You can now earn Avios points on your Barclays account… but what’s the catch?

Avios enthusiasts and current account switchers may have noticed that Barclays are now offering customers the chance to collect Avios points.

Those who have a Premier account or Wealth current account with the bank can start collecting 1,500 Avios every month to spend on future flights with British Airways.

It is the only UK current account offering Avios points as a bonus.  

However, customers will need to pay a £12 monthly charge to be part of the scheme, which is called Barclays Avios Rewards.

To join Barclays Avios Rewards, customers must be a Premier Banking customer or have a personal Wealth current account.

New customers could also receive an additional joining bonus of 25,000 Avios if they switch using the Current Account Switcher Service and join Barclays Avios Rewards within three months.

Those who have been with Barclays for four months or more will receive 2,500 Avios as a joining bonus.

It will be possible to collect even more points if you also have eligible Barclays products – for example, an extra 700 Avios each month if you have a mortgage with Barclays.

Barclays claims customers could therefore collect at least 20,500 Avios within the first 12 months – enough for a peak British Airways return economy flight to Nice by the end of your first year. 

Carolina Martinoli, director of brand and customer experience at British Airways said: ‘Whether it’s a flight or hotel, a day out on a hot air balloon, or car hire in the UK or abroad, there are options to spend Avios for every kind of collector.’

There is also an annual upgrade voucher which allows customers to book seats at the price of one seating class (in Avios points), but get seated in the tier above, as we explain below. 

But there is one major barrier: to become a Barclays Premier Account holder – which is required to join Barclays Avios Rewards – you’ll need to earn £75,000.

The other alternative route to becoming a Barclays Premier Account holder involves putting £100,000 into a savings or investment account with Barclays.

The biggest saving,of 120,000 Avios is a return Business off-peak flight to Zone 9, where you pay 130,000 Avios instead of 250,000 - the equivalent of £1,200

The biggest saving,of 120,000 Avios is a return Business off-peak flight to Australia, where you pay 130,000 Avios instead of 250,000 – the equivalent of £1,200.

We asked Rob Burgess, editor of frequent flyer website Head for Points, if it was a good deal for higher-earning customers. 

He said: ‘Barclays Avios Rewards is an attractive package which can potentially offer real value, but you need to be clear about how it works.

‘Barclays Premier is free, and if you are a high earner then it does make sense to use a premium banking service like this – you aren’t paying anything and you receive a higher level of service.

‘Barclays is never going to top any ‘best buy’ tables for its savings routes so you will lose out on some interest by moving your money across, but with rates so low the cost may be worth it if you are not happy with your existing current account provider.’

Those who can meet the barriers to entry and join Barclays Premier banking will need to opt into Barclays Avios Rewards, as it’s not automatic.

Head for Points values Avios at 1p each, and potentially more when used effectively, which means customers should comfortably recoup the £12 monthly charge.

‘You can’t lose money, because you could transfer your 1,500 Avios into 2,400 Nectar points which are worth exactly £12,’ said Burgess.  

How to ‘pay’ for premium economy, but sit in business 

Customers can get even better value out of the account by using the annual upgrade voucher, which becomes available every 12 months.

It means customers receive an annual British Airways return flight cabin upgrade voucher, which can be used within the next two years on Avios reward flight bookings.

You will get 25,000 Avios if you’re a new customer, switch to Barclays Premier Banking using the Current Account Switcher Service and join Barclays Avios Rewards within 3 months

You will get 25,000 Avios if you’re a new customer, switch to Barclays Premier Banking using the Current Account Switcher Service and join Barclays Avios Rewards within 3 months

This allows customers to book a return Avios flight for one person, or one-way flights for two people, for the cost of the next cabin down.

Burgess said: ‘The best value, by far, is to book flat bed long-haul business class, where you would only require the Avios needed for premium economy.

‘Using the voucher to fly in premium economy by paying the Avios required for economy is poorer value. 

‘The gap between economy and premium economy is nowhere near the difference between business, with its six-foot flat beds in a private suite with a door on the newest aircraft, and premium economy.’

How much can you save?

The greatest savings can be made on the longest and more expensive flights.

‘A typical saving using the Barclays Avios Rewards upgrade voucher would be flying from London to New York in business class,’ said Burgess.

‘On a peak day, this requires 120,000 Avios plus taxes in business class but by using the voucher, you only pay the cost of premium economy – 80,000 Avios – so you save 40,000 Avios, which is a big saving.’

‘At a notional 1p per Avios, your Barclays Avios Rewards voucher has saved you £400 worth of points. 

‘At the most extreme, you would save 120,000 Avios on a business class flight to Australia on an off-peak date where the voucher reduces the cost from 250,000 Avios to 130,000 Avios. 

This is the equivalent of around £1,200. 

‘Of course, if you ended up using the voucher to fly business class instead of premium economy to Amsterdam then your saving would be very small!’ Burgess added.  

A good Avios scheme for solo travellers 

The real beneficiaries of this scheme are solo travellers, or families and friends who travel in groups of three, according to Burgess.

This is because couples have better Avios options elsewhere.  

‘Couples have been able to benefit for 20 years from the 2-4-1 voucher that comes with the British Airways American Express credit card, which lets two people fly for the Avios of just one,’ he said. 

‘This doesn’t help if you travel alone, but solo travellers can do very well from [Barclays’] offering.

‘Alternatively, two people could travel using a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher whilst the Barclays Avios Rewards voucher could reduce the cost of the third ticket.’

What’s the overall verdict?

Barclays is the only UK current account enabling customers to collect Avios or indeed any sort of travel rewards, which means its offering is certainly unique.

Its major drawback is the tough eligibility standards required for becoming a Premier account holder.

The fact that you must earn £75,000 a year or have a spare £100,000 to stash away in a savings or investment account will put it out of reach of most people.

But for those with the necessary income or savings, it may be worth considering. 

‘It is often said that the British are more likely to get divorced than change their bank, but Barclays is hoping that this will be a big enough incentive,’ said Burgess.

‘The 25,000 Avios sign-up bonus is also, of course, a big carrot and I would value this at around £250 if used for long haul travel. In a worst case scenario it would convert into £200 of Nectar points.

‘It is a decent return on the time it will take to set up your new Barclays Premier account.’