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How to buy Avios for 0.77p whilst making your next redemption!

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When you book an Avios redemption on the British Airways website, you are – unless using a BA Amex 241 voucher or booking with a couple of obscure partner airlines – given the option to reduce the number of Avios needed in return for paying more cash.

BA doesn’t hide this option.  It is offered to you in clear view:

However, the odd combinations they show of Avios and money means that you might not realise what a good deal you are being offered.

For long-haul economy / World Traveller redemptions, long-haul World Traveller Plus redemptions and all short-haul redemptions, it makes sense to pay more cash and use fewer Avios.  It is the equivalent of ‘buying’ Avios for as little as 0.77p which is as cheap as you will ever see.

Here are some worked examples based on a return flight to New York, off peak:

World Traveller:

26,000 Avios + £365

20,800 Avios + £415 (buying 5,200 Avios for 0.96p)

16,900 Avios + £445 (buying 9,100 Avios for 0.88p)

13,000 Avios + £465 (buying 13,000 Avios for 0.77p)

10,400 Avios + £485 (buying 15,600 Avios for 0.77p)

9,100 Avios + £495 (buying 16,900 Avios for 0.77p)

In the most extreme example, you pay an extra £130 cash in order to use 16,900 fewer Avios.  That means you are effectively buying those 16,900 Avios for 0.77p each.

World Traveller Plus:

52,000 Avios + £440

41,600 Avios + £530 (buying 10,400 Avios for 0.86p)

36,400 Avios + £570 (buying 15,600 Avios for 0.83p)

31,200 Avios + £620 (buying 20,800 Avios for 0.86p)

26,000 Avios + £650 (buying 26,000 Avios for 0.81p)

20,800 Avios + £680 (buying 31,200 Avios for 0.77p)

Again, you are offered the chance to ‘buy’ Avios for 0.77p – up to 31,200 Avios in this case.

This method doesn’t work in Club World however.  Take a look:

Club World:

100,000 Avios + £526

90,000 Avios + £726 (buying 10,000 Avios for 2.00p)

75,000 Avios + £996 (buying 25,000 Avios for 1.88p)

65,000 Avios + £1,226 (buying 35,000 Avios for 2.00p)

57,500 Avios + £1,326 (buying 42,500 Avios for 1.88p)

50,000 Avios + £1,426 (buying 50,000 Avios for 1.80p)

Club World is ludicrously expensive.  There is no reason for anyone to take advantage of this deal.  Even in the unthinkable scenario that anyone was willing to pay 2p for an Avios, they could buy them directly from BA for 1.6p.

Here are two short-haul examples.  The plan works well on the Euro Traveller ticket but less well on Club Europe – although it is still worth considering.

Euro Traveller, using Reward Flight Saver:

13,000 Avios + £35

10,400 Avios + £65 (buying 2,600 Avios for 1.15p)

9,200 Avios + £75 (buying 3,800 Avios for 1.05p)

7,800 Avios + £85 (buying 5,200 Avios for 0.96p)

6,600 Avios + £95 (buying 6,400 Avios for 0.94p)

4,300 Avios + £105 (buying 8,700 Avios for 0.80p)

and, a slightly worse deal:

Club Europe, using Reward Flight Saver:

25,500 Avios + £50

23,000 Avios + £80 (buying 1,500 Avios for 2.00p)

21,200 Avios + £100 (buying 4,300 Avios for 1.16p)

18,700 Avios + £120 (buying 6,800 Avios for 1.03p)

17,000 Avios + £140 (buying 8,500 Avios for 1.06p)

13,600 Avios + £160 (buying 11,900 Avios for 0.92p)

Conclusion

Next time you book a short-haul or an economy or World Traveller Plus long-haul Avios redemption, without using a 241 voucher, seriously consider taking advantage of this opportunity.   They will be some of the easiest and cheapest Avios you will probably ever ‘purchase’.

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

Comments (101)

  • Anna says:

    Thanks for featuring this, Rob, hopefully other readers will now “get it”. I think only Harry, a couple of others and I have noticed this opportunity so far!

    The best deals, though, are on flights where cash prices are disproportionately high, for example 4 WT seats from MAN to GCM in the school holidays next summer would cost £4,600 with BA, largely due to BA having the only direct route from Europe. (The only other way to get there is to go via the US with the added hassle of ESTAs and an overnight stay). The avios price for those seats is 200,000 plus around £1500 “tax”, so a big saving on the cash fare. If you don’t have that many avios, you can increase the cash amount paid at a rate of 0.7p per extra avios purchased – as you point out, cheaper than buying them from BA or avios.com even with a 50% bonus offer. The lowest number of avios you can use is 70,000 plus about £2500 cash, so still a significant saving and far fewer avios required.

    • Paul waters says:

      Finally its been noticed club europe can be worth it if no economy availability and advertised prices are real high. Its a great way to economically spend avios ie 4000 a time for euro traveller ticket + cash. I never redeem any other way you could also factor in the double avios in club europe can get u circa 9000 avios which enables 2 4000 avios redemptions. Then my brain starts hurting.

    • Timothy says:

      I remember the days – and not that long ago – when 2000 Avios plus 52 euros (instead of 4500 and 22 euros) would get you two UK/EU segments, both of which could be changed for free for 12 months from date of booking (if BA Gold+). Travelling from EDI to LHR? Bank a segment to BRU or CDG or AMS or similar for a later date. Travelling from BRU to LHR? Bank a UK domestic for use at some point in next 12 months. Happy days!!! 🙂

      • Timothy says:

        I also recall prior to that the majority of my first year of ‘earned’ silver status with BA was mainly due to last minute Airmiles booking which more often than not went into G class. At the time, I had no clue. It was only when a silver BA card arrived in the post that I realised. I think it was something like 600 airmiles for a segment (no cash required), and most of those segments went into G class and also received BA Miles in the BA account!

    • JamesB says:

      I would be surprised if many of us missed it, It is just that most people here are probably looking for CW or First so have largely ignored it as it doesn’t make sense. There is also the fact, in days gone by I suspect more of us were more avios-rich than we are now so were more interested in keeping cash elements down than finding the optimum combination of cash and avios. Still, I always look at all the options for my CW redemptions because you never know. Is Rob’s assertion that it does not work for CW generally true across all destinations and dates? If it is, that was not always so because I got a great option to Delhi a few years back. By contrast, I’ve never ever seen a decent deal to seAsia in CW on any dates I needed. By the way, did you ever get to the bottom of that issue about tax and fees exMAN etc earlier this year?

      • Anna says:

        Do you mean connecting from MAN to LHR and back? Basically, if you want it on one booking so you’re not having to collect your luggage at LHR, it’s 0 avios but about £100 extra in fees. If you book it separately as a RFS it’s 9000 avios plus £35 in WT, but with the luggage hassle. The only advantage to the 2nd option is that they will let you buy cheap duty free on the way back if you’re not connecting onto the same flight number.

        • JamesB says:

          No, I thought it was you who reported big increases in taxes and fees for redemptions and substantial variations across UK regional departures that seemed to be unexplained by the fees charged by the airport in question. Apologies if I have confused you with somebody else.

        • Anna says:

          I think it’s quite a hefty fee just to have your bags checked through!

        • Alan says:

          Shouldn’t be as much as £100 for domestic connection added on to longhaul premium redemption. That might be headline price on booking system, but there’s a now glitch and it reduces to slightly more palatable levels when through to final page.

          Don’t quite follow re different duty free allowance when on separate ticket or one ticket.

      • Alan says:

        Indeed, never been that appealing in CW except when they had the promotion on where you got double the discount. I’d want to be paying 0.6p or below for the Avios before going ahead.

  • zark says:

    Looking at this the other way round, when making a cash booking you are offered ‘Part Pay with Avios’ option BA, when introduced 4 years ago, got you up to £50 off for using 7,500 Avios, so valuing Avios at 0.67p & double that during promotions.
    This has been expanded somewhat so that , forinstance, when booking Heathrow-Budapest you are offered £10 off for 1,250 Avios (0.8p) & £90 off for 14,500 Avios (0.62).
    In the headline example above you are “buying 16,900 Avios for 0.77p”, while here I am selling 1,250 Avios for 0.8p.
    Just another perspective.

    • Anna says:

      I’m slightly confused by your maths. If you’re swapping 14,500 avios for a £90 reduction, is that not 1.6p per avios? To buy 14,000 avios is £239, or about £191 with a 50% bonus, so effectively selling back your 14,500 avios for £90 doesn’t sound like a good deal.

