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What is an Avios point worth?

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It is, amazingly, 18 months since I last discussed my thoughts on how to value an Avios point.  I thought it was worth running the numbers again for the benefit of new readers and to see if they still they stack up, especially as:

British Airways has recently sneaked up its ‘taxes and charges’ on most routes, and

the cost of BA cash tickets, especially on short haul, continues to fall

The value of an Avios point is based on numerous factors – where you fly, what cabin, whether you normally use a 241 voucher and (the one rarely considered) what class and/or airline you would pay for if Avios flights were not available.

You need to know how YOU value an Avios because it impacts on what you are willing to pay for them.

Let’s imagine that Tesco runs a promotion which effectively lets you buy Avios for 0.75p though bonus Clubcard points on a particular item.  Or perhaps you take advantage of Groupon’s Iberia Plus offer which lets you buy points for just over 1p.  Should you jump in at these prices?  You need to be sure that you are getting substantially more than your cost price to make it worthwhile, especially as you are substituting something very liquid – cash – for something that is not very liquid at all.

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The same goes for Avios-earning credit cards.  Once you’ve got your British Airways Premium Plus American Express ‘2 for 1’ voucher in the bag, you need to know whether 1.5 Avios per £1 is a better deal than a cashback credit card or, say, 3 Marriott / SPG points per £1 via the Starwood Preferred Guest Amex.  If not, your BAPP Amex card can go back in the drawer.

Here are six different Avios scenarios – which is right for you?

Instead of answering the question of Avios value directly, I devised six scenarios for an Avios redemption.  As you can see, each puts a different value on an Avios point.

Before we start, remember that Avios points definitely have a ‘floor’ value. There are various non-flight redemptions available for Avios via such as wine, travel ‘experiences’ or hotels.   In general, you receive around 0.5p per point when you do this.

‘Part Pay With Avios’ adds another dimension.  Depending on the route and class you are booking, you will receive between 0.55p and 0.8p when redeeming Avios towards a British Airways cash ticket.

If you ever have the opportunity to acquire Avios for less than 0.5p, you will definitely come out ahead.  Whether higher valuations make sense depends on how you spend them.

Here are some potential Avios redemption scenarios:

1. Andrew takes two long-haul holidays a year with his family, requiring four Club World tickets per trip.

Let’s assume these are 120,000 Avios per seat Club World redemptions (eg Dubai). One of the two holidays uses the 2 x 241 vouchers Andrew and his wife earn each year. Let’s assume £535 of taxes per ticket because he redeems on BA instead of, say, routing on Iberia via Madrid to save money. He redeems on leisure routes (Middle East, Caribbean etc) where in a BA or other airline sale he could buy a Business Class cash ticket during the school holidays for around £1,499. He could afford to pay cash if necessary.

Total Avios spent per year = 720,000 (6 x 120k, adjusting for the 241’s).  This assumes that all the flights are at peak pricing periods.

Value received: £1,499 if paid cash – £535 taxes on Avios tickets = £964 per seat x 8 tickets = £7,712

Value received per Avios = 1.07p. This is a ‘real’ saving since Andrew would pay cash in a sale for Business Class seats if necessary. There is intrinsic extra value from the ability to cancel the Avios seats if needed. However, the calculation ignores the miles and tier points that cash tickets would bring.

If one of these trips fell into an off-peak period, saving 20,000 Avios per person (80,000 Avios in total), then the value would increase to 1.20p.

The annual fee for the two British Airways Premium Plus credit cards is not factored into this analysis.

2. Jez and Louise live in the South East and use their Avios to do European short breaks, flying Economy Friday to Sunday. They do not spend enough to be able to generate a BA Amex 2-4-1 voucher, and do package holidays for their ‘main’ holidays.

Avios required for an Economy flight to Prague: 9,000 plus £35 taxes based on a peak weekend

BA cash price: £160 per person for March on a ‘hand baggage only’ fare, booked three months in advance.  However, Jez and Louise would use easyJet from Gatwick if Avios seats were not available, with a typical price (out Fri, back Sun) of £140.

