Best ways to maximize your Avios points

Select’s editorial team works independently to review financial products and write articles we think our readers will find useful. We may receive a commission when you click on links for products from our affiliate partners.

One of the best ways to earn large amounts of points and miles is through credit card welcome offers. And now that a sense of normalcy is returning to travel, credit card companies are shelling out huge welcome offers left and right to entice new customers.

This is a great opportunity to earn valuable rewards, such as Avios points. Avios can be earned and spent in three different airline programs, including Aer Lingus, Iberia and British Airways. Within each program, they will have slighty different values as they each have their own award chart.

However, these points are redeemable on a large number of airlines, including American Airlines and Alaska Airlines. Avios are an extremely versatile loyalty program currency that can save you thousands on airfare when used correctly.

Select analyzed how consumers can earn Avios points and some of the best redemptions available.

How to earn Avios points

If Avios points are what you want to earn for your next adventure, there are ample opportunities to do so — especially with Chase’s newest offer. 

You can earn up to 100,000 Avios after spending $5,000 within the first three months of card membership on three different cards, such as the British Airways Visa Signature® Card, Aer Lingus Visa Signature® card and the Iberia Visa Signature® card. This is a fantastic offer, and one of the best we’ve ever seen on these cards.

This bonus is extremely valuable as you can use Avios on a number of different airlines, including: American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LATAM, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar, Royal Jordanian, S7 Airlines and SriLankan Airlines.

It’s important to note that Aer Lingus is not part of the Oneworld alliance, so you can’t book flights on American or Alaska with Aer Lingus Avios. However, you can transfer Aer Lingus Avios to British Airways Avios or Iberia Avios to book Oneworld flights (including Alaska and American) on partner airlines

The co-branded cards are not the only cards you can earn Avios with, as you can directly transfer select credit card rewards points to the different Avios loyalty programs.

American Express credit cards

With American Express cards earning Membership Rewards, you can transfer your points at a 1:1 ratio to the loyalty programs of British Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The American Express Platinum Card is a travel credit card built for luxury travel. With benefits such as airport lounge access, multiple travel credits, automatic hotel loyalty program status and more — this card packs a punch. 

The card is currently offering 100,000 Membership Rewards® points when you spend $6,000 on purchases on the card in your first six months of card membership. However, the card was recently refreshed with new benefits and a $695 annual fee. (see rates and fees)

American Express® Gold Card

The American Express Gold Card is an excellent credit card for foodies to earn heaps of rewards on groceries and dining out.

With this card, you earn: 4X points for every dollar spent on dining and at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year), 3X points for every dollar spent on flights booked directly with the airline or through the Amex travel portal and 1X for every dollar spent on all other purchases.

The American Express Gold Card is currently offering 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 within the first six months from account opening.

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express

If you are a business owner, applying for a business credit card is an excellent way to earn additional rewards.

The Blue Business Plus from American Express is simple, yet effective in its two spending categories: Earn 2X Membership Rewards® points on every dollar spent on business purchases up to $50,000 per year, then 1X point per dollar after.

It also comes with a 0% introductory APR for the first 12 months on purchases, and no annual fee. (see rates and fees)

American Express® Green Card

The American Express Green Card is a great mid-tier travel credit card, without a back breaking annual fee.

When using the card, you will earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on eligible travel, transit and at restaurants worldwide and 1X Membership Rewards® points on all other purchases. It also comes with a decent welcome offer where you can earn 30,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $2,000 on eligible purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.

Chase credit cards

When you spend on Chase credit cards, you will earn Chase Ultimate Rewards. These can be transferred at a 1:1 ratio to British Airways, Iberia or Aer Lingus’ loyalty program. 

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is another travel credit card built for luxury travel. It comes with a $300 annual travel credit, TSA PreCheck/Global Entry statement credit, airport lounge access and extensive travel insurance protection.

As you spend on the card, you will earn 3X points for every dollar spent on dining and travel, and 1X for every dollar spent on all other purchases.

If you are approved for the card, you can earn 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. The card has a $550 annual fee starting on Aug. 1.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a fan-favorite among many in the travel rewards community. It comes with less benefits compared to the Sapphire Reserve, but it still delivers great value. 

You will earn 2X points for every dollar spent on dining and travel, and 1X for every dollar spent on all other purchases. In addition, the card is currently offering 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. The card has a modest $95 annual fee.

Avios cards

If earning Avios directly with the airline programs is of interest, than consider either the British Airways Visa Signature Card or the Iberia Visa Signature Card.

Both cards are currently offering outstanding welcome offers, and each have solid benefits, including: no foreign transaction fees, 10% discounts on flights on their respective airlines, decent spending categories and modest $95 annual fees.

British Airways Visa Signature® Card

  • Rewards

    5 Avios for every $1 spent on purchases with British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia and LEVEL within your first 12 months from account opening, thereafter 3 Avios; 3 Avios for every $1 spent on hotel accommodations when booked directly with the hotel within your first 12 months, thereafter 2 Avios; 1 Avios for every $1 spent on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 100,000 bonus Avios after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. Plus, earn a Travel Together Ticket after you spend $30,000 on purchases every calendar year, and 10% off British Airways flights starting in the U.S. when you book through the website provided in your welcome materials.

