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)

  • Anon says:

    Lady London – good point (hoho) on being between contracts and therefore more cash sensitive.

    Just shows that Avios/Miles and hotel schemes are just like currencies that can appreciate and depreciate. Glad I bought HH pts with 100% bonus before the vote for Brexit.

  • Talay says:

    Can someone please help me with paying taxes on cards ?

    I pay my own and all the employees tax and NI but where can I earn without costing too much ?

  • Anon says:

    I’d never dream of paying £3k each for UK direct business class flight to Maldives, but v happy to burn Avios & BAPP 241 to do so in Club World. 4.4p = worth it!

  • Clive says:

    Anyone want to swap some Club Carlson for Hyatt

  • Danksy says:

    I’ve managed to book 10 days out of 14 using IHG points at Le Moana Bora Bora next Aug- This would be giving me a good return at today’s rate… its £532 per night… or 60,000 points giving me a value of 0.9p per IHG point… this is the most I’ve ever been able to achieve apart from pointsbreaks promos!

    • Genghis says:

      It looks great. What’s your plan to get there in style though?

      • Jim says:

        Yes I was wondering the same, the other half is very keen to go to Bora Bora but it is a bit of a nightmare to get to. Easiest looks to be via LAX which is shorter than via Auckland.

      • Danksy says:

        I was actually thinking of LHR-LAX-HNL (BA) then from HNL to PPT (Hawaiian)

        Then there’s a weekly HNL – PPT flight on a Saturday but I’m a few thousand American Airline miles short to get a return redemption.

        BA will be a redemption of Avios and use by 2f1 voucher whereas the HNL-PPT leg maybe bookable as a redemption via AA (need to find another 75,000 miles)

        • Genghis says:

          I think you’ll be able to book to as far as LAX on 241 as BA metal only. After that it’d be AA redemptions to HNL. Or an ex-EU to HNL paying cash?

        • Nick_C says:

          Does BA fly to HNL? Is this new? Seasonal?

          • Danksy says:

            No you’re quite right… It’s ba to lax then aa from there..,. Boo 🙁

  • Paul says:

    Thanks! this triggered me to go back through my redemption’s over the past few years to see what value i got for my points. Mostly validated what i thought but the most valuable part of the exercise was being able to definitively prove to my wife that it wasn’t worth spending avios on just any random redemption. e.g. we blow the whole 150k avios lot on one night in a middling hotel in NYC.
    Incidentally, the best redemption’s i got were with aeroplan where 20k points + £60 got me from NRT-BKK repeatedly – a £600 flight, so upwards of 2.5p per point.

  • the real harry says:

    it’s all a bit random but plannable

    ie I am well-organised enough to buy tickets out to our holiday place @ T-355

    I know the school hols, I therefore know the dates

    tickets can be cheap, but they are also peak so can be expensive

    so I might use 7500 Avios + £17.50 to redeem a £90 flight or it might already be £150 @ T-355 (often is)

    but if I were less well-organised, say 3 months out, the tickets are already £300, lord a mercy!

    but luckily Avios flights are still available!

    so have I got better value with scenario A or B?

    utterly random 🙂

    well not really – but you get my drift – the £600 ski flights just made me think, hmm, my Xmas 2016 flights are now £1000 each…

  • Clive says:

    Just got myself OW MIA-CUN in J on AA for 15K and a few $ when they are pricing at $601. SPG has me in the RBC at the Westin Cancun for silly money as well.