Value received per Avios = 1.16p. This is a ‘real’ saving, compared with the easyJet price. There is extra value from the ability to cancel the Avios ticket.

If Jez and Louise travel on an off-peak weekend the cost of the trip would fall to 8,000 Avios per person which takes the value per Avios point up to 1.31p.  The value also goes up if they would take checked luggage, since Avios tickets allow one free suitcase per person.

3. Glynn and Sarah live in Yorkshire and use their Avios to do European short breaks, flying Economy via Heathrow. They do not spend enough to be able to generate a BA Amex 2-4-1 voucher, and do package holidays for their ‘main’ holidays.

Avios required for an Economy flight to Prague from Manchester or Leeds Bradford via Heathrow: 18,000 plus £70 taxes on a peak weekend

BA cash price:  Not comparable as they would fly Jet2 from East Midlands if they could not use Avios.  Typical cash price for a March weekend, booked three months in advance, is £120.

Value received per Avios = 0.28p.  Glynn and Sarah would be crazy to transfer in Heathrow and add two hours to their travel time for such a poor return.  It would make more sense to redeem their Avios points for a hotel room in Prague and receive around 0.5p per point.

Even if Glynn and Sarah travel off-peak, it remains poor value.  At 16,000 Avios per person the value per Avios point only increases to 0.31p.

(Glynn and Sarah may get some value from redeeming on Flybe, Aer Lingus, Vueling, Finnair or Iberia Express, all of which operate from UK regional airports and which let you book with Avios.  You pay full taxes, not the £35 Reward Flight Saver fixed fee, when redeeming on these airlines so good value is not guaranteed.)

4. David is single and happy to take an odd routing if necessary. He only flies Economy when using his own money but is happy to fly Business Class when using Avios. He would normally spend around £350 on a holiday flight to New York in Spring.  He lives in the South East.

David flies Iberia in Business Class from Madrid to New York for £163 plus 68,000 Avios (plus 15,000 Avios + £35 for a BA Economy flight to Madrid from Heathrow to position). His total cost is 83,000 Avios plus £198.

Value received per Avios (based on £350 cash for a direct flight): Not clear   David has spent £150 less in money than the cost of an Economy cash ticket, and gets to fly in Business Class instead, but obviously using 83,000 Avios to save £150 is not smart.  The real value, of course, is that he is flying Business Class and not Economy, but he would never pay for Business Class so how should be judge the value?

5. Alex and Nicky earn enough Avios per year for one long-haul redemption to California in Club World, using their 2-4-1 voucher. They would be willing to pay £1,750 each for a cash ticket in a BA sale or flying BA ex-Europe. Taxes will be £650.

This is potentially the most likely scenario for a Head for Points reader without children – using one 2-4-1 voucher per year for one major redemption for a couple.

Alex and Nicky spend 150,000 Avios (with the 2-4-1) and pay £1,300 of taxes. This assumes they travel in a peak period.  The cash alternative would have been £3,500 for two.

Value received per Avios: 1.46p. This is a ‘real’ saving because they would pay cash otherwise. They also gain cancellation flexibility which a cash ticket would not have, although they lose out on the Avios and tier points earned on a cash ticket.

The value increases to 1.76p if they travel to California in an off-peak period for 125,000 Avios.

The annual fee for the British Airways Premium Plus credit card is not factored into this analysis.

6. Charles and Vicky also do one long-haul redemption each year to California in Club World. They earn fewer Avios than Alex and Nicky, though, so prefer to ‘Upgrade Using Avios’ a World Traveller Plus ticket to Club World. They expect to pay £900 in a BA sale for their WTP ticket and would pay up to £1,750 for Club World.

The ‘miles for upgrade’ cost of this ticket would be 50,000 Avios per person during a peak period. This saves them £850 per person on the cost of the Club World ticket.

Value received per Avios: 1.7p. This is a ‘real’ saving because they would pay for Club World if necessary.

If Charles and Vicky travel off-peak, the value per Avios point DROPS to 1.42p.  This is because the cost of upgrading World Traveller Plus to Club World is higher – at 60,000 Avios – during off-peak periods.  Crazy but true.

However …

You will notice that none of these people flies First. That is because very few of us would pay cash for First, even if we would pay cash for Business Class. The additional Avios you spend for First over Club World give you intrinsic satisfaction and perceived value, but do not translate to a hard cash saving.

(In the last example, if Charles and Vicky would never pay £1,750 for Club World but would pay £900 for World Traveller Plus, then the 1.7p valuation per point is NOT ‘real’ because they would never have spent the extra money for business class in the first place.)

If you earn your Avios for free by flying, the value you get per point is not a concern. However, let’s assume you earn your miles via a credit card at a net cost of (say) 0.5p per Avios compared to what a good cashback credit card would pay you.

In this case, you need to understand that the extra 50,000 Avios for First over Club World to California is actually costing you £250 (50,000 x 0.5p) in lost cashback. Whether that is good value is down to you – but if you’ve paid for the Avios, you need to understand the choice you make.

What about long-haul economy redemptions?

You will notice that none of these people flies BA long-haul economy.  This is generally a poor use of Avios points because of BA’s taxes and charges.  However, the guaranteed availability of four Avios seats per flight at peak periods may lead to times when economy redemptions do offer value.

As an example, an off-peak redemption to San Francisco in World Traveller / Economy is 32,500 Avios plus £375.  Any cash price of over £618 would see you getting 0.75p+ per Avios of value.

To conclude …

How YOU value an Avios is totally dependent on how you use them.  As I have shown above, there are good deals to be had in the right circumstances.  It is, easily, possible to get over 1p of value per Avios point.

(Head for Points is the UK’s biggest frequent flyer website with 1.5 million monthly page views.  Want to learn more about earning and spending Avios?  Click here to read our latest news storiesclick here to join our email list and click here to read our ‘Avios Redemption University’ series.  Read this article to learn how you can get 10,000 FREE Avios by signing up for the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold credit card.)

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  1. Joseph Heenan says:

    One extra point when considering whether to go CW or First – if you don’t have BA status and would pay for seat reservations, the cash cost for reservations vs free seat reservations in First may swing the balance.

    • Guesswho2000 says:

      I don’t know, what does BA charge? £85? Which I agree is ridiculous, but that’s ‘worth’ maybe 8,500 Avios max? It’d have a marginal impact on the ‘gain’ from the upgrade, outside the value of the better product itself, I’d have thought.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        I’d assign some value to Heathrow CCR. Better seat. Margo ally better food and smaller cabin.

        I’d probably pay up to £400 for first over business. But as a revenue flight you do get a huge chunk of avios and tier points so maybe less value as an avios flight

  2. Ereico1875 says:

    ! and 5 really should be adding in the cost of the BAPP cards 1 – £390 and 5- maybe only £195. + the lost Avios as these could be used to discount their next cash trip

  3. For myself, collecting points is more about enabling experiences than working out a cash saving. A couple of weeks back I went to Munich, booking in the early hours of the day if departure for 8000 avios plus £35. The cash price for this was ridiculous, even on the budget airlines but I simply wouldn’t have went if I didn’t have the avios, so putting a cash figure on the points is pointless for me, but this is why I’d rather take miles from clubcard than Uber credit (where there’s options like getting public transport/walking/ not going out).

    Ive currently got around 51,000 virgin miles which I started collecting as I wanted to try out the clubhouse and upper class. Although I have enough for a 1 way on the shorter routes, I am often tempted to cash them at 0.6p per mile on a sale fare and get basically a free flight to Boston/New York or similar. Saying that, I obviously would’nt transfer from Tesco or amex for this reason

    • Agree. My wife and I do trips we wouldn’t normally dream of doing due to the points. We have a few avios and Virgin miles, which mean we will have a couple of nice trips in the next couple of years to tie in with a milestone birthday. And planning a month in South America using a 2-4-1 to travel in club is not a bad way to spend our evenings!