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

  • Regular APR

    15.99% to 22.99% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

  • Foreign transaction fees

  • Credit needed

Iberia Visa Signature® card

  • Rewards

    5 Avios for every $1 spent on purchases with British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia and LEVEL within your first 12 months from account opening, thereafter 3 Avios; 3 Avios for every $1 spent on hotel accommodations when booked directly with the hotel within your first 12 months, thereafter 2 Avios; 1 Avios for every $1 spent on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 100,000 bonus Avios after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

  • Regular APR

    15.99% to 22.99% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

  • Foreign transaction fees

  • Credit needed

Marriott Bonvoy credit cards

If you regularly visit Marriott Hotels, a Marriott Bonvoy credit card may be a great option for you. With Marriott Bonvoy points, you can transfer them at a rate of 3 Bonvoy points to 1 Avios point. It is advantageous to transfer at least 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points at a time as you will earn 5,000 additional Avios on top of the 20,000 you will normally receive.

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card is an excellent choice for travelers who enjoy Marriott properties, without a large annual fee.

The card recently debuted a new welcome bonus: Earn 3 free nights (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, plus earn 10X total points on combined eligible purchases (up to $2,500) in select categories within the first 6 months from account opening. 

The card earns heaps of Marriott Bonvoy points, as you can earn up to 17X total points for every $1 spent at over 7,000 participating Marriott Bonvoy™ hotels and 2X points on all other purchases. The card has a $95 annual fee.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card is the step up from the Boundless, where you can earn more Marriott Rewards points across different spending categories.

You will earn: 6X Marriott Bonvoy points for every dollar spent on eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 3X points for every dollar spent at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines and 2X points for every dollar spent on all other eligible purchases.

And you will earn 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Plus, earn up to $200 in Statement Credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants within the first 6 months.

The card also comes with a $300 statement credit for Marriott Bonvoy hotels, up to $100 property credit for qualifying charges at Ritz-Carlton of St. Regis properties on stays of two nights or more, one complimentary night at any Marriott property under 50,000 Bonvoy points, a TSA PreCheck/Global Entry statement credit and more.

The annual fee for this card is $450 (see rates and fees), but when you take advantage of the benefits, they can outweigh the fee.

Best use of Avios points

1. U.S. short-haul nonstop flights on American Airlines/Alaska Airlines

It can often be a better deal to book American or Alaska Airlines flights with Avios than the airlines’ own loyalty currencies. For only 9,000 British Airways or Iberia Avios, you can get yourself on a one-way flight about half-way across the country with flights patterns such as:

  • Los Angeles (LAX) to Salt Lake City (SLC)
  • New York City (NYC) to Boston (BOS)
  • Phoenix (PHX) to Dallas (DFW)

For the flight to be a modest 9,000 Avios, the flight distance must be under 1,150 miles. But if you want a more comfortable flight in business class, it will only be 16,500 Avios. Hint: A great route for this is NYC-MIA in lie-flat business seats on select American Airlines aircraft.

There will be a $5.60 tax on each domestic flight booked with Avios.

2. Spoil yourself with lie-flat seats from New York to California on American Airlines

If you want to enjoy a bit of luxury on a longer flight, you can book a first class ticket on American Airlines using Avios.

For a first class seat, it will run you 51,500 Avios. For a small downgrade, you can fly in business class for 38,750 Avios.

American airlines jets made by Embraer and other manufacturers sit at gates at Washington’s Reagan National airport as the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to keep airline travel at minimal levels and the U.S. economy contracts in the first quarter at its sharpest pace since the Great Recession, in Washington, U.S. April 29, 2020.

Kevin Lemarque | Reuters

3. Florida and U.S. West Coast to Ireland for 16,250 Avios on Aer Lingus

While this is for off-peak pricing, it is still a great deal to make your way over to Ireland. And to top it off, there are no fuel surcharges. You can even get slightly lower prices when flying from the Northeast, including Boston and New York.

4. U.S. East Coast to Europe on British Airways

If you wish to go over the pond to Europe on Avios, you are in luck. A one way flight from the East Coast to Europe start at 13,000 Avios on British Airways during off-peak dates. Prices increase when flying deeper into the continent.

Keep in mind there are significant fuel surcharges that will apply to this award booking if booked on British Airways.

5. U.S. West Coast to Hawaii on American Airlines/Alaska Airlines

If a sandy beach and fresh coconuts are on your mind, you can fly from the West Coast to Hawaii for 13,000 Avios in economy. There will be a small $5.60 tax with each flight taken.

6. U.S East Coast to Spain in business class

When using Iberia Avios points, you can book business class flights aboard an Iberia aircraft to Spain for as little as 34,000 Avios one-way during off-peak dates. Eligible routes include New York, Boston and Chicago to Madrid.

Bottom line

Avios are a valuable airline program currency to have. While Avios are mainly associated with international airlines, they are still incredibly valuable for American consumers. 

However, don’t silo yourself to only one loyalty currency. There is nothing wrong with diversifying your efforts into specific airline loyalty programs, as well as hotel programs. The more points you can earn, along with diversifying your earnings across the board, the more you will save on your overall travel costs.

For rates and fees for the Amex Platinum Card, click here

For rates and fees for Blue Business Plus Card, click here

For rates and fees for Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card, click here

Information about the American Express® Green Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.

Previous post Decide Southwest Airways Inventory For Speedy Gains?
Next post US and British isles vacation limits anger British ex-pats