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:
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:
There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:
You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.
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.
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.
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.
Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.