I am a sucker for a loyalty scheme.
I’ve already posted about my adoration for the My Starbucks Rewards scheme here. However, there are a few more that I participate in that I really like.
Avios are travel rewards points that turn your everyday spending into flights and other travel rewards. The great thing is, you can collect Avios across lots of different schemes. I collect Avios using my Tesco Clubcard and my credit cards. With Tesco Clubcard, you can choose to turn your money vouchers that you usually get every quarter into Avios. My credit cards via my bank come in a pair: one a Mastercard where you earn 1.25 Avios for every £5 spent, and one an American Express where you earn 1.25 Avios for every £1 spent. There are lots of others ways to earn Avios, like via the Shell Drivers Club, or through their shopping gateway and you can spend them on lots of things: wine, photo shoots, hotels, car hire, experiences etc. There is also a handy app on your phone to track your Avios rewards. However, I choose to “combine” my Avios and move them from the Avios website into my British Airways Executive Club.
Snapshots from the Avios App where you can track your points
I have mentioned before that, for the most part, I am a huge British Airways fan (we had a little hiccup when I tried to change my name!). I think they do a fantastic job of rewarding loyalty. A great example was when our flight to Marrakech was cancelled: I didn’t expect us to be prioritised because of my Exec Club status, but we were. It was a great surprise and made me feel like a valued BA customer. Another example is a recent email I received: they were offering a birthday gift (it’s my 30th in February) of 30,000 Avios if I book a long haul flight to travel in February. To put it into context, that’s enough air miles (nearly) to get a return, economy flight to the US (excl. taxes). So it’s a great gift!
Anyway, there are two types of points that you can earn on the BA scheme: tier points and Avios. Tier points are earned just through flying and the number you get depends on your ticket type. You earn more when you fly further in more premium cabins. You can’t buy or spend tier points, like Avios, they are all about measuring your frequency of flying and loyalty to BA. I find it kind of annoying that they get reset to zero every year (I’ve spent the last few months trying to reclaim my silver status!), but you still get to keep them as “Lifetime Tier Points”, so you get some other rewards. These tier points are what define you as Bronze, Silver or Gold. Getting status offers you things like lounge entry, priority boarding, seat selection and bonus Avios. (They also send you handy luggage tags with your name, membership number and status- just saves having your address written on all your luggage!)
Avios are the air miles you earn from flying and these can be redeemed for flights, hotels, car hire. You earn these from flying with British Airways or any of the One World Alliance. So, for example, if you’re flying American Airlines, you can still collect your points and use your airline status.
In my opinion, the best way of spending these miles is on the hotels: British Airways does some fantastic sales and if you get flights at the right time, you can get some great bargains. Even if you use your Avios, you still have to use cash to pay for taxes, fees and carrier charges. So, for example, a flight to Chicago might be 40k Avios + £354 in taxes. However, in their current sale, a flight is £515 all in. The better way of spending your Avios is on hotels. For example, you can get 4 nights in the Hilton on Michigan Avenue for 40k Avios +£60, or the Hyatt Regency for 40k Avios + £120. You just seem to get more for your money!
Finally, the British Airways app is so useful. It stores all your flights, you can check in on it and it can be a digital boarding pass. Also, because I am a sucker for stuff like this, I just love that it changes the imagery on the app to reflect where you are and where you’re going. For example, when I am flying to Chicago, it has the Chicago skyline, and when I am returning to London, the London one. Or, on the screenshots below, you can see a blues guitarist, representing Chicago, under the “recently searched” flights. I know some people think this stuff is cheesy, but I love details like this!
The British Airways Android App- I have used both Apple and Android, and they’re both good
VIB is the next step up from Beauty Insider- but Beauty Insider is pretty good too! These are the loyalty schemes at beauty retailer, Sephora. At the entry level you get a birthday gift, free beauty classes, product rewards and seasonal promotions. When you have spent $350 in a year (gulp…yes…I did that…oops) you get upgraded to VIB. VIB gets you first dibs on new products, seasonal VIB only gifts, advance access to sales and private VIB shopping events. Now, whilst I have a Boots Advantage card, and I have heard that the value of the points with them is really good, it does little to make me feel rewarded for any loyalty. When I was in the Body Shop the other day, I signed up to a loyalty card (with a £5 charge!), and they seem to be following a Sephora model (10% off purchases for a year, free gifts when you collect th stamps, a free birthday gift, exclusive events, offers and discounts and sneak previews of new products), but it just doesn’t have the glamour of Sephora. To put it into context, as a Beauty Insider (tier 1), I would be asked which free gift I wanted at the checkout, and one time it was a Marc Jacobs eye liner! That is a great free gift!
When I moved from Beauty Insider to VIB I was given the pack below, including some nice gifts (a 10% off voucher, a makeover and free shipping code) and a new card to present when I pay. I know it’s all largely symbolic: but it has the desired effect. I feel far more valued by Sephora through their program than I do by Boots! Now…if only there were Sephora stores in the UK. I am sure they must have discussed it at Sephora HQ. Perhaps they think they can’t compete with Boots. Sephora: yes you can. You are so much better. Just make sure your loyalty card is an international thing, yeah? I want to be a VIB everywhere!