Being in your late twenties has its positives and negatives. One of these positives is having the freedom to just get up and explore the wonderful world we live in… the downside however is that I can’t afford to just get up and go! That’s where redeeming Avios points have changed my life. No matter how young or old you are, I think you’ll find these easy-to-use Avios points hacks helpful in making your points go further.
For those who are new to BA Avios points you may want to take the time to read my introduction to Avios. For those of you who are seasoned Avios point collectors I hope you’ll find some of the suggestions useful.
What is the value of Avios Points?
Let’s start by working out just how much a British Airways Avios point is worth to ensure we know the value of Avios points we’re both spending and saving.
Now it’s possible to go into significant depth, analysing various parameters. This is because the value of Avios points varies depending on your personal circumstances including what class you would usually fly, where you fly and what airline you’d be prepared to pay for if you weren’t spending Avios points.
In the table below I’ve outlined three scenarios to determine Avios points value for different individuals. You can undertake a similar exercise to see the value of Avios points to you using the calculator on the British Airways website.
You’ll see from the above examples that the value of Avios points varies from 0.7p to 1p. It can very well exceed this depending on your certain travel and spending habits. I would also point out that there is also a lower limit to which the value of BA Avios points can fall. This is because you can use them to purchase goods such as alcohol or attending events.
On the Avios website a bottle of Hendricks Gin currently costs 6,500 Avios points. If you were to purchase this same item from Amazon Grocery the same bottle would cost £28 (see here). In this example the lowest cost of an Avios point would be £28 divided by 6,500, which equals 0.43p.
Another point I’d highlight is that none of the scenarios above included First-Class tickets. The reason being that Ben (like a very high percentage of the UK population) would never pay the additional cost of a First-Class ticket. Whilst the experience of travelling First Class would have an experience value to Ben, if he was never prepared to pay for it then we cannot include it when calculating Avios points value.
Now we know how much an Avios point is worth let’s move on to the nifty BA Avios Point Hacks which will help to save you points and money!
12,000 Avios Points from Signing Up to the Free American Express Gold Card
As many may know, it’s possible to earn British Airways Avios points with the following cards:
- British Airways American Express card – Full Review Here (5,000 Avios points – an extra 1,000 points if I refer you – please click here and scroll down to the correct card)
- British Airways Premium Plus American Express card – Full Review Here (25,000 Avios points – an extra 1,000 points if I refer you – please click here)
However some may not know that it’s possible to transfer American Express Rewards points to Avios points at a conversion rate of 1 to 1. This makes the free American Express Gold card one of the best deals currently on the market for collecting British Airways Avios points. The sign-up bonus of 10,000 Avios points could be worth anywhere between £70 (0.7p) and £100 (1p) based on the value of Avios points we calculated above.
The card comes with additional benefits including two free airport lounge passes. If you’re referred to the American Express Gold card by myself you could also earn a further 2,000 Avios points. Please use this link and I’d be delighted to refer you.
Spending Avios Points – Maximising Redemptions
Use redemption destinations on the edge of zone bands to redeem Avios points
There’s an interesting quirk with the BA Avios points redemption calculator which if used correctly can help reduce the Avios points you use. The number of Avios points required to take a flight are calculated using the following table:
As such if you’re really seeking to maximise journey distance when spending Avios points you could choose a destination where the flight distance is towards the upper end of a flight distance zone. Let’s look at two examples (one short haul and the other long haul) to demonstrate the advantages of this technique.
London LGW to Venice VCE – 694 miles
Now if you were to spend Avios points on a one-way flight from London Gatwick to Venice during peak times it would use a total of 7,500 Avios points in Economy and 15,000 Avios points in Club Europe.
However if instead you flew from London Gatwick to Verona (645 miles), which is a 1-hour train journey (€15) from Venice then your flight would only use 4,500 Avios points for an Economy ticket or 9,000 for a Club Europe ticket.
Depending on the value of Avios points to you and how you value your time, it may make sense to fly to Verona instead of Venice for the following savings:
- Economy: 3,000 BA Avios points saved at 1p is a £30 saving less the £13.50 train ticket equals £16.50. Whilst you get to see an additional city the £16.50 saving may not be worth the additional hour of travelling for some.
- Club Europe: 6,000 BA Avios points saved at 1p is a £60 saving less the £13.50 train ticket equals £46.50. In this instance it may make more sense.
