NerdWallet.

All information about The Platinum Card® from American Express, The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express, Amex EveryDay® Credit Card and Chase Freedom® has been collected independently by NerdWallet. The Platinum Card® from American Express, The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express, Amex EveryDay® Credit Card and Chase Freedom® are no longer available through NerdWallet.


How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are some of the best travel credit cards of 2024:

Get more smart money moves – straight to your inbox
Sign up and we’ll send you Nerdy articles about the money topics that matter most to you along with other ways to help you get more from your money.