Ever wish you could you jet away business class or first class, especially on long haul flights? Well, it’s not quite as far out of your reach as you might think. You can utilise American Express credit card sign up bonuses and referral bonuses to reach a cool 200000 avios points reasonably easily!

It’s worth noting this is not a ‘free’ way of making points as your outlay will be roughly £422.50 depending on how long you keep each card and it would also require you to utilise £16000 worth of existing spend over 18 months (or quicker depending how quick you meet targets) BUT I think £422.50 is a good result considering where you can go with the points…

If you have held or hold a personal card from American Express in the past 24 months you aren’t eligible for a sign-up bonus from an American Express card. There are two major exceptions to this:

1) British Airways American Express Premium Plus Card

You cannot of held or currently hold an Avios earning card in the last 24 months to be eligible for a sign up bonus. You can hold another personal American Express card and still be eligible for the sign-up bonus.

2) The Platinum Card

You cannot of held or currently hold a Membership Reward points earning card in the last 24 months to be eligible for a sign up bonus. You can hold another personal American Express card and still be eligible for the sign-up bonus.

This is my experience using the points system and is not a recommendation of any financial product. There are other credit cards which can earn you travel points including IHG credit cardTesco Credit Cards (by exchanging Clubcard points for avios, hotel stays and more) & Virgin Atlantic credit card. If you use one of my referral links to an American Express card upon you being accepted I will receive points, this varies between 9,000 – 18,000 depending on the card I refer you from.

Avios

Avios is one of the most popular frequent flyer/point schemes in the UK. As it covers lots of short haul and long haul flights from the UK it’s also my favourite flying scheme to redeem points into. To calculate how many points you will need for a redemption you can use BA’s reward flight calculator here – https://www.britishairways.com/travel/avios-calculator/public/en_gb?eId=199006 – There is also a useful third party tool called reward flight finder that you can find here – https://rewardflightfinder.com/

Remember avios redemption aren’t free, you are required to pay British Airways ‘taxes and fees’ on them. One of my favourite things about British Airways and Avios is their reward flight saver scheme (RFS.) This caps economy returns at £35pp and business at £50pp in Europe. You’re eligible as long as you’ve collected at least one Avios in the past 12 months. It’s important to note this might not be the cheapest way to travel with your avios points, also check reward flights as two single fares as occasionally this will be cheaper.

Unless you are travelling in Europe do not redeem avios points for economy. This often is very poor value (points to pence) and you’d be better off paying cash for economy or redeeming for a business or first redemption. With avios points I aim for at least 1p to a point, but depending on how you earn your points/how you normally fly you may have a different valuation of your points. If you often fly budget airlines in Europe you may find saving your points for premium long haul redemptions better value!

What will 200000 Avios Points get me?

Photo Credit: Stuart Bailey / British Airways

First Class

Love to be treated like a VIP? First class is probably right up your street!

If you was flying first class you could get to places such as Dubai, New York & Toronto for 160000 avios return (plus taxes and fees.) or places such as St Lucia, Seychelles & Johannesburg for 200000 avios points return (plus taxes and fees.) For these flights I’ve chosen peak avios pricing, off-peak is slightly cheaper.

Taxes and charges on British Airways long-haul redemptions in Club World and First Class are around £600 per person.

Read more about the first class cabin here –
https://www.britishairways.com/en-gb/information/travel-classes/first/first

Photo Credit: British Airways

Business Class

Can’t bear the thought of a long flight without a bed to relax in? You could get you could get to places such as Cancun, Las Vegas & Mumbai for 150000 avios return (plus taxes and fees.) or places such as Tokyo, Rio De Janeiro & Bangkok for 180000 avios points return (plus taxes and fees.) For these flights I’ve chosen peak avios pricing, off-peak is slightly cheaper.

Taxes and charges on British Airways long-haul redemptions in Club World and First Class are around £600 per person.

Read more about the business class cabin here – https://www.britishairways.com/en-gb/information/travel-classes/business/club-world

LONDON, UK: British Airways short haul seats, London Heathrow on 28 April 2014 (Picture by: Nick Morrish/British Airways)

Short Haul Business/Economy

As mentioned earlier you should only redeem avios points for economy in Europe to receive a good return on your points.

You could get 25 return economy seats from London to Zone 1 destinations in Europe which include Amsterdam, Berlin, Copenhagen & Paris for 8000 points (off peak, 9000 points peak) & £35 per person. Alternatively you can get 12 return business seats for 15500 points (off peak, 18000 points peak) & £50.

