Living on the island of Ireland, flying is important to me to get to most places. Most Airlines offer some kind of loyalty scheme (in the UK Avios are probably the best known, where points earned can be redeemed for free or discounted flights) but it can take a very long time to build those air miles into something useful even as a fairly frequent flyer.
Fortunately if you know how, there are some very easy ways to build up a very healthy amount of points without doing anything you wouldn't normally do... without even stepping on a plane.
Here are five little shortcuts to earn 28,900 Avios with minimal effort. The art of spending Avios to maximise their value is a whole separate article, but if used right these little tips could buy you 3 return tickets to anywhere in Europe as far as Prague or one return flight to the middle east.
Are you sitting comfortably? First, you'll need to register (free) with the British Airways Executive Club and with Avios if you haven't already. You can earn Avios points through either, and the two are identical and interchangable air mile currencies (but some of the hacks below can only earn points through one or the other or allow you to double bonus by having both).
Even if you don't use a credit card regularly, and particularly if you don't get anything extra for it, get an BA Credit Card. You get one free avios for every pound you spend (there are cards with bigger bonuses and more points per pound spent, but they come with hefty annual fees - this one is completely free). Plus there's a 3,000 avios bonus if you spend just £500 with it in your first three months (4,000 if you get a referral - PM me and I'll happily give you one).
Once you've got your card, you can also get a card for your spouse or a family member; there's a 500 Avios bonus for each additional person you add.
Lets say you do just that: there's 3,000 (bonus) + (1,000 my referral) + 500 (1 point per pound) + 500 (second card) = 5,000 Avios earned right there.
In the war between the big four supermarket chains in the UK, from an Avios point of view there's a clear winner. Sign up for a Tesco Clubcard and just crack on with your regular shopping. Kind of like Avios, each pound you spend on fuel or food at Tesco gets you a clubcard point. A hundred points is a pound off your shopping, but the beauty of this is Clubcard Boost, which lets you trade your club card points up for 2.4x more Avios.
Lets be conservative here, say you spend £50 a week on food and fill up the car once a month for £50 (not too far off the mark for me, but if you have a family this will rack up much faster!). After 3 months that's £750, which will give you £7.50 in vouchers.
With Tesco Clubcard Boost that gets you an extra 1,800 Avios, just for doing your regular shop.
There are two reward schemes out there which essentially allow you to earn Avios for completing surveys. Now I'll admit I was wary of this one too, as actually the effort vs reward for this is actually quite low... that is, unless, you take the signing on bonus and run. There are two major Avios survey companies out there - Rewards for Thoughtswhich offers a 600 Avios bonus after you complete your first survey and e-rewardswhich offers 750. Note the key word is complete, as you don't get the bonus for just creating an account but actually getting through a survey.
A neat little trick here is that both allow you to get the bonus once through Avios and once through the British Airways Executive Club if you use a different email address for each, effectively allowing you to double up your points. I suggest you do this, then take your points and close your accounts to avoid being spammed with surveys.
If you do that, that's 600 (Reward For Thoughts through BA) + 600 (Reward For Thoughts through Avios) + 750 (e-rewards through BA) + 750 (e-rewards through Avios) = 2,700 avios.
If you have facebook, Avios are piloting an app called Avios Suitcase, which will let you earn Avios for completing simple little tasks. The first, just logging and linking it to your Avios account gets you 100 bonus avios, and then you can complete tasks like sharing posts, liking their FB pages etc to earn more. If that sounds annoying, it is (a bit), but it's quick to do and I've found after sharing the link for about a minute you get the reward and can then delete the link to avoid irritating people with a torrent of advertising.
Do all that, and you have an easy 400 avios.
Ah Rocketmiles, the best to last. My most recent and favourite discovery. Forget Hotels.com, Booking.com or Lastminute for booking your accommodation. Rocketmiles is brilliant if you want more back for your buck on the loyalty scheme.
The premise is simple enough. Instead of earning (glacially slowly) free nights to stay through one of the above, book using Rocketmiles. There's a 3000 Avios Bonus for signing, an extra 1000 Avios bonus if you use a referral (one from me right here) and then 1000-5000 Avios for every night you book.
Lets say once in this 3 months you book a 3 night long weekend somewhere (e.g. wherever it is that you're flying to with all your hard earned Avios), that's potentially 3,000 (bonus) + 1,000 (referral) + 15,000 (3 x 5,000/night) = 19,000 Avios in one swoop!
The above is not the definitive guide to earning Avios quickly, but it is a run through some of my favourites to earn a very respectable set of rewards. There are some other highly lucrative shortcuts you could take, but that require a bit more effort or careful planning.
With the above I've tried to make a fairly conservative estimate of what someone could achieve without going (air) miles out of their way to do so. If you'll pardon the pun.
Spread the message far and wide, and happy travels!