Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

“What is the best use of 13,000 Avios points?”

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Over Easter, I will be answering a number of the reader questions that were submitted via this article. If you didn’t take part this time, don’t worry as I will be re-running this feature in the Summer. Feel free to expand on or critique my answer using the Comments section below!

Today’s question is from av who asked:

“I have roughly 13k BA EC Avios (collected through my BA Amex), as I am new to the whole Avios thing, I would like to know what the best thing to do with them? Is there any way to swap these into Membership Rewards?”

BA Amex

Well, the good news is that Avios is one of the few airline programmes that offer good value redemptions for small quantities of miles.  And by ‘good value’ I mean both in terms of the miles needed AND the taxes required for a short-haul redemption.

With 13,000 Avios points, you will be limited to European redemptions using Reward Flight Saver, assuming you want to come back as well!

Because British Airways also offers ‘cash and Avios’, which allows you to save up to 50% of the Avios points required in return for paying a small amount of money, you can look at any route requiring up to 26,000 Avios return.

As I outlined in this post on Reward Flight Saver, 20,000 Avios + £30 will get you a flight to anywhere within 2,000 miles of London.  The same flight can be bought using ‘cash and Avios’, and the best fit for your 13,000 Avios collection would be 12,000 Avios + £100.  That would get you a return Economy flight to Moscow, for example.

If you want to take a friend, getting your collection up to 15,000 Avios would allow you to get 2 ‘cash and Avios’ economy seats to, say, Madrid or Rome.

Even for domestic flights in the UK, using full Avios points and not ‘cash and Avios’, 13500 points is enough for 3 one-way flights between London and, say, Edinburgh.

Don’t forget that you can also redeem on BA’s short-haul partners, although Reward Flight Saver is not available here and you need to pay full taxes.

Options include Vueling (to various destinations in Europe from London, Cardiff and Edinburgh), Sun-Air (to Denmark), Finnair (to Helsinki) and lots of airberlin European routes.  Search the blog to find relevant posts.

You can also transfer your avios to and redeem on flights on Air Malta, Aurigny, Monarch and Flybe.

‘Cash and Avios’ is often not available on non-BA flights, however.  You should also compare the Avios taxes to the cost of a cash flight, as you may be getting a poor redemption deal.

And if you REALLY don’t want to fly with your Avios, lets you redeem them for a hotel room or car hire (13,000 is worth about £100 of hotel booking) or you could redeem them via for wine, theme park tickets, Eurostar tickets or other bits and pieces.  None of these necessarily offer great value, however – you should be looking to get 1p per Avios if you can.

(To see our complete list of all current credit card bonuses, click here to visit our ‘Credit Cards Update’ page or use the link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Comments (8)

  • MaltapointsTom says:

    Very helpful post for a casual Avios collector like me, thanks.

  • Alan says:

    Also remember that if you happen to be in the USA then you can get some amazing deals on internal flights. I booked LA to San Francisco for only 4500 Avios and a whole £1.70 in tax!!

    • Will says:

      Who were the internal flights with? AA?

      • Alan says:

        Sorry, yes, meant to make it clear it was AA! Just booked through BAEC website as usual, can then put AA record locator onto the AA site to select seats. OW Emerald status recognised (BA Gold) and given access to Main Cabin Extra seats. Totally painless.

    • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

      Yeah I completely agree. Avios make it very easy to hop around the USA. There’s also the fifth freedom YVR-JFK CX service.

  • av says:

    Thanks raffles this was very useful.

    Redeeming for tickets for One Man, Two Guvnors tickets on was tempting although the thing about redeeming for theatre tickets is that you have no idea in advance where your seats will be, and thus the redemption value of your avios points could vary from decent to extremely poor.

    I had read up as far as I could to get up to date but just wanted to check I hadn’t missed any super-value redemptions/tips that only experienced users tend to know about.

  • Tim says:

    I find it counter-intuitive to use Avios for a domestic UK flight when, for example, instead of flying from Edinburgh to London you can fly to the continent with a long stopover in London for exactly same price.

    • Alan says:

      Hehe I know exactly what you mean, Tim! I booked an EDI-LHR return and although it was still good value I was almost trying to find a way to nip over to a city on the Continent as there would have been no difference in redemptioon cost!! (sadly didn’t find an easy way to do it in the end)