In 2011 British Airways Executive Club went through some drastic changes that primarily revolved around moving to a distance based award flight structure versus a set reward chart. This proved to be both a good and a bad change. The good was that some redemptions became cheaper but others went up drastically. The bad changes were most evident as one of the program changes made it that connection flights were priced separately at their distance based values. That means to make the most of the Executive Club program you'll typically want to redeem for direct non-stop flights where possible (this does not mean there aren't any good values in connecting flights on some long haul routes)
One of the best things to come out of the Executive Club award changes at that time were the amazing redemptions available on award flights out of Canada to the U.S. You heard us tout the Toronto-New York award of only 9,000 Avios round trip many times in the past a long time ago but the truth was there were a lot more of those 9,000 Avios redemptions available out of Canada and even some more decent offers at the 15,000 and 20,000 level where competing programs require 25,000 miles. Unfortunately this changed in 2016 when, only in North America, the 9,000 Avios round trip option was increased to 15,000. Still a good redemption but not the star it used to be! In 2019, further changes came to awards on BAEC's partner airlines - luckily the North American flights up to 650 miles for 15,000 Avios didn't change. However we did see a bump to awards in the 651-1150 miles to 9,000 Avios one way or 18,000 round trip. Previously they were 7,500 one way or 15,000 round trip. An increase also happened in 1,151 to 2,000 mile category from 10,000 Avios one way/20,000 round trip to 11,000 one way/22,000 round trip.
Now let's look at some of the best ways to earn Avios for Canadians. Of course travel is best, you can earn Avios for flights on British Airways, American Airlines and many other oneworld airlines, hotel stays, car rentals and so on but for most Canadians however who aren't frequent travellers the best way is with credit card spend. There are a few cards in Canada that you can earn Avios with:
American Express Cobalt Card (C$1 = 0.4 to 2 Avios)
American Express Gold Rewards Card (C$1 = 1 to 2 Avios)
The Platinum Card from American Express (C$1 = 1 to 3 Avios)
Diners Club Club Rewards Mastercard (C$1 = 0.80 Avios)
HSBC World Elite Mastercard (C$1 = 1.2 to 2.4 Avios)
Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card(C$1 = .67 to 2 Avios)
RBC British Airways Visa Infinite (C$1 = 1 to 2 Avios)
RBC Visa Platinum Avion/Business Avion/Infinite Avion (C$1 = 1 to 1.25 Avios)
Source: Airlines & Hotels that you can earn miles or points with Canadian Credit Cards
The best of the bunch are the American Express Cards where you can earns up to 3 Avios per dollar spent but you can 't discount the HSBC World Elite Mastercard or the RBC Visa Infinite Avion. You can also look at the the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite Card and the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card (which is best to convert at 60,000 points increments to take advantage of the 5,000 bonus Avios awarded at that level)
Finally you can also join Iberia's Plus program whose currency is also Avios. You can transfer Avios between British Airways Executive Club and Iberia Plus as long as you've had both accounts open for at least three months. The reason you may want to do this is there areas where Iberia's program is better. For example, earning Avios on Accor Hotels stays, you'll earn twice as many Avios with Iberia than you will with British Airways.
Now let's get on to those good Avios economy class redemptions from Canada to the U.S.
15,000 Avios Short Haul Round Trip Award Flights (30,000 in Business Class)
Calgary - Seattle (on Alaska Airlines)
Edmonton - Seattle (on Alaska Airlines)
Haiifax - New York (on American Airlines)
Kelowna - Seattle (on Alaska Airlines)
Montreal - New York (on American Airlines)
Montreal - Philadelphia (on American Airlines)
Ottawa - Philadelphia (on American Airlines)
Quebec City - Philadelphia (on American Airlines)
Toronto - Charlotte (on American Airlines)
Toronto - Chicago (on American Airlines)
Toronto - New York (on American Airlines)
Toronto - Philadelphia (on American Airlines)
Toronto - Washington D.C. (on American Airlines)
Vancouver - Seattle (on Alaska Airlines)
Vancouver - Portland (on Alaska Airlines)
Victoria - Seattle (on Alaska Airlines)
Why are these 15,000 Avios Rewards so good? Well if you look at it from a credit card spending stand point, you can get any of the above flights for as little as $5,000 in spend (all 3x spend on The Platinum Card from American Express). This is equal to Aeroplan which also needs $5,000 in spend on the same card (the spend is more on other Aeroplan cards: at least $10,000) The same goes for business class on these routes: 30,000 Avios is the same as what Aeroplan offers. Where Aeroplan stands to be better is if you need to connect within a short haul region. Executive Club will price out each leg at 7,500 Avios. A good example is Edmonton to Portland, Aeroplan remains at 15,000 miles even with a connection in Vancouver while the Executive Club amount would be 30,000 Avios as YEG-SEA and SEA-PDX price out separatly. Some things to note, if you want to redeem on Alaska Airlines you have to call Executive Club whereas the American Airlines flights can be booked online.
