Avios Redemption University – Lesson 7 – What is the cheapest way to buy Avios?

The “Avios Redemption University” series is a good starting point for beginners, although I hope everyone will learn something from them. Click here to see the other articles.

What is the cheapest way of buying Avios points?

It is inevitable that, at some points, you will need to buy Avios points in order to make a redemption booking. It is rarely great value but if you are just a few thousand short of your target then it clearly makes sense.

The obvious thing to do is to go to ba.com and buy Avios via the website. However, you may be missing out on some clever tricks which can reduce the cost of buying Avios points sharply.

There are FIVE realistic methods of purchasing Avios, plus a few more options which simply do not compete on price and still wouldn’t even under a special offer.  This article does not reflect any special offers which are currently running, so do take a look at the pricing at avios.com, ba.com and Iberia Plus.

Buy Avios

First, think about whether you really need to buy Avios at all.  If you are using a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher or a Lloyds Avios upgrade voucher then you have to use ‘all Avios’ to book.  For any other Avios booking, however, you have the option of using ‘Avios and Money’.

I wrote about ‘Avios and Money’ in this article in the series.  It is often a lot cheaper to use ‘Avios and Money’ to reduce the number of points you need rather than buying additional Avios.

But if you do need to purchase Avios ….

Let’s take a look at the options:

1. Buying via ba.com

The official link to buying Avios is here. The standard price is a shocking £31 for 1,000 (there is a flat £15 handling fee which bumps up small purchases) through to £1,615 for the maximum 100,000.

At standard rates, the price is 3.1p when buying 1,000, 2p when buying 5,000 and 1.6p when buying 35,000.

Note that the purchase is handled by an external company and does not appear as ba.com on your card statement. This means that you do NOT receive double Avios points for charging the purchase to a British Airways Premium Plus American Express card.

2. Buying via avios.com

The ‘buy Avios’ page at avios.com is here. Unless there is a promotion, the standard price is the same as at ba.com.

3. Buying via Iberia Plus

Here is the Iberia page for buying Avios. If you have an active Iberia Plus account (ie the account is over 90 days old and you have earned 1 Avios in it directly, perhaps by crediting a BA flight or Amex Membership Rewards point) then you can transfer them to BA or avios.com using ‘Combine My Avios‘. This is free.

Iberia has an odd purchase structure.  There are 21 price points – you cannot buy the exact number you want.  This means you may end up purchasing a few thousand more than necessary.

It starts at €54 for 2,000 Avios and increases to €1,800 for 100,000 Avios.  You need to do the maths based on the current exchange rate to see if this is better than buying via ba.com.

As well as its own ‘buy Avios’ special offers, Iberia Plus runs occasional offers via the Spanish version of Groupon where you can purchase Avios at discounted prices.  BA has run similar offers via French site Vente Privee.  We discuss these offers in our daily news articles when they are running.

4. Buying American Express Membership Rewards points

This is a neat little trick for anyone with an American Express Platinum, Gold or Green card. Whilst this is not described anywhere on the Amex website, you can buy up to 10,000 Membership Rewards points per year for 1.5p each. These can be transferred across to Avios at 1:1 so you effectively buy Avios for 1.5p each.

For relatively modest quantities, this is a far cheaper option than buying directly. The only downside is that it will take a few days for Amex to transfer the points across to Avios.

To make a purchase, you need to ring Amex. It may take a while for the agent to work out how to do it as few people ever do this.

5. Buying Starwood Preferred Guest points

Starwood Preferred Guest – the Sheraton, Westin, W, St Regis, aloft etc loyalty scheme – lets you transfer your points to Avios at 1:1. More interestingly, if you transfer 20,000 at once you get a 5,000 Avios bonus.  Even more interestingly, Starwood runs regular sales which let you buy SPG points at a discount.

Here is the ‘buy points’ link for Starwood. 1,000 are $35, 5,000 are $175 and 30,000 are $1,050.  At the top end this works out at 2.5p per Avios, except when you buy 20,000 when it falls to 2p because of the 5,000 Avios bonus.

The real benefit is when SPG is selling points at a discount. They are occasionally offered at 2.45c each rather than 3.5c, which gets you a 30% discount on the above prices and makes then more attractive.  We cover these sales on Head for Points when they launch.

6. Buying via other hotel schemes

Other hotel schemes let you buy points and also let you convert points to Avios.  However, neither World of Hyatt, Hilton Honors, Club Carlson or IHG Rewards Club points are cheap enough to be worth considering.  Links to the ‘buy points’ pages of all those schemes are listed here.

Conclusion

For small quantities, buying American Express Membership Rewards points could be the way to go if you have the right card.  Alternatively, check to see if Starwood has a promotion on and see if our news pages have any mention of deals via Groupon (Spain) or Vente Privee (France).  If that fails make sure you check BA, avios.com AND Iberia Plus for special offers.  Only then should you buy at the full list price!

I try to list the best current ‘Buy Avios’ offer on the ‘Avios Promos’ page of Head for Points.

STILL RUNNING: Up to 20,000 Avios with your household, business or landlord insurance
Bits: £1080 business to Bangkok from London, Tesco cuts hotel partners, Rip Off Britain
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Comments

  1. Anyone have any experience of or thoughts on buyairlinemiles.com ?

  2. What about via groupon.es when it’s running? Or other slightly more complicated schemes such as the avis Iberia 18k for a £50 hire car in 2026 if anyone remembers lol!

    • Groupon is mentioned twice!

    • Lady London says:

      @Nick yes it would be complicated to hire a car in 2026 right now :-).

      I’d never do Spanish Groupon again for Iberia. I’d be a little bit wary of Iberia themselves too, if doing something just to get points. There are just too many reports of points not crediting, having to be chased for months for small amounts of points. In my case paid-for points never credited.

  3. 2016 even!

  4. You can add Marriott to the list as they convert 3:1 to Starpoints which can then go to Avios.

    When i checked last weekend Marriott MRs were marginally more expensive than the Starpoint equivalent – but a good Marriott offer could make this route worth considering.

  5. Buying Amex MR points — isn’t this a viable option to buy just a couple of points to be able to completely empty your MR account before cancelling a card? Or do they only let you buy increments of 1000 or so?

  6. Simon Brewster says:

    It seems BA often do cut price bonus avios sales towards the end of the month. I don’t know how many times per year but these are worth waiting for.

  7. Forgive me if I am stating the obvious here, but the “standard” Iberia Plus criteria – account 90 days old and at least 1 Avios credited – appear to apply for initially buying Avios, as well as transferring them out.

    • It isn’t 90 days, it’s three months so can go over 90 days if you hit some 31 day months. Their IT set up just says nope.

  8. If you book an award choosing one of the reduced number of avios options then buy the balance on the booking page, do you keep the avios you’ve bought if you later cancel?

  9. Avios and money can really be a great deal, recently did avios and money on 2 Moscow redemptions: bought 24000 avios for 200£ so 0.83p/avios.
    Turned out much cheaper than cash price so really worth considering for anyone with small number of avios (or not since the offers seem quite random (?) so might as well use it when you get the chance).

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