      Final point would be thanks to Rob and the regular contributors that help with knowledge and understanding of the best ways to collect and use the points.

    • Agree re last minute RFS. Priceless. The best one l had was a one way from Dub to LCY, fog delayed every flight that day, last year. I got the very last seat out of Dub that day on avios. Must have been a cancellation. The last J seat was selling for the ? £800 mark earlier that day. At check in, there were several biz folks desperate to get back to city. I asked checkin if they wanted to off load me to give my ticket to one of them. No offloads, they said. So l flew. And that was some value….

    • Agree completely: essentially, I use Avios for all those occasions when I can’t affort/don’t want to spend that much,… on a plane ticket, so I can travel more, live more experiences for very little. Every now and again, there’s also a business class awards, but I consider that as an add-on, since I would never really pay for Business class.
      Also, it is very complicated (unrealistic) to put a value higher than 1p, when you can buy millions of Avios a year close to 1p

    • Lumma. Virgin clubhouse is nice, but bear in mind it’s a couple of hours before flight, I know people squeeze in 4+ hour visits, but it’s still just a big room with food and drink. Virgin crew still fun, but that seat is nasty. If you do decide to keep saving, wait for the A350 which should have the new, and hopefully nicer seat. I’m sure they’ll be several reviews once it’s launched.
      Agree with RFS comments, some real bargains as a result of late bookings.

  4. Scenario 4 isnt clear because the business cash price of madrid to new york isnt shown.

    I still think it would be a fair comparisson to see what the cash price of a business flight would be as hes still purchasing it.

    A quick search said £1236 on british airways (3 months time, off peak) so thats the cheapest I could find, so total cash price like for like would be £1,411? (Inc lhr to mad)

    • If the calc is correct, hes now trading 83k avios for a remainder of £1,213 cash (hes paid some cotribution in rewaed flight cost) tickets then its 1.41p per avios

      Also reward flights benefit from free hold luggage which is worth a few more quid, plus the flexibility to change tickets at no penalty (apart from change in price)

      • The calcs can get a bit too complicated. Cost for time and inconvenience? I now go for back of the fag packet calcs and if something feels right, do it.

      • Agree, calculation is near impossible. If I fly long haul business for cash I’m contributing to status which benefits my short haul flying. How do I value ease of first wing and nicer lounge. By using sales and opportunity fares I’ve never paid more than £1400 for business to USA, and typically more like £1200. That’s going to earn 20K+ Avios back, and contribute to status. Solo traveller, so 2-4-1 doesn’t really factor. I’ve reduced my calculation to pay for long haul and redeem on short haul, usually check price, but don’t over think it.

  5. I still don’t understand how BA (and others) get away with charging such massive charges on supposedly free tickets – proper taxes imposed by a third-party such as APD are fair enough but to the consumer what’s the practical difference between a non-discretionary carrier-imposed fee and a ticket price?

    • Shoestring says:

      The difference is a higher ranking on a ‘cheapest ticket’ search engine.

    • the carrier imposed fees are also related to the discount that airlines give to corporate customers. they can promise “50% discount” on tickets or give a low price for LHR-JFK fixed for 2 years. To get more money they don’t want to renegotiate the contracts for those fixed fares or change the % discount but can increase their “fuel surcharges” and leave the contract unchanged.

    • Well, someone has to subsidise the 241. Essentially, with the heavy fees we are subsidising the 241.

    • RussellH says:

      They charge it because they can.

