How your BA and Virgin Atlantic air miles can still soar – without you having to leave your home

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The jets may be grounded – but your air miles can still soar (and you don’t even have to leave your home)

  • Use airlines’ online stores for larger purchases in order to boost your air miles
  • A little-known Tesco Clubcard trick lets you earn a large number of air miles 
  • You can earn extra BA Avios points by taking advantage of deals on Uswitch  

Every week our Holiday Hero Neil Simpson takes an in-depth look at a brilliant holiday topic, doing all the legwork so you don’t have to. This week, he reveals how to earn air miles without leaving home.

The Lure of free flights and easy upgrades explains why so many travellers are obsessed with air miles. Collect 8,000 British Airways miles (called Avios) and you can book a return trip to Berlin or Barcelona for just £35 to cover taxes. 

Build up a bigger pile of about 35,000 points in Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club and you can leap from economy to the luxury Upper Class cabin on a flight to New York or Miami. Better still, play your loyalty cards right and it’s possible to carry on earning miles throughout this current turmoil.

Turbo-charge your shopping

Play your cards right: Although aircraft are now idle, passengers can still boost their loyalty accounts

Play your cards right: Although aircraft are now idle, passengers can still boost their loyalty accounts

Start with 5,000 bonus miles by signing up for BA’s American Express card or Virgin Atlantic’s Mastercard. Neither has an annual fee and both are accepting applications now. Use them like any other card on as many small transactions as you like, and for every £100 spent you’ll earn 100 Avios points with BA or 75 Flying Miles with Virgin.

But for a real boost, go to your airline’s e-store before you use your card for larger online purchases. The e-stores link you to offers from hundreds of companies such as Nike, Argos and B&Q, plus smaller names including Pandora and Hotel Chocolat.

Click on the provider you want, complete your purchase and you’ll be credited with the extra miles. The latest John Lewis offer in BA’s e-store is for six Avios points for every pound spent, so a £200 purchase will see 1,200 Avios land in your account. Go to shopping.ba.com to see almost 1,000 offers, or click on ‘Shops Away’ in the Flying Club section at virginatlantic.com for its huge list of retail partners.

Try the Tesco boost

A little-known trick lets you turn Tesco’s Clubcard points into a surprisingly large number of air miles. 

If you spend £500 at Tesco, you earn 500 Clubcard points and that produces a voucher for £5 off your next shop online or in store. However, a £5 Tesco voucher can also be swapped for 1,250 Flying Club miles with Virgin or 1,200 Avios points. Better still, it can all be done automatically. 

Search for ‘Tesco’ at either airline’s website and follow the steps to auto-convert your points into miles.

Get some energy

BA hands you 3,000 extra Avios points if you pick a deal on the comparison site Uswitch

BA hands you 3,000 extra Avios points if you pick a deal on the comparison site Uswitch

If you have finally found the time to use a comparison site in search of a better gas, electricity, internet or phone tariff, then don’t sign up without checking out your airline’s e-shop first.

The latest offering with BA hands you 3,000 extra Avios if you pick a Uswitch deal. There are similar offers with Carphone Warehouse and O2.

Sign up the family

A wrinkle in the rules means that under-18s are not eligible to open accounts to earn Avios, and under-12s can’t earn Virgin points unless parents sign youngsters into household accounts. 

Setting them up takes time as parental consent forms may have to be completed and returned. But once the job is done, everyone can collect miles when they fly. Better still, points can be pooled, so at least one family member may have enough for a free flight on a future holiday.

Get the latest offers of all the main air miles schemes at websites such as thepointsguy.co.uk or headforpoints.com. 

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