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?”

British Airways American Express card

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 article 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 site to find relevant posts.

You can also transfer your avios to avios.com 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, ba.com 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 avios.com 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.


HFP-Barclaycard-Avios-Card

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (January 2023)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 21st February 2023, the sign-up bonus on the British Airways Premium Plus American Express card is increased to 35,000 Avios from 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

35,000 Avios (ONLY to 21st February) and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and unbeatable travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Run your own business?

We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,500 Avios.

SPECIAL OFFER: Capital On Tap has increased its sign-up bonus to points worth 30,000 Avios if you apply by 4th February. This is exclusive to Head for Points readers. Click here to apply.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

Get a 30,000 points bonus, worth 30,000 Avios, until 4th February 2023 Read our full review

You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

Comments (8)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • 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 Avios.com 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)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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