11+ return economy seats from London to Zone 2&3 destinations in Europe which include Venice, Paphos & Ibiza.

Flying to Zone 2 will get you 13 economy returns, each one will cost you 13000 points (off peak, 15000 points peak) & £35. If you fancied business class you’d get 6 business returns 26000 (off peak, 30000 peak) & £50

You could get 11 economy returns to Zone 3, per return will cost you 17000 points (off peak, 20000 points peak) & £35 or 5 business returns 34000 points (off peak, 40000 points peak) & £50

Zone 1

Aberdeen, Amsterdam, Basel, Belfast, Bergerac, Berlin, Bilbao, Billund, Bordeaux, Brussels, Chambery, Cologne, Copenhagen, Dublin, Dusseldorf, Edinburgh, Frankfurt, Friedrichshafen, Geneva, Genoa, Glasgow, Gothenburg, Grenoble, Hamburg, Hannover, Innsbruck, Inverness, Jersey, Leeds Bradford, Limoges, Luxembourg, Lyon, Manchester, Marseille, Milan, Munich, Nantes, Newcastle, Nice, Paris, Prague, Quimper, Rotterdam, Salzburg, Stuttgart, Toulouse, Turin & Zurich

Zone 2

Algiers, Alicante, Almeria, Barcelona, Bari, Bologna, Brindisi, Budapest, Cagliari, Dubrovnik, Faro, Figari, Florence, Gibraltar, Granada, Helsinki, Ibiza, Krakow, Lisbon, Madrid, Malaga, Menorca, Naples, Olbia, Oslo, Palermo, Palma, Pisa, Porto, Pula, Rome, Seville, Split, Stockholm, Valencia, Venice, Verona, Vienna, Warsaw & Zagreb

Zone 3

Athens, Bucharest, Catania, Chania, Corfu, Dalaman, Funchal, Gran Canaria, Heraklion, Istanbul, Kalamata, Kefalonia, Kiev, Lanzarote, Larnaca, Malta, Marrakech, Moscow, Mykonos, Paphos, Reykjavik, Rhodes, Santorini, Skiathos, Sofia, St Petersburg, Teneriffe, Thessaloniki, Tirana & Zakynthos

How do I earn the 200000 Avios Points?

Well, 205,000 to be exact! Here is how you can earn those points step by step….

The key thing here is NOT to spend more than you would normally, it’s about utilising existing spend to reap rewards. If you can not pay the balance off your card in full every month I wouldn’t follow this guide. It’s worthwhile noting also that some people wait until they have a big expenditure coming up to help them meet their targets e.g. Christmas.

If you haven’t already, sign up and get your friend/partner/family member etc to sign up to Marriott Bonvoy here – 
https://www.marriott.com/loyalty/createAccount/createAccountPage1.mi

Also do the same for the British Airways Executive Club – http://www.britishairways.com/travel/register-now/public/en_gb

As soon as you get your American Express Platinum cards below set up the link between your Marriott account and them here – 
https://catalogue.membershiprewards.co.uk/partner/Marriott-Bonvoy/SC?categoryname=&linknav=uk-mr-vrp-travelpartners-sc-logo

Link also your American Express Platinum Card to your British Airways account –
https://catalogue.membershiprewards.co.uk/partner/British-Airways-Executive-Club/BA-0001?categoryname=&linknav=uk-mr-vrp-travelpartners-ba0001-logo

Following these steps will make the process a lot quicker and perhaps save you some money with the pro rata refund of membership fee. The points earned will be over 2 different persons accounts but don’t worry we will show you how to pool them together at the end!

Lets get started!