18,000 Avios Round Trip Long Haul Award Flights (36,000 in Business Class)
Halifax - Philadelphia (on American Airlines)
Montreal - Charlotte (on American Airlines)
Montreal - Chicago (on American Airlines)
Quebec City - Chicago (on American Airlines)
Vancouver - Los Angeles (on Alaska Airlines or American Airlines)
Why are these 18,000 Avios Rewards so good? Well looking at it once again from a credit card spend stand point you can get any of the above flights for as little as $6,000 in spend (3x spend on The Platinum Card from American Express) Compare this to Aeroplan which needs $8,333 in spend on the same card for these routes as Aeroplan charges 25,000 miles. For business class you are looking at 36,000 Avios versus 50,000 Aeroplan Miles.
22,000 Avios Round Trip Award Flights (44,000 in Business Class)
Calgary - Chicago (on American Airlines)
Calgary - Dallas (on American Airlines)
Montreal - Dallas (on American Airlines)
Montreal - Miami (on American Airlines)
Toronto - Dallas (on American Airlines)
Toronto - Miami (on American Airlines)
Vancouver - Dallas (on American Airlines)
Vancouver - Phoenix (on American Airlines)
Just like the above example, these 22,000 Avios Rewards are still a good deal when you look at it from a credit card spend stand point. You can get any of the above flights for as little as $7,333 in spend (3x spend on The Platinum Amex) Compare this to Aeroplan which needs $8,333 in spend on the same card and even more on other Aeroplan credit cards (at least $16,667) Likewise you are looking at using more miles when redeeming from other US frequent flyer programs. The same goes for business class on these two routes: 44,000 Avios versus 50,000 Aeroplan Miles or other frequent flyer program miles.
There's also one more tip to take into account when trying to maximize and utilize Brithsh Airways Executive Club. American Express, RBC Avion and HSBC Rewards all run limited time bonuses for converting their respective points into Avios at different times of the year. The typical transfer bonus seems to be 30% but sometimes it has been lower. If possible, you'll want to wait for the bonus offer periods to make your transfers. I mean who doesn't want extra Avios? If we look at the numbers we post in this artice, if you take into account a 30% bonus from American Express, the 15,000 Avios round trip award can be had by only earning 11,540 Membership Rewards points or as little as ~$3847 in spending on The Platinum Card. The 18,000 Avios awards for ~$4,616 and 22,000 Avios Awards for ~$5,641.
Current Transfer Bonuses for British Airways Executive Club
||30% Bonus Avios when you covert American Express Membership Rewards points to Avios.Full details
||Until Oct 31, 19
||40% Bonus Avios when you convert Diners Club Club Rewards points to British Airways Executive Club Full details
|| Until Oct 31, 19
You can see that for select routes out of Canada to the U.S. your best and fastest way to free* travel is via the British Airways Executive Club program. If using a credit card is your primary way to earn miles and these redemptions appeal to you, we recommend jumping on anyone of theAmerican Express Cards listed and the RBC Visa Infinite Avionto get you on these flights as soon as possible. By combining spend on at least two of these cards you are sure to get to an award flight in no time! In fact if you have don't have any of these cards, you'll get 25,000 Welcome Points with the Amex Gold Rewards Card and 15,000 RBC Rewards Points with the RBC Visa Infinite Avion card which means you'll already have 40,000 Avios which are more than enough to get 2 flights between Vancouver and Los Angeles!
* of course taxes and fees are not included but you could always utilize the Pay with Points feature on the American Express cards' to pay for those!
Talk to us!
Do you or have you taken advantage of BA's North America redemption options? Any tips you have for making the most of these awards? Tell us in the comments section below or join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter!
Rewards Canada can be found on the following social media channels: