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)

  • Mike says:

    After a busy year, I found myself with 12 days holiday to take before end Dec and an unused 2-4-1 voucher that is dues= to expire. I speculatively went online yesterday and in the narrow window that I have, found 2 flights to the Caribbean for 37500 avios and the 2-4-1 and £675, saving £1000 on the published fare, therefore getting a notional 2.6p per Avios. (I had originally hoped to book something in the Caribbean sale but nothing available for our dates at a reasonable price)

    I also booked a Hilton for 16k points +$85 per night night, saving $125 per night, therefore a notional GBP avios value of 1p per honour point.

    I wouldn’t ormally book a holiday like this last minute (or indeed fly economy…) BUT I would have been prepared to spend £3k on a short 1 week break and our trip cost just £600 each, for somewhere we’ve always wanted to go. Value is indeed in the eye of the beholder

  • Robert says:

    “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.”
    For hotel stays I tend to value my HHonors points higher than IHG because as Gold/Platinum you’re guaranteed breakfast on most properties, compared to IHG where it’s very rare to be given breakfast, even as Platinum.

    • uk1 says:

      Rob, in your past from reacall you have been an RA. Have you not simply tried to ask properties where you use to book as an RA, whether they might offer to continue RA or close to RA benefits to you if you continue with your loyalty to them?

      • uk1 says:

        ……. eg …. so for example I used a BA Amex 241 that wasn’t going to unexpectedly expire with a few BA miles and ended up with 2 BA Clubs to VIE plus a studio suite and club in IC which is still effectively a flex booking for virtually no cash. I haven’t priced it up accurately but it has to be around £2.8k as of BA holidays for 25,500 miles plus £100 plus 140k IHG. It seems decent to me. Are you going to but the punch Rob? 🙂

      • Rob says:

        No, I don’t do enough business. I would prefer IHG to mark my account SuperVIP 🙂

        • uk1 says:

          The level of business is one factor. The other factor is how far they would go which depends on their unoccupancy rate. 😉 Nothing beats asking if a refusal doesn’t offend 🙂

    • Kipto says:

      I have always had breakfast thrown in at crown plazas for having platinum status with ihg

      • Roger says:

        One likes certainty though, you possibly do not want to turn back form restaurant when with family.

        • Genghis says:

          True. There’s no certainty whatsoever with IHG. They need to firm up their reward programme to actually give some benefit to Spire Elites. It’s one reason I like staying with Hilton for leisure as you get the brekkie and lounge access as standard. For work I couldn’t give a monkeys as just expense everything.

  • Mark says:

    I would get breakfast even when it’s free because I have late checkout when I’m in a hotel I have a long lie as breakfast is designed around getting you out of bed before checkout time. The prices are terrible for breakfast I actually enjoying going for the walk locally to find a nice pub (usually Weatherspoon’s) to give them my money for breakfast

  • John Tickner says:

    I value Avios significantly hgher than Rob’s quoted rates. I want to holiday at specific times which may not coincide with sales.
    Redeemed yesterday BA 241 LHR-SEA 137500 giving 4.4p per Avios

  • Scottydogg says:

    £96 wow , that must have been a bitter pill to swallow . I’m working todays my free IHG night with the IHG rewards card , was thinking of using it at an intercontinental to get the most ‘bang for your buck’ , but after reading this I know to avoid the breakfast hall and go find a greasy spoon ! 🙂

    • CV3V says:

      i have an upcoming stay booked on points at an IC, emailed the hotel to see what breakfast would cost and, yup, quoted 24 dollars per person. I mentioned that had i booked a cash rate i could get 2 breakfast for 18 dollars (!), response was a polite take it or leave it. Another reason i don’t rate IHG (I am Spire Ambassador), and would much rather use Hilton (Diamond) for free breakfasts and lounge access. The Marriot status match from SPG means free lounge access (with breakfast), and i have already cancelled one IC stay in favour of a Marriott.

  • Alex W says:

    What happened to factoring in the cash back and points that you could have earned but have lost out on by redeeming?

    For example, if you had a paid for a round trip CW ticket to US West Coast, as a Gold, you would earn about 40 to 50,000 Avios with the current triple up promotion. A significant saving!

  • AviosNewbie says:

    Rob, just very curious how you managed to accumulate 10m Avios! when did you start this and with the current state of reward programs, do you think it is at all possible for anybody now to accumulate this stash? especially someone who doesn’t regularly fly F/J on business?

    • Genghis says:

      My advice would be to earn and burn (to avoid any future devaluations). If you follow the advice on here it’s relatively easy to accumulate a few hundred thousand avios from credit card spend alone (add in the Tesco offers etc) and combined with a 241 voucher or two you could be travelling around the world a few times a year.

    • Rob says:

      Good starting point would be to become a partner in a major City firm and pay big tax bills 🙂

      • Genghis says:

        I look at my payslip on a monthly basis and think what a wasted points earning opportunity PAYE is… 🙁

        • Roger says:

          I have been a reader of this site for at least 3 years (since before 35000 AAdvantage offer I thoroughly remember) and also run LTD company but until now I avoided using CC to pay taxes. always using BACS to pay variou taxes, must have paid nearly 6 figure in all various taxes. Had I worked out (also did cancell MBNA DC card in 2012) this route and accepted use of CC to pay HMRC etc. I too would be Avios Millionaire.

          Well I am always wiser in hindsight!.

        • Lady London says:

          Ah! A kindred spirit! Me too.

  • Lady London says:

    I’m between contracts at the moment so am highly cash sensitive. Last week I redeemed a night at an IHG hotel. Hotels are competitively priced in that location. Yet still I gave them 2x in points, of what the cash value would have been. Would I do it again? Absolutely. I know that to pay 2x the value in points is the behaviour of someone who has lots of points, and I don’t have lots of points in that particular program. But my view is that I had a hotel night fee and saved the cash which is most important to me right now.

    Additionally always remember that sooner or later every type of point will be devalued by the airline or hotel chain, etc.. So if you’ve got a reasonable use for them, and if it makes sense for you at the time, I’d advise to think about spending some rather than hoarding all.

    Good point from the poster above that with the continuing slide in the value of the Pound Sterling against the Euro and the US dollar, hotel points are worth more for stays in other countries as they save the increasing costs of spending in other countries for hotels. I predict this is going to get a lot worse in the next 2 years and we could see 80p or even 65p = 1 Euro before the Brexit terms are settled and the pound bounces back again. So a 2 year window when hotel points are worth more.

    Ditto for airline costs as the oil price, which is usually the biggest expense of airlines, goes up as oil is priced in dollars worldwide. So if the pound keeps going lower against the dollar, at some point the low fares we’ve had won’t be so low anymore.

    So the next 2 years will be bumpy in terms of currency, folks. Sorry for the bit OT but it may influence your points planning.

    • sprout7 says:

      Agreed (although I think you might have you’re pence and Euros muddled).
      Presumably the worth of an avios point will also increase if the alternative was to pay for a flight and those become more expensive due to the underlying relationship with the price of oil.

      • Alan says:

        Don’t BA and Virgin charge a “fuel supplement” on reward tickets? Surely if the price of oil goes up (at least, in terms of the £) then BA & VA will simply up these fees?

    • Genghis says:

      Good post Lady London. I think you have your pence and Euros just right. But who knows what’ll happen…