## Credit cards

**Note that AMEX made changes to their sign-up bonus policies in April 2019 which substantially reduce the amount of Avios that can be earned and these changes have not been reflected in the worked examples below!**

Last year I earned a total of 391,496 Avios, with 64% (250,931) coming from credit cards, either from sign-on bonuses, spend, promotions or referral bonuses.

There are three key credit cards I use to earn these Avios, being:

British Airways American Express Premium Plus card (BA Black card);

American Express Gold Preferred Rewards card (AMEX Gold card); and

Starwood Preferred Guest American Express card (Starwood card).

It's also worth getting a Mastercard that allows you to collect reward points, as not everywhere takes American Express. In my view, the best card to get is the Tesco Clubcard Credit Card. I have the Marriott Rewards Credit Card, although this card is no longer open to new applicants.

Please note that I am not recommending any of these cards - merely setting out the facts regarding how I have used them to earn Avios. I pay off all credit cards in full each month otherwise the interest costs would outweigh any benefits I receive.

The order to get these three cards depends on your start position. If you already have a healthy stash of Avios (c.150,000+) then the best card to start with is the BA Black card, as you can earn a companion voucher which essentially doubles the value of your Avios. If you don’t have a good stash then a companion voucher is worthless so it is better to start with the AMEX Gold card and then the Starwood card.

As you will see from the below, for £12,000 of spend a year you can net 168,000 Avios which will get you a business class return flight to most places in the world.

For £25,000 of spend a year you can net 253,500 Avios plus a companion voucher which will get you anywhere you want to go, plus some.

## American Express Gold Preferred Rewards Card

An easy way to earn 114,000 Avios a year from £8,000 of spend on this card...

- You earn membership reward points using this card, which you can easily convert into Avios.
- There is currently no joining fee for this card in the first year; and if someone refers you for the card and you spend £2,000 in the first three months you get 22,000 bonus membership points plus 1 membership point for each £1 spent
- Without a referral the bonus is 20,000 membership points - 2,000 membership points less than with a referral.
- Assuming you spend exactly £2,000, that’s 24,000 membership points.
- While you have the card, you could also refer your better half to get one (and anyone else you can think of).
- If you refer them you get 9,000 bonus membership points and if they spend £2,000 then they get 24,000 membership points.
- Together you will then have 57,000 membership points (24,000 + 9,000 + 24,000) which you can easily convert into 57,000 BA Avios.
- As soon as you have converted the points you can close the cards.
- Once you close your card, if you wait 6 months, you can sign-up again and are eligible for another joining bonus.
- You could in theory do this twice a year netting 114,000 Avios a year for £8,000 of spend.

## Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Card

Any easy way to earn 64,000 Avios a year from £4,000 of spend on this card...

- You earn Starpoints using this card, which you can easily convert into Avios.
- There is a £75 per year fee (but you can get some of this back, don't worry).
- If you spend £1,000 in the first three months you get 33,000 bonus Starpoints if someone refers you to get this card plus 3 Starpoints for each £1 spent (i.e. if you spend exactly £1,000, you get 36,000 Starpoints).
- Without a referral the bonus is 30,000 Starpoints - 3,000 Starpoints less than with a referral.
- While you have the card, you could also refer your better half to get one (and anyone else you can think of).
- If you refer them you get 9,000 bonus Starpoints and if they spend £1,000 in three months they get 33,000 bonus Starpoints as well as 3,000 Starpoints for their £1,000 spend.
- By this point, you should have 45,000 Starpoints (36,000 + 9,000) and they should have 36,000 Starpoints, so 81,000 Starpoints in total.
- You can transfer Starpoints between Starwood Preferred Guest accounts, and the next step is to pool the points in one of your accounts.
- You can then convert the Starpoints into Avios at a rate of 3:1 - this should net you 27,000 Avios in total.
- As soon as you have transferred the points, you can cancel the cards.
- Assuming you cancel part way through the year, you get your joining fee back pro-rata, i.e. 4 months in will get you £50 back each.
- If you wait 6 months you can sign up again and you are eligible for another joining bonus.
- You could in theory do this twice a year netting 54,000 Avios a year for £4,000 of spend and joining fees totalling approx. £75 - assuming you both hold the cards for a totally of 6 months and thus get half the joining fees repaid.

## British Airways American Express Premium Plus Card

Any easy way to earn 80,500 Avios and a companion voucher (essentially a 2-4-1 voucher), spending £13,000 on this card...

- You earn Avios using this card.
- There is a joining fee of £195 per year (but you can get some of this back, don't worry).
- If you spend £3,000 in the first three months you get 26,000 bonus Avios if someone refers you for the card plus 1.5 Avios for each £1 spent (or 3 Avios for each £1 spent with British Airways) - 31,000 Avios in total
- Without a referral the bonus is 24,000 Avios - 2,000 Avios less than with a referral
- If you then go on to spend a total of £10,000 in a year you get a companion voucher (see below but note that they are worth a lot!!).
- Assuming you spend exactly £10,000, that’s 41,000 Avios.
- While you have the card, you could also refer your better half to get one (and anyone else you can think of).
- If you refer them you get 9,000 bonus Avios and if they spend £3,000 in three months they get 26,000 bonus Avios plus 4,500 Avios for the spend and if they spend a total of £10,000 you get a second companion voucher and 10,000 Avios for the spend.
- As soon as you have spent £10,000 you can downgrade your BA black card to a BA Blue card with a simple call to AMEX and stop spending on it.
- Assuming you do this part way through the year, you get your joining fee back pro-rata, i.e. 6 months in will get you £98 back.
- Don't cancel this card (just downgrade from Black to Blue) as you need the card to be able to use your companion voucher in due course.
- If you spend £10,000 and your partner spends £3,000 you will get 80,500 Avios (41,000 + 9,000 + 30,500) plus one companion voucher.
- If you both spend £10,000 you will get 91,000 Avios (41,000 + 9,000 + 41,000 and two companion vouchers.

## Companion Voucher

- When you book a flight using Avios, you can use a companion voucher to get the same flight for a second passenger without using any more Avios - essentially two for one.
- Note that you have to pay taxes for both flights.
- You have to have an AMEX card to be able to use your companion voucher (i.e. don't cancel all cards...).
- The best use of a companion voucher is typically to book a long-haul flight in Business Class or First Class.
- If you earn a companion voucher using a BA Black card (£10,000 of spend needed) you have two years to use it.
- If you earn a companion voucher using a BA Bule card (£20,000 of spend needed) you only have one year to use it.