Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Sometimes the oddest Avios redemptions can be the best value

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There are many articles on Head for Points about how to get the best value for your Avios points.  This article on ‘what is an Avios point worth?’ is the one I link to most often.

Sometimes, though, you can get great value in very obscure circumstances.  I just saved myself £1,000 over the weekend!

We are currently finalising our family holiday for the Summer.  My wife has already booked us into a family focussed hotel in the Dolomites near Innsbruck for a week.  Because she wants a two week break from the office, she wanted to add a week in Mallorca beforehand.  You can the German out of Germany but …..

This meant that we needed to get from Mallorca to Innsbruck on a fixed day in August.  You can imagine, when I typed that request into Expedia, I wasn’t very hopeful.

Amazingly, such a flight exists.  NIKI, the Austrian low cost airline now owned airberlin, flies it.  I couldn’t believe it.

I then saw the price.  €331 per person, one way.  Impressive pricing for a ‘budget’ airline but it is a Saturday in August.  And I didn’t have many alternatives.

airberlin, of course, is a oneworld alliance member.  This means that I can books its flights with Avios points on

More out of hope than anything else, I went onto to see what was available.  Amazingly, there were SIX economy seats available for Avios on the flight.

I promptly booked four of them.

I was going to pay (€331 x 4) €1,324 which is £1,040.

I paid 30,000 Avios plus £35.

You can’t argue with that.

I now need to get to the bottom of whether, despite having BA status, I need to pay for a NIKI seat reservation.  The evidence is confusing although the airberlin website thinks I should.  That is a problem for another day though.


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 (73)

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

  • Liz says:

    OT Flights begin from Inverness to Heathrow today. Had a look at using Inverness as a starting point for next years USA trip but the 10 am flight back to Inverness is no good for connecting overnight flights.

    • Colin MacKinnon says:

      Last-leg droppers might think a 10am to INV (forcing an overnight in London and a return of bags there) might be a good thing.

      But have you priced INV-xxx-EDI/GLA – that sometimes throws up quite nice fares.

      • Liz says:

        Yes I did price it back to EDI and it worked out cheaper but it would mean then having to get the train up to Inverness and then hoofing it back to Dundee from EDI with a ton of luggage after spending a month in the USA either on the train or paying for a taxi which in total would just about cancel out any savings. Mind you I would save the cost of airport parking for a month – will look again!

        • James6u says:

          You could do a ow avis rental and drop off at airport, alternatively europcar and drop off at Jurys Inn (former thistle). Frequent bust to airport from road right besides the hotel. We gave up on the luggage hassle years ago, now strictly handbaggge only. The convenience is worth the cost of hotel laundry service for us.

    • James6u says:

      Unless I’m missing something Liz you don’t need to return to INV to benefit from APD exemption, you can come back to GLA or EDI if you book 2 x oneway. Better still, use AB for return if you cany.

    • Alex Scott says:

      What are OT Flights ?

  • will says:

    I’ve routed through Germany using avios on AB several times from Majorca at peak season and short notice to avoid £200+ one way tickets. It’s amazing how much availability AB/Nikki have at peak times.

    • will says:

      Also found 2 of the worst lounges in the world doing so, Cologne priority pass lounge and Stuttgart BA lounge.

  • Brian says:

    Friends of mine with BA status generally got free seat selection when booking NIKI flights on Airberlin, so should be possible for you, too.

    Apart from at certain times, when a special offer is running, Airberlin/Niki don’t seem to allow you to buy one-way flights for half the price of a return. Hence the expensive figure you got – a return would have been significantly cheaper – probably even less than what you were quoted for a one-way. Makes it a very good use of Avios, as you say.

    • Concerto says:

      Yes, that was the case on another route that I use a lot (DUS-ZRH) but they stopped it and now offer sensible one way pricing. I’ve got a lot of value within Europe on short notice one way redemptions on both AB and IB.

  • Sideysid says:

    I think I may of trumped you here Raffles with a flight to Mallorca as well amazingly enough. We are going for a couple of weeks later in the year, but some friends of ours that sometimes come with us on holiday were not sure if they could make it at the time of booking.

    When they found out they could make the dates, flights with reasonable times and preferably from Heathrow were coming up pretty steep. I managed to find a return flight on Iberia that worked out £138 for two adults, one child and an infant. As that’s including hold bags that in itself was a pretty good deal.

    I then used some BA Avios for their flight out. There was only Club Europe available but as it was off peak so this worked out a reasonable 39525 miles and £81 in taxes. The cash equivalent (although we would never had paid this) was £1766 which works out over 4.2p per Avios!

    • Brian says:

      Remember, though, that the value is immaterial if you wouldn’t actually pay the cash. I suspect that Raffles WOULD have paid the cash fares if there had been no Avios availability – after all, it would only be the equivalent of a night or two in Dubai for him! :))

      • Sideysid says:

        Well even at £684 in economy (which they would of had to be looking to pay) it still works out at over 1.5p per Avios which is decent ‘real world’ value

      • Rob says:

        We don’t pay for our Dubai trips – they are always booked on Jumeirah Sirius points which you can still get by redeeming Amex points from the International Dollar Card.

        I send my UK MR points to my IDC MR account and then on to Sirius.

        I would have paid this, though, because I had little choice and the alternatives (PMI to xxx to INN) would have been a shocker with the kids and unlikely to be cheaper.

        • Worzel says:

          Seems to me that Mrs R(having booked up accommodation in the Dolomites) was well aware that there are PMI-INN flights when she suggested the week in Mallorca.