Where this Avios points hack comes into its own is when you’re travelling on a long-haul flight (preferably in business or above). Let’s take a look at another example. In this instance we’ll be spending Avios points with one of British Airways Oneworld partner airlines.
London Heathrow to Boston – 3,255 miles
Flying directly from London Heathrow would use the following British Airways Avios points:
- Economy: 20,000 Avios points
- Premium Economy: 40,000 Avios points
- Club World: 60,000 Avios points
- First Class: 80,000 Avios points
Now in this instance I know that Dublin to Boston is 2,984 miles and as such a flight between these two locations would fall into a lower zone, requiring the following Avios points:
- Economy: 12,500 Avios points (7,500 saving per flight)
- Premium Economy: 25,000 Avios points (15,000 saving per flight)
- Club World: 37,500 Avios points (22,500 saving per flight)
- First Class: 50,000 Avios points (30,000 saving per flight)
A flight from London Heathrow to Dublin would use either 4,500 or 9,000 Avios points depending on which class you fly. On the basis that anyone flying Economy or Premium Economy would redeem Avios points for a standard fare and those travelling Club World and First Class would redeem Avios points for Club Europe the approximate Avios savings would be as follows:
- Economy: 3,000 saving per flight
- Premium Economy: 11,500 saving per flight
- Club World: 13,500 saving per flight
- First Class: 21,000 saving per flight
What the above does not represent is the massive savings in flight taxes you’ll also be gaining from flying out of Dublin. These can be in excess of £575 and are covered later on in this post.
This nifty Avios points hack will allow someone travelling between London and Boston to redeem a First-Class flight for less Avios points than it would usually take to fly between the two cities in Club World!
Redeeming Avios flights from outside the UK is likely to save money on taxes
Whilst I’m a big fan of British Airways, one large negative is the excess fuel surcharges and taxes charged against Avios point redemption flights. However if you’re cunning and are prepared to fly via a European city it’s possible to significantly reduce these costs. Lets see how to spend Avios points.
Let’s take our flight from London to Boston as an example. Normal BA Avios point redemptions would cost the following amounts:
- Economy: £250 taxes and fuel surcharge
- Club World: £371 taxes and fuel surcharge
Now if you were to fly from Dublin with Aer Lingus to Boston, you’d only have to pay the following taxes on your Avios redemption:
- Economy: £102 taxes and fuel surcharge – £148 SAVING
- Club World: £120 taxes and fuel surcharge – £251 SAVING
Not only would you save Avios points from flying via Dublin, you’d also save a considerable amount of money for doing so. Worth thinking about when spending Avios points.
One further tip when reserving flights with Aer Lingus. You can currently only book Aer Lingus via the Avios website. However if you keep your Avios points in your British Airways Executive Club account then you should call BA directly and you can make further savings on the tax.
You can save money on short-haul flight taxes if you book two one-way tickets
Whilst it’s not always guaranteed I’d always recommend checking whether booking two separate flights within Europe is cheaper than booking a return, when you spend Avios points.
This is because on short-haul, Avios-point British Airways redemptions no fuel surcharge is levied and as such taxes are predominantly incurred at the London end. This is mainly Air Passenger Duty. Some overseas airports do not charge these levies, so it’s possible to reduce tax redemption costs.
Let’s take a look at our trusty Heathrow to Dublin example using the British Airways rewards flight finder. A return flight would incur Reward Flight Saver fees of £35, which is halved for a one-way journey (£17.50). The taxes incurred on a one-way flight from Dublin to Heathrow are in the region of £11.90, providing a saving of £5.60. Admittedly not a game changer however every little counts!
Off-peak dates – not all are made equal
Planning a journey in school holidays? You may be interested to know that British Airways, Aer Lingus and Iberia have different off-peak dates for BA Avios point redemptions.
Let’s compare British Airways and Iberia for April 2018. Peak dates for British Airways Avios redemptions start on the 29th March and finish on the 15th April. This compares with the Iberia calendar where peak dates do not start until the 27th of April. So what does this mean for you?
Let’s say you’re planning on a trip to Los Angeles during the Easter Holidays. A return flight to LAX in the Easter Holidays would require 150,000 Avios points and a further £577 in fuel surcharges and taxes.