      Back in pre-internet days airlines were paying 10% commission to travel agents on the whole price of the ticket.
      There were increasing pressures to cut costs, as the likes of EasyJet were founded (you had to book by phone back then), but airlines were well aware that cutting commission payments would cause uproar (when they did finally cut, it did cause uproar!).
      The initial answer was to start the process of breaking out various parts of the actual cost of the ticket and make them non-commissionable.
      Then some bright spark realised that if some parts of the fare were non-commissionable, they could be excluded from the FF miles prices too.
      For years we had the nonsense of airlines quoting impossibly low fares, but adding huge ‘taxes and charges’ at the final payment stage. This is now illegal for cash fares, but for avios etc tickets, airlines can still do what they like, since legally, FF miles have no cash value.

  6. Good article. Actually a sense of perspective in a way for someone who is miles rich and cash poor!

    I’d be fascinated at your value on a tier point, or status. Have been lucky (?) enough to be Gold Guest List / Concord for five years now (and at the same time equal with StarAlliance and Virgin Atlantic): the hysteria of tier point runs for Gold or beyond on other sites I find alarming – when beyond some basics that Silver gives you seems rather pointless – a hello onboard, marginally better Champagne in a lounge – and the Concord room – well that’s just reserved for a selection of DYKWIA’s.

    Upgrade vouchers are good. Forced Avios openings are priceless.

    But it seems alarming to me the numbers who do tier point runs just for a gold card – when they fly a few business flights a year anyway. In economy day in day out – benefits are huge.

    • Shoestring says:

      A lot of people pay <2p/ TP on TP runs to secure status (or try to get to the rare holy grail of not much above 1p) – so there's your value.

      Something between 1p & 2p. Obvs value will depend on the individual, how much/ frequently they can use the advantages of status, how important it is to them to get into a lounge etc.

    • If you are booking in biz or first then you don’t need status as you get the perks anyway.

      Status is only a bonus if you are flying in cattle and get the perks which used to be free – such as seat booking, luggage, and for lounge access (which is hardly good food or a peaceful experience)
      In my experience being a loyal customer gets you nothing as BA have given us nothing extra.

      The only people who get the upgrades and free seats are the staff.

      • Shoestring says:

        But many companies have a cheapest fare policy for flights <4hrs – and I saw last week that the Bank of England has imposed a limit of flights over 6hrs to justify Business – though I can't see them getting Mark Carney a HBO ticket next time he flies to Brussels 🙂

        So if you're a frequent flyer but would otherwise struggle to earn enough TPs to get Silver or Gold status, I can see the attraction of a TP run, particularly if you bundle it with a long weekend or other holiday.

        • Which is why we hope for a QR J Asia sale every other year, to keep our Silver. But now there are PP lounges in T5, the need to keep Silver not so urgent. However, the benefits are still worth aiming for, and retaining. Wouldn’t necessarily do a TP run tho.

        • HP send their executives to London Houston in Y, excruciating, l would think…

        • No more juicy Qatar sales to Asia or Australia. Those times are over (sadly)…

        • Londonbus says:


          I suspect Mark Carney would take the Eurostar to Brussels.

          Presumably he would go first class?

    • I find it alarming that you seem to have enough spare time to post on a blog when you should be in the air earning enough tier points to simultaneously maintain three top tier statuses. Or that you put a capital C in front of champagne and don’t know how to spell Concorde even though you visit the place frequently and have it written on your card or app card…

      • Shoestring says:

        Champagne with a small ‘c’ is incorrect.

        • 🙂 funny

        • Champagne is a region of France, in which case a capital C would be correct. Discuss, with examples…

        • There’s a good article in The Economist about this: how protected entities – such as [C]hampagne insist on capitalising their protected entities, and how over time, in the long run, the ones that end up in the lower case are more likely to be farm more well known than the marketing efforts of the ones trying to promote the capitalisation of an entity.. Such as ‘hoovering’, ‘googling’.. etc etc etc. Which is rather apt considering the above is about the Concorde room and [C]hampagne. Or champagne in the Concorde room that needs a good hoovering. Google it. 🙂

      • In the air, drunk on Champagne…

    • there is much better BA reward availability when you have the gold card compared to silver (i’m talking about 1 month in advance not calling the call centre in asia at 5pm to get seats 364days in advance). And not everyone lives in London or flies British Airways. The CX first class lounges in HK are fantastic, I get upgraded on CX to business class a lot, there is 32kg luggage limit on BA and AY, economy comfort seats are fee on AY. Plenty of benefits for me since i’m flying BA only about 10% of the time.

