In this post I am going to outline how I earn points doing things I would be doing anyway. This practice has become known as travel hacking.
I am no expert travel hacker but I have managed to use my Air Miles/Avios/frequent flyer points over the years to pay for return flights from London to Buenos Aires, a round the world air ticket and a business class flight from Sydney to London.
This is my guide to what I have done in order to earn the points to redeem for these flights.
The Avios programme has recently closed but many of the earning methods have transferred to the British Airways Executive Club. If you had an Avios account and have not yet transferred your points into an account with the British Airways Executive Club, you should do so right away.
My main earning methods are as follows:
- I do my supermarket shopping at Tesco. I always make sure that my Clubcard has been scanned at the start of the check-out process. My Tesco Clubcard is set up to automatically convert Clubcard points into British Airways Executive Club Avios.
- When I fill up with petrol I always do so at either Tesco petrol stations or at Shell garages. If I buy my petrol at Tesco I make sure that my Tesco Clubcard has been scanned before I make my payment. If I am refuelling at Shell, I show my Shell Drivers Club card prior to paying.
- Where possible, I use my British Airways Executive Club American Express credit card to pay for items. The interest charged on this card is high so it is important to pay it off in full each month. If you would like to earn BA Avios via this credit card, please use the Contact Me form and I will email you a referral. This will give you a greater joining Avios bonus than the introductory bonus you would receive if you were to apply independently. In return, I will also receive a referrer's Avios bonus.
- If I need to make a purchase, I always check to see whether I can find the item via the British Airways Executive Club eStore located on the left hand side about halfway down your Executive Club Member's Page. Many high street and online stores are associated with BA Avios, making earning Avios much quicker for you. Over the years I have earned Avios through the eStore with shops as varied as the Apple Store, Halfords, National Trust membership, Dreams, Tesco Direct, iTunes, Waterstones and Currys PC World to name but a few.
- I do tend to stick to British Airways or their One World partners when taking medium and long haul flights. I always ensure that my BA Executive Club account number is associated with the flight so that the Avios and Tier Points awarded are automatically added to my account.
Here are some other travel hacking tips that I have picked up or developed along the way:
- If I take a flight on another airline which is not a member of the One World Alliance, I routinely join their Frequent Flyer programme. Over the years I have been able to redeem points from Etihad, Emirates, Qantas and South African Airways for items from their online store and have acquired wine, a tennis racquet, barbecue utensils and a saucepan set for points which were going to expire before I had a chance to use them for flights.
- There are times when it makes good sense to check carefully whether it is worth earning the Avios. When hiring a car, for example, I almost always find that I can hire the same car for a much more advantageous rate from the same hire company if I don't do so on the rate that earns me Avios. It makes no sense to blindly earn Avios if it is false economy.
- It should be noted that when redeeming Avios to pay for flights, the traveller must still pay taxes and fuel charges. On short haul flights this can make the cost higher than simply flying with a budget airline. I tend to look at medium and long haul flights as better value for my Avios.
- When it comes to accommodation, I am a member of several hotel group loyalty schemes. My current favourites are the IHG group (which includes Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Intercontinental, Holiday Inn Express and Indigo amongst others). I recently joined Jury's Inn which I have found impressive too.