What is an Avios point worth?

One of the most popular reference articles on the site is the one I wrote a couple of years ago about how to value an Avios point.  I thought it was worth running the numbers again in the light of the April 2015 Avios devaluation to see how they stack up now.

The value of an Avios point is based on numerous factors – where you fly, what cabin, whether you normally use a 241 voucher and (the one rarely considered) what class you would pay for if Avios flights were not available.

You need to know how YOU value an Avios because it impacts on what you are willing to pay for them. Let’s imagine that Tesco runs a promotion which effectively lets you buy Avios for 0.75p. Should you jump in at this price?  Perhaps you would in the past, but should you still do it after April 28th?

Avios banner

The same goes for Avios-earning credit cards. Once you’ve got your BA Premium Plus American Express ‘2 for 1’ voucher in the bag, you need to know whether 1.5 Avios per £1 is a better deal than a cashback credit card – if not, the card can go back in the drawer.

Six different scenarios – which is right for you?

Instead of answering the question of value directly, I have devised six scenarios for an Avios redemption. As you can see, each puts a different value on an Avios point.

Before we start, remember that Avios points definitely have a ‘floor’ value. There are various non-flight redemptions available for Avios which are bookable via avios.com – Eurostar tickets, hotels, car hire, experiences, sports tickets etc.

In general, you receive between 0.5p and 0.6p per Avios point when you do this. If you ever have the opportunity to acquire Avios for less than this, you are highly likely to come out well ahead.

1. Rob takes 3 long-haul holidays a year with his family, requiring 4 Club World tickets per trip.

Let’s assume these are 120,000 Avios per seat Club World redemptions (eg Dubai). One of the 3 holidays uses the 2 x 241 vouchers Rob and his wife earn each year. Let’s assume £500 of taxes per ticket because he redeems on BA (a low-tax airberlin redemption is too complex with the kids). He redeems on leisure routes (Middle East, Caribbean etc) where in a BA sale he could buy a cash ticket for around £1,399. He could afford to do this if necessary.

Total Avios spent per year = 1,200,000 (10 x 120k, adjusting for the 241’s).  This assumes that all the flights are at peak pricing periods during school holidays.

Value received: £1,399 if paid cash – £500 taxes on Avios tickets = £899 per seat x 12 tickets = £10,788

Value received per Avios = 0.90p. This is a ‘real’ saving since Rob would pay cash in a sale for business class seats if necessary. There is intrinsic extra value from the ability to cancel the Avios seats if needed. However, the calculation ignores the miles and tier points that cash tickets would bring.

If one of these trips fell into an off-peak period, saving 20,000 Avios per person, then the value would increase to 0.96p.

The annual fee for the two BAPP credit cards is not factored into this analysis.

2. Jez and Louise live in the South East and use their Avios to do European short breaks, flying Economy Friday to Sunday. They do not spend enough to be able to generate a BA Amex 2-4-1 voucher, and do package holidays for their ‘main’ holidays.

Avios required for an Economy flight to Prague: 9,000 plus £35 taxes based on a peak weekend

BA cash price: £220 per person for May on a ‘hand baggage only’ fare. However, Jez and Louise would use easyJet from Gatwick if Avios seats were not available, with a typical price (out Fri, back Sun) of £170.

Value received per Avios = 1.5p. This is a ‘real’ saving, compared with the easyJet price. There is extra value from BA’s free refreshments and the ability to cancel if needed.

If Jez and Louise travel on an off-peak weekend they are actually better off after April 28th.  The cost of the trip would fall to 8,000 Avios per person which takes the value per Avios point up to 1.69p.

3. Glynn and Sarah live in Yorkshire and use their Avios to do European short breaks, flying Economy via Heathrow. They do not spend enough to be able to generate a BA Amex 2-4-1 voucher, and do package holidays for their ‘main’ holidays.

Avios required for an Economy flight to Prague from Manchester via LHR: 18,000 plus £70 taxes on a peak weekend

BA cash price:  Not comparable as they would fly Jet2 from East Midlands if they could not use Avios.  Typical cash price for a May weekend is £135.

