Avios, the frequent-flyer “currency” used by British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus, has become a lot more valuable since Qatar adapted Avios as its rewards currency. But even before the latest addition of Qatar, there were quite a few good ways to use Avios to get amazing travel experiences.

And here’s another piece of good news. British Airways is notorious for imposing huge surcharges on award tickets. Therefore, in the past, if we wanted to avoid high surcharges, we had to use Iberia’s program to book Iberia flights. Sounds innocuous enough, right?

But if you ever had to interact with Iberia’s website, or its customer service, you know how grueling that could be. We’re happy to report that you can now use British Airways Avios to book Iberia awards without incurring high surcharges.

With all the latest changes, the ability to move Avios between accounts and the family pooling, Avios are a great currency to possess. If you have a spouse or another “Player 2” who also can open credit cards, you can accumulate a great war chest of Avios fairly quickly.

Let’s look at how you can accumulate a huge stash of Avios and what you can do with this bounty.

Cards That Earn Avios

Avios is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One Venture Miles, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy.

Avios can also be earned with three credit cards:

All three cards come with a fantastic welcome bonus after meeting minimum-spending requirements, and all three have a mid-range annual fee of $95 (not waived the first year).

These three cards have the same earning structure:

  • 3X Avios on purchases with British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia and LEVEL
  • 2X Avios on hotel accommodations when purchased directly with the hotel
  • 1X Avios on everything else

In addition to the common earning structure, each card offers some unique perks and benefits.

Remember that you have to be under Chase’s 5/24 rule to get approved for any of these three cards.

Qatar, in spite of using Avios as its currency, doesn’t offer a U.S.-based co-branded credit card.

Combine Avios Across Accounts

One of Avios’ greatest attributes is the ability to transfer and combine Avios among accounts at a 1:1 ratio. British Airways Executive Club, Iberia Plus, Aer Lingus AerClub and Qatar Privilege Club all use Avios, and you can move the points earned in one program into any of the other three programs for free.

While all four programs use the same name for its “currency,” each still maintains its own award chart. Why would you want to combine your Avios? Because you can take advantage of each program’s best redemptions by transferring Avios between programs.

The main reason to combine Avios into one account is to aggregate enough points for a big redemption or top off the balance.

Whether you want to take the whole family to the Caribbean or fly in Qsuites, one of the best business-class seats in the sky, you’d want to have a good stash of Avios in one account. And because you can transfer Avios from one program to another, you can choose the program that will get you the best deal.

Your details, such as your full name, date of birth and email address, need to match on all accounts. Additionally, both your British Airways Executive Club and Iberia Plus accounts need to be open for at least 90 days to receive or transfer Avios.

Qatar’s Privilege Club members will need to link their account to their British Airways account to be able to transfer Avios between the two accounts. Right now, you can transfer only BA Avios to Qatar Privilege Club, so if you have other Avios with Iberia or Aer Lingus, you’ll have to transfer those to BA and then to Qatar.

Avios Family Pooling

British Airways Household Account is free to create and allows pooling of Avios with up to six people who live with you. Opening a Household Account is a great way to accrue Avios for your children.

Because you have to be at least 18 years old to join the Executive Club program, the only way for kids to earn Avios on paid flights is to add them to the Household Account. This will allow you to combine their Avios with your own Avios and book more expensive redemptions.

If you want to spend the pooled Avios on someone not in your household account, you’ll first need to create a Family and Friends list. So if you want to take grandma on vacation, add her to the list and then redeem the Avios from the Household Account for her award flights.

What Can You Do with Your Huge Stash of Avios?

Now that you have all of these points, what are some of the best ways to use them? There are quite a few ways to redeem Avios for great award redemptions. Let’s look at a few examples of how to redeem Avios. This is not an exhaustive list of the best Avios “sweet spots” but rather a small sampling to pique your interest.

Book Qsuites to Doha, Qatar, with 70,000 British Airways Avios

After Qatar Airways Privilege Club switched to Avios, British Airways Executive Club brought its redemption rates for travel on Qatar Airways in line with Qatar’s own rates and lowered the award price of the popular Qsuite business-class redemptions, including the taxes and fees on those tickets.

These redemptions now require the same number of Avios as booking through Qatar Privilege Club, which, historically, offered a better deal on Qsuites awards.