Compare this to the same return flights from Madrid to Los Angeles, for which you only require 102,000 Avios points and £209 taxes. Based on the Avios points value we calculated earlier this Avios saving could be in the region of £480!
It’s a similar story for Aer Lingus as well so make sure you check both when booking your next holiday using Avios points.
Iberia Plus – the three Holy Grails – how to spend Avios points
My final point leads on from the last and in particular when you redeem BA Avios points through Iberia Plus.
Some Iberia Plus redemptions use significantly less Avios points than booking through British Airways
The Iberia redemption tariff differs to British Airways and as such there’s some interesting arbitrage opportunities. I’ve set out below a table of Avios redemptions required for BA and Iberia Off-Peak travel in Economy and Business.
Now the first thing you’ll notice is that Economy in Iberia uses more Avios points than British Airways. However where I’d strongly recommend focusing is on the Business-Class flights from zones 4-9.
Madrid to New York is 3,579 miles and as such falls into Zone 5. Booking with BA would set you back 100,000 British Airways Avios points for an off-peak return ticket compared to 68,000 by booking through Iberia Plus. Something worth considering when you redeem Avios points.
Save 50%+ tax by transferring Avios points to Iberia Plus and booking through their site
As Iberia does not charge the same taxes as British Airways, it’s possible to reduce costs by starting your long-haul journey in Spain. You’ll need to transfer your Avios points across to Iberia Plus to redeem this benefit and you should note that the account has to have been active for at least 90 days.
Again the previous Madrid to LAX is a good example. If you were to book the same return flight through BA.com you’d incur total fuel surcharges and taxes of £427 however as we saw above, using Iberia.com you can reduce these costs by a staggering £218.
You will incur costs to reposition yourself to Madrid which, if you use Avios to redeem, will include £35 of taxes. As such the net saving is £183 per ticket alongside the 48,000 points.
A couple of points I’d highlight are as follows:
- I mentioned this earlier – your Iberia Plus account needs to have been open for a minimum of 90 days with one qualifying transaction to allow you to transfer Avios across.
- You cannot book the UK to Madrid flight on the same ticket as the Madrid to LAX. As such I’d recommend flying from the UK to Madrid with Iberia to avoid any problems with delayed connections, etc.
There is more Avios points availability on Iberia flights if you move your points to Iberia Plus and book from there
For some strange reason, British Airways refuses to show all of the available Iberia redemption flights on their website. This is partially as a result of Iberia having two types of economy seat however that doesn’t answer why Business Class would be different.
So always head to Iberia.com to check availability rather than relying on the British Airways website.
British Airways Avios Points Redemptions – Go Further!
As this has been a lengthy article I think it may be wise to just provide a quick summary of the various points we’ve covered.
How much is a British Airways Avios point worth? The value of Avios points completely depends on your personal circumstances and what alternative flights you’d be prepared to pay for. In the examples above, Avios value ranged from 0.7p to 1p. However I’d expect it to increase further for some!
12,000 Avios points for signing Up – The American Express Gold Card offers an incredible sign-up bonus of 10,000 rewards points (upon spending £3,000 in the first 3 months) which can be transferred directly into Avios points. You can earn 12,000 points if you’re referred by myself – please use this link. With an Avios points value of 1p this is worth £120!
Redemption bands – Look for opportunities where you can reduce the length of your flight to fall into a lower zone. In the example of London to Venice, we could save 6,000 Avios points each way if we flew to Verona.
What do Dublin and Madrid have in common? Not much apart from the fact that if you start your long-haul journey in either of the cities when you redeem Avios points you can reduce your taxes significantly. In the example we looked at from Dublin to Boston it was possible to save £251 in taxes and benefit from further Avios points savings.
Split your short-haul flights in half (sometimes!) – It’s occasionally possible to reduce tax on your return journey by splitting an Avios redemption flight into two.
Peak flights – Aer Lingus, British Airways and Iberia all have different peak dates. Shop around to get the best deal during school holidays.
Iberia Plus – Always book through Iberia.com to save money on taxes and Avios, and see available seats. Just make sure you sign up to your Iberia Plus account sooner rather than later as you’re unable to transfer British Airways Avios within 90 days of opening an account.
As always I hope you’ve found this post insightful. You may also want to read some of the following:
Introduction to Credit Card Sign-Up Bonuses
American Express Gold Card Review
British Airways Premium Plus Credit Card Review
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