      • Agree, the Pier and the Wing, are two of the best lounges in the world. Just fabulous.

    • Agree Simon, it appears a lot of people will spend thousands of pounds just for the status of being Gold.

    • I’d say gold on BA has value in seat choice. While I don’t endorse the 8 across nonsense, the CW seats are dense, and seats vary so much that the better seats have real value. The window seats that allow aisle access are clearly sought after. I’ve never flown solely for TP, but I have taken some odd routings on trips, and seen Helsinki airport more times than enough 🙂
      Gold also opens additional reward seats, and earns additional Avios on paid flights. It really is more than a nicer lounge.

    • Nick Burch says:

      If you make GGL year after year, and time the nominations right, you can keep 2 people in Gold and 4 people in Silver status. With enough friends / family / other halves / best friends of other halves who fly a lot of economy, you can justify the odd TP run or TP-optimised-routing just for the benefits that your partner card recipients get!

      The GGL line picking up the phone quickly and generally knowing their stuff is great, and the fact that they’ll sometimes bend some rules can help out in a pinch. The low stress speedy First Wing experience at T5 is probably worth something for many a Gold / GGL too. The look on a friends face, who’s used to travelling economy and/or low-cost, when you whisk them through the First Wing into T5GF, then say “nah, this lounge isn’t that great, lets head for the CCR”, almost priceless 🙂

      So, I’d say there is value in Gold or GGL above Silver, even if not all for yourself!

  7. I see the couple from Yorkshire don’t spend enough to earn a 241. Im surprised they got accepted for the card, or even have the internet to apply for one.

    • Amex happy to give the card, income limits don’t always apply now. As long as you spend, seems like they are ok with lower income group. Which is interesting. If that group put most of their household spend on it, it does add up, surprisingly. And if they really go for it, by paying utilities whichever way they can, be it on on line, phone, pre pay before direct debits come out, or via the co op pay point, using PayPal, then amex get their commission.

    • I believe Rob is from Yorkshire

  8. Even in these days of sale fares popping up, I’m still finding excellent value using avios points. e.g: was looking at fares to eu last night in CE, for 2 x RTN cheapest was coming out at nearly £800, avios – 68k + £100 taxes. Avios for me wins hands down in that scenario.

  9. Shouldn’t the calculations factor in the £195 Amex fee when using a 2-4-1?

    We are definitely #5

    • But do you keep the card the whole year?

      • We keep one BAPP as a long term Amex. The extra 0.5 Amex on normal spend and 2 Avios per pound for BA spend (relative to most cards that deliver points worth 1 Avios) make it a good option for spending between churns of other cards and we will always be able to use Avios.

    • Could do … BUT then perhaps you should factor in the sign-up bonus, refer a friend bonuses, Shop Small credits etc.

    • RussellH says:

      There is no way that I could make use of a BAPP. Spending £3 000 in three months is totally unrealistic under normal circumstances, even before the massive fee.
      The only fee card that makes sense to me is the SPG Amex – since reading HfP I have had one a year at about this time when expenditure goes up. I aim to get the sign up bonus and cancel within two months, using charitable donations to help reach the sign-up bonus quickly.

  10. I thought you liked big numbers? 🙂

  11. Great article! We tend to fly one off-peak 2-4-1 CW redemption to Florida and I’ve always struggled to work out the real value of an Avios point, this makes it very clear although you also have to factor in the cost of the credit card fee and any costs if you’ve bought any Avios e.g. from the Iberia plus offers.

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