In February 2022, Barclays launched two new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard credit cards.
These are very, very good products with everything you could ask for, and are easily (in my view) the most attractive Visa or Mastercard credit cards in the UK. You get:
- a great sign-up bonus which the majority of HfP readers will qualify for
- a very high Avios earning rate
- an annual BA cabin upgrade voucher for hitting spending targets
Every HfP reader in the UK should seriously consider applying for one of these cards.
In this article, I want to explain how the cabin upgrade voucher works and who will benefit the most from it.
Before I talk about the cabin upgrade voucher, let’s summarise the two new Barclaycard Avios credit cards:
The free card: Barclaycard Avios
The representative APR is 28.9% variable.
The benefits are:
- No annual fee
- A sign-up bonus for new Barclaycard customers of 5,000 Avios if you spend £1,000 in three months
- You earn 1 Avios per £1 spent
- You earn a British Airways cabin upgrade voucher if you spend £20,000 in a card year
You can apply here.
The paid card: Barclaycard Avios Plus
The representative APR is 78.9% APR variable, including the annual fee. The representative APR on purchases is 28.9% variable.
The benefits are:
- A £20 per month fee (reduced to £15 for customers who hold Barclays Avios Rewards via their current account)
- A sign-up bonus for new Barclaycard customers of 25,000 Avios if you spend £3,000 in three months
- You earn 1.5 Avios per £1 spent
- You earn a British Airways cabin upgrade voucher if you spend £10,000 in a card year
You can apply here.
How does the cabin upgrade voucher from the Barclaycard Avios Mastercard work?
The full details are on this page of ba.com. If there is any divergence between that page and what I write below, trust ba.com.
Put simply, you receive a voucher which can be used to upgrade ONE return Avios flight for one person, or TWO one-way Avios flights – or the outbound half of a return flight – for two people
These are the same vouchers that are issued by Barclays Avios Rewards to holders of Barclays Premier current accounts. For clarity: it IS possible to earn TWO cabin upgrade vouchers each year, with one from Barclays Avios Rewards on the current account and the other from a Barclaycard Avios Mastercard.
Rather than cutting and pasting 37 bullet points from ba.com, I have broken down the key items in various categories.
When do I earn a Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cabin upgrade voucher?
You receive your cabin upgrade voucher in your British Airways Executive Club account within five working days of hitting your annual spend target.
- £20,000 of qualifying spend on the free Barclaycard Avios Mastercard
- £10,000 of qualifying spend on the Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard
You can earn a new voucher each card year as long as you hit the spend target.
If you upgrade or downgrade your card during the year, your spend target is reset to zero. It is possible to earn multiple vouchers per year if you upgrade or downgrade after earning one. However, Barclaycard does not guarantee that the option to upgrade or downgrade will be shown to you in the Barclaycard app.
You will be able to see your vouchers online on the same page of ba.com which currently shows your British Airways American Express companion vouchers.
Who can use the voucher?
This is important. The voucher is semi-transferable.
Whilst the flight must be booked from the account of the person who receives the voucher, the flight can be booked for anyone. The usual restrictions apply if you are in a British Airways Executive Club Household Account – ie the flyer must be in your Household Account or on your Friends & Family list.
What do I pay when I use the voucher?
Let’s get one thing clear. THIS. IS. NOT. AN. UPGRADE. VOUCHER.
I call it a cabin upgrade voucher. Barclaycard calls it a cabin upgrade voucher. Lloyds used to call it a cabin upgrade voucher. It is NOT a cabin upgrade voucher.
In practice, this is how it works.
You go to ba.com and book a flight using Avios. If you choose to apply the voucher, the Avios you are charged is the sum required if you had booked in the next lowest cabin on the aircraft.
Instead of a cabin upgrade voucher, it is really a ‘book a flight but only pay the Avios you would have paid if you had booked in the next lowest cabin’ voucher. This isn’t very catchy, so we pretend it is a cabin upgrade voucher.
This DOES make a difference, because:
- the taxes and charges due are the taxes and charges of the higher cabin, since that it what you are booking into (this bit should be obvious), and
- you do NOT need Avios availability in the lower cabin, only in the higher cabin (this bit is NOT obvious)
You are NOT booking 2 x World Traveller Plus seats on Avios and then upgrading them using the voucher. You are booking 2 x Club World seats on Avios and using the voucher to reduce the cost of the Avios component to that of the next lowest cabin.
Let me repeat – you do NOT need Avios availability in the lower cabin. You DO need Avios availability in the cabin in which you intend to fly.
