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I was intrigued by a comment made by InsideFlyer UK reader Aleks in a recent post. He doubts my assertion about “opportunity cost” when earning Avios by saying:
I’m quite happy to earn the Avios as my alternative would be to earn nothing
I don’t dispute that many people believe this to be true. I also don’t dispute that many people have better things to do than learn about more than one or two loyalty programmes; so most British people would logically choose to focus on Avios. I also don’t dispute that earning Avios might be the BEST perk available at any given time – for example, the promotion offering 2,000 bonus Avios per stay from Hilton Honors is clearly better than earning 2 miles per $ from Virgin Atlantic or an extra 5 Honors points…
But I do question whether there are any ways of earning Avios that have absolutely no alternative. It’s not my intention to call out Aleks or anybody else, but I thought it interesting to pose this question to readers. Do you know of a way to earn Avios that has no alternative perk? I can only think of one or two…
Vueling flights – whether booked as a British Airways / Iberia codeshare or directly with Vueling as an “Optima” fare – can only earn Avios.
Flybe might be a similar situation, although I am less familiar with this airline.
Otherwise, I believe that most, if not all, airlines have an alternative option, thanks to the Oneworld alliance and independent partnerships. When you fly British Airways, you can credit your flight to any number of frequent flyer programmes. You can check www.wheretocredit.com/british-airways for a decent list.
Hotel Stays / Car Rentals
If you stay at a chain hotel, you can obviously choose to earn hotel points. If you choose to book through an online travel agency that offers miles – such as Kaligo, Rocketmiles or Pointshound – you can earn miles from a wide variety of airline partners.
With car rentals, even though you can only earn Avios from Avis and Budget (via Iberia Plus), you can credit those Avis / Budget car rentals to a number of different airline programmes.
Of course, if you choose a co-branded British Airways credit card from American Express, you will only earn Avios. But what is stopping you from earning American Express Membership Rewards (transferable to a number of different airlines), Starwood Preferred Guest points (transferable to even more airlines!) or any of the airline cards offered by MBNA? As I mentioned, spending £1 on an Avios-earning credit card means that you can’t spend it on a different credit card.
Perhaps you are new to the UK without a credit history and decide to open a current account with Lloyds, with the hope that soon they will allow you to carry the Avios-earning Amex/Mastercard combo? Perhaps, but no other banks offer perks for signing up and using their credit cards? I am frequently bombarded with the offer of £100 for signing up a friend/family member to my bank…
You can definitely earn Avios by using the British Airways or Avios.com shopping portals. But you could also use Topcashback or Quidco. You might decide to convert your TCB balance into Avios, but you could also choose cash.
Are there any merchants that are ONLY available on an Avios-earning shopping portal?
I recently wrote a post about Tesco Clubcard reward options. Avios is indeed a popular reward option, but it certainly isn’t the best.
I also wrote a post about the payout options from E-Rewards. The 3,000 Avios reward might be the best option (in my opinion), but it certainly isn’t the only miles or hotel points option. (and I’ve got so many Avios that I’ve been building up my AA and Virgin balances instead)
What Am I Missing?
Has the summer heat fried my brain? Have I forgotten something obvious? I would love to offer a prize for the best answer, but instead you’ll have to live with the opportunity of showing this “know-it-all” that he doesn’t in fact know it all – my partner would say that is priceless!
So, please leave a comment below with any opportunities you’ve found to earn Avios – but only those that truly have no alternatives…