The other week something massive happened in the travel industry, Qatar Airways changed its loyalty program currency to Avios. In that article, I wrote that I would explain how my mam was able to accrue north of 100,000 Avios by doing very very little… This is that post (If you hadn’t guessed).
If your question is why would you want Avios, the above is surely a compelling reason why. First Class on Cathay Pacific, one of the many airlines bookable using Avios. You can use Avios to leverage some pretty amazing flight deals, better yet you aren’t limited to just Flights now that Nectar is onboard (Think Esso, eBay, Sainsbury’s, etc).
Where does American Express come into this?
The plastic friend of many, AmEx has quite a few different cards but the ones I’ll be focusing on for this post are: the Gold and Platinum, along with British Airways and British Airways Premium Plus.
The Gold (Review Here) and Platinum cards earn Membership Rewards points at a rate of 1 point per £1 spent. This increases to 2 and 3 points per £ depending on what you’re spending money on be it flights, hotels, etc. 1 AmEx Membership Reward point transfers to 1 Avios. Here’s a handy guide on how to transfer MR points to Avios.
The British Airways and British Airways Premium Plus earn Avios that get transferred directly get to your BA account. The earning rate is 1 Avios for every £1 spent on the free BA card and 1.5 Avios for every £1 spent on the Premium Plus card.
At this point in the post, you’ve already cottoned on that 1 or 1.5 Avios per £1 spent means you have to spend a whole load of cash to get enough Avios to be able to do anything with, correct. Based on those metrics alone you’d need to be spending a good £50,000 before you got enough points to do anything decent with.
Sign Up Bonus
This is where you get the hauls of Avios.
The BA Premium Plus card has a sign-up bonus of 25,000 Avios if you spend £3,000 in the first 3 months. That’s actually 28,000 Avios (25,000 for the bonus and at least 3,000 for the £3,000 of transactions).
The Gold Card has a signup bonus of 20,000 Membership Rewards points if you spend £3,000 in the first 3 months. Again that’s actually 23,000 Membership Rewards points.
Finally the Platinum Card. This comes with a massive 60,000 Membership Rewards points if you spend £6,000 in the first 6 months. That’ll be 66,000 Membership Rewards points.
In layman’s terms, spend £1,000 using your AmEx for the length of the promotion and you’ll trigger the signup bonus. I don’t know if you consider £1,000 a month a lot? Personally by the time you’ve bought food shopping, fuel, etc for the month £1,000 goes pretty quickly. Alternatively, you could get the card and do 1 big purchase and get the bonus straight away.
Gaming The System
American Express has a referral bonus program whereby if you refer someone and they signup and meet the minimum spend you get a bonus (as does the person who signed up). Nowhere does it say that you can’t refer yourself…
Let’s say you have the BA Premium Plus card and have completed your signup bonus. There’s nothing stopping you from referring yourself to get either the AmEx Gold or Platinum card. Not only will you get the current 12,000 Membership Rewards Points for referring yourself, but you also get a signup bonus of 32,000 instead of the usual 20,000.
Making Sense Of It All
Put simply, I referred my mam for the BA Premium Plus card. She got a boosted signup bonus of 31,000 Avios for spending £3,000 in the first 3 months. She then referred herself for the AmEx Gold card where she got 12,000 Avios for referring herself and another 32,000 bonus Membership Rewards points for spending £3,000 in the first 3 months.
In total that’s 75,000 Avios of nothing but signup bonus. Add the 2 lots of £3,000 spend in 3 months to meet the bonus along with a few flights and she is sitting on a balance north of 100,000 Avios and a AmEx 2 for 1 voucher.
As you can see, it doesn’t take much effort and given that you can fly over 15 hours in Qatar’s QSuite for just 70,000 Avios there’s a decent incentive.