Value received per Avios = 0.36p.  Glynn and Sarah would be crazy to want to transfer in Heathrow and add two hours to their travel time for such a poor return.  It would make more sense to redeem Avios points for a hotel room in Prague and receive around 0.58p per point.

Even if Glynn and Sarah travel off-peak, it remains poor value.  At 16,000 Avios per person the value per Avios point only increases to 0.41p.

4. Jamie is single and happy to take an odd routing if necessary. He only earns enough Avios for Economy redemptions. He would normally spend around £450 on a holiday flight to the Middle East.  He lives in the South East.

Jamie flies airberlin in Economy from Berlin to Abu Dhabi for £48 plus 25,000 Avios (plus 9,000 Avios + £35 for a BA flight to Berlin from Heathrow to position). His total cost is 34,000 Avios plus £83.

Value received per Avios (based on £450 cash for a direct flight): 1.07p. This is a ‘real’ saving, although his journey is more complicated than it would be if he flew direct.  The April 28th changes do not impact him.  Because he is not flying on BA, there is no additional saving by flying on an off-peak date.

5. Alex and Nicky earn enough Avios per year for 1 long-haul redemption to California in Club World, using their 2-4-1 voucher. They would be willing to pay £1,750 for a cash ticket in a BA sale or flying BA ex-Europe. Taxes will be £500.

Alex and Nicky spend 150,000 Avios (with the 2-4-1) and pay £1,000 of taxes. This assumes they travel in a peak period.  The cash alternative would have been £3,500 for two.

(You may want to dispute the £1,750 cash value given the low pricing currently available to the US West Coast from Europe on BA but those prices are atypical.)

Value received per Avios: 1.66p. This is a ‘real’ saving because they would pay cash otherwise. They also gain cancellation flexibility which a cash ticket would not have, although they lose out on the Avios and tier points earned on a cash ticket.

The value increases to 2p if they travel in an off-peak period for 125,000 Avios.

The annual fee for the BAPP credit card is not factored into this analysis.

6. Charles and Vicky also do 1 long-haul redemption each year to California in Club World. They earn fewer Avios than Alex and Nicky, though, so prefer to ‘Upgrade Using Avios’ a World Traveller Plus ticket to Club World. They expect to pay £900 in a BA sale for their WTP ticket and would pay up to £1,750 for Club World.

The ‘miles for upgrade’ cost of this ticket would be 50,000 Avios per person during a peak period. This saves them £1,000 per person on the cost of the Club World ticket.

Value received per Avios: 1.7p. This is a ‘real’ saving because they would pay for Club World if necessary.  Whilst this is an excellent result, it would have been double that before the April 28th changes.

If Charles and Vicky travel off-peak, the value per Avios point DROPS to 1.42p.  This is because the cost of upgrading World Traveller Plus to Club World is higher – at 60,000 Avios – during off-peak periods.  Crazy but true.

In reality, because Charles and Vicky would earn Avios points back based on the underlying World Traveller Plus ticket, the value per Avios is actually higher than the numbers above because fewer Avios (netting off those received) would be used.

However …

You will notice that none of these people flies First. That is because very few of us would pay cash for First, even if we would pay cash for Business Class. The additional Avios you spend for First over Club World give you intrinsic satisfaction and perceived value, but do not translate to a hard cash saving.

(In the last example, if Charles and Vicky would never pay £1,750 for Club World but would pay £750 for World Traveller Plus, then the 2p valuation is NOT ‘real’ because they would never have spent the money in the first place.)

If you earn your Avios for free by flying, that is not a concern. However, let’s assume you earn your miles via a credit card at a net cost of (say) 0.5p per Avios compared to what a cashback credit card would pay you.

In this case, you need to understand that the extra 50,000 Avios for First over Club World to California is actually costing you £250 (50,000 x 0.5p). Whether that is good value is down to you – but if you’ve paid for the Avios, you need to understand the choice you make.

What about long-haul economy redemptions?

