If you make a few changes now to the way you spend, you could be rewarded with a considerably cheaper holiday next year
With your flip-flops now pushed to the back of the wardrobe, next year’s summer holiday is unlikely to be at the forefront of your mind.
However, if you make a few changes now to the way you spend, you could be rewarded with a considerably cheaper holiday next year.
With a bit of careful planning, you can collect valuable air miles through your everyday spending.
Many credit cards offer reward points that can be exchanged for air miles. If you can pay off the balance every month, these cards are a good place to start racking up air miles for your next holiday. And many also give you a generous bonus when you sign up.
The American Express Preferred Rewards Gold card offers 10,000 points to new customers if you spend £3,000 in the first three months.
You then earn one point for every £1 spent on the card. These points can be exchanged for air miles, such as popular travel reward points system Avios.
You can also get 6,000 points for every friend you sign up. The card is fee-free for the first year and then costs £140.
In most cases, one point equals one air mile, but most cards will stipulate a minimum before you can transfer.
With the fee-free British Airways American Express card, you collect only Avios points.
A 5,000 bonus is paid to new customers if they spend £1,000 in the first three months. You then earn one point for every £1 spent on the card.
If you spend £20,000 in a year, you’ll also get a two-for-one travel voucher, meaning you can take someone with you on the same flight when you redeem it.
You still have to pay taxes, fees and carrier charges.
Virgin Atlantic Reward card pays 0.75 miles for every £1 spent. Newcomers can earn 5,000 bonus points with their first purchase if it’s made within the first 90 days.
The points can be redeemed only on Virgin flights, which are typically long-haul. You and your partner could both get a card to make the most of the introductory offer.
When it comes to supermarket shopping, Tesco Clubcard points go further when you convert them to Avios points, rather than spending them in the supermarket.
Shoppers collect one point per £1 spent in Tesco and one point for every £2 spent at Tesco petrol stations. Points are then switched for vouchers of the same value.
A £2.50 voucher will get you 600 Avios, which can be used towards a British Airways flight. Or buy 625 Virgin Atlantic miles with a £2.50 voucher.
Based on our calculations, if the average household did all their shopping at Tesco for a year, they could end up with 7,500 miles towards a Virgin Atlantic flight.
Clubcard points can also be used towards holiday accommodation. Every £5 voucher is worth £15 on booking website Hotels.com.
When it comes to High Street retailers, dozens, including Argos, Marks & Spencer and Debenhams, offer Avios when you shop online. For example, at Argos.co.uk, earn one Avios for every £1 spent and 25 for Check & Reserve orders.
Debenhams offers three points for every £1 spent. You must first set up an Avios account and log in to be able to track your spend.
If you can pay off the balance every month, credit cards are a good place to start racking up air miles for your next holiday
To maximise your miles, check out air miles websites such as ThePointsGuy.co.uk and Head ForPoints.com for new deals. For example, Sky is currently giving away 5,000 Avios on its £42-per-month TV and broadband offer.
The British Airways eStore offers Avios when you use it to make purchases from a list of more than 800 retailers.
Spend at least £45 on your first online shop at Tesco via the BA store and earn up to 900 Avios. Virgin Atlantic Shops Away is a similar online scheme.
Head For Points’ Rob Burgess says: ‘Virgin Atlantic has a lucrative in-store shopping deal with Waitrose, which few people know about. Register your credit card with Virgin and, every time it is used in Waitrose and a few other retailers, you earn miles.’
You can also earn frequent flyer points if you fly with BA Executive Club, Iberia Plus, Vueling Club and Aer Lingus AerClub.
Holidaymakers can collect at least 125 Avios for every British Airways flight. You’ll also earn ‘tier points’, which push you up to more generous levels.
Members of Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club can earn points as they fly. The scheme rewards those who fly more, too.
There are three membership tiers, from Red up to Silver and Gold. A Red member could earn 1,729 miles on a return trip from London to New York if they fly in Economy Light class.
Mr Burgess says that, over time, the number of miles needed for a ‘free’ flight has crept up, while the cost of buying flights via the usual method of cash has dropped.
Despite this, he says some of the best-value British Airways Avios redemptions are for short-haul flights, which can be as cheap as 4,000 Avios one-way plus taxes.
He says: ‘My target would be 1p per Avios versus the prevailing cash price, and this is generally achievable during school holidays when cash prices are high.
‘Even short-haul business class can offer value — flights start at 7,750 Avios one-way plus taxes. This gets you lots of extras, including priority boarding and use of airport lounges on BA.’
If you took out a British Airways American Express Premium Plus card, which costs £195 a year, you would get 25,000 Avios points.
If you then referred your partner, you would get another 9,000 points and they would get the 25,000 new customer bonus.
Return flights to Lisbon, Portugal, next summer are 15,000 Avios each plus £35 in taxes. Combined with a two-for-one voucher, a family of four could opt for a round-trip for 45,000 points plus £140.
The same family would be paying more than £1,500 cash for the same flights on peak holiday dates.
A couple planning a luxury long-haul trip would have to build up more points over the year with everyday spend, Clubcard conversions and smart shopping. You earn 1.5 Avios for every £1 spent.
If you managed to get 100,000 points, and used the two-for-one voucher, you could get return business-class flights to Dubai with flat-bed seats.
You would have to pay £539 each in charges, but, even in a BA sale, this would cost more than £3,500 for two.
THIS IS MONEY’S FIVE OF THE BEST HOLIDAY MONEY DEALS