Qatar Airways Will Adopt Avios As Its Currency, Allow Points Transfers

Qatar Airways Privilege Club is dropping ‘QMiles’ and adopting Avios – the mileage of IAG airlines like British Airways and Iberia – as its currency in late March, with points transferring 1:1 into the new program. This is potentially huge for earning points in Qatar’s program, and may be a huge win for members of other Avios programs like British Airways Executive Club and Iberia Avios as well. The Doha-based oneworld airline owns 25% of IAG.

I hinted recently that you might want to sign up your whole family for Qatar Airways Privilege Club and earn free miles. This appears to be working out.

  • 2,500 bonus miles instantly (join by March 31, 2022)
  • 5,000 bonus miles after first Qatar Airways flight by September 30, 2022

Remember that British Airways Executive Club has family accounts. So sign up – say – 6 people, at 2500 points apiece, and those points will (soon) transfer into each member’s member’s BA account and can be pooled in a family account yielding 15,000 miles towards an award ticket for free.

Still I would not transfer points out of Qatar Airways. I’m much more likely to transfer Avios into Qatar Airways Privilege Club.

We do not yet know with certainty what changes are on the horizon for Privilege Club, however I’m told that they anticipate lower award costs and lower fuel surcharges on partners and aren’t anticipating raising award prices or imposing surcharges on Qatar Airways metal redemptions.

  • In November 2020 Qatar cut award pricing on its own flights by 35%, reversing a 2018 devaluation.

  • Some example values include 70,000 miles one-way in business class between New York JFK and Doha; 85,000 from New York JFK to Male, Maldives in business class; London or Paris – Doha is 43,000 miles one way and these are without fuel surcharges.

QSuites Business Class, Credit: Qatar Airways

British Airways Executive Club may be strong for short-distance awards especially in economy, and Iberia Plus good for transatlantic business class redemptions on Iberia but Qatar Airways Privilege Club is good for redemptions on Qatar – which has one of the world’s best business class products.

Previously it was tough for U.S. members to participate in the Privilege Club program. About the only way (besides crediting flights) was transfers from Citibank Thank You Rewards. But by making Avios their currency it means you can:

  • Earn Avios anywhere that’s an option for U.S. members, opening up more credit card transfer partnerships (like Chase and American Express) and online shopping portal earning.

  • Transfer those Avios from BA to Qatar.

Doha Is One Of The World’s Great Short Stopovers For The Museum Of Islamic Art

And by making Avios their currency Qatar Airways has an incentive to keep devaluations in check. If you can always pull your points and move it to another program, devaluations are risky since they’d have to buy Avios from the airline you’re moving th points to. Meanwhile by keeping their own prices low they may attract points from partner programs that must buy from them.

Now, while Qatar tells me to expect lower partner award pricing overall, we don’t know all of the details yet. We’re still several weeks away from this going into effect and some of those details may still be under development. The extent to which this change is good or bad for consumers overall hinges, I think, on what changes if any are imposed on award pricing for Qatar’s own flights. That will be revealed soon, but I am very hopeful. This certainly makes Qatar Airways Privilege Club more relevant to U.S. members.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Curious how none of the travel blogs have seemed to connect the dots: this is huge for Citi card holders, as they can now transfer their points to Avios. Up until this change, Citi was the only major card issuer to lack transferability to Avios.

  2. Nice how you describe a flexible Avios ecosystem (SH, Europe, Middle East sweet spots). Could this favorably impact Avios redemptions for AA flights even if just holding BA back from devaluing short hauls?

    Can we assume one must be an “active” FF member for 90 days to transfer between Qatar and another Avios program?

    But how to be an “active” Qatar member today (i.e. shopping portal)?

    I’ll look differently at the next AMEX 40% Avios transfer bonus if there is one. I look at my Citi TYPs as future Turkish M&Ss but may need to rethink.

  3. Hi Gary

    Hi sure are you that QR Avios will be transferable to BA/IB/EI?

    Asking because as far as I can see, today’s announcement didn’t cover this.

  4. “Curious how none of the travel blogs have seemed to connect the dots: this is huge for Citi card holders, as they can now transfer their points to Avios”

    Yes those of us with huge amounts of ThankYou points are eagerly scoping out destinations given how many more Avios we can suddenly make use of later this year

  5. This could be interesting with all the ways to earn Avios (e.g., IAG co-branded cards, Chase UR, AmEx MR). I’ve usually avoided Avios because I don’t fly BA or to the UK much. LHR is less reliable as a hub and the OneWorld carriers are inferior across the Atlantic. BA also tends to have surcharges that “eat” into the redemption value. Being able to transfer to Qatar bypass BA and their surcharges could be very compelling.

    Better earning opportunities and better product? This could work.

  6. It’s now been confirmed by Qatar Airways Privilege Club that Avios “will be fully transferable between Privilege Club and British Airways Executive Club”, this allows travellers on both airlines to pool their Avios into a single account.

    In addition, BA and Qatar Airways will increase the number of Avios-based reward seats across their flights, to accomodate an expected jump in demand once both airlines are sharing a common currency’.

  7. I built up a few hundred thousand Avios to do business class on Aer Lingus from New York or Boston to Shannon or Dublin, but in the last couple years they seem to have completely eliminated this option without any announcement. I literally have not seen a single business class seat available on any date for well over a year, including checking all the way out to a year on multiple occasions.

    So this is great news. Bye bye crappy Aer Club.

  8. “ aren’t anticipating raising award prices or imposing surcharges on Qatar Airways metal redemptions.”

    Surcharges dramatically increased on numerous QR metal redemptions now that this has gone live. Another day, another lie by a loyalty program.

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