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Normally, when you see an article or blog post reminding you to credit some activity to your rewards accounts it’s because the author doesn’t want you to accidentally allow your hard-earned balances to expire. This article, however, isn’t about that. Instead, this article is meant to remind British Airways Executive Club members of another reason why crediting at least one Avios to your account every year could be important.
Just to be clear, I *do* care about making sure that readers don’t accidentally allow their British Airways Avios balances to expire (I’m not a monster! 😁) but because British Airways Avios balances don’t expire unless an account remains inactive for 36 months, that’s a risk that few miles and points fans should be open to.
A far bigger risk, however, is that someone will go 12 months without earning any Avios in their British Airways Executive Club account (especially in a pandemic) but as having yearly activity in your BAEC account is a prerequisite to getting access to some of the better deals that British Airways offers, that’s something that all Avios collectors should be looking to avoid.
Specifically, the “better deals” that I’m referencing here are the British Airways Reward Flight Saver awards which, for those of us who enjoy using our Avios on British Airways intra-Europe flights, can offer an easy way to save considerable sums of money.
British Airways Reward Flight Saver Awards
A fact that most miles & points fans know about British Airways award bookings is that they usually have unreasonably high surcharges attached to them and that these can often make it uneconomical to book an award flight instead of a cash fare.
For flights within Europe, however, British Airways offers something that it calls a “Reward Flight Saver” option which, miraculously, comes with minimal (by BA’s standards) surcharges.
Here, for example, is an example of a Reward Flight Saver award for a flight between London and Cyprus in peak summer season:
For most people, the 10,750 + £17.50 option will be the best price to go for, and when you compare that to the cash fares for the same route on the same day…
…you can see just how much cash a Reward Flight Saver booking can save you (in this example, you would be getting at least 2.25p/2.93 cents out of each Avios used).
A key thing to remember, however, is that British Airways Executive Club members are only given access to Rewards Flight Saver awards if they have collected at least one Avios in the past 12 months (link).
BAEC members who haven’t credited at least one Avios to their accounts in the preceding 12 months get stung for extra surcharges when booking British Airways intra-Europe awards.
As it happens, I had completely forgotten about this because I’ve never failed to credit at least one Avios to my BAEC account in all the years that the Reward Flight Saver has been around, but I was reminded of this rule when helping a friend book a flight to Cyprus just a few days ago.
This is what options I could see on my screen when pricing up a London – Cyprus roundtrip off-peak award…
…and these were the options open to him (sorry for the poor picture quality – his screenshot option wasn’t working so this is an actual picture of the screen he was looking at!):
If I was booking this trip I would pay 18,500 Avios + £35. For my friend to book the same trip using the same amount of Avios, he would have to pay £60.87 more.
That may not seem like much but it can make a big difference to the economics of using Avios for a booking, and when a family of four, for example, are traveling, the cost soon adds up.
Avoiding the pitfall
Clearly, the easiest way to avoid finding yourself in the position of not being able to book a Reward Flight Saver award is to make sure that you credit at least one Avios to your British Airways Executive Club account every year, and because that’s not particularly hard (you can earn Avios through credit cards, through the online shopping portals, through car rentals and by a variety of other methods that don’t require you to set foot in an aircraft), there’s not much excuse to find yourself excluded from the Reward Flight Saver option.
If, however, you find yourself faced with a situation where you’ve allowed 12 months to go by without crediting any Avios to your BAEC account and you need to book a British Airways intra-Europe award, all is not necessarily lost.
Fortunately, transfers of points into a British Airways Executive Club account count as “activity” that opens up Reward Flight Saver availability and with Amex Membership Rewards Points, Chase Ultimate Rewards Points, Capital One Miles, and Marriott Bonvoy points all transferring into British Airways Avios, getting some activity into a BAEC account isn’t particularly hard*.
Don’t forget, however, that not all points transfers are guaranteed to be instantaneous – transfers from Amex UK to the BAEC can take 2-3 days, for example – so don’t leave things until the last minute or you risk seeing the award(s) you want to book disappear before British Airways opens up the Reward Flight Saver option for you.
*Transfers of Avios from Aer Lingus and Iberia into a BAEC account should also do the trick.
The Reward Flight Saver awards that British Airways offers on its own intra-Europe routes can give BAEC members a great way to extract a lot of value out of the Avios that they may hold but it’s important to keep in mind that unless a BAEC account has earned some Avios in the preceding 12 months, the Avios sitting in that account will not have access to Reward Flight Saver awards.