      • Genghis says:

        Pence per avios so p/a = 9000 / 14,500

      • zark says:

        Anna, if I swap 14,500 Avios for £90 I am receiving 0.8p for each Avios I swap / ‘sell’.
        I use up Avios I have to receive a cash discount.
        In Rob’s best example : 9,100 Avios + £495 (buying 16,900 Avios for 0.77p).
        Rob is paying £495 in cash to reduce the amount of Avios he needs for the redemption by 16,900 to 9,100 Avios.
        Also, as others have pointed out, in Rob’s example no Avios are earnt on the flights, while my alternative perspective Budapest example shows earning of 456 Avios.

    • Genghis says:

      If you’re happy with that then great. I do hope you don’t buy them for more than that though

      • zark says:

        Genghis,
        Personally I do not ‘sell’ my Avios for 0.8p, as over the past 5 years I have achieved an average of 2.4p/Avios (excluding BA Amex £195 annual fee). This includes an annual 241 Amex redemption in Clubworld/First, 5 or 6 Club Europe out / Economy return RFS’s and occasional Oneworld partner business class flights. I also factor in the cheapest DIRECT cash equivalent flight I can find (not necessarily for my exact flight dates).
        I do think it is realistic to average 2p/Avios these days after BA’s devaluation in April 2015.

        • John says:

          Is the 2.4p based on what you would actually pay for the flights, not what BA wants you to pay?

          I frequently “sell” my avios for 0.8p since I never buy for more than 0.6p and am happy to lock in the profit.

        • Genghis says:

          I think there’s a bit of confusion. You need to work out if you’re getting a good deal first before this buying / selling avios malarkey (step 1).

          Then you can start some more analysis: when you start with a redemption and then lower the avios cost by paying more cash, you are BUYING avios; when you start with a cash fare and then lower then cash cost by paying more avios, you are SELLING avios (step 2).

          Can someone else verify this logic?

          @Zark I believe the 2.4p that you claim is all part of step 1 above (vs some kind of cash comparison)?

        • zark says:

          Genghis, John,
          If I want to travel clubworld, which I do, that is what I would otherwise pay in cash for holiday travel with my wife. The 2.4p/Avios was my simple average of the Avios used compared to the cash I would have paid otherwise. Straightforward 100% redemptions using 100% Avios and comparing that to lowest cash price I can find during periods when we travel, or chose to (eg avoiding summer school holidays etc).

  • Kevin says:

    You can buy avios for slightly cheaper I think, when booking an Iberia flight on their website. You get the same option but in Euros, so a bit cheaper. If I’m not mistaken you get the same price if you book Business Class too.

    • ADS says:

      i hadn’t thought of the IB website option. made me wonder if i could use it for my normal BA flight redemptions – but the IB website won’t offer them ! obviously with IB not having RFS it probably won’t on an ex London flight of any description.

      i had a quick look at MAD-LHR options, and all but one of the IB price points was significantly better than the BA options. although the price again jumps around:

      750 avios at 1.19p
      2250 avios at 0.59p
      3350 avios at 0.67p
      4500 avios at 0.59p
      5600 avios at 0.64p

  • JamesB says:

    Any feedback on how (un)comfortable WTP is for a 12h+ daytime flight?

    • Erico1875 says:

      In the Euro traveler example on a recent comparison I did.,the HBO fare was £111. So to pay 4500 Avios + £105 would be crazy if you dont need the luggage or flexibility of an Avios booking.

    • TripRep says:

      I did WTP for 10 hours to the Maldives (enforced downgrade from CW)

      Was in the aisle of two seats, so extra leg room (12C) as I recall.

      Despite it not being my choice, thought seat was ok, but was lucky that had nice people around me, got the crew to bring over bubbly for a couple on honeymoon that BA had also managed to seat apart. My few visits to CW to enjoy a drink with my wife also helped make the circumstances better.

    • Anna says:

      IMO it makes much more sense to pay £60 for an exit seat in WT. The seat is pretty much the same and you get miles more leg room. I remember flying WTP home from the Caribbean one year and thinking it absolutely wasn’t worth the extra money.

      • JamesB says:

        I rarely sleep on daytime flights and do not recline the seat much either, probably 30 degree maximum so I was thinking about giving it a try provided there is a lower leg rest and the seat in front isn’t reclined in my face. My research on the issue suggest AF might be the best PE option though.

