Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Valuing my points – what I REALLY got over my last year of spending

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Valuing miles and points is a thankless task.  I wrote this long piece on valuing Avios points but all it does is show you how complex it can be.  I also tend to throw out valuations of hotel points in articles – 0.4p-0.5p for IHG, 1.5p for Starwood, 0.5p for Marriott, 1p for Hyatt, 0.33p for Hilton, 0.5p for Club Carlson – without justification.

Tomorrow, if all goes to plan, we will be flying off to the Middle East – 4 Avios seats in Club World – on holiday.  (Don’t worry, HFP will continue as usual!)

This seemed like a good enough reason to update you on the value I think I get.  For the last three years or so I have been tracking most of my redemptions.  I thought it would be interesting to share some of my findings.

Avios

I have spent 1.7m Avios points in 2016 although this includes some bookings for next year.  The largest redemption was a 420,000 for our Middle East holiday at Easter.  That comprised 4 x Club World down, 4 x First Class back and the use of one 2-4-1 voucher.  That got me 0.8p per point BUT that is based on a VERY conservative valuation of £1,500 for Club World and £2,000 for First.  In reality, I’m not sure I would have found flights that cheap over peak Easter dates.

The best deal was using 30,000 Avios to fly from Palma to Innsbruck on airberlin for four people.  This was on a Saturday in August and cash tickets would have cost us £1,040 looking at my notes.  We had to take this flight so it was a genuine saving.

The rest is a mix of good value short-haul flights, partly personal and partly for HFP, a Club World return to Calgary for my Mum to attend a family wedding, our Dubai flights for this week (4 tickets, all on 2-4-1’s) and 80,000 Avios for a one-way First Class BA flight from New York.  Short-haul flights were valued at the lower of what I would have paid, the cash price on the day or the economy price plus assumed upgrade cost.

Based on my conservative valuations of flight values, I averaged 1.3p per point across the 1.7m Avios.  This was boosted by flights I am taking tomorrow where using 2 x 2-4-1 vouchers allowed me to get 2p per point.

Calculator 2

Starwood Preferred Guest

SPG is a tricky one.  I redeemed 170,000 points this year and am about to drop another 30,000 on some Disney On Ice tickets!

I tend to quote 1.5p per point.  My spreadsheet shows that I got 1.6p.  However, because a lot of these were SPG Moments redemptions for O2 concerts tickets in the SPG Suite, it is difficult to put an exact value on that.

The best hotel redemption, by far, was a night at the Aloft in Liverpool.  For a Saturday night, I used 3000 SPG points for a room selling at £169!

Tesco Clubcard

I have also been tracking my Tesco Clubcard redemptions.  As I wrote three years ago, the bulk of my points now go to pay our quarterly Safestore storage bill!  I can’t justify taking Avios when Safestore give me 300% of the face value!

Because 95% of my Tesco redemptions this year were for Safestore vouchers, I got almost exactly 3p per Clubcard point.

American Express Membership Rewards

I continue to get exceptional value for my American Express points but this is due to a quirk which few people can use.  Redeeming at peak times for Jumeirah beach hotels in Dubai sees me getting around 3p per Membership Rewards points.

Jumeirah Sirius is no longer a UK American Express partner but it is a partner with the International $ Card.  As I also have an International $ card, I can move my UK Amex points to the $ card Membership Rewards scheme, get a bonus based on the current exchange rate and redeem from there.  I was lucky enough to move a lot of points to the $ card when the exchange rate was £1 = $1.60 compared to the current $1.30.

I also sent quite a few points to Emirates to redeem for Arsenal football tickets in the Emirates Superbox – it is debatable what value you put on that.  I also got two Eurostar tickets in Standard Premier via transfers to Eurostar Frequent Traveller.  The Eurostar tickets got me around 1p per Amex points based on the cash I saved, although as both trips were for HFP my actual saving is lower because a cash ticket would have been tax deductible.

Other hotel programmes

I didn’t keep the data for this – sorry.

I am still happy with my quoted range of 0.4p – 0.5p per IHG point valuation.  What I realised after paying £96 for breakfast for a family of 4 at the InterContinental London O2 is that you should factor in the impact of that into your valuations.  The breakfast ‘surcharge’ on a B&B cash rate was a lot lower than £96.

My only two Hilton redemptions this year were actually used by Anika on for business purposes – the Hampton at Gatwick and the Hilton at Helsinki Airport.  In both cases I remember that my 0.3p valuation for pretty close to the mark.

The only Club Carlson redemption I did was a night in London at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge for my brother and his family.  I can’t remember the exact number but it was better than the 0.5p per point I usually quote for Carlson.

I did no Hyatt Gold Passport redemptions although I do have Park Hyatt Vienna booked for later in the year on ‘cash and points’.  This was an excellent deal – saving over €300 for using just 12,500 Hyatt points – but I would never have paid over €400 for a single night at Park Hyatt Vienna in the first place.

Conclusion

I am not trying to ‘prove’ anything with this article, except perhaps to show that the valuations I quote are based on experience.

If you have fewer points that me then you should be able to beat my returns because you are in a position to hold out for the best deal – I tend to use points whenever I can, within reason, if it saves me using cash.  Your value per Avios point will also be a lot higher than mine if you always redeem with a BA Amex 2-4-1 voucher or only ever use points to upgrade.


how to earn avios from credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (January 2021)

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

There are two official British Airways American Express cards:

British Airways American Express card

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and a companion voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

BA Premium Plus American Express card BAPP

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review

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

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

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

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee 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.

