Updated: Feb 7, 2022
Booking an Award Ticket with a frequent-flyer loyalty program you're not familiar is like learning a foreign language. You may never even try to learn. You may be familiar with the big three: Delta SkyMiles®, United MileagePlus®, or American AAdvantage®.
We are going to discuss a loyalty program you may not be as familiar with—British Airways Executive Club—and see how you can get value when booking an Award Ticket!
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Getting Started With British Airways Executive Club
British Airways is the second-largest United kingdom based carrier. There are two hubs: London—Heathrow and London—Gatwick. British Airways is a founding member of the third-largest airline alliance in the world—the oneworld Alliance.
Oneworld airline partners:
Royal Air Maroc
Royal Jordanian Airlines
Other airline partners:
Getting started with the British Airways Executive Club is a simple process that can be done online. When you create your account, be sure to enter your name and date of birth exactly as they appear on your government-issued ID. (E.g. driver's license, passport, etc.)
After you create your account, you will receive an email from British Airways with your Executive Club number. You will need this number when logging into your account, booking an Award Ticket, or earning miles while flying on British Airways or other partner airlines.
British Airways Executive Club's points currency is Avios—miles earned from flying or from credit card spend that can be used for an Award Ticket, Upgrade, etc. There are actually three airlines that use Avios as their points currency: British Airways, Iberia, and Aer Lingus.
British Airways has numerous Award Charts including an Award Chart to see how many Avios you will need for an Economy Class Award Flight with connections between two or more oneworld airlines. The sweet spot for redeeming your Avios via British Airways Executive Club is on short-haul nonstop flights of 650 miles or less. Redemptions for long-haul Economy Class are typically a poor use of your Avios.
With Award Travel flexibility is the key in order to get outsized value out of your Avios. You may need to be a little more flexible with your departure/ arrival dates & times. Keep in mind that you may be charged substantial fees and taxes when redeeming through the Executive Club—especially on flights operated by British Airways.
Credit Cards to Earn Avios
There are a number of ways to amass a plethora of Avios that can be redeemed for an Award Ticket. One of the easiest ways for most of us is by selecting the right credit card(s). Specifically, selecting a credit card that offers a large welcome bonus!
Of course, not all credit cards earn miles or points that can be redeemed for an Award Ticket through British Airways Executive Club. Thankfully, British Airways is a transfer partner of Chase, American Express, and Capital One. They are transferred at a 1:1 ratio. This is great news and makes it very easy to stockpile Avios!
Chase, in my opinion, offers some of the best credit card products, and they have a robust transfer partner program. Any Chase Ultimate Rewards®-earning credit card can be used to accumulate points that can subsequently be transferred to British Airways—provided you have one of the following Chase credit cards to complete the transfer: Chase Sapphire Reserve®, Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, or Chase Ink Business Preferred®.
In my opinion, the best credit card to get started within Award Travel is the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. The current welcome bonus is 60,000 Ultimate Rewards®! You can apply for this card here! If you would like to learn more about this credit card, please see the following post: Chase Sapphire Preferred—The Best Credit Card Just Got Better!
Capital One recently upped their game with most of their transfer partners. Capital One is now a 1:1 point transfer partner of British Airways! Capital One credit cards that earn transferable miles include: Venture X Rewards; Venture Rewards; and VentureOne Rewards. The Venture Rewards has a 60,000 welcome bonus with only a $3,000 minimum spend within the first 3 months. In addition, it earns 2X unlimited on all non-category purchases making this a great card to accumulate miles on categories that don't typically earn good rewards. You can apply for this card here! If you would like to learn more about this credit card, please see the following post: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card—Simple But Powerful!
British Airways also offers a co-branded credit card through Chase—the British Airways Visa Signature® Card—that directly earns Avios. However, learn more about the value of selecting a Flexible Points Credit Card in the following post: Flexible Points Credit Cards vs. Co-Branded Credit Cards—Don't Make This Mistake!
Marriott is also a transfer partner with British Airways at a transfer rate of 3:1. In addition, for every 60,000 Marriott points transferred to Turkish Airlines, you'll receive an extra 5,000 Avios. For example, 60,000 Marriott points can be converted into 25,000 Avios. Although this may not be the best way to use your Marriott points, it does give you additional options when redeeming an Award Ticket.
Marriott has several co-branded credit cards through Chase and American Express. These include: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card; Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card; Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card; and Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card.
American Express also has excellent cards that earn Membership Rewards® Points that can be transferred to British Airways: The Platinum Card®; American Express® Gold Card; Amex EveryDay® Credit Card; Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card; American Express® Green Card; and Blue from American Express®. They also have many business products. American Express also offers transfer bonuses to British Airways periodically; the last one was a 40% bonus!
Strategically Working to Increase Your Avios
There are several strategies you can use to increase your supply of Avios. This includes opening multiple credit cards—those that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards® Points, American Express Membership Rewards® Points, Capital One Miles, Marriott points, or Avios.