You will notice that none of these people flies long-haul economy.  This is generally a poor use of Avios points.  However, post April 28th, three things may change this:

  • BA may reduce fuel surcharges sharply
  • The guaranteed availability of Avios seats even at peak periods may lead to times when economy redemptions do offer value
  • The reduction of up to 35% in the Avios required at off-peak times may make redemptions more valuable

An off-peak redemption to California in World Traveller will become 35,000 Avios plus £360.  Any cash price of over £625 would see you getting 0.75p+ per Avios of value.

To conclude …

How YOU value an Avios is totally dependant on how you use them. As I have shown above, there are good deals to be had – in the right circumstances.

Despite the devaluation, it is still possible to get over 1p of value per Avios point.  This means that credit cards earning at least 1 mile per £1 still offer good value and converting Tesco vouchers still gives (based on 1p per Avios) 2.4 x face value.

It had to happen - the Führer is informed of changes to the Executive Club
Avios changes 5: exploiting the 'no repricing on date changes' rule
About Head for Points

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  1. Rob

    You say no one would pay cash to travel in F, but I’m sure some would pay extra, over and above J, to travel in F, so surely there must be some value to travelling in F?
    After all, I would much rather be dining in the concorde lounge at T5, than eating in the the Business lounges etc

    • Obviously there is value, but the article is aimed at the majority. I don’t think I have ever paid for a F ticket. If you are upgrading from CW, you effectively need to decide what value you place on the additional personal space, CCR room etc and decide if it is worth 50,000 Avios per person (or whatever, based on route.)

      If you are the sort of person who would pay £4,000 for F in a sale then using Avios is always a no-brainer because you are bound to get good value for your points when you saving ‘real’ money.

  2. Change of subject!
    Can anyone please advise which account is best to build your Avios in – BA Executive v Avios. We currently have a household account for 3 family members with Avios with around 100,000. We also have a BA Executive household account with the same 3 family members which is sitting at only 10000 miles under my husband’s a/c no from a recent BA credit card bonus and spend. We have 3 flights booked to London in the summer which will each credit us with 1000 miles under the current rules. However going forward for the next few months we are using a Lloyds C/C till June getting 2.5 Avios/£1 which goes into our Avios a/c. Then we are considering taking either the BA Plus card or the Amex Preferred Rewards Card which would pay into the Exec a/c but under my husband’s name only as he would be the main cardholder. I don’t earn an income so I presume I cannot apply for these cards in my own name even though our household income is very good. Does anyone know if you can get a card with no income? I can switch the Tesco Clubcard to the Exec a/c in my name but that won’t build up very quickly.

    From what I can see from the Exec scheme we have to pay very high fees to transfer Avios into the Exec scheme and the miles are limited to only 35000 per year as of 28th Jan 15. Why is it so expensive to transfer into the scheme when it is free to transfer out to Avios – we have done this in the past (maybe this was a mistake). Also if my husband builds up a fund in the Exec household a/c with the credit cards then can he book flights for me and my daughter using his miles or do we have to pay to transfer the right amount of miles into our respective a/c’s so that we have the enough miles to fly? Seems like a rip off if we do!

    We normally use our miles to fly from Scotland to the USA and have always used the Avios site to do this. I’ve been looking at flight options for a multicity trip. On the BA Exec site it gives me more flexibility to pick a different return airport and costs less taxes – the Avios site doesn’t allow different return airports online so 2 one way flights costs more in taxes.

    So if the answer is we have to pay to transfer miles into mine and my daughters names to be able to fly then we should probably stick with Avios unless anyone out there understands this system better than me.

    Thanks in advance!

    • You do not pay to transfer points between Avios and BAEC accounts in the same name.
      In BAEC select ‘Combine My Avios’ and follow the instructions.

    • You can transfer them between the two schemes instantly and at no cost. I’d have both schemes as some promotions are only open to one of them.

      When it comes to booking, I find BAEC easier if only because they refund avios instantly if you need to cancel, whereas it takes 7-14 days with Avios.

      And I think the Amex tests are for household income not personal income, but you can check this.

      • Thanks Nick! Will start building up the BAEC accounts now and give Amex a call!