If you have a small business, we especially recommend Capital On Cap’s Visa card which comes with a generous bonus worth 10,500 Avios:

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company Read our full review

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for our latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios this month from offers and promotions.)

Comments (85)

  • Erica says:

    Sorry if this is explained elsewhere but can you explain how you did the original calculations? I always wonder how you do that, and wonder if it’s worth doing my own version!

    • Genghis says:

      Set up a spreadsheet listing redemptions for each type of point and noting the lower of what you would have had to pay had you paid cash and what you would have paid in cash. Sum up over the year and calculate from there.

      • Mr(s) Entitled says:

        Another wrinkle for the s/s, the price you would have paid, the price you could have paid, the price of the alternative destination you would have booked.

        I’m off to Dubia at Easter using cash for the flights (Qatar, kids fly free) and points for the Hotel (Hilton). This replaced out usual trip to Centre Parcs. My base price is the Centre Parcs price.

        Buy something you don’t need in a sale at 30% off and you haven’t saved 30%, but spent 70%.

        Hard to be scientific about this hobby with so much subjectivity involved. Just enjoy.

        • Rob says:

          My starting point is generally assuming that a 5-star room will be £250 for cash and then dividing that by the points needed.

          If you only ever redeemed for 3-star hotels your valuations would be different because some chains give better value at the top end (IHG) and others at the bottom (SPG).

  • Yuff says:

    I find it very interesting how you redeem your points as someone who knows a lot of the schemes, very well, and knows how to use them to their best advantage.
    I think I will read your Sirius articles again as our stay at the Atlantis, currently, is way below our normal expectation and maybe time for a change.
    In a previous article you mentioned a friend had use isme elite for their October bookings can you let us know how they got on and whether it’s worth the cost?
    My best redemption was BA flights at February half term for skiing, which came in at around 6p per Avios, although I prefer the 241’s for F to Dubai at Easter 😉

  • Mark says:

    ‘I was lucky enough to move a lot of points to the $ card when the exchange rate was £1 = $1.60 compared to the current $1.30.’ Wish I could get your current USDGBP exch rate, Bloomberg is giving me rates of 1.21/1.22 these days!

  • Chris says:

    I’m impressed, but confused. How do you manage to use two 2-4-1 vouchers on same flight? I thought BA only released two redemption seats in the premium cabins per flight.

  • Alan says:

    Personally I’ve bumped my HHonors valuation up to 0.4p per point now given the drop in the GBP. It’s harder to earn them on hotel stays but the earnings rate on the credit card is unchanged and they have gone up in value if spending on a hotel abroad vs paying in GBP!

  • Ian says:

    Where do I find details on the Amex $ card.

    Couldn’t see it on their site.

  • Nick_C says:

    The value of Avios is very personal.

    Rob values his BA CW flights to the ME at £1500 each, Perhaps that is what you could pay for those flights as a cash buyer, but personally I never would. BA CW is an inferior product, and I think you need to price that in. I would pay £1500 though for business class on a decent airline.

    I value my Avios at 2/3p, and that is for two of us travelling together on a 241 voucher. We have a trip booked to LA next summer. It is costing 125K Avios plus roughly £1K in fees and taxes. My valuation for that is £916 each. I think that’s about right for BA CW, although if we were doing the trip on AA I would happily pay £1500 each!

    • Rob says:

      I meant £1500 on any airline. But, again, this is something that changes over time. My youngest is now 5 so changing plane in, say, Frankfurt would not be a nightmare. If you have a small baby you would pay more if it meant going direct.

  • Gavin says:

    This year has involved a lot of travel to visit my wife working overseas. Mostly I used because a return was generally over £400, economy return for points was 17000 off peak plus the RFS. Haven’t got exact figures but as a rule if a cash ticket was above this figure I would use points. Must admit I did restrict myself to flying from Heathrow based airlines not LCCs due to flight times and distance from airport so convenience was a factor as well as price.

    A one-way last minute redemption to Asia on Qatar for my wife in economy was 35000 avios + £110, the cheapest cash fare for any airline was over £800.

    Overall I’m confident I got well over 1.5p / point, but most importantly for me I used the points ahead of cash where possible in what has been an expensive year.

    • Talay says:

      Yes, I agree with the points instead of cash scenario save for the fact that I would like Amex 241 first on the LHR-SYD route !

      • Rob says:

        Sydney in Business is terrible value for a redemption given that you can pay under £2,000 cash out of London much of the time. Not BA, admittedly, but no-one worse than BA. F is trickier as few airlines have it all the way to Oz.

        I would pay £2700 for the Etihad A380 Business Class Studio (current sale price) over 400,000 Avios plus taxes for BA F to Sydney any day.

        • Talay says:

          As I would be using the Amex 241 on the LHR-SYD route, I think it nigh on impossible to get first seats over anywhere near Xmas, which is the only time I can go due to weather and school holidays.

          However, it remains a wish list idea. I would not use the points on anything so wasteful as a non 241 offer as we do not accumulate millions of them each year.

        • Kathy says:

          Unless you don’t have a couple of grand to drop on a flight to Sydney, and would otherwise be stuck in economy for 20 hours, of course.

        • Guesswho2000 says:

          AA miles were, probably still are post devaluation, king for UK-AU/NZ though, 80k+£190 LHR-DXB-MEL in QF First was probably the best redemption I ever made.

          Of course AA miles were much easier to earn when you got 100% bonus on flown miles as a Platinum, and when you got 100% flown miles even in discount Y!