Families can work together in "two-player mode." This is a way for two individuals to work together to increase their credit card rewards which can then be redeemed for Award Travel. To learn more about this strategy, please see the following post: Getting Approved for a Credit Card While Unemployed—Why You Don't Want to Miss Out!
Taking advantage of the British Airways Avios eStore and other promotions offered by British Airways are some additional ways to increase your Avios. It does create a little extra work to sign-up and access the links but it becomes second nature with practice. It is not widely known but Airbnb is a partner and new Airbnb customers can earn 6 Avios per £1!
Let the Award Booking Begin!
Let's assume that you applied for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and received the 60,000 Ultimate Rewards® Points welcome bonus—along with the points earned by meeting the minimum spend amount—and are ready to book your first Award Ticket! Your origin is Phoenix, Arizona. Your destination is San Francisco, California. Your date of departure is Thursday, December 22, 2022, and your date of return is Thursday, December 29, 2022. Let us determine how many miles are between PHX and SFO:
Great Circle Mapper shows the distance between PHX and SFO is 651 miles. This is 1 mile over the 0-650 redemption level which means this flight will cost more Avios because of an extra mile!
Redeeming this flight through British Airways and booking on American Airlines metal will cost 9,000 Avios + $5.60 in fees.
Next, the return flight for 9,000 Avios + $5.60 in fees on American Airlines metal.
However, by being a little creative, you can fly into San Jose, California—less than 50 miles from San Francisco, California—and pay less Avios because of the reduced distance. Great Circle Mapper shows the distance between PHX and SJC is 621 miles. This is within the 0-650 redemption level threshold which means this flight will cost 1,500 less Avios each way.
Redeeming this flight through British Airways and booking on American Airlines metal will cost 7,500 Avios + $5.60 in fees.
Next, the return flight for 7,500 Avios + $5.60 in fees on American Airlines metal.
As you can see, by flying into San Jose (SJC) instead of San Francisco (SFO), you will save 3,000 Avios round trip—15,000 vs. 18,000. By understanding British Airways' distance-based Award Chart, you can find sweet spots and save your hard-earned miles & points!
The aforementioned example is an example of how a family of four can fly round trip from Phoenix to San Jose by transferring 60,000 Ultimate Rewards® Points to British Airways for only $44.80 in fees! The 60,000 Ultimate Rewards® Points welcome bonus is available with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. You can apply for this card here!
When credit cards are used responsibly and intelligently, tremendous value can be had—especially when used for Award Travel. With loyalty programs constantly devaluing their miles & points, an "earn and burn" approach is one that you want to adopt—especially when you are able to redeem an Award Ticket for outsized value.
"British Airways Executive Club is worth taking the time to understand how to maximize your Award Ticket redemptions."
The key ingredients to being successful at Award Travel involve (1) strategically earning miles & points and (2) redeeming those miles & points for outsized value. You can learn more about this topic and receive assistance to get started by contacting a Credit Card Miles & Points Consultant. You can also learn more at the following post: Why Should I Consider Using a Credit Card Miles & Points Consultant?
Are you unsure of what credit card you should select? At AwardYourMiles, we have created various tools designed to help you in the Award Travel space. This includes our Miles & Points Calculator and our Credit Card Selector Calculator. The Miles & Points Calculator determines the value of the selected credit card in your first and second year of use based on your spending habits. The Credit Card Selector Calculator will provide you with the first-year value of all our credit cards contained within our database based on your spending habits. Try it out for FREE!
Be sure to research your destination to learn about any COVID-19 restrictions or travel entry requirements. Our COVID-19 Resources will help you in this regard; simply enter the state or the country you plan on visiting and dynamic links that contain COVID-19 guidance and other travel advisories will automatically populate.
In addition, many destinations are requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination. Depending on where you would like to travel to, you may be required to present some form of digital proof of vaccination. However, because standards and requirements vary from country to country, and even from state to state within the United States, it may require some forethought on your part to obtain digital proof. Learn some useful tips in the following post: COVID-19 Vaccination—How to Create a Digital Record.
It is also a good idea to consider your options when it comes to travel insurance. It is prudent to be prepared for the unexpected. You can learn more in the following post: An Easy Guide to Travel Insurance for Your Next Vacation.
Are you considering traveling internationally? Be sure to consider the following post: International Travel—Five Things You Should Research First!
More to Come!
The British Airways Executive Club loyalty program is but one of many other frequent-flyer programs. In fact, there are many ways to strategically leverage your existing points with other programs. Learn about another program—United MileagePlus®—in the following post: United MileagePlus—How to Book an Award Ticket. You can also learn about American AAdvantage® in the following post: American AAdvantage Miles—Hot to Book an Award Ticket. We also have an extensive review of Turkish Miles&Smiles; you can learn about this program in the following post: Turkish Miles&Smiles—How to Book an Award Ticket. You can also learn more about Virgin Atlantic Flying Club in the following post: Virgin Atlantic Flying Club—How to Gook an Award Ticket. We will review additional loyalty programs in the future!