If you love traveling and are thinking of earning points to pay for your flights, you may want to utilize British Airways Avios. Avios are the official British Airways rewards points that can be redeemed for travel.
Avios can be an excellent rewards currency option if you plan to travel internationally, and they're also especially useful for short flights. There are many ways to earn British Airways Avios for your future travel adventures.
Earn Avios with the British Airways Visa Signature® Card
If you’re interested in earning Avios, you can do so by applying for certain credit cards.
British Airways has its own branded card. You can earn a significant number of Avios when you sign up for the British Airways Visa Signature® Card and meet minimum spending requirements: Earn 100,000 Avios after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.
Earning doesn’t stop there. You’ll earn Avios as you make your regular purchases. Here's the rewards structure:
Earn 5 Avios per $1 spent on purchases with British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia, and LEVEL within your first 12 months from account opening, thereafter earn 3 Avios.
Earn 3 Avios per $1 spent on hotel accommodations when purchased directly with the hotel within your first 12 months from account opening, thereafter earn 2 Avios.
Plus earn 1 Avios per $1 spent on all other purchases.
» Learn more: 5 reasons to love the British Airways loyalty program
Sign up for credit cards that earn credit card points and transfer to British Airways
American Express cards
British Airways is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, which means that you could transfer AmEx points that you’ve earned to Avios. AmEx points are extremely valuable given their flexibility, so you would only want to transfer points when you have a British Airways redemption in mind and you’ve confirmed award availability. Points transfer at a 1:1 ratio, and the process is pretty painless. You do need a credit card from AmEx that earns Membership Rewards points. NerdWallet recommends the following American Express cards, listed here with their respective welcome offers:
The Platinum Card® from American Express (annual fee: $695): Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the 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 $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months. Terms Apply.
American Express® Green Card (annual fee: $150): Earn 30,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Terms Apply.
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 $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 months. Terms Apply.
How to transfer from AmEx Membership Rewards to British Airways
When you’re ready to transfer points from American Express to British Airways, log in to your AmEx account and select “Rewards” from the menu across the top of the page.
Then, choose the “Transfer Points” option from the menu in the middle of the page, and then “view all” to see a list of all partners.
From the choices provided, select British Airways. If this is your first time doing a transfer, you will need to link your Executive Club account to your American Express account. Have your AmEx credit card handy as you will need to input the four-digit code from the front of the card along with the three-digit code from the back of the card to verify your identity. Once the accounts are linked, you can proceed with a transfer.
AmEx points transfer to Executive Club in increments of 1,000. Because British Airways is a foreign carrier, you will not need to pay the excise tax offset fees that AmEx typically charges on point transfers to domestic airlines.
British Airways sweet spots can be found on short-haul awards and some transatlantic routes, specifically if the flight is on American Airlines, because you can avoid the high taxes and surcharges that British Airways is notorious for adding on to award tickets.
If you complete a transfer while AmEx is running a transfer bonus, you’ll be able to extract a better value out of your Avios. American Express often runs transfer bonuses to hotels and airlines, so if you’ve got a redemption in mind for the future, pay attention to what transfer bonuses are going on at the moment. Most recently, AmEx ran a 25% transfer bonus to Hawaiian Airlines in September 2019 and a 50% bonus to Hilton in April 2020.
Another great way to earn Avios is by transferring them from Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Points transfer at a 1:1 ratio, and the process is pretty straightforward. You will need a credit card from Chase that earns Chase Ultimate Rewards® points. NerdWallet recommends the following cards:
Personal credit cards
Chase Sapphire Reserve® (annual fee: $550): Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (annual fee: $95): Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,250 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Business credit cards
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card (annual fee: $95): Earn 100k bonus points after you spend $15,000 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 Ultimate Rewards®.
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. And earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
Chase Freedom Unlimited® (annual fee: $0): Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. And earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
» Learn more: Chase Freedom Unlimited review: A winning combination
No-fee business credit cards
Ink Business Cash® Credit Card (annual fee: $0): Earn $750 bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card (annual fee: $0): Earn $750 bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Transferring from Chase Ultimate Rewards® to British Airways
When you’re ready to transfer points from Chase to British Airways, log in to your Chase account and head over to the Chase Ultimate Rewards® page. From the menu at the top, select "Transfer to Travel Partners."
Then, choose British Airways from the choices provided and input your details. This step will link your British Airways and Chase accounts to allow for future transfers. Once your accounts are linked, you are ready to complete the points transfer.
Points are transferred at a 1:1 ratio and must be transferred in increments of 1,000. Most transfers are instantaneous, which is great because you won't have to worry about an award disappearing while waiting for the points to come in.
Marriott Bonvoy cards
Marriott Bonvoy points convert to British Airways Avios at a 3:1 ratio. But for every 60,000 Bonvoy points transferred, you get a 5,000-point bonus. So if you transfer 60,000 Marriott points to British Airways, you will have 25,000 Avios.
There are several Marriott Bonvoy credit cards to choose from depending on your travel and spending preferences:
Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card (annual fee: $0): Earn 30,000 Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card (annual fee: $95): Earn 3 Free Nights (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after spending $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening + 10X total points per $1 spent on up to $2,500 in combined purchases at gas stations, restaurants, and grocery stores within 6 months from account opening with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card (annual fee: $450): Earn 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Plus, earn up to $200 in Statement Credits for eligible purchases at U.S. Restaurants within the first 6 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.
Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card (annual fee: $125): Earn 75,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 of eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, earn up to $150 back in statement credits on eligible purchases made on your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.
» Learn more: Which Marriott Bonvoy credit card should I choose?
Regardless of which card you go with, if you’re using this method, always try to transfer Bonvoy points in increments of 60,000 so you can take advantage of the 5,000-mile bonus. 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.
Use American Express to maximize the conversion rate
If you have a British Airways redemption in mind and the timing aligns with a transfer bonus from AmEx to Marriott, you could end up walking away with significantly more Avios after utilizing a three-way transfer (AmEx → Marriott → British Airways).
Convert other hotel points to Avios
Points from certain hotels can be converted to Avios. If you’ve got some extra hotel points that you have no use for, consider converting them to Avios.
Hotel / Loyalty Program
3,000 Bonvoy points to 1,000 Avios. Receive 5,000 bonus Avios when you convert 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.
10,000 Hilton points to 1,000 Avios.
10,000 IHG points to 2,000 Avios.
5,000 Hyatt points to 2,000 Avios. Receive 5,000 bonus Avios when you convert 50,000 points.
2,000 points to 200 Avios, 50,000 points to 5,000 Avios, or 100,000 points to 10,000 Avios.
4,000 ALL Rewards points to 2,000 Avios.
5,000 Best Western Rewards points to 1,000 Avios.
100 MeliaRewards to 30 Avios. Points can be converted in multiples of 100.
To do a points transfer, visit the British Airways hotel partner page and choose the hotel you’d like to convert points from. Then, log in to your loyalty account on the hotel site and look for the option to convert your points to Avios.
Earn Avios when making hotel or Airbnb bookings
It’s possible to earn Avios when you book directly with participating hotels or on certain hotel booking websites, as well. Accommodation partners include Accor, Agoda.com, Avios Hotels, Best Western Hotels and Resorts, Booking.com, Hotels.com, Hyatt Hotels and Resorts, InterContinental Hotels Group, Kaligo.com, Marriott International and Rocketmiles. Each partner has its own earning rate, so make sure to check the British Airways site if you want to maximize your earnings.
» Learn more: Your guide to British Airways’ award chart
If you enjoy staying in Airbnb properties when traveling, you’ll be happy to know that you can also earn Avios by doing so. When you use the British Airways Airbnb portal to book your stay, you’ll earn 3 Avios for every $1 spent. If you’re brand new to Airbnb, you’ll get a 500-Avios welcome bonus.
Join the British Airways Executive Club
You’ll also earn Avios when flying with British Airways. All you need to do is become a British Airways Executive Club member, which is easy. For every flight that you take, you’ll earn Avios. And if you’ve made use of one of the methods above, you should already have a British Airways Executive Club number, so just make sure to enter it as your frequent flyer number when flying British Airways and its partners.
Once you’re a British Airways Executive Club member and continue to fly with British Airways and its partners, you can earn frequent flyer status. As you work your way up the Executive Club tiers, you can earn more Avios for the flights that you take.
Executive Club Bronze members earn 25% bonus Avios, while Executive Club Silver members earn 50% bonus Avios and Executive Club Gold members earn 100% bonus Avios. It pays to be loyal.
» Learn more: 4 award sweet spots using British Airways Avios
Fly with partner airlines
You can also earn Avios when you book flights with partner airlines, giving you plenty of opportunities to earn Avios when you fly. Here are applicable earning partner airlines:
Royal Air Maroc
Royal Jordanian Airlines
Note: While Air Italy is a partner airline, you cannot earn Avios on its partner flights.
Miscellaneous ways to earn Avios
Shop through the Avios eStore
Another way to earn Avios is by doing the online shopping that you already planned to do, but heading to the British Airways Avios eStore. You can earn up to 20 Avios for every $1 spent, and there are over 400 online retailers who participate. You'll notice that each retailer displays its current earning rate in the portal. Offers do change, so check back often.
Earn Avios when renting cars through Avis
If you like to take road trips or if you’re planning to visit somewhere with limited public transportation, you may need to rent a car. The good news is you can earn Avios when booking a rental car since Avis is the official partner of the British Airways Executive Club.
When booking with Avis, you can earn 1 Avios per $1 spent, with a minimum of 500 Avios awarded per car rental. If you rent with Avis at least four times in one year, you’ll collect 1,000 bonus Avios. You can also earn 250 Avios if you use your British Airways credit card to pay for your rental.
You may purchase Avios in increments of 1,000 up to 200,000 in a calendar year. The purchase rate operates on a sliding scale. For example, if you buy the minimum 1,000 Avios, the rate is 5.3 cents apiece. If you buy the maximum 200,000 Avios, the rate is 2.8 cents each. Even at the maximum, this is an extremely expensive way to earn Avios and generally ought to be your last resort.
» Learn more: 4 times it makes sense to buy airline miles
From flying on British Airways and Oneworld airlines to earnings points from credit cards, there are plenty of ways to earn Avios. What’s your favorite way to earn Avios? Tell us below in the comments!
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.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card