How Much to Buy Avios Cheap…?
There are rarely situations when I would recommend individuals purchase Avios points, except on the odd occasion when buying Avios may make sense. To buy Avios points is never cheap, however some options are more cost effective than others.
When looking to buy BA Avios points most people will head straight to either the BA or Avios websites. There are however a number of nifty hacks which will allow you to buy Avios cheaply.
Let's break this post down...
When Would You Want to Purchase Avios Points?
Can I buy Avios points is regularly asked and the answer is yes, of course, however savvy Avios collectors will know that all options are not made equal. Indeed the cost to purchase Avios points can vary anywhere from 0.8p per Avios point to as much as 3.1p per Avios point.
The majority of the time it’s significantly cheaper to use the ‘Avios and Money’ option (more on this later) but let’s start by taking a look at scenarios where it may make sense to buy British Airways Avios points.
Scenario 1 – Cost of Avios is less than Value of Redemption
I recently wrote a review about a Club Europe flight that my other half and I took from London City Airport to Edinburgh. I was flying for work (using flights paid for by my company) and I had been able to book some time in advance. We decided that Hannah should join for a last minute ‘romantic getaway’. As asking Hannah to fly economy whilst I flew up front was not an option we had to find a way of reducing the extortionate cost (£561.34) for a return Club Europe ticket from City Airport to Edinburgh.
With excellent rewards availability from City Airport we were able to use 15,500 Avios points, alongside £50 in taxes, to provide a total saving of £511.34. In this instance our Avios points were worth an impressive 3.3p per point and as such if we didn’t have enough points and were to buy Avios miles at less than 3.3p we would be saving money.
I would highlight that this was an exceptional use of Avios, with the vast majority of redemptions usually equating to between 0.5p – 1.5p. If you’re interested in the value of an Avios read my recent post here.
Scenario 2 – Booking 2-4-1 Voucher Redemptions
Holders of either the BA American Express or BA Premium American Express will receive a 2-4-1 Avios flight redemption voucher when certain spending hurdles are met (£10k for the premium card and £20k for the free card). The 2-4-1 voucher will essentially allow the holder to redeem 2 Avios reward flights for the price of 1. If you’re booking a First-Class flight this could provide a saving of up to 200,000 Avios, which makes the 2-4-1 voucher one of the most generous card promotions currently on the market. Read my recent First Class review for a step-by-step guide to using credit card sign-up bonuses to redeem a First-Class flight.
If you’re combining the purchased points with the 2-4-1 voucher this will have the effect of halving the cost of the purchased Avios points and could again open up arbitrage opportunities. I would also highlight that you cannot use part pay with the 2-4-1 voucher, so if you’re short of points the only option would be to buy Avios points.
Cheapest Way to Collect Avios
Before we jump into the various options of how to purchase Avios points, I thought I’d highlight the cheapest and possibly easiest method of collecting Avios points.
The common urban myth is that the easiest method of collecting Avios points is by flying with British Airways or a Oneworld Partner airline. Well this assumption would be wrong. Let’s take a look at how many Club Europe flights between London and Edinburgh I would have to take to earn the 15,500 Avios required for the reward flight mentioned above.
The number of Avios earned from flying will vary depending on your Executive Club tier. For this example we’ll look at both ends of the spectrum (Blue and Gold).
Assuming you’d opted for the flexible business option, you’d need to take 13 one-way flights as a Blue Executive Club member and 9 flights as a Gold Executive Club member to redeem the club Europe return flight between London City and Edinburgh. But let’s face it how many people are really going to book Club Europe at £561 for a return flight? In economy (lowest fare) as a Blue member you’d need to take a staggering 124 one-way flights or 24 flights if you were a Gold member. This illustrates just how hard it is to earn redemption tickets from flying with BA.
So what is the alternative option?
With strong competition between credit card companies to win new business, it’s possible to use the very generous sign-up bonuses offered by credit card companies to collect Avios at an astonishing rate.
Interestingly the first card most newbies turn to is the British Airways Avios American Express (reviewed here). The card offers a 5,000 Avios sign-up bonus and a continued earnings rate of 1 Avios for every pound spent. The sign-up bonus can be increased to 6,000 Avios if you use this link and scroll down to the free version of the card.
HOWEVER if you were to sign up to this card you’d be making a huge mistake. Why? Well there is another free card on the market which offers a sign-up bonus of 4 times that of the BA Amex card as well as the same long-term earnings rate. The American Express Gold Card (reviewed here) is one of the most generous credit cards on the market offering a sign-up bonus of 20,000 reward points, 2 complimentary lounge passes and international travel insurance. Reward points can easily be converted to Avios points at a rate 1 point to 1 Avios. You can also increase the sign-up bonus to 22,000 points by using this link.