Hope that’s clear …..
A note on Avios pricing
When you book an Avios redemption on British Airways and some partners, you are offered 5-6 pricing options, each with a different combination of Avios and cash.
When you use a Barclaycard upgrade voucher on ba.com, you are offered – with no alternatives – the ‘most Avios, least cash’ pricing option.
This is OK on long haul flights, since this is almost always the best value option. It is an issue on short haul redemptions, where the ‘most Avios, least cash’ option – usually with a cash option of just £1 – is usually not the best value. There is no way of swapping to one of the other pricing combination.
What are the restrictions on what flights I can book?
- You can only book British Airways operated flights, with a BA flight number. This includes the City Airport flights operated by BA CityFlyer.
- Flights with a domestic connection cannot be booked online due to ba.com restrictions. You need to call.
- You cannot use the voucher to book with Qatar Airways, American Airlines etc
- You cannot use the voucher on franchise partner SUN-AIR
- You can use up to two upgrade vouchers per booking
- All flights must depart from the UK
- The voucher is only valid on Avios flights. You cannot use it to upgrade a cash flight.
- You cannot book in First Class. The highest upgrade you can get is to fly in Club World / Club Europe, paying the Avios required for World Traveller Plus / Euro Traveller.
- You cannot use a Barclaycard Avios cabin upgrade voucher in conjunction with a BA Holidays booking, in the same way that you cannot mix a standard Avios redemption or a companion voucher with a BA Holidays booking
Can I combine my cabin upgrade voucher with a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 companion voucher?
No, not on the same ticket.
You also cannot use it with any other voucher. It may be possible to combine them with the vouchers issued to Gold Guest List members as these could be used with the old Lloyds vouchers – I’ve not heard of anyone trying it yet.
Obviously a family of three could unofficially combine an Amex 2-4-1 voucher and a Barclays upgrade voucher on the same trip. Two seats could be booked with the companion voucher and the third seat booked with the Barclaycard Avios Mastercard upgrade voucher. You would need to make two separate bookings to do this.
Can I upgrade an existing Avios booking?
This is an important restriction. You cannot book a World Traveller Plus ticket on Avios and then ring up BA to upgrade it to Club World if two Club World seats open up later. You would need to cancel the original booking and make a fresh one.
How long is my voucher valid for?
You must complete the outbound segment of your flight within 24 months of the issue date.
The expiry date is the same, irrespective of whether you earned your cabin upgrade voucher from the free or the fee Barclaycard.
Can I have multiple vouchers?
If you have a Barclays Premier accounts, you can earn an additional cabin upgrade voucher via this route.
You may also have multiple vouchers in your account because of the 24 month validity period.
You CAN use two cabin upgrade vouchers on the same booking if you have two in your account, to upgrade both legs of a return flight for two people.
From 2023, you can take bonus Avios instead of an upgrade voucher
If you can’t make the upgrade voucher work for you, there will soon be an alternative.
From some point in 2023, Barclaycard will give you the option of taking an Avios bonus instead of an upgrade voucher.
We believe that the Avios offered will be 7,000.
You will not be able to exchange vouchers already issued. The offer will only be available for future vouchers.
As you can, the cabin upgrade voucher you will earn from the Barclaycard Avios Mastercard is very powerful. It could easily save you 50,000+ Avios on a long haul business class redemption. It is especially valuable for solo travellers.
The application form for the free Barclaycard Avios Mastercard (5,000 Avios bonus) is here.
The application form for the Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard (25,000 Avios bonus) is here.
To learn more about the cards, read our Barclaycard Avios Mastercard credit card review here and our Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard credit card review here.
Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points. The site discusses products offered by lenders but is not a lender itself. Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as an independent credit broker.
Want to earn more points from credit cards? – September 2023 update
If you are looking to apply for a new credit card, here are our top recommendations based on the current sign-up bonuses.
In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.
You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:
You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the best of the other deals currently available.
SPECIAL OFFER: The sign-up bonus on the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard is doubled to 30,000 Virgin Points if you apply by 2nd October. You receive 15,000 Virgin Points with your first purchase and a further 15,000 points if you spend £3,000 within 90 days. Apply here.
British Airways American Express Premium Plus
25,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold
Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review
The Platinum Card from American Express
30,000 points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review
Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard
30,000 bonus points (SPECIAL OFFER TO 2ND OCTOBER) and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review
Earning miles and points from small business cards
If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these offers:
American Express Business Platinum
40,000 points bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review
American Express Business Gold
20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review
Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa
Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers Read our full review
For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending.