How do I get a British Airways business class upgrade?
The 14 Week Challenge shows you how to earn tons of BA miles (and other airmiles) to bag a British Airways business class upgrade. There really are tons of ways to supercharge your AVIOS balance without ever leaving the ground, but this information can feel overwhelming when you start travel hacking. To help, we have compiled a step by step guide to help you achieve your first BA upgrade to business class.
The Importance of Credit Cards
Hopefully by now you’ve realised that credit cards are a significant contributor to your AVIOS balance, and hence your ability to fly BA business class. The thought of managing all this credit can get scary for some people though. Even though I am Mrs Organised, it can be stressful and daunting trying to keep track of multiple cards, payment dates, and spending requirements.
So maybe a month by month plan would help? You got it!
Today’s post is all about providing you with the tools to make this process as easy as possible to manage. The Only Way is Up with Travel Credit cards also gives you some useful pointers for managing credit cards, and dispelling the myths of credit.
Fast-track your AVIOS collection with Mr & Mrs Travelhack
Mr and Mrs Travelhack will help illustrate a simplified approach to fast-track your progress towards BA business class seats.
They spend £1,000 a month on credit cards, and want to fly British Airways Club Class to Las Vegas for their silver wedding anniversary.
Here’s how they can do it.
Churn and Burn
|Date||Credit Card Application||Card Applicant||Card to use for spending||Card spend||Sign up Bonus||Spend points||Notes|
|November 2017||Gold AMEX||Mr Travelhack||Gold AMEX||£1,000||0||1,000|
|December 2017||None||Mr Travelhack||Gold AMEX||£1,000||22,000 if he uses the link to the left (otherwise 20,000)||1,000||£2,000 minimum in 2 months. Transfer points and close the account.|
|Gold AMEX||Mrs Travelhack||Gold AMEX||£1,000||9,000||1,000||Mr Travelhack uses his referral link to refer Mrs Travelhack and earns 9,000|
|February 2018||None||Mrs Travelhack||Gold AMEX||£1,000||22,000 (20,000 if she doesn’t use the referral link from her husband)||1,000||£2,000 minimum in 2 months. Transfer points and close the account.|
|March 2018||British Airways Premium AMEX||Mr Travelhack||British Airways Premium AMEX||£1,000||0||1,500||Spend £3,000 within 3 months of application|
|April 2018||None||Mr Travelhack||British Airways Premium AMEX||£1,000||0||1,500|
|May 2018||None||Mr Travelhack||British Airways Premium Plus card||£1,000||26,000
(25,000 if he doesn’t use the referral link above)
|1,500||You may wish to retain this card to satisfy the minimum spend for a companion voucher.|
|June 2018||British Airways Standard (blue)AMEX||Mrs Travelhack||British Airways Standard (blue)AMEX||£1,000||6,000||1,000||No annual fee on this card. Earn 6,000 AVIOS on spending £1,000 within 3 months of application|
|July 2018||Gold AMEX||Mr Travelhack||Gold AMEX||£1,000||0||1,000||Six months have passed since closure of account, so now eligible to apply again.|
|August 2018||None||Mr Travelhack||Gold AMEX||£1,000||22,000 if he uses the link above (otherwise 20,000)||1,000||Satisfied the £2,000 minimum spend to receive the sign up bonus. Account can be closed once the points have been transferred|
|September 2018||Gold AMEX||Mrs Travelhack||Gold AMEX||£1,000||9,000||1,000||Six months have passed since closure of account, so now eligible to apply again. Mr Travelhack again refers Mrs Travelhack to secure a 9,000 refer a friend bonus.|
|October 2018||None||Mrs Travelhack||Gold AMEX||£1,000||22,000||1,000||Satisfied the £2,000 minimum spend to receive the sign up bonus. Account can be closed once the points have been transferred|
Mr & Mrs Travelhack have earned 128,000 points through sign up bonuses alone. They have also have earned 13,500 additional AVIOS from their ongoing spending. 141,500 point is almost enough to book business class flights if they also have a companion voucher.
If you are single, don’t worry you can still follow the same principle but it is going to take you a bit longer to get there!
Churning and burning your cards is the way to really rack up the points!
Things To Consider
- The British Airways Premium Plus card carries an annual charge of £195. Unless you can use two companion vouchers in a year, I recommend that only one of you applies for this card each year. Take your pick who gets their name on the plastic!
- The British Airways credit card carries no fee, hence why this is the second card for Mrs Travelhack
- Don’t opt for joint cards. This will mean you have to wait six months between closure and re-application.
- Stagger the sign up dates between Mr & Mrs Travelhack to make it easier to achieve the sign up spend.
- Get organised and make sure whoever is spending has the card.
- All of these cards are AMEX, which still isn’t accepted everywhere, so you will need a VISA or MasterCard as a backup (or your debit card!)
- To earn a companion voucher you need to spend £10,000 on the British Airways Premium Pluscard, or £20,000 on the Standard card so make sure you have satisfied that spending requirement before closing the account.
With sign up bonuses and spending, you will almost certainly have enough for two to fly business to virtually anywhere in the world, once you have earned your companion voucher.
Tools to help manage your credit cards
Currently I have six credit cards, and I confess it freaks me out. Trying to keep track of payment dates, and spending is time consuming. The above strategy is a good approach for achieving points. By having just two cards (your AMEX, and an alternative VISA/Mastercard) you don’t miss out on a big sign up bonus by spreading yourself too thinly. You also keep your sanity, as you have less ongoing admin.
There are also tools to help manage your finances, and keep your stress levels in check. The only way is up with travel credit cards gives you a ton of tips to help you manage your affairs and includes links to posts from my Travel Hack Trio buddies covering Stateside factors.
Using Miles, Award Wallet and TripIt
These are all apps (with free versions) whereby you can manage details of all your award schemes in one place. If you are only ever going to focus on airline rewards with AVIOS though, seriously I wouldn’t bother.
These apps really come into their own if you have multiple airline and hotel reward memberships.
Good old spreadsheet
You could also set up a simple Credit Card Tracker showing when you took out your cards, and when you closed the accounts. This will indicate when you can next apply.
It’s now over to you to pick your destination, and get spending. Just don’t spend more than you can afford to pay off each month!
If you are thinking that 12-18 months is a long time to wait, and this is too much effort, ask yourself ‘whether you really want to fly economy if you can fly business for less?’ This is money you were going to spend anyway. It might take a while to get your first flight, but if you repeat the cycle, you will be flying business every time.
Have your say
If you have other tips please feel free to share them below. I’d love to hear from you.
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I appreciate your advice, it gave me just what I needed to know about British Airways Business
Thank you very much for the advice, just the information I was looking for about British Airways Business
Nice post. You explained so well, but I think a little complicated for people who are not that organized, like myself. Anyway, it’s a good contribution. I wonder if this still applies in 2020.
It’s one of the world’s best known class airways. Next time I’ll prefer BA.
Is a interesting card, I will try to use. I hope so.
excellent contribution, I hope you continue to have the same benefits, I suppose the interest rates have changed.
Interesting blog. I thought AMEX limits bonus to once in lifetime on most of its cards. Is that not true of these AMEX cards?
We mostly use the Avios in the US to take AA flights either to see grandkids or to the jumping off spot for another great Bus. Class flight somewhere.
This is what the AMEX referral programme terms say
You can earn up to a maximum of 90,000 bonus Avios per calendar year.
Excellent tips! I enjoy flying British Airways Business & now I know how to do it more often – thank you for this. 🥂
A great set of tips for making AVIOS work for harder! I find many of your tips and tips given by the commentors are also applicable to other frequent flyer programs too. I normally use my credit card to supplement my miles card.
What an interesting post. You have explained so nicely how one can use AMEX card to collect points and grab business class in the British Airways. But for sure this is not possible for the disorganized people like me. I usually forget to make the payments timely.
Yes that is definitely a problem although I’m super organised and have been known to miss them in the past. I now have text alerts set up to remind me and use a spreadsheet to track them
So you certainly know how to rack up those airline rewards, but wouldn’t it be better to get more free flights with the points you have than to use them for business class seats? I love business class, but your points go so much further if you fly economy, right?
If you are based in America the answer is yes as your taxes are so low. In the UK, definitely not. Taxes make up the bulk of the Economy flight ticket price so to use points for economy doesn’t get you a fee flight as you would still pay a significant amount in tax. I prefer to use them for business because you still pay the tax but you save considerably more off the price of the ticket
Wow! Thank you for introducing me to a world I knew absolutely nothing about! I can see this being extremely useful for the frequent flier! I don’t fly as much as I used to sadly, but hopefully one day I will get back to racking up more miles!!! 🙂
Well it’s a good thing that this ruse doesn’t rely on you flying but on spending!
Oh man, I wish New Zealand had good flight reward programs like this. I always get really jealous when people get upgrades and flights around the world for free by using this method! A very informative and detailed post for anyone in the UK looking to get those golden upgrades!
This is super interesting. Most people subscribe to the miles programs, put one flight on it and that’s it. You really explain it well how to actually make the best of it. But still, I must admit that it sounds a tad bit complicated and rather like quite a lot of work and not just ‘collecting’. But certainly something to consider. Thanks vor sharing – and happy travels!
These tips are absolutely incredible! I’m trying desperately to up my Avios balance for flight costs, using the e-store and Tesco vouchers but this takes it to another level. I just don’t think I spend enough but I will definitely be trying to implement some of these credit card hacks!
I haven’t tried British Airways before, but you have indeed given a pretty great travel hack here. 🙂 Admittedly, several airlines does have a lot of bonus services that one can avail. You just need to have a lot of patience and thorough understanding of how it works. 🙂 Great details here, Anne. I’m pretty hesitant with using credit cards, too. But the points and the perks are indeed great!
OMG thanks for the tips! I am always up for an upgrade to first class when flying. Travel days are so much easier in first class.
Some great travel hacking tips here. I am not on the Avios points scheme yet but will look into it. But it does sound a bit of a hassle for someone like me who doesn’t understand. 🙁
If Mrs T signs up for a Standard BA Amex and refers Mr T for the Premium BA Amex this will earn them 9000 Avios which is better than the total sign-up and referral bonus for the standard card without any spend needed.
Another option is for Mr T to refer Mrs T for an Amex Platinum. As the £450 yearly fee is refunded pro-rota, two months membership would be £70 but the increased referral and sign-up bonus would earn an extra 33,000 Avios. It would also be an option for Mrs T to keep the Platinum card until they travel as the extra months membership may be offset by the travel insurance and hotel it provides.
I’ve used a pretty similar credit card rotation and with a roughly £1500 monthly spend you can earn 140,000 Avios and a companion voucher in as little as a year.
Matt, great tips so thanks very much for these. I am still debating the Platinum card but may trial it next so if you have a referral link for it be sure to pass it my way!
Whilst you’re always guaranteed you come out ahead with the Amex Gold, I think you need to be proactive if you want to get maximum value from the Amex Platinum. If you somewhat conservatively value Membership Reward Points at 0.5p each then the extra 13,000 from the sign-up bonus over the Gold is only worth £65. Therefore, you need to find at least an extra £47.50 worth of value if you keep it for only three months.
If you plan on traveling then this very straightforward. Both of the included (and very comprehensive) travel insurance and access to airport lounges through Priority Pass are very easily worth far more than £47.50. The automatic upgrade to HHonours and SPG Gold status are also worth it if you have stays in those particular chains coming up. However, if you don’t have anything planned for a while then the effective £35 per month fee is difficult to justify.
An interesting idea is whether it would be possible to open, claim the sign-up bonus and then close the card in under a month. In doing so you would earn the extra signup 13,000 membership reward points over Gold at a cost of only £35 once the fee has been refunded pro-rate which isn’t bad at all.
Guess you answered last point. thanks for the inspiration for a future post and I will let you know if I go ahead with the referral but definitely want to test this out
If you do want to try it then my referral link is;
If it defaults to a Gold card, you just need to click on the ‘Apply for a Different Card’ on the top right.
I’m currently considering my options as I need around another 40,000 points for my next BA flights but am also starting to build balances with Lufthansa and virgin too. Would love to know whether you think it is beneficial
If you don’t intend to redeem your membership rewards points for Avios, I’d consider the extra 13,000 points to be more valuable and worthwhile than before. Mainly because it is more difficult to earn significant amounts of Virgin and Lufthansa points as there isn’t really an equivalent of the Avios eStore. Although the Virgin miles earning credit card isn’t terrible, I’d always want to spend on the BA Premium Amex to work towards earning a companion voucher when I’m not chasing a sign-up bonus.
Don’t forget the referral bonuses for recommending the cards to each other…
That is a fantastic point, thanks Nick! You can earn up to 90,000 bonus points a year currently using referrals. See British Airways Credit cards site for more details.