Avios Redemption University – Lesson 8 – 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 them.  Click 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 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 £575 for the maximum 35,000.

At standard rates, the price is 3.1p when buying 1,000, 2p when buying 5,000 and 1.6p when buying 35,000.

Note that the purchase is handled by an external company and does not appear as ba.com on your card statement.  This means that you do NOT receive double Avios points for charging the purchase to a British Airways Premium Plus American Express card.

2.  Buying via avios.com

The ‘buy Avios’ page at avios.com is here.  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, perhaps by crediting a BA flight or Amex Membership Rewards point) then you can transfer them to BA or avios.com using ‘Combine My Avios’.  This is free.

Iberia has totally changed its ‘buy Avios’ programme this year.  You used to be restricted to just 8 purchase options – 2000, 4000 etc up to 35000.

Last week, Iberia lifted the annual cap to 100,000 Avios!  At the top end, you will be paying €1,800 for 100,000 Avios.  That is currently £1,305 or 1.3p per point.

However, until September 27th, Iberia is offering a 30% bonus on all purchases.  This means that you can buy – at the top end – 130,000 Avios for £1,305 which is 1.0p per point.

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’ link for Starwood.  1,000 are $35, 5,000 are $175 and 20,000 are $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 points are cheap enough to be worth considering.  Links to the ‘buy points’ pages of all those schemes are listed here.


For small quantities, buying American Express 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!

I try to list the best current ‘Buy Avios’ offer on the ‘Avios Promos’ page of Head for Points.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your points and click here to see our list of current Avios promotions.)

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  1. My Avios earning ability has been dramatically reduced so I am forced to seek out value from my remaining balance. Whilst not technically “buying miles” as such, I always opt to pay the maximum cash component on my short haul Business class redemptions. As an example, I recently booked SYD-BNE. BA offered flights for 9000 Avios and £7 fees. I took the 5000 Avios plus an additional £45 (so £52 now in total).

    This means that I was effectively “buying” 4000 for £45 so just 1.1p. Cash fares are around £300 so over time I’m paying £101 for a £300 ticket.


    NB. It is worth noting that the ‘IHG trick’ doesn’t work as, if you cancel, you receive the cash (minus cancellation fee) back instead of those 4000 Avios.

    • cheekychappie says:

      Doesn’t work out so well in Europe :(

      • Really? I’ve just looked at LHR-FRA. BA offer 7750 and £25 or 4300 and £65. So £40 gets you 3450 at 1.125p

        The cash fare is £470 on BA or £388 on LH.

        • Sorry….1.159p

          • Adam – do you have to phone BA to book internal Australia redemptions? We have a trip coming up in January. I joined Qantas so I can see reward availability for Qantas and Jetstar via their website. Are economy rewards better value than all cas fares? Jerry

            • See previous article Rob did on this based on my experience. Mainline Qantas you should be able to do through BA.com if standard award availability present. They can be superb value, but sometimes just OK value, depends on cash prices. For QantasLink you need to call BA. Jetstar only bookable with QF points, not Avios.

    • I flew HKG-SIN with CX in February in J so it was before the devaluation and the price was 20 000 avios + 29.80 € or, the best offer was 12 800 avios + 99.80 €, I choose the latter one. I bought 7 200 avios for 70 €, that’s 0,972 cts € / avios, amazing.

  2. Don’t know about other people, but the CMA link is gone for me, despite the fact that I have held the account for ages and have successfully CMA out to my Avios.com account as recently as a few months.

    I have a balance in my Iberia account that I’d totally forgotten about and this article reminded me. But the ‘Buy, give away or transfer Avios’ button as described here: http://www.headforpoints.com/2014/09/28/how-to-convert-transfer-iberia-avios-points-to-british-airways-avios-points/ is now gone.

    It now only shows ‘Purchase Avios! If you don’t have enough Avios to book your flight or enjoy our partners’ services, you can buy them.’ Clicking on that allows you to buy Avios and do nothing else.