Use ‘Avios and Money’ Over Buying Avios Points
Until recently I hadn’t really appreciated just how good the ‘Avios and Money’ option is. The ‘Avios and Money’ feature will allow you to book a reward seat with up to 65% fewer Avios than the headline Avios points quoted, effectively allowing you to purchase Avios points at a potentially reduced price.
When booking a reward flight with Avios you’ll be given the option close to check-out to use a combination of miles and cash to pay for your flight. It will look a little like the below which is for the Club Europe flight between London and Edinburgh.
Below I’ve calculated the cost of effectively buying Avios points using this method:
Club Europe – London to Edinburgh (Return)
15,500 Avios + £50
14,000 Avios + £70 – (1,500 Avios at £20 equals 1.3p per point)
12,400 Avios + £90 – (3,100 Avios at £40 equals 1.3p per point)
11,200 Avios + £100 – (4,300 Avios at £50 equals 1.2p per point)
9,600 Avios + £120 – (5,900 Avios at £70 equals 1.2p per point)
8,600 Avios + £130 – (6,900 Avios at £80 equals 1.2p per point)
Economy – London to Edinburgh (Return)
8,000 Avios + £35
7,100 Avios + £45 – (900 Avios at £10 equals 1.1p per point)
6,400 Avios + £55 – (1,600 Avios at £20 equals 1.2p per point)
5,900 Avios + £65 – (2,100 Avios at £30 equals 1.4p per point)
5,000 Avios + £75 – (3,000 Avios at £40 equals 1.3p per point)
4,400 Avios + £85 – (3,600 Avios at £50 equals 1.4p per point)
Economy – London to New York (Return)
26,000 Avios + £374
20,800 Avios + £424 – (5,200 Avios at £50 equals 1.0p per point)
16,900 Avios + £454 – (9,100 Avios at £80 equals 0.9p per point)
13,000 Avios + £474 – (13,000 Avios at £100 equals 0.8p per point)
10,400 Avios + £494 – (15,600 Avios at £120 equals 0.8p per point)
9,100 Avios + £504 – (16,900 Avios at £130 equals 0.8p per point)
As we can see from the above, the ‘Avios and Money’ function on the British Airways website provides the ability to buy Avios points at a rate ranging from 0.8p to 1.4p. Clearly some options are more preferable than others so it’s worth running a quick calculation to see if you’re getting value for money.
Options to Buy BA Avios
Ok, so let’s assume that you’re using the 2-4-1 voucher and therefore can’t use the ‘Avios and Money’ option. What are the various methods you have to buy British Airways Avios points?
I’ve listed below the various options currently available. It should be highlighted that there are occasionally promotions on the likes of Groupon which can offer good value for money although they can be quite tricky to exercise. Unfortunately at the time of writing this review there are no offers available.
1. Buying Avios Points from BA.com
You can buy Avios directly from the British Airways website here. The relatively poor rate is tapered and made worse by the £15 handling fee for all orders.
1,000 Avios equates to 3.1p per point. The rate falls to 1.6p if you order 100,000 Avios for £1,615. This helps highlight the excellent value offered by using the ‘Avios and Money’ function which ranges from 0.8p – 1.4p per Avios.
2. Buy Avios Through American Express Membership Rewards
Most people don’t know that if you hold either an American Express Platinum, Gold or Green card you can buy up to 10,000 membership reward points at a set price of 1.5p per point. You can then transfer these across to Avios at a rate of 1:1. Whilst not a good rate, this would be the most cost-effective method of buying up to 10,000 Avios points.
What to Avoid When Buying Avios Points
I wouldn’t recommend purchasing Avios points and stockpiling them for that special occasion. Frequently-flyer rewards programmes are notoriously volatile. The risk of a possible devaluation occurring is likely to offset any benefit gained through stockpiling at low prices.
Let’s Wrap this Up
We’ve seen that the value of an Avios point can be worth as much as 3.1p but ordinarily equates to somewhere between 0.5p and 1.5p depending on the individual’s travel habits. As such purchasing Avios points at a price higher than 1.5p is likely to make limited sense for most people.
If you are short of Avios points, we’d strongly recommend using the option to reduce the amount of Avios points necessary and pay more money, which can be found at the payment page for most flights. This will offer a rate of between 0.8p – 1.4p per Avios depending on the flight and class flown.
As we’ve highlighted, there are some easy ways to accumulate Avios points. One of the most effective is through credit card sign-up bonuses. The (free for the first year) American Express Gold Card offers a 20,000 point sign-up bonus, 2 complimentary lounge passes, travel insurance and an ongoing earnings rate of 1 point for every pound spent. This can be increased to 22,000 points if you use our referral link here. We’ll receive a small reward if you do which helps cover some of the running costs of this site.
Good luck and safe travels!