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

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The “Avios Redemption University” series is a good starting point for beginners, although I hope everyone will learn something from it.  Click here to see the other “Avios Redemption University” 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 here. 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 ba.com first.  Occasionally there are offers like this one:

Buy Avios

Do you really need to buy Avios at all?

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.  You don’t have any options.

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.  For example, for a World Traveller Plus flight to New York, you can use:

52,000 Avios plus taxes and charges (the headline list price) or

20,800 Avios plus £240 plus taxes and charges

In this example, you are saving 31,200 Avios by spending £240.  This is equivalent of buying 31,200 Avios for 0.77p each, which can’t be done that cheaply elsewhere.

What are the options 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.

Avios via Groupon Spain

2.  Buying via Groupon Spain

For the last 18 months or so, Iberia Plus has been selling Avios via Groupon in SpainIf you click here you will see the latest version of the offer.  If the offers shows as closed then it is not currently running, but history shows it will be back very soon.  It is not running at the moment.

Here are the prices which are substantially cheaper than buying Avios directly via ba.com:

  • 2,000 Iberia Plus Avios for €19 (0.84p each)
  • 4,000 Iberia Plus Avios for €54 (1.2p)
  • 8,000 Iberia Plus Avios for €99 (1.1p)
  • 15,000 Iberia Plus Avios for €189 (1.1p)
  • 20,000 Iberia Plus Avios for €249 (1.1p)

Whilst these deals were administratively messy when they first appeared, I get fewer complaints these days.  The IT seems to be working better now.  Of course, all of the information is in Spanish but Chrome can translate the page for you.

Once your Avios have arrived at Iberia Plus, you need to use the ‘Combine My Avios‘ feature to move them from Iberia Plus into British Airways Executive Club.  Your Iberia account needs to be 90 days old before you can transfer in or out of it.

The Groupon Spain page you need is here.

Buying Avios via Iberia Plus

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 using ‘Combine My Avios‘.  This is free.

Iberia has an odd purchase structure. There are 20 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.

Buying Membership Rewards points

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 hotel points

Many hotel schemes let you buy points and let you convert points to Avios.  However, at full price, neither World of Hyatt, Hilton Honors, Marriott Bonvoy, Radisson Rewards 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.

Occasionally, however, you get a bonus on converting hotel points to Avios.  You can also get regular bonuses for buying hotel points.  If these offers come together at the same time – so you get a bonus when you buy the hotel points and then get a bonus from BA when you convert them to Avios – it can mean a good deal.  We always cover these deals when they are running.

Conclusion

For small quantities, buying American Express Membership Rewards points could be the way to go if you have the right card.  However, unless you need the points urgently, I would hold out for the next Groupon Spain offer or for a general ‘buy Avios‘ bonus from British Airways.

(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.)

What American Express Gold Business has to offer for the small business owner
How to earn and redeem your BA Amex 2-4-1 companion voucher - Avios Redemption University - Lesson 6

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Comments

  1. Julian says:

    That seems to be a consistent Avios purchase rate of 0.85p per Avios, which is not bad value at all but not astounding.

    A rate where its worth rushing to buy Avios would have to be where they only cost 0.5p per Avios or less in my opinion. And even then only if you imminently have a trip planned that you will be making use of them on. This is because in the longer term any Avios held can always be significantly devalued by IAG…….

  2. O/T – want to book a Club Europe trip to France but the early morning return flight is much cheaper than the two later flights.

    If I book the early flight, can someone confirm that once midnight is passed then I can change to a later flight for free providing there is space in the same cabin as opposed to same fare class? I called BA and they said I would need to pay a fare difference if moving classes but I’ve read on other blogs that no fare difference is payable. As long as there is a seat in the same cabin, you can change.

    • That applies to Y only. We always buy a Y fare back from Scandinavia. So that as soon as we have collected our bags from QR, we call BA Nd get moved to the next Y seats.
      Found out the hard way it doesn’t work with CE.

      • Ok thanks. I just did a dummy booking in CE and it says on the manage my booking page:

        “Free changes on the day of departure provided changes are for same date/cabin/route/airport.”

        Spoke to the call centre and after 20 minutes of checking, they confirmed free on the day changes, no restriction on fare class, there just needs to be a seat available in CE.

        I took a screenshot just in case…..

        • Are free changes applicable to economy reward tickets? I’m flying to IST and have 4 reward tickets but would like to switch to an earlier flight. Is that possible if they have availability? Does it need to be ‘reward’ availability as I can see there is none or can it be any economy seat available?

  3. Just double checking – if I buy Avios via IberiaPlus that i can’t use the Combine my Avios directly into my BA Exec account if I have a household account? I saw this on your ‘University lesson’ a day or so ago. Or am I completely getting muddled? I can be a bit slow sometimes!!

    • You can, but you need to open an Aer Lingus or Vueling Club account, log in to avios.com with that and then use Combine My Avios to pull from IB and push to BA.

      • thanks, will get onto that!

        • Mikeact says:

          Dawn, if you go ahead with this then it is imperative , that the details held by all accounts are EXACT in every way…..this is very important. Exact names, addresses D.O.B, email etc., If not you WILL fall at the first hurdle, and to try and move Avios between accounts will give you a big headache.

        • I am in this boat where all details are the same except the email addresses and now have filled in a form on BA website to change my email address as otherwise the agent didn’t know how to transfer from Aer Lingus to BA.

  4. I’ve seen this pop up a couple of times on here and thought I’d check it out. Seems you can only earn reward points transferable to avios on seven household bills and then you have to pay by DD. Paying your amex cards off isn’t one of them. If it would include paying my cards then would be interesting but can’t see any other value. Am I missing something???

    • It covers all major household bills – council