Avios Redemption University – Lesson 4 – When to use ‘Avios and Money’?

EDIT:  This article has NOT been updated to reflect the Avios changes which took place on 28th April 2015.  A revised version of the article will be published on Head for Points in late May.

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.

‘Avios and Money’ is the feature of the Avios programme that allows you to book a reward seat for up to 70% fewer Avios than the headline mileage price.

British Airways, Iberia Plus or avios.com will, in effect, ‘sell’ you the extra miles you need during the booking process.  This may mean that a redemption you thought you couldn’t reach is in fact bookable!

The official ba.com text on ‘Avios and Money’ is here – scroll down to the bottom where it says ‘Ways To Make Your Avios Stretch Further’.

There are four key things to know about ‘Avios and Money’ redemptions, which I will expand on below:

The ‘cost per Avios’ varies depending on the sort of ticket you are booking – not all ‘Avios and Money’ options are a good deal

If you cancel an ‘Avios and Money’ booking, you will get back both the Avios and the additional money – you do not get your refund entirely in Avios based on the full Avios cost of the ticket

You cannot change the operating carrier or route on an ‘Avios and Money’ booking – you would need to cancel the whole booking and rebook. 

Two partner airlines – Japan Airlines and S7 (Russian domestic carrier) – are not available with ‘Avios and Money’

‘Avios and Money’ options are shown to you automatically during the booking process, so you can’t miss them.  However, it is possible that you don’t do the maths properly and end up doing a bad deal.

This list shows how the ‘cost per Avios’ varies depending on your booking when using ba.com.  In reality, you would be offered a sliding scale of ‘Avios and Money’ rates – I have just shown the ‘all Avios’ and the maximum ‘fewer Avios’ options.  These examples are based on Amsterdam and Boston prices.

Short-haul return redemption in Eurotraveller (Economy)

9,000 Avios + £35 or 5,000 Avios + £85

Effective cost per Avios:  1.25p

Short-haul return redemption in Club Europe

18,000 Avios + £50 or 10,000 Avios + £140

Effective cost per Avios:  1.12p

Long-haul return redemption in World Traveller (Economy)

40,000 Avios + £356 or 12,000 Avios + £556

Effective cost per Avios:  0.7p

Long-haul return redemption in World Traveller Plus

60,000 Avios + £423 or 24,000 Avios + £693

Effective cost per Avios:  0.75p

Long-haul return redemption in Club World

80,000 Avios + £529 or 40,000 Avios + £1,229

Effective cost per Avios:  1.75p

Long-haul return redemption in First Class

120,000 Avios + £529 or 60,000 Avios + £1,309

Effective cost per Avios:  1.3p

Annoyingly, the sliding scale of Avios vs Money is not constant.  For example, with the Club Europe return above I put the cost per Avios at 1.12p.  However, if you opted for the ‘13000 Avios and £100’ option, the cost drops to 1.0p!

BA A380 mock-up

So, which of these options offers a good deal?

There is, of course, no easy answer to that!  This article attempts to put a figure on how YOU may value an Avios.  There is no single answer that suits everyone.

You need to consider that this is the purest ‘no effort required’ method of getting Avios.  No trips to Tesco required!  It would be totally reasonable for you to say that you would be happy to ‘pay’ 1p per Avios this way whilst you wouldn’t do any Tesco offer unless it came in at under 0.75p, for example.

‘Avios and Money’ is not available with all partners

‘Avios and Money’ has been expanded since it was initially launched, and now covers most of the oneworld airlines.  The only exceptions are Japan Airlines and Russian domestic airline S7.

You can also use ‘Avios and Money’ on redemptions with Aer Lingus, Alaska Airlines, Open Skies (France), Comair (South Africa) and Sun-Air (Scandinavia).

Cancellation terms are slightly different

For reasons I do not fully understand, BA has more restrictive rules in place for ‘Avios and Money’ bookings.

You cannot change the operating carrier, and you cannot change the route.

So … if you booked American Airlines to New York and wanted to switch to a BA flight, that would not be allowed.  (With a 100% Avios redemption, it is possible.)  Similarly, you could not switch from New York to Boston.

In both cases, you would have to cancel your booking and rebook.  This could cause an issue if you only wanted to change one leg of your trip, as there is no guarantee that the other leg would still be available as a reward flight.

You also cannot ring up BA after you have booked and ask to switch the mix of ‘Avios and Money’.

All in all, though, ‘Avios and Money’ is a surprisingly well-priced (in some circumstances) and useful tool which should be part of your Avios armoury.

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Comments

  1. Ok, I think I am having mental block here…. How do I interpret this? Does it mean low effective cost per avios is better value? Ie, in your examples above is long haul on club world the worst deal?

    • Yes, the lower the better. Because you are effectively being ‘sold’ the extra Avios at that price, so you need to decide if you are a buyer at that rate. Under 1p I would generally say yes, I get more nervous above 1p.

  2. If for example you book WT+ long haul, is it then upgradable to club with Avios via mmb?

    • Yes, but ONLY if there is an Avios seat available for a Club World redemption. You may find that you end up waiting until 2-3 days before you fly for a Club World redemption seat to open up.