Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

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)


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)

  • W says:

    Thanks guys. Useful.

    Atm, we’ve been only pricing 241 or using the vitality deal for short haul. But worth a look especially a medium-long haul WT+

  • Jon says:

    Odd that Club doesn’t work, whereas for partner redemptions it appears to, at least on some. For example a while back I booked (one-way) KUL-HKG on MH in Business for 11000 Avios plus £138 (the other end of the scale was 20000 Avios plus £63 so if my maths is correct that works out at about 0.83p per Avios).

    I suppose the philosophical question is, am I buying Avios or am I paying to keep Avios I already own… 😉

    • the real harry1 says:

      probably best to think of it as buying Avios for 0.8p or under – keeps the buy low/ sell high logic going, ie:

      – never pay more than 0.8p when buying Avios (change to 1p etc if you are prepared to do that, eg to build up a required balance)
      – never accept less than 1.2p when you are selling/ redeeming Avios (I set my sights a bit higher, normally expecting minimum 1.4p – as school hols = peak pricing)

    • ADS says:

      interesting point about Keeping vs Buying … and probably quite important in how our minds decide which option to choose.

      i suspect that if you have a low Avios balance, using the Keep mindset is probably best … but if you have a reasonably high Avios balance, the Buy mindset is probably more appropriate.

  • Jon says:

    OT (sorry): I’m sure I read somewhere yesterday that there’s a 30% bonus on transfers from Amex MR to Virgin Flyig Club. Can anyone confirm? I’m on iPhone and struggling to log in to Amex to have a look.

  • Michael says:

    I have been doing this for ages. With a large family to handle who are all happy to fly in WT, I have been doing this type of thing since I moved to BA. Add to it the vastly increased availability for Golds and you have effectively a flexible economy ticket for a rock bottom price.

  • LondonFoodie says:

    Is the cash portion refundable? I recall booking one of these last years and I think the small print said that the cash portion wasn’t refundable?

    • John says:

      I believe it’s refunded in the avios you “bought” – which is why you need to be happy with the price per avios rather than the overall price

    • Alex W says:

      I was going to ask the same question. Don’t think I’d want to book this way if I was likely to cancel as I would feel swizzed not getting the money back.

  • Lyn says:

    Just a slight caution here for those of you who, like me, book avios reward flights partly for their flexibility compared to cash bookings.

    I have used part cash / part avios on long haul economy flights for many years and agree they often make sense. However I once ran into a problem because I was unable to make a change and was surprised when BA told me it was because I had booked with part cash/part avios and that it would have been possible if I had booked with just avios.

    Looking at their Ts&Cs now it looks as if you can only change the route if it is an all avios booking, not one paid partly with cash. (But please double check this if it is important to you, I just did a quick check).

    I can’t remember the exact problem I ran into, as it was several years ago, but this may have been it since BA have had a history over the years of starting and cancelling or changing the routing for flights between the two airports we use most.

    • Alex W says:

      Sounds like you were on a part pay with Avios and cash ticket, as opposed to a “reduce the Avios required with cash” redemption?

      • Lyn says:

        No, actually I wasn’t. It was an avios award ticket with the number of avios payable reduced with an extra cash payment, so the same situation Rob is describing. That is why I was surprised that it was less flexible than a normal all avios ticket, and why I thought the comment might be useful.

        • the real harry1 says:

          dummy booking

          [If you paid using a combination of Avios & Money, you will not be refunded any difference in the money portion of the price.]

          whatever that means! 🙂 I think it means Lyn is right, so that’s an extra risk/ negative

        • the real harry1 says:

          oh sorry, there was another poster who mentioned this

          Lyn: looks like changes are fine now:

          [Time/date changes permitted up to 24 hours before your first flight, subject to availability, for a service fee.
          If you change from a peak to an off-peak date, the difference will be calculated and if the original ticket cost more Avios than the new ticket, you will be refunded the difference in Avios. If the original ticket costs less Avios than the new ticket, you will be required to pay additional Avios.]

      • Lyn says:

        Sorry, I probably haven’t described this well, but these are the terms I found this morning, – where it says that route changes are only allowed for reward bookings which are purchased using Avios points only. Which implies route changes aren’t available if the reward booking is partly paid for with cash.

        16.2. The route or date applicable to a Reward booking may be changed provided that the new route or date selected would, as at the date the change is requested, require the redemption of the same amount of Avios points as was redeemed in making the original booking. Route changes are only permitted for Reward bookings which are purchased using Avios points only (other than for the payment of taxes, fees and charges).

        • the real harry1 says:

          that’s, I can see

          I don’t think booking through BA has such T&Cs

          don’t forget this article is about booking on the BA website 🙂

          maybe yet another bit of evidence that it’s much better to book the same flight through BAEC than on

        • Lyn says:

          Sorry, I really am making a mistake describing this. I think I found those Ts&Cs on the BA.web-site.

          I don’t belong to and have never used their web-site (as far as I know) and have only ever booked BA through their own web-site. And then only cash tickets or reward tickets or reward tickets partly paid with cash. The point is that in my experience the reward tickets partly paid with cash aren’t quite as flexible in terms of changes as reward tickets paid solely with avios.

        • the real harry1 says:

          you’re right – sorry – just found it properly

          you could still cancel & re-book (for a fee)

  • Phil says:

    Thanks for this great article !
    I know a good number of readers here (and Rob!!) manage their own small businesses like I do. Do you happen to use redemptions for business travel? In that case do you report he ‘cash element’ as a business expense ? In which case I would assume there is an advantage to always maximise the cash part as it is tax deductible ? Thanks for any advice

  • Jonny says:

    Do you earn tier points with part cash part avios bookings?

    • the real harry1 says:

      depends what you mean – if you buy using the method in this article (ie Avios redemption), then no

      if you are not getting a redemption but paying cash – and use Avios points to reduce the cost – then yes

      • Renaud says:

        So what are the other differences between reducing the cost of paying cash with Avios, and adding cash to use fewer Avios in a redemption? Which one should you normally use?

        • Genghis says:

          The key thing to bear in mind is that 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.

          Both can be good deals, depending on the price you are getting. I.e. Buy low, sell high.

        • Anna says:

          If you normally buy avios to top up your balance, the best price you can normally get them for is around 1p, when there’s a 50% bonus on. However, if instead of buying them through your BAEC or account, you pay for them at the time of booking a redemption flight (i.e. using the avios plus cash option), you can get them for as little as 0.7p each. You need to work it out as per Rob’s example, though, to know whether you’re getting a good deal or not. Say you were short of 75,000 avios for the flights you wanted. If you bought 50,000 avios from BAEC with a 50% bonus, they would cost you £815 for 75,000, but if you “bought” 75,000 at the time of booking your redemption flight at 0.7p each, they would only cost £525.