          Get those seats selected Rob! 🙂 .

        • Polly says:

          Rob, would QR not recognise your status as an AB booking and allow you to reserve the seats? One time we just couldn’t get our AB status recognised by QR but eventually it worked out. Just checking in case anyone else has similar bookings in future. Are they supposed to recognise all OW bookings, or does this not come into the OW category. Confusing, to say the least!

        • Alan says:

          Are you finding Amex to be flexible about >1 UK to ICC transfer per year?

          • Rob says:

            No, but never pushed it

          • RIccati says:

            Absolutely not, even if the second transfer is from a different charge card.

            It supposed to be a completely different contract/customer agreement. A separate fee has been paid for the second card.

            AMEX doesn’t seem to understand/acknowledge the difference between the physical person and “a cardmember” under the agreement/specific contract.

            One more thing, pointed to them that they can’t link accounts under the same rules unless cardmember agreements (contracts) explicitly provide for that.

        • Wally1976 says:

          Could you do an article about this??

          • Rob says:

            The bare bones are outlined here:


            I haven’t covered it for 16 months so perhaps I should do a new article. Note that the Jumeirah conversion rate has now changed since they revamped the scheme and you now get 1 Sirius point for every 4 MR points.

            References to a 60% bonus in that article should now be read as a 40% bonus due to the collapse in the £/$ exchange rate!

            So …. 100,000 UK Amex points would get you 140,000 IDC Amex points which would get you 35,000 Jumeirah Sirius.

  • DocS says:

    Agree with many of the comments above – we booked a £1200 Cathay business ticket HKG-BKK for 30000 Avios and £27 each! Saving £2400 for 60000 Avios – pretty hard to beat and a chance to enjoy Cathay’s superior (vs BA Club Europe) regional business seat & service!

    • Matt says:

      This is a classic example of “real” versus perceived value:

      Would you honestly be willing to pay £1200 for a 2.5 hour one-way flight in J? You can buy a return flight to BKK from the UK in J for sub £1200 in a QR sale. My personal valuation would put this around 1p/avios at best.

      • harry says:

        Yep but we do like to theoretically pat ourselves on the back & where’s the harm in that? There’s generally a decent value saving, at heart. If not the huge one sometimes claimed 🙂

        On my regular route to our place in the sun, they have gone sticky about CE fares – you won’t get them for less than £500 @ T-355 or anything in peak (school hols).

        But you can easily get them for 15,000 Avios + fees – MASSIVE saving!

        On principle, I wouldn’t do that for a 2 hr flight. Except – they have also just gone sticky on Economy pricing in Peak (yikes!). £125 or £150 gets close to 15,000 Avios + fee.

        And we need 5 tickets! (Only 4 Avios redemptions in Economy).

        So I came pretty close to getting a CE redemption for Easter back next Easter, not much in it but at the end of the day the £ difference swung it, I couldn’t drink anything in the lounge to justify it as a 4 hr drive awaits.

        • Matt says:

          I see your point, the “harm” is if you have a limited pool of avios you could be better using them elsewhere, a real valuation helps to maximize your return. I agree though that it feels nice to see the saving against full-price, it’s a similar feeling to buying a discounted sofa for £500 against a MSRP of £2000 (hence why the retailers do it!)

          The HKG-BKK example is interesting as you can buy one-way flights in J on Hong Kong Airlines for sub £200 on most dates. Granted it’s not Cathay, but it’s not Y either!

      • Genghis says:

        +1. I’d like to see an article on avios valuation. Perhaps I should offer to write one…

      • Rob says:

        Yes, because I would have no choice in this instance. We paid more than that to get to Salzburg in Y at Feb half term and that involved an overnight and plane change in FRA on top.

      • Londonbus says:

        Quite. How much is Air Asia HKG-DMK with premium on this run?

        • Matt says:

          No need to go to DMK, there are plenty of options with Hong Kong Airlines or Thai for £200-300 in J HKG-BKK. There’s even an Emirates A380 feeder flight which can be flown for around £300.

  • Paul says:

    MIA -GCM 9000 avios + £58 round trip instead od £331 cash fare

  • Jordan D says:

    LHR-ABZ up on the last flight, back on the last the following day to attend a funeral. Cash price was upwards of £500, but secured Avios availability for the round trip. Outstanding value!

  • JamesR says:

    O/T – I received an email today from Amex/Kaligo with regards to bonus avios on top of usual avios earned for hotel stays. spend £250 – 5000 avios, £500 – 10,000 and a spend of £1000 gets you 20,000 avios.

    What I want to know is.. Does it all have to be on the one hotel? or can it be over various, like the last bonus offer they did?

    • Rob says:

      I haven’t seen the email yet but it usually cumulative over the booking period.

    • Polly says:

      I priced up our HKT hotel for nov, and it was £300 more than, the exact amount I would buy those avios20k for, or in and around that. But it was refundable for a change. They are often more strict regards refundable bookings.

      • JamesR says:

        I still think Kaligo can give you a good deal. My last trip I booked 2/3 hotels with them and made about 8000 avios. I think I might have paid £10 above the cost from

        • Genghis says:

          I think with Kaligo you need to do your research. I got 3,200 avios (with sign up bonus) on a £40 hotel on recent holiday to Turkey. Not too shabby

        • Polly says:

          I agree James, last year we managed about 40k bonus by dividing up our booking into three chunks. It worked well as the pricing was competitive. It’s just this time it’s more expensive. I always check them first, actually.

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