      • John says:

        If you get an empty flight then Y can be much better than PE, because you can raise the armrests and make a flat bed of sorts if nobody is sitting there. Not sure about BA since I haven’t flown WT in 3 years and won’t fly it anywhere further than say Oman.

        • JamesB says:

          Agree, I’ve always found that Y is ok for up to 7-8 hours but after that it is too long. However, I’m short so that helps,I imagine it is much less tolerable for anybody above 175cm. i keep hearing about these mythical half empty planes, it’s now over 25 years since I encountered one personally.

      • Mikeact says:

        Not a bad idea….just about to help out one son to the States, 6ft+ tall. I guess I need to check out availability before committing.

        • JamesB says:

          Mikeact, the AF seat has a hardshell so seat in front cannot be reclined into you. Seat pitch is 38 IIRC so possibly better for your son. AF PE can also be changed for £150. Downside is there is not much recline, more a case of the seat sliding forward like the old first class seats on trains. Probably worth cheching out revenue options versus WTP redemptions.

    • Lady London says:

      I’ve did it from SFO and it was a lot more comfortable than Y, let’s put it that way. Defo more comfortable seat (footrest) and better food, smaller cabin.

      • JamesB says:

        I might give it a go. I tried EY in Y two years back. It was my first longhaul Y flight in over a decade and was far from the nightmare I expected, granted the longest leg was under 8h daytime.

    • Leo says:

      I just did PE on Virgin last night from Cancun – 9 hours. Hadn’t done premium economy for ages. Dimensions of the seats are similar – you get more for your money with Virgin PE than BA WT+ in my view; evens out if you have bronze upwards though. It was absolutely fine for a day flight – I’d definitely use PE to US or from DXB. It was just about okay last night – slept a bit. I’m 183cm so tallish. Considering CX day flight (from LGW) in PE to HKG now. I’d try and avoid night PE/WT+ going forward.

  • Aliks says:

    I think you also need to account for the avios earned on a cash only fare. I don’t think you earn any avios on a cash-plus-avios deal.

    This will raise the price per avios a little.

    • Adam says:

      On the Iberia site Avios + Cash tickets can work out as low as 6.8p an avios!

    • Doug says:

      I assume in Rob’s example you don’t earn any Avios as they’re redemptions. I think to earn you need to go down the reduce cash fare with Avios route.

  • Wally1976 says:

    The only problem I find is when I’m frantically booking tickets at midnight GMT t-355 days I don’t have time to work out if these deals are any good or not so I just go with the full redemption! Guess I need to do some dummy bookings in the preceding days and how they offer the same.

    • Wally1976 says:

      How = hope

    • Anna says:

      Exactly, and make a note of the different prices with the avios values worked out to refer to when you make your real booking!

    • ADS says:

      frantic – yes, the excitement of getting the seat you want means you don’t want to risk losing it by taking time to work out the maths. i created a simple spreadsheet to plug the cash/avios numbers into that gives me the answer straight away.

      it’s amazing how much the price per avios jumps around on different routes/class with the 7 different options – it feels like BA are trying to trick us into choosing the wrong option.

  • TripRep says:

    My balance wasn’t too healthy I did this a few months ago with a Qantas redemption (Singapore to Perth)

    Increased cash element to apporox £90, so effectively bought/saved Avios at a rate of 0.85p

  • Rob says:

    Another benefit of these Avios and Money redemptions is that they give you the flexibility to make a change for just the £35 change fee. This can all be done online without having to speak to anyone, subject to redemption space being available of course on the date you want to change to. Having had to a delay a SCL to LHR trip for the mother in law by a day, it was the best interaction with BA’s IT I’ve ever had!

    • JamesB says:

      The redemption availability is the problem though, especially on popular routes. The £35 flexible ticket was IMO the single greatest and most valuable thing about avios; unfortunately, it is now more apparent than real in any practical sense.

      • Rob says:

        I don’t seem to have too many problems, but I guess this is another benefit of Gold (extra reward availability)

    • John says:

      It isn’t specifically a benefit of Avios *and Money* (notwithstanding that all redemptions involve extra money in the first place), as it applies to all redemptions even if you don’t “buy” extra avios when redeeming