        • https://www.americanexpress.com/uk/content/gold-card/

          Here we go: household income of £20k needed for the BAPP or the Gold card. Don’t forget to read Raffles’ guidance on how best to apply for the cards.

          • surprisingly if someone refers you, you get more welcome points even though the referrer gets some too.

          • Nick, We just have the basic BA card – I added myself as a supplementary cardholder so that would mean I can’t take out the BAPP one at the moment. If I cancel me as a supplementary cardholder and wait 6 months do you think my husband could then refer me for my own card? Would that work. I was going to ask Rob to refer me for the Preferred Rewards card in June when our double points on the Lloyds card ends. I could then get the BAPP one in my name later in the year .

          • Thank you Rob! Learning so much from all these posts from someone new to this game!

    • If you have any chance of earning tier points status you want your flying to go to your BAEC account as there is no tier points on Avios UK.

      Remember if you are switching between 2 accounts that combine my Avios doesn’t count as earning points so if you transfer points into an account where you haven’t earned for 3 years you run the risk of losing your points or at least spending hours trying to get them reinstated and if you transfer into an account you haven’t earned for 12 months you can’t qualify for RFS on that accounts redemptions.

  3. hey guys … was on the phone there to AMEX with a general inquiry. I asked the Advisor if she was having many complaints regarding the Avios changes and she said that they have been inundated with cancellation requests and that they where taken into a meeting today about it. She couldn’t go further into detail she said. I asked her if she thought the existing sign up bonus would be extended or increased and she said that may well be the case, but again couldn’t tell me specifics!

    She said in regards to Avios rules their hands where obviously tied, but already there seems to be a financial hit to Avios/BA partners, let’s see how far the cancellations continue and what retrospective incentives may appear!

    • Happily, my BAPP year started a few days ago, so cancellation is ideal about now. However I’m going to give it some thought – I’m not going to cancel just yet as I have a suspicion that earnings rates for cards etc might actually decrease, so I want to hold on to mine in case having a grandfathered credit card means I can earn more than new cards hitting the market.

    • Obviously a personal choice, but I have 230,000 Avios at present and a 241.
      So the 241 is worth up to 230,000 Avios which seems to me like a bargain for £150.

  4. hey liz what lloyd CC gives 2.5 avios /£1 is that card still available or is it an old one?

    • The Lloyds Avios rewards through Avios – pays 1.25 normally but pays double points for the first months – only up to £2500 per month tho – we just took it out in Dec so putting everything through it for 6 months then going to switch to one of the others.

      • It looks like they’ve withdrawn the double points offer – I just happened to phone Avios in Dec and ended up chatting to the guy for over an hour and he really switched me on to many more ways to collect Avios – he told me about the double points offer – looks like we got in just in time. Just about to hit the £2500 mark to get my 6250 miles for this month. Now I am addicted like everyone else – and learning so much more from Rob’s and everyone else’s posts every day!

  5. Im really disappointed TBO . Ive invested money and a lot of time over the last 6 months or so getting started with the whole Avios/amex hobbie.

    I know we have seen it sooo many times over the last couple of days …… but I will repeat what has been said …… I reside in Glasgow therefor to use BA I HAVE to fly to London, so the “free” domestic flight being pulled on EU flights just seems so unfair that by choosing “Britain’s” flagship airline, I get penalised for living up North. If they would have stopped the London stop over or charged a flat fee, then this would have softened the blow.

    Lets hope over the next few weeks/months, we either find more ways to earn Avios or some rules get changed (i know…pigs might fly) … anyways rant over! lol

    • To many of us it seems unfair that people who lived at the far end of the country got a free flight.

      • The flight is nothing more than a means to start your Flight from BA hub. … I wonder if BA , s Hub was in Glasgow, would you have the same opinion. That’s why I said that London should not have a stop over option or a flat fee for connection with no avios required. Not unreasonable I think!

      • sandgrounder says:

        Connecting flights in the real world are cheaper than directs. We should have paid LESS Avios for our two legs!

