Avios Redemption University – Lesson 16 – What is the cheapest way to buy Avios points?

The “Avios Redemption University” series is a good starting point for beginners, although I hope everyone will learn something from themClick here to see the other articles.

It is inevitable that, at some points, you will need to buy Avios points in order to make a redemption booking.  It is rarely great value, but if you are a few thousand short of your target then it clearly makes sense.

The obvious thing to do is to go to ba.com and buy Avios via the website.  However, you may be missing out on some clever tricks which can reduce the cost of buying Avios points sharply.

There are FIVE realistic methods of purchasing Avios, plus a few more options which simply do not compete on price and still wouldn’t even under a special offer.  This article does not reflect any special offers which are currently running, so do take a look at the pricing at both avios.com, ba.com and Iberia Plus.

Buy Avios

Let’s take a look at the options:

1.  Buying via ba.com

The official link to buying Avios is here.  The standard price is a shocking £31 for 1,000 (there is a flat £15 handling fee which bumps up small purchases), £95 for 5,000 and £447 for the maximum 27,000.

At standard rates, the price is 3.1p when buying 1,000, 2p when buying 5,000 and 1.7p when buying 27,000.

2.  Buying via avios.com

The ‘buy Avios’ page at avios.com is here (scroll down for the Avios logo).  Unless there is a promotion, the standard price is the same as at ba.com.

3.  Buying via Iberia Plus

Here is the Iberia page for buying Avios.  If you have an active Iberia Plus account (ie the account is over 90 days old and you have earned 1 Avios in it directly – not sure if buying Avios in itself is enough) then you can transfer them to BA or avios.com using ‘Combine My Avios’.  This is free.

The price will move depending on the foreign exchange rate.  The minimum is 2,000 for €54, €91 for 4,000 and €655 for 35,000.   Oddly, there are only 8 amounts of Avios you can buy – 1,000 or 5,000 are not possible.  It is weirdly inflexible.

At standard rates and at current exchange rates, the price is 2.3p for 2,000, 1.9p for 4,000 and 1.55p for 35,000.  This is very similar to BA and avios.com.

4.  Buying American Express Membership Rewards points

This is a neat little trick for anyone with an American Express Platinum, Gold or Green card.  Whilst this is not described anywhere on the Amex website, you can buy up to 10,000 Membership Rewards points per year for 1.5p each.  These can be transferred across to Avios at 1:1 so you effectively buy Avios for 1.5p each.

For relatively modest quantities, this is a far cheaper option than buying directly.  The only downside is that it will take a few days for Amex to transfer the points across to Avios.

To make a purchase, you need to ring Amex.  It may take a while for the agent to work out how to do it, as few people ever do this.

5.  Buying Starwood Preferred Guest points

Starwood Preferred Guest – the Sheraton, Westin, W loyalty scheme – lets you transfer your points to Avios at 1:1.  More interestingly, if you transfer 20,000 at once you get a 5,000 Avios bonus.  Even more interestingly, Starwood runs regular sales which let you buy SPG points at a discount.

Here is the ‘buy points’ page (scroll down for the Starwood logo).  1,000 is $35, 5,000 is $175 and 20,000 is $700.  This works out at 2.3p per Avios, except when you buy 20,000 when it falls to 1.8p because of the 5,000 Avios bonus.

The real benefit is when SPG is selling points at a discount.  They are occasionally offered at 2.5c each rather than 3.5c, which gets you a 25% discount on the above prices and makes then quite attractive.

6.  Buying via other hotel schemes

Other hotel schemes let you buy points and also let you convert points to Avios.  However, neither Hyatt Gold Passport, Hilton HHonors, Club Carlson or IHG Rewards Club are cheap enough to be worth considering.

Conclusion

For small quantities, buying Amex Membership Rewards points could be the way to go if you have the right card.  Alternatively, check to see if Starwood has a promotion on, and if that fails make sure you check BA, avios.com AND Iberia Plus for special offers before proceeding!

Club Carlson makes it more difficult to transfer points between people
1,500 Avios auto-convert bonus arrives .... and an Avios / Shell / Avis promotion
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Comments

  1. luckyjim says:

    I’ve seen people selling up to 100000 miles on ebay. Too risky to consider as BA can cancel these miles for breach of Ts and Cs. But I am curious. How do the sellers transfer 100000 miles within 24 hours? Are they also able to avoid the transfer fees?

