Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Interesting anomalies in Avios reward pricing to exploit

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The Avios reward chart, as most people know, is based purely on distance. The further you fly, the more it costs. However, this can lead to interesting arbitrages when you get very close – but not quite – to the edge of a distance band.

Here is the chart:

Avios bandings

There are two well-known redemptions that maximise the value of this chart.

Dublin to Boston, on Aer Lingus – it drops in just under 3,000 miles, so a return flight in economy is only 25,000 Avios return. Business Class is an even bigger bargain at 50,000 Avios return – especially as the tax is only £75. It would cost 40,000 (economy) or 80,000 (business) Avios to fly London to Boston or even Dublin to New York.

Berlin to Abu Dhabi, on airberlin – again, just under 3,000 miles. This makes it a 25,000 economy / 50,000 business class return flight. Even Dusseldorf to Abu Dhabi pushes you over 3,000 miles and into the higher pricing band.

There are obviously more of the same out there, it is just a case of tracking them down. Reader Stephen pointed me to this article from Travel Is Free which outlined a few other ideas.

Helsinki to Dubai, on Finnair, is also just under 3,000 miles. Compare two options for getting to Dubai, one-way, in economy:

British Airways London to Dubai – 20,000 miles plus £214 tax, one-way

British Airways London to Helsinki, Finnair Helsinki to Dubai – 20,000 miles (7,500 + 12,500) plus £135 tax, one way

Now, I’m not sure this is worth it to save £80 of tax. However, you effectively get a free trip to Helsinki if you build in a stopover of a night or two

There are also other interesting l-o-n-g – and expensive – flights which still drop under 3,000 miles and thus cost just 25,000 Avios return in economy and 50,000 return in business:

Miami to Lima

US West Coast to US East Coast

Easter Island to Tahiti, Santiago or Lima

Hawaii to West Coast USA and Alaska

The ‘Travel Is Free’ piece also highlights two things worth remembering if you are struggling to find flights from the UK to the Caribbean:

New York to Bermuda is only 7,500 Avios one way

Miami to Cancun, Grand Cayman, Montego Bay or Turks & Caicos is only 4,500 Avios one-way (Barbados etc is further, so 10,000 Avios each way)

These may even be more interesting holidays when turned into a ‘two centre’ vacation, with a few days in Miami or New York at the beginning or end.


How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (September 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

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

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

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

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

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios 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 a huge range of valuable 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.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers 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.

EDIT: Applications for this card are temporarily suspended due to IT issues with the British Airways On Business SME loyalty scheme.

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 bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit 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 (45)

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