      • Haha you clearly haven’t had the joy of international to domestic connections at T5 – it certainly takes the shine off the ‘free’ flight to get you to BA’s hub! 😉

  6. ***** 3V NEWS *****

    Slightly OT.
    Pay.com have started subsuming the 3V web site and there is a new visa gift card with the new name but the old colour scheme – see here https://www.3vprepaid.com/about-3V-gift-cards.html?tk=64
    At the bottom of the page it says:
    ‘Pay.com gift cards have no surcharge. There are no transaction fees on purchases made in Pounds Sterling’.
    So they seem to have the same T&C as 3V.
    The big question though is whether Tesco will a) stock them b) include them in the 150 points on £50 worth?
    If not does it matter, except for money off petrol at Morrisons?

  7. OT but found out today (the hard way) at 2 Tesco stores that they won’t take payment by credit card to purchase branded gift cards.

    • Yesterday I tried to buy one with an Amex gift card and that did not work (unsurprisingly) so I used Amex Gold instead. In the last few months I have bought thousands of pounds worth of gift cards mostly 3V with Amex BAPP and so have many/most other readers.
      What gift card and credit card were refused?

    • Doesn’t sound right… I’ve never had an issue paying by credit or charge card.

      • sandgrounder says:

        ????? Very strange. Every gift card I have bought from Tesco has gone through on an Amex. Either this is an aberration or a very new policy.

    • Was it that staff that said you couldn’t use a credit card? I have heard of staff saying this before for cards not activating. When cards don’t activate the staff think up lots of random reasons – once i was told of a ‘new rule’ that you could only buy 3 gift cards at a time and hence the 4th card wouldn’t activate – only time that ever occurred.

    • Oyster, I have used all my amex lately to but various gift cards, all go through, might be a one off. Also be careful buying those new AMEX gift cards, they do NOT give the 150 pts for them. I bought a few and only noticed it by chance. Had to call up and quote their own t and c to get them applied.not a sign of a 3v in tesco so far this year !

    • I used my BA Amex PP card to pay for £100 worth of Argos and Homebase vouchers. I then was going to do a 2nd £100 transaction but the cashier said I couldn’t pay by credit card and she shouldn’t have allowed the 1st transaction on a credit card. Supervisor said it was a new policy. This was Brixton store.

      • I use mine three times a week on gift cards in my tesco! With no problems at all. Has to be the cashier, or a local,Brixton problem!. v strange…

        • I bought £100 in £10 Costa gift cards this week on an Amex gold, this week. Got cashier to total the cards after each block of 3, plus the last 1 and a couple of shopping items, went through no problem.

    • I think that’s a misinformed check-out agent – are they expecting you to pay cash?! They just go through on the full receipt with the rest of your shopping.

  8. I have a question about 241. If I book a return ticket for myself and someone else using a 241 ticket, what happens if on the return flight I am not travelling? Is the other seat automatically cancelled or would the other person be able to fly when they try to check in?

  9. Would i be right in saying the BAEC changes make the Lloyds Avios credit card a lot more attractive?

    I’m thinking the upgrade voucher is worth quite a bit more now that the multipliers have changed. And actually if you can reach £12,000 spend inside the first 6 months, then the welcome bonus is the same as BAEC Amex Premium (12,000*1.5 = 18,000).

    The 0% foreign fees is much better than the BAEC, meaning you can use it abroad.

    The bundled Mastercard is useful if you don’t have a Tesco CC.

    So the only downside (albeit quite a big one) is that the 2-4-1 is only redeemable in Economy. Maybe the other benefits might outweigh for some people? I’m trying to work out what i missed.

    • Most upgrades from WTP to CW cost 20,000 to 30,000 points (Sydney 50,000 for max value). From April, most upgrades will cost 40,000 to 60,000 points (Sydney 100,000 for max value).

      The Avios cost off-peak for WTP for Zone 5+ has actually gone down, so combine this with the upgrade voucher and you’re better off (i think, please check i’ve not double counted). I think this might be a good way to go for journeys from Zone 5+.

  10. I’ve noticed that in calculation 1, you count the 241 as avios, totalling 1.2m avios, while in some other (5 for example), you only count the original avios and not the 241. Was this a mistake?