  2. Mark B says:

    or persuade someone to transfer miles to you, bearing in mind it will cost them £140 for the annual maximum 24,000 (0.58p) or seemingly £100 (0.41p) if they do it as 4 x 6,000@£25 a time

    http://www.britishairways.com/travel/transfermilesinfo/public/en_gb

  3. Alan Wesley says:

    What about buying avios at the time of redemption? (When they offer you to redeem 10000 points + XX GBP, 9000 points + XXX GBP and so on.) Is that a good deal?

    • Buying at point of purchase can be cheaper. I’m looking at flights to Zurich at the moment-£266 for two. A RFS redemption would be £60 and 18k Avios which means the Avios are worth £206 or 1.14p each. The part miles / part cash option is £160 and 9k Avios, so in effect I’d be buying 9k Avios for £100, or 1.1p each. This means I could buy them for 1.1p and immediately redeem them for 1.8p each. This would save me £7 but that saving will increase if the cash price goes up.

  4. Some “sell” their miles by simply giving you access to their baec account.

  5. Mr Bridge says:

    I just cant get my head around buying avios!
    I just think its such a bad deal, and there is no guarantee that you will get the flights you want!
    Avios are great when they are something for nothing, ie CCp convertion.
    Or shell points etc.

    I always think twice about which cc to use, i always pay of my balance in full, so interest rate is not a concern.

    I have mbna cash back amex (1.5% cash back in supermarket or petrol 0.75% cash back everything else)
    DC amex
    Plat amex
    BAPP amex.

    I use the cash back card for supermarket/ petrol, as I value the 1.5% cash back better than the max 2 avios with DC.
    However i use the Dc amex everywhere else as I think 2 avios or worth forgoing the 0.75% cash back.
    That is of course when I am not working towards my BAPP companion voucher, when everything goes on that card.
    When I book with BA, i use the BAPP card for 3a/£1 rather than DC 4a/£1, purley to activate the the plat travel insurance.

    • It depends of course in how you plan to use them. I’ve just booked a couple of one way seats from Shanghai to Hong Kong for October (loads of availability on every Dragonair or Cathay flight for the day we are travelling). Cost of redemption flights: under £28 each plus 7,500 Avios with the cheapest cash fares going for £281 each, valuing an Avios at 3.3p.

      Whilst it is clearly better to maximise earning through credit card spend etc. this was a no-brainer. Dipping into the Avios stash that we normally use for premium long haul 2for1s or MFUs was worth it on the basis that we can buy the Avios for considerably less to replenish them if we need to.

      Availability can be a challenge if course, but with a bit of forward planning and flexibility we usually manage a couple of premium long haul trips a year on the Avios.

      • Mark, which website did you book your HKG flights with avios, I need 2 ret HKG HKT HKG in Dec, and hadn’t thought of the avios option? Appreciate info, thanks

  6. Peter P says:

    If you do buy Avios via BA.com, you can increase the number of Avios received by paying with a BA Amex – The Premium card gives you another 1173 Avios (391*3) if you buy the maximum 24,000. With the bonus of 7,000, you can buy 32,173 for £391, equivalent to 1.22p per Avios.

    • I thought buying Avios went via points.com and it was points.com that appeared on your card statement? This wouldn’t trigger double miles.

      • You are right Raffles. I have bought miles through BAPP, no triple miles as it goes through points.com

  7. Peter P says:

    I should have been clearer with my post. You are correct if you go through the Avios.com website. If you go through your BA Executive Club account then it does appear as a British Airways purchase – at least it certainly used to, as I haven’t used it for a while. And the numbers should have been £399 for 24,000 Avios +7,000 bonus Avios and 1197 Avios at an average cost of 1.24p per Avios.

    And even if it goes through pints.com, you still pick up an extra 597 Avios for using your BA Premium Amex card.

    • I’m pretty sure I didn’t get double miles using my BAPP card last time I bought miles on BA.com

      That was a few years back though.

    • @Peter P: Buying avios at either Avios.com or BA.com processes through points.com, and does not earn 3x avios for BA spend.