  1. Get a referral – http://pointsuncovered.com/amex-referral-link-uk/ – for the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Card, the card has an annual fee of £75 which is refunded pro rata upon cancellation. Once you have met the spend target for this card (£1000 in 3 months) or just before follow the next step… (current total 36,000 Marriott points – 30,000 spending bonus, 3,000 referral bonus, 3,000 from spending £1000.)
  2. Refer your partner/family member/friend for the 
    Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Card for an additional 9,000 points. Once your points have transferred to your Marriott account you can cancel your SPG card for a pro rata refund. Depending on how quickly you can do this depends on your refund amount. Each month costs £6.25 (£75 / 12), so if you kept the card for 3 months it would be £18.75. Annual fee is £75 – £18.75 would mean a refund of £56.25 on the annual fee. How to cancel? – http://pointsuncovered.com/american-express/how-do-i-cancel-my-amex-card-and-what-happens-with-the-points-perks-membership-fee/ (current total 45,000 Marriott points)
  3. Meet the spend target on your partners/family member/friends card for an additional 36,000 points as per step 1 (current total 81,000 Marriott points)
  4. Get your partner/family member/friend to refer you for the American Express Platinum card, for an additional 9,000 points. The card has an annual fee of £575 which is refunded pro rata upon cancellation. (current total 90,000 Marriott points, 45,000 Marriott points in each account) Once your Marriott points have been transferred close the 2nd SPG card as per point 2
  5. Now put the Marriott points to one side as we are going to earn some membership reward points….
  6. Once you’ve met the spend target on the Platinum card (£4000 in 3 months) or just before follow the next step (current total 39,000 membership reward points – 30,000 spending bonus, 2,000 referral bonus, 4,000 from spending £4000.)
  7. Refer your partner/family member/friend for the American Express Platinum card from your Platinum Card for an additional 12,000 points. (current total 51,000 Membership reward points)
  8. Meet the spend target on your partners/family member/friends card for an additional 39,000 points as per step 6 (current total 90,000 membership reward points)
  9. Refer your partner to the British Airways American Express®Premium Plus Card, the card has an annual fee of £195 which is refunded pro rata upon cancellation. Do this from your Platinum card for an additional 12,000 points.
    (current total 102,000 membership reward points)
  10. Now put the membership reward points to one side as we are going to earn some avios points!
  11. Once you have met the spend target for this card (£3000 in 3 months) or just before follow the next step… (current total 30,500 avios points – 25,000 spending bonus, 1,000 referral bonus, 4,500 from spending £3000.) Once your points have transferred to your British Airways account you can cancel your BA card for a pro rata refund. Depending on how quickly you can do this depends on your refund amount. Each month costs £16.25 (£195 / 12), so if you kept the card for 3 months it would be £48.75. Annual fee is £195 – £48.75 would mean a refund of £146.25 on the annual fee. How to cancel? – http://pointsuncovered.com/american-express/how-do-i-cancel-my-amex-card-and-what-happens-with-the-points-perks-membership-fee/
  12. If you can spend 10k on the card in 12 months it may make sense for you to keep the card as you get a 2 for 1 avios voucher when meeting that goal.
  13. Get referred by your friend/family to the British Airways American Express®Premium Plus Card. Get them to do this from their Platinum card for an additional 12,000 points.
    (current total 114,000 membership reward points, 63,000 on one account, 51,000 points on the other )
  14. Back to avios points…
  15. Met the minimum spend target on the latest card for an additional 30,500 avios per point 11. Once your points have moved over to your British Airways account cancel the card as per point 11. If you can spend 10k in a year on this card you may consider keeping it for the 2 for 1 voucher (current total 61,000 avios points)
  16. Transfer your membership reward points over to (Avios) British Airways Executive club. 63,000 membership reward points = 63,000 avios points. 51,000 membership reward points = 51,000 avios points. You can do that here –
    https://catalogue.membershiprewards.co.uk/partner/British-Airways-Executive-Club/BA-0001?categoryname=&linknav=uk-mr-vrp-travelpartners-ba0001-logo
  17. Close both American Express Platinum cards for a pro rata refund of the annual fee. Depending on how quickly you can do this depends on your refund amount. Each month costs £47.92 (£575 / 12), so if you kept the card for 3 months it would be £143.75. Annual fee is £575 – £143.75 would mean a refund of £431.25 on the annual fee. How to cancel? – http://pointsuncovered.com/american-express/how-do-i-cancel-my-amex-card-and-what-happens-with-the-points-perks-membership-fee/
  18. Transfer Marriott points to avios at 3:1. 45,000 in each account equals 15,000 x 2 avios points. Transfer your points here –
    https://www.marriott.co.uk/loyalty/redeem/travel/points-to-miles.mi
    (current total 205,000 avios points)
  19. And deep breathe! The final step is to pool your points by creating an household account –
    https://www.britishairways.com/en-gb/executive-club/household-accounts

If you kept each card 3 months your outlay would be £143.75 x 2, £18.75 x 2 and £48.75 x 2 = £422.50 for your avios points. It would also require you to utilise £16000 worth of existing spend over 18 months (or quicker depending how quick you meet targets)

Where would you go if you had 200000 avios points?

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