What are air miles?

Air miles, quite simply, are reward points you collect by spending with a specific airline or their partners, which you can exchange later for flights, airport transfers, hotel upgrades and more. They can be a good way to save money on travelling, especially if you tend to fly quite often. While air miles can seem a little complicated at first glance, once you know how they work, they’re really not at all.

Couple walking on the beach

So, what are air miles, exactly?

Air miles is a generic term for the points you collect with the loyalty programs offered by major airlines. But it is now known as frequent flyer miles, and they pretty much work the same way as most other types of loyalty schemes do. So, the more you spend with a certain airline, the more points you collect – and the more points you collect, ultimately, the more things you can get for free or for a smaller charge.

Numerous companies offer points schemes, and Avios is one of the most widely known.

With Avios, the points you accumulate can be used for travel-related rewards, so discounted flight bookings, hotel stays, car hire, and so on.

Collecting Avios with British Airways Executive Club

Avios is the rewards currency of British Airways' frequent flyer programme, Executive Club, and here’s how it works.

When you join British Airways Executive Club, you’ll collect reward points with British Airways and their partners. These reward points are called Avios. You collect Avios when you fly or take a holiday with British Airways as well as staying in a hotel or renting a car with British Airways' wide range of partners. And when you’ve collected enough, you can spend your Avios on rewards such as flights, upgrades, hotel stays, car hire and more.

Making the most of a credit card that allows you to collect points

When it comes to collecting air miles, what’s so handy about this type of card is it allows you to collect the points for your everyday spending. As with most rewards cards, the more you spend on it, the more points you’ll get. But with a credit card that allows you to collect points, you can exchange these points for flights and other travel-related perks.

Of course, while you’re busy using your card and collecting points, you should always make sure you clear the balance each month – that way, you’ll avoid paying any interest on your purchases, so collecting all those lovely air miles could still be worth your while.

Boosting your Avios balance

So, as you know, taking flights isn’t the only way to collect Avios, or spend them either. Really, it’s just the beginning. Here are some other ways you can add to your Avios balance and get closer to the travel rewards you want.

Purchasing items via online shopping portals

The labels you love can help get the points you want. That’s because you can collect Avios by buying online through the shopping portals offered by most airlines. For example, with British Airways’ shopping portal, it has over 1,100 participating online retailers to choose from, and each purchase offers an opportunity to collect Avios.

It’s an easy way to collect Avios on purchases that, more often than not, you’d be making anyway. So, quite a win-win really.

Booking hotels and car rentals

That room with a view, or rental with a sunroof - both can gain you points easily. As part of their loyalty programs, many airlines partner with major hotel chains and vehicle rental companies too. So, by booking your overnight stays and car hire through the scheme, you could also collect air mile points you otherwise wouldn’t have.

British Airways Executive Club Members can book and redeem directly with dozens of different hotel brands, and for Avis (a car hire company with thousands of rental locations worldwide), which you can both collect and redeem Avios with.

Converting points

If your particular airline loyalty scheme allows it, you can also convert points from other reward schemes like converting Nectar points into Avios. It’s another smart way to get closer to all those rewards you’re after.

Drinking wine

You can collect Avios on purchases of wine, champagne, spirits, and beer. This way of collecting Avios will definitely be a good option if you’re a wine connoisseur. British Airways and Laithwaites offer Avios through their partnership called ‘The Wine Flyer’. You collect 1,000 Avios with your first order and 250 Avios for every 12 bottle case after that. Terms and conditions apply1.

A bank account that gives you access to collect Avios

With Barclays Premier Banking2 and British Airways, you can now collect Avios which you can put towards your next trip with British Airways.

Barclays Avios Rewards is a rewards scheme for Barclays Premier Banking and Barclays Wealth current account holders. There is a £12 monthly fee for Barclays Avios Rewards, which you’ll then receive the following:

  • 1,500 Avios every month.
    • Enough for a peak British Airways return economy (Euro Traveller) flight to Nice by end of your first year3.
  • A joining bonus of:
    • 25,000 Avios if you’re a new Barclays customer and complete a full switch via the Current Account Switch Service within three months4.
    • 2,500 Avios if you have been with Barclays for four months or more.

A British Airways cabin upgrade voucher every year, to use on an Avios Reward Flight booking5.

Collect even more Avios every year by holding new and existing Barclays products – including mortgages, loans, home insurances, contents. insurance and life insurance. 6.3% APR representative on loans of £7,500 to £15,000 over 2 – 5 years (your rate may differ). Subject to application, financial circumstances and borrowing history6.

“Eligibility, conditions and a £12 monthly fee apply7.

You can find out more at Barclays Avios Rewards.

Enjoying rewards. That’s the point

There are many ways you can enjoy your rewards. With British Airways Executive Club you can book Reward Flights to any worldwide destination with your Avios. British Airways have guaranteed reward seats on all their long-haul and short-haul Reward Flights, which can be booked up to 355 days in advance. Terms and conditions apply8.

