Examining Avios Points Value
Whilst I’ve touched upon the Value of Avios points in a number of articles here at Thrifty Points, I thought it would be useful if I covered that age-old question in full – Just how much are those Avios points really worth? Now what makes the answer to this question trickier is that it has numerous answers depending on where you travel, what airline you’d usually travel with, whether you’d be prepared to pay economy, Business or even First, etc, etc, etc.
As a result of the numerous variables, I’m going to look at several examples to help you calculate just what an Avios point’s value may be for you. Before I do this I want to highlight why it is so important to understand how much an Avios point is worth and how this could help you save real money over time.
Let's break this post down...
Importance of Understanding the Value of Avios Points
I’m of the opinion that there are three main reasons for understanding what Avios points are worth.
Receiving Best Value for Your Avios Points
If you can understand how to calculate the value of Avios points, which hopefully you should be able to do by the end of this article, then you’ll be able to work out the most cost-effective way of redeeming your hard-earned Avios points. Redeeming for say 3.0p (as shown in the example below) would make 10,000 Avios points worth £300, however redeeming at 0.3p would result in the potential loss of £270 in benefits!
Obtaining Value Through Credit Cards
Whilst most people believe that the easiest method of earning Avios points is by flying with British Airways or another Oneworld airline, they’d be wrong. The vast majority of UK residents earn their Avios points through credit card spending and in particular some of the uber generous sign-up bonuses that the credit card companies offer – you can read my recent article on the best Avios credit cards here.
With the ability to earn 1 Avios point for every £1 spent on the likes of the American Express Gold Card (free for the first year) it’s worth calculating whether you’d be best off continuing to spend on the card once you’ve earned the 20,000 points sign-up bonus (increased to 22,000 using this link) or alternatively switching to a cashback card paying say 1%.
I recently wrote an article on the various methods of buying Avios points – found here. As I highlight in the article, there are occasionally examples where you can purchase Avios points at less than 1p per point (groupon deals, etc.). In these instances if the value of Avios points is say 1.5p there is an arbitrage between the purchase and (essential) sale price generating real value for the individual.
What is the Value of an Avios Point?
Firstly let’s start with two areas to avoid and why these provide poor Avios points value.
Redeeming for Experiences
As you may or may not be aware, the Avios Travel Rewards programme closed in July last year and since then Avios points have been held within your BA Executive Club account. The previous Avios website provided a significant number of ways to spend points. HOWEVER the vast majority of these provided extremely poor value for Avios points.
An example of one of these poor methods of redeeming Avios points would be for an experience on the British Airways website. Take the Universal Studios Harry Potter Tour which could be redeemed for 12,800 Avios points. If you head over to the official website the same tour can be purchased for £43 as seen below.
In this instance your Avios points value would be 0.3p per point (£43 divided by 12,800 points). As you’ll see below this is poor and should be avoided in almost all circumstances.
Redeeming for Hotels
British Airways also offers the ability to redeem Avios points for hotel stays. These generally tend to offer poor value for money especially during school holidays when a supplementary cash price is usually payable upon arrival at the hotel. Let’s take a look at a couple of examples to see the value of Avios points if you were to redeem for a night’s stay somewhere nice…
Atlantis The Palm can also be booked through the likes of booking.com and for the same night would cost £404 as seen below.
Based on the above, the saving of £404 by using 76,350 Avios points would equate to an Avios points value of 0.5p, which is better than redeeming for the Harry Potter experience however still not great.
Avios Points Value – Base Case
British Airways have introduced the option to part pay for your flight using Avios points. This attributes a value to Avios points between 0.55p and 1p. I’ve run a quick example for an £83 flight from London Gatwick to Edinburgh and below are the part-pay-with-Avios options I was given.
These equate to the following Avios points values:
£5 off with 500 Avios – Value of Avios points: 1p
£10 off with 1,250 Avios – Value of Avios points: 0.8p
£20 off with 2,750 Avios – Value of Avios points: 0.7p
£30 off with 5,000 Avios – Value of Avios points: 0.6p
£45 off with 8,000 Avios – Value of Avios points: 0.56p
It’s clear to see from the above that the Avios points value diminishes as the number of points you redeem increases. Another point to note is that you’ll actually earn 750 Avios points from taking the flight, as seen at the bottom of the picture. Redeeming 500 of these points would reduce the value of the flight from £83 to £78 (a saving of 6%) with a further 250 Avios points left over. Not a bad saving!
Redeeming for Flights
As I mentioned earlier the value of Avios points can vary significantly if redeemed for flights, with numerous factors ultimately affecting the value of the Avios points used. Examples of these can include destination, class of travel you’re prepared to pay for and whether you’re using a 2-4-1 voucher to name but a few.
At this stage I thought it would be useful to provide a couple of worked examples to show how the value of Avios points can vary.
Example One – Long-Haul Economy with BA
This is perhaps one of the worst ways of redeeming Avios points. A return flight from London to New York in May would require a total of 26,000 Avios points and £375.32 in taxes. The same flight can be booked for £397.62 through the British Airways website. As such the value of Avios points in this instances would be worth a terrible 0.1p per point…
In this instance (if you absolutely need to use your Avios!) you should choose to pay the cash price however use the ‘part pay with Avios’ option. You should be offered the ability to reduce the price by £100 with 17,000 Avios. The reduced price of £297.62 requiring only 17,000 Avios points is clearly a better option than redeeming the flight with 26,000 Avios and paying a further £375.32 in taxes!