  3. Yes, compared to buying them via BA it is a good deal. Whether you get 1p of value is a different question!

    • Exactly, I was somewhat surprised by some of these comments in relation to what I perceived to be a typical range of values people might attach to their avios. Either my perception is way out or some peples grasp of the issues is not as good as it needs to be although I appreciate value is fluid between individuals, and also fluid over time. Personally I am loathe to buy at over 0.6ppa (partly why I’m avios poor at moment) and even that is under pressure due to my perception of prices for premium revenue fares in the short to medium term.

      • Agreed. I have a spreadsheet of all my redemptions for the last 2 years and, valuing the flights at what I would realistically have paid, I get to exactly 1p.

        Only caveat is that there are few 241 redemptions and some ‘double Avios’ ones which lowers the value – but this is down to having to fit around school hols which is not uncommon.

  4. Update: just got off the phone to them. They said it’s an IT glitch that has been ongoing for 2-3 days and presently have no idea when it will be fixed. They said it’s only affecting certain members. She tried to do it manually from her end but said they can’t seem to do it to either a BAEC or Avios account.

    • I’ve had a similar issue to Robbie. My account pops up with an error message when I thy to combine saying I’m ineligible!

      I assumed it was an IT glitch – but good to know for definite (although not so good that I indefinitely can’t combine!)

      • That error sounds like you may genuinely be ineligible. Have you held the account for at least 90 days and had some real mileage activity, e.g. transfer from MR, car rental, flight etc?

        My issue isn’t so much an error, but that the button is missing. Which they have acknowledged to be an issue.

        • Yep – i’ve had lots of activity (flights/clubcard conversions) in the last few weeks – and the acct is years old.

          Mine sounds similar to yours (button missing) but i also a red strip if you scroll to the top of the page – telling me i am ineligble. Might make a call to BA if it doesn’t resolve by the end of the week.

          • Update: Just checked again – button is back and allowed me to do a transfer!

            • Glad to hear it. Looking at my screen I don’t buy their IT glitch nonsense. There is just absolutely nowhere to select CMA. They’ve completely removed it. The page where it used to be doesn’t look like something is missing, i.e. a space left in place of where a button should be. Iberia are a disaster.

            • Out of interest, where did you click to get to the Combine Avios section?

    • Iberia IT is very flaky certainly on Avios; have never tried to book a flight.

  5. Convert as many as you can within the £50 limit to Tesco ClubCard points and they will be multiplied by 2.4.
    The Tesco quarter ends on 20th October when they can be converted to Avios etc.

  6. Paying 1p per point can be a good deal; it depends on how you are going to use the Avios.
    We want to go to Vancouver which is 170,000 in F off peak. At 1p that is £1700 plus charges.
    With a 241 that is £850 + charges!
    Buying some may also allow you to book seats as they are released removing the risk of disappointment, or avoid losing your 241.
    On short trips, however, you may not get very good value.

    • Right, so the drill is buy the avios at IB, move them to Avios.com (we have a household account with BA only) and then move to my individual BA account (which forms part of the household account – I’m the head). Any idea how long the above should take for points to land in my BA account? IB account is 6 months old and I have points from the Hailo promotion on here.

  7. I think it is rolling 12 months?

  8. Since devaluation I’ve had a sneaky feeling CMA would go with exception of DC-BA. I suspect at the very least they will sell off IB scheme separately from BA and avios but wouldn’t be surprised if latter were split too. Anybody have any thoughts when BA might spin them off? With changes in nonamex cc and the question marks over clubcard my feeling is they will go for it sooner than later.

    • Yes, more to come James, for sure. I’m with you- particularly as you foresaw the skycouch being the prize for the present Air New Zealand competition :) .

  9. SPG are currently running a sale on starpoints. 20% extra on purchases for one week only.

  10. The annual limit to Tesco is £50. You CANNOT split single transactions.

    All you can do is donate £25 to charity to take your amount down to £50 and then transfer that. Alternatively, take the full £75 as cash and build up the £50 from other transactions.

  11. Steve Jones says:

    Hi, if I buy Avios through BAEC website how long do they take to post to my EC account?