Or if you would prefer, you can use your Avios to upgrade a regular cash booking to the next cabin, where there’s availability, on selected fares with British Airways, Iberia and American Airlines.

What’s more, you can spend your Avios on great deals at thousands of hotels around the world. Use your Avios to pay for Avis and Budget car rental at thousands of worldwide airport and non-airport locations. Or why not treat yourself to exclusive deals on popular wines, champagnes, and beers with Avios.

What's next?

If collecting Avios with British Airways Executive Club, and enjoying the rewards they bring sounds appealing, why not take a look at Barclays Avios Rewards.

Barclays Avios Rewards

Learn more about credit

1New customers will collect 1,000 Avios on first order. Existing customers will receive 250 Avios for every 12 bottle case after that. Delivery to UK addresses only (excluding Channel Islands and BFPO addresses). Standard delivery takes 3 working days (delivery to offshore islands, NI, Scottish Highlands and some other areas of Scotland may take a few days longer). Please see bawineflyer.co.uk/terms for full terms and conditions, and bawineflyer.co.uk/privacy for our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. British Airways Wine Flyer is operated by Laithwaite’s Wine part of Direct Wines Ltd. Registered in England and Wales. Registered Number 1095091. One Waterside Drive, Arlington Business Park, Theale, Berkshire, RG7 4SW. [Return to reference]

2To join Premier Banking, you’ll need to have a minimum of £100,000 in savings or investments with us, or have an annual gross income of £75,000 or more paid into a Barclays current account. We'll review your eligibility for Premier Banking regularly. If your circumstances change and you no longer meet the Premier eligibility criteria, we’ll switch your account to the Barclays Bank Account in our Personal Banking service. [Return to reference]

3Reward Flight Saver fare of £1 plus 19,500 Avios is based on a Peak, return fare for 1 passenger travelling in a Euro Traveller (Economy) cabin. All prices and Avios amounts quoted are correct as of February 2024.  Reward flights are subject to availability. To be eligible for Reward Flight Saver, you need to have collected at least 1 Avios in the past 12 months. Other pricing options are available. Visit ba.com to learn how to use your Avios and for more information about Reward Flight Saver. [Return to reference]

4To qualify for the 25,000 Avios joining bonus, you’ll need to join Barclays Avios Rewards – within 4 months of opening your first Barclays current account. Then, you’ll need to complete a full switch of your old current account to us, using the Current Account Switch Service – within 3 months of joining Barclays Avios Rewards. You will then receive your joining bonus in the fourth month of Barclays Avios Rewards membership. [Return to reference]

5Cabin upgrade vouchers must be used on Avios reward flight bookings. Reward flights and cabin upgrades are subject to availability. Taxes, fees and carrier charges per person apply. Additional terms and conditions apply to the use of the Cabin Upgrade Voucher, please go to ba.com/barclays-avios-rewards for more information. [Return to reference]

6The rate you’re offered may differ from the Representative APR shown and will be based on your personal circumstances, the loan amount and the repayment term. All loans are subject to your financial circumstances and borrowing history at the time you apply. Eligibility and conditions apply. You must be a UK resident to apply. [Return to reference]

7You can opt in to Barclays Avios Rewards if you’re a Premier Banking customer or have a personal Wealth current account with us – you’ll need to register for the Barclays app and have a British Airways Executive Club account too. There’s a £12 monthly fee and you have to opt out of Barclays Blue Rewards and go paperless for all your accounts and services with us. To access Barclays Avios Rewards in the Barclays app, you need to be over 18. You can join Premier Banking if you have an income of £75,000 or £100,000 held with us. T&Cs apply. [Return to reference]

8The additional reward seat availability applies to Reward Flight or Reward Flight Saver bookings made from 28 May 2021 onwards for flights departing on or after 28 July 2021. The additional reward seat availability applies to Reward Flight and Reward Flight Saver flights for all destinations in all cabins, excluding First. All reward seats and reward flight products are subject to availability. Certain flights may have very limited or no availability on certain dates because of existing bookings. Executive Club Terms and Conditions and the British Airways Conditions of Carriage apply. For more information regarding Reward Flight products, please visit Spending Avios. [Return to reference]

To book a Reward Flight or a Reward Flight Saver you must be logged in to your Executive Club account. Full details of the reward options available to you, including prices and Avios amounts, will be displayed on selection of your chosen dates and destination(s). Prices displayed will vary dependent on the number of Avios that you have and the dates and destination selected.

Reward Flights are available to any Executive Club Members with an Avios balance. In addition to your Avios, the only cash amount required for Reward Flights is to cover the taxes, fees and carrier charges. Your chosen date of travel will determine whether you pay a peak or off-peak Avios amount. When booking Reward Flights, you can choose all peak dates, all off-peak dates or a mixture of the two. The taxes, fees and carrier charges will vary dependent on airline, class of travel and destination and will be calculated when you book your flights. Travel in premium economy (World Traveller Plus), business (Club Europe and Club World) and First will result in higher taxes, fees and carrier charges. The final fee (i.e. Avios plus payable taxes, fees and carrier charges) will be displayed at the final stage of your booking.