Example Two – Family travelling Club World during peak times
With the British Airways sale currently ongoing, a number of people are booking family holidays for the year. Heading to the sales page of the British Airways website (found here), a family of four would be able to fly to Bermuda for £1,796 per person in the Easter Holidays. The same flights would require 120,000 Avios points per person and a further £559.41 in taxes. The saving of £1,237 per person would provide a value of 1p per Avios point.
I would however highlight at this point, that if the family wouldn’t usually be prepared to pay for Business-Class tickets then they should not base the value from that price. If they would only ever be prepared to pay for economy then the saving should be based off that price. Whilst travelling Business Class may well have an intrinsic value to the individuals (lie flat beds, etc.) using points in this instance may not necessarily provide a real cash saving and as such should be taken into consideration.
Example Three – Couple redeem a 2-4-1 voucher in Business
As regular readers will know, I believe that the 2-4-1 voucher offered with both the BA Amex and BA Premium Amex Card is one of the most generous credit card bonuses in the market. If you were to redeem the 2-4-1 voucher for a Business-Class flight to say Sao Paulo and you would ordinarily be prepared to pay for that class of flight, your total saving may be somewhere in the region of £3,202 using 150,000 Avios points. This is calculated as follows:
- 75,000 Avios per person each way equals 300,000
- Reduced to 150,000 Avios using 2-4-1 voucher
- Total taxes £800.04
- Cheapest flights in the BA sale £2001 per person
- Total price of flights £4,002
- Total saving £3,202 for 150,000 Avios points
In this instance by combining the reward flights with a 2-4-1 voucher you’re able to generate an Avios points value in the region of 2.1p per Avios point.
Example Four – Individual redeeming for First Class
Regular readers will also know that I recently used 102,000 Avios points for a First-Class, one-way flight to Sao Paulo – you can read my full review here. I combined this with the 2-4-1 voucher, however I’m going to ignore this for the purposes of my calculation. I had to pay a total of £377 in taxes for the flight. As I wouldn’t be prepared to pay for a First or even Business-Class ticket, I have to make sure that I compare the saving to the price of an economy ticket. In the current BA sale it’s possible to book a one-way flight for £601. As such in this instance by using 102,000 Avios, resulting in a saving of £224, the value of my Avios points were in the region of 0.2p. Whilst this is a terrible rate, the number of brownie points I earned for treating the other half to a once in a lifetime First-Class experience was definitely worth it :).
Example Five – Last minute Club Europe flight
This example actually happened to me a couple of months back and was by far my best-value redemption in 2018. I was flying to Edinburgh from London City with work and booked a Club Europe ticket with cash. At the last minute we decided that my other half would join me, however tickets were an extortionate £561.34 for a return Club Europe ticket. Asking Hannah to fly in economy whilst I flew Club Europe was not an option, but I was also reluctant to fork out the £561.34 for the return ticket. Instead I used 15,500 Avios points (with £50 in taxes) providing a total saving of £511.33. The value realised in this instance was a staggering 3.3p per Avios point.
Example Six – Short-Haul Economy
Our final example looks at redeeming 2 economy tickets on short-haul flights. I’m going to split this one in two.
6A – Tom and Jane are flying from London to Geneva. Jane flies a considerable amount with work and is a BA Executive Club Silver member. With BA Silver both Tom and Jane benefit from the seat selection at any time, Business Class check in, fast-track security, lounge access, 2 x 32 kg bags each and various other benefits. As such whenever they travel they’re happy to pay more to fly BA economy where they’ll receive the benefits offered by the Silver card. A return BA flight to Geneva would cost somewhere in the region of £101.74 per person in February. The equivalent flight would require 8,000 Avios points and £35 in taxes. So the saving of £66.74 would equate to an Avios points value in the region of 0.8p per Avios.
6B – Sally and Richard are flying to Barcelona for a weekend away and would usually be happy to fly with the cheapest budget operator. Redeeming points from London to Barcelona would require 13,000 Avios points and £35 in taxes with British Airways. The ‘equivalent’ flight with Ryanair would cost £42 resulting in a saving of £7. In this instance the Avios points value would be a very poor 0.3p per Avios point.
What Can We Learn from the Above?
As we can see from the above, the value of Avios points can vary dramatically depending on the method of redemption. Using the new ‘part pay with Avios’ function should be your base-case scenario in which the value of Avios points will vary between 0.55p and 1p depending on the number of points redeemed.
Using Avios points for long-haul economy flights is generally a terrible idea. This is because a significant proportion of the overall price of an economy ticket is comprised of taxes which are payable in addition to the Avios points used. In this particular instance and only if you really need to, you should use the ‘part pay with Avios’ function which offers significantly better value for money.
As you may expect, using a 2-4-1 voucher doubles the value of your redeemed points. Where this tends to add significant value is when you’re redeeming long-haul flights in either Business or First. That said, if you’re redeeming Business/First and wouldn’t ordinarily pay for it then you should calculate the value of your points based on the price of an economy (or premium economy) ticket that you’d be prepared to purchase.
With the value of Avios points generally varying anywhere between 0.55p and 1.5p (and reaching as much as 3p in a best-case scenario), the current sign-up bonus of 20,000 points with the (free for the first year) American Express Gold Card (reviewed here) can be worth anywhere in the region of £110 to £300. You can increase the sign-up bonus to 22,000 points by using this link.
As always we hope you’ve found this article useful and please do comment below if you have any questions.