Book Qsuites to Doha, Qatar, with 70,000 British Airways Avios

A one-way business class award from the United States to Qatar costs 70,000 Avios and about $100 in taxes.

Book Iberia Off-Peak Awards Between the United States and Madrid with British Airways Avios

Iberia uses a distance-based award chart and divides the year into peak and off-peak dates. The off-peak dates actually include some of the best times to visit Spain, especially in the spring.

Book Iberia Off-Peak Awards Between the United States and Madrid with British Airways Avios

You can book one-way off-peak flights in business class from the East Coast to Madrid for 34,000 Avios and from Chicago to Madrid for 42,500 Avios. Traveling from the West Coast is not as cheap, but at 51,000 Avios each way on off-peak dates, it’s still a pretty good deal.

Book Iberia Off-Peak Awards Between the United States and Madrid with British Airways Avios2

Until recently, this award was bookable with Iberia Avios only. Iberia’s site is glitchy and frustrating to use, so the ability to book the same awards on British Airways without exorbitant surcharges is a huge improvement.

Off-Peak U.S. East Coast to Ireland for 13,000 British Airways Avios or Aer Lingus Avos in Economy on Aer Lingus

British Airways has a separate award chart for Aer Lingus that includes peak and off-peak dates. The surcharges are also a lot lower when flying economy on Aer Lingus as compared to British Airways.

You can fly one way from the U.S. to Ireland in economy on the off-peak dates for just 13,000 Avios.

Off-Peak U.S. East Coast to Ireland for 13,000 British Airways Avios or Aer Lingus Avos in Economy on Aer Lingus

A one-way award in business class from the U.S. to Ireland requires 50,000 miles, but the surcharges top $700, which isn’t a good deal, and we don’t recommend booking this route with Avios.

However, the surcharges for a flight from Dublin to the East Coast are less than $200 on a business-class flight, making it a much more reasonable redemption.

If you prefer to use Aer Lingus’ own program, AerClub, the award redemption rates are the same, and the taxes are a bit lower.

Book U.S. Domestic Nonstop Flights Starting at 7,500 Avios

Because British Airways charges per segment, it’s best to use BA Avios on short domestic nonstop flights under 1,150 miles. British Airways doesn’t operate in the U.S., so you’ll be flying on partner airlines American Airlines or Alaska Airlines.

Here’s an example of an American Airlines flight from Denver to Dallas that you can book for only 7,500 Avios and $5.60 in taxes.

The caveat here is finding the cheapest saver awards on American Airlines. Since AA moved to dynamic pricing, the saver level awards are becoming harder and harder to find. American Airlines is also prone to call some of its cheapest awards Web Specials, and this class of fares is not eligible for partner bookings.

Los Angeles to Japan for 25,750 British Airways Avios

Generally, we want to avoid booking long-haul flights with Avios because it’s a distance-based program. But the one-way flight from Los Angeles to Tokyo (NRT) in economy class is quite a good deal at 25,750 Avios.

The taxes aren’t the cheapest when flying Japan Airlines, but if you can find an American Airlines flight on this route, the surcharges should be lower.

Los Angeles to Japan for 25,750 British Airways Avios

Fly to the Caribbean from the East Coast for 7,500 to 13,000 British Airways Avios in Economy

Because American Airlines is British Airways’ partner, it’s possible to book one-way flights from the East Coast gateway cities to the Caribbean for as few as 7,500 Avios.

For example, here’s a one-way flight from Miami to Providenciales, Turks and Caicos, that costs 7,500 miles plus $5.60.

Fly to the Caribbean from the East Coast for 7,500 to 13,000 British Airways Avios in Economy

Keep in mind that British Airways charges per segment, so it’s best to stick to nonstop flights. Since American switched to dynamic pricing, partner availability could be scarce.

Final Thoughts

Avios are often neglected in favor of earning other airline currencies, but with recent improvements, Avios could be extremely valuable. The three Avios-earning credit cards offer a great opportunity to earn enough points to take that dream trip in Qsuites or fly the whole family in business class to Spain.

Before opening any credit cards that earn airline miles or hotel points, you should have a solid roadmap for using the points. Avios are one of the most flexible airline points on the market, but they still have limitations. Always make sure to have a redemption strategy in mind before you start earning “fixed currencies” instead of flexible credit card points.