Updated: Avios sale – my thoughts on the '50% off hotels' deals starting at noon

(EDIT:  Now the sale is ‘live’, it is clear that Avios has halved not only the ‘pay with Avios’ price but also the ‘pay with cash’ price.  This means two things – a) these are EXCEPTIONAL cash deals and b) using Avios is not a great deal, as you still only getting 0.57p per Avios.  I have therefore rewritten this post to reflect that.)

The third deal in the Avios sale launches today at noon!

For 72 hours, until noon on Monday, you will be able to book selected hotels using your Avios points for 50% off the standard rate.

The list of cities available will be:

  • Vienna
  • Dubrovnik
  • Prague
  • Copenhagen
  • Berlin
  • Budapest
  • Istanbul
  • The Algarve

You will be able to book for stays up to 30th September. There is a special booking website you need to use, but the selection of properties seems decent.

Hotel logo

Is this a good deal?

Booking hotels with Avios points has only been available since the November 2011 scheme changes.  You can book a hotel with Avios miles via ba.com or avios.com – the avios.com page is here – although different landing pages will be used for booking these special deals.

Last year, I ran an experiment where I looked at prices at four different hotels.   This is what I found, picking a random four star hotel for 2 adults.  I took the top ‘recommended’ option in all cases.  Cash prices included all taxes.

  • London – Holiday Inn Stratford City – 20,700 Avios or £118
  • Bangkok – Metropolitan – 20,000 Avios or £114
  • Moscow – SkyPoint Hotel – 12,300 Avios or £69
  • New York – Millennium Hilton – 31,950 Avios or £182

10 seconds with the old calculator shows that these all give you a value per Avios of 0.57p.

It is not quite that simple, of course.

Is the avios.com ‘cash price’ fair?  I turned to Expedia to check.  The results were interesting.

  • London – avios.com price £118, expedia.co.uk price £104
  • Bangkok – avios.com price £114, expedia.co.uk price £95
  • Moscow – avios.com price £69, expedia.co.uk price £64
  • New York – avios.com price £182, expedia.co.uk price £328!

These results were, frankly, amazing.  I expected the price to match, but Expedia prices varied from 77% more expensive to 17% cheaper!

Finally, I went direct to the hotels websites:

  • London – avios.com price £118, priorityclub.com £104 (same as Expedia)
  • Bangkok – avios.com price £114, hotel site £95 (same as Expedia)
  • Moscow – avios.com price £69, hotel site Rub 4,278 (£83) (£19 more than Expedia)
  • New York – avios.com price £182, hilton.com £328 (same as Expedia)

So …

What we have seen here is two things:

1.  Based on the hotel prices at avios.com, you get 0.57p per Avios when you book a hotel with them (compared to the cash price charged by Avios)

2.  The prices charged at avios.com can be cheaper than the hotel is charging directly, but not necessarily

Because avios.com has halved BOTH the ‘pay with Avios’ and ‘pay with cash’ prices, the exchange rate is still the usual 0.57p.  I am therefore in the odd position of recommending that you take advantage of the Avios sale by paying in cash, and saving your Avios for something else.

(One final point.  Redeeming Avios for a chain hotel via avios.com, or paying for one via Expedia, is likely to mean that you will not earn hotel points from your stay.  You may also not receive any status benefits.  You should bear this in mind when booking, especially if your status would otherwise get you free breakfast or free internet.  For what its worth, Hilton is generally seen as the best chain for giving you your status benefits when booking via a third party.)

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  1. One thing you omit to mention is that the majority of Avios rates include breakfast and taxes (North America being one notable exception). Are these comparisons like for like?

    For stays booked early and in the low or shoulder seasons Avios rates should be “best in market.”

  2. In a previous analysis I did in 2012, the Avios prices were also cheaper than the hotels own rates – this was not a one-off fluke. Agreed that, where the Avios cash price is more expensive, you should be comparing with the direct booking cash price.

    I have re-edited that line, though, as your point is fair!

  3. wetboy1uk says:

    On the subject of hotels does anyone know of any new IHG bonus codes for 2014 or old ones from 2013 that are still working for Jan and Feb. Thanks

  4. “It isn’t easy to get more than 1.14p from an Avios flight redemption, if you are realistic about what you would be willing to pay in cash if a reward flight was not available.”

    Just picked a random flight GLA-LHR-TXL in Club on 3 February 2013 = £997.72 compared to 18,000 Avios + £50 RFS fee, that is 5.27p per Avios (and I have never had any problems getting a reward flight to European destinations even at short notice or even, like last month, during the festive season).

    Not sure what you mean by “if you are realistic about what you would be willing to pay in cash if a reward flight was not available”. Even the cheap-ish Club Europe offers like e.g. £299 return to a city on the continent would still give you 1.38p per Avios easily.

    Am I getting anything wrong here?

    • Sorry, 3 February 2014, of course…

    • No, your maths is correct. But 1.14p is not massively different to 1.38p (and if I was being picky, I would say that paying £299 to fly to Berlin in Business would earn you roughly 2,000 Avios back so you should adjust for that, bringing the 1.38p down a bit).

      Now, if you fly Glasgow to Berlin 5 times a year and you only earn 90,000 Avios per year, then it makes sense to use them all for Glasgow to Berlin RFS flights if you get 1.38p of value. However, if you earn 200,000 Avios per year and only need 90,000 for your 5 Berlin trips, then redeeming for hotel rooms if you can get 1.14p of value via this sale is not a terrible use of the other 110,000. That was my point.

  5. Hotel Sale seems to have gone live early.

    On my search Avios costs were different to BA.

    Cash prices(again my search) were halved also!

  6. The sale has gone live early, there are some bargains on there, 5 star intercontinental for £40 and 1250 avios in Berlin , which incldes Breakfast. Also the Hilton at £55!

  7. wetboy1uk(11:12):

    Go through Spend then Hotels-not the banner.

    If cash prices are halved in general(not just my search) then take care that you are burning at an acceptable level.

    • If they cash price is halved as well, then make sure you’re not better off paying cash – if you’re only getting 0.57p per Avios then don’t do it (or think twice, anyway).

  8. My thoughts entirely Raffles.

    I have my 3 year old granddaughter here helping me, wanted a particular date and hotel and burnt at 0.57p. Got it all OK but should have paid cash-there we go!

    Will be having another look later when relieved of my duties!

  9. There are some AMAZING cash deals here.

    Conrad Algarve is there IN PEAK SUMMER. August 3-9th, for example, is £1,290 for a Deluxe Double half-board. On Hilton.com, you would be paying €3,546 Euro for (advanced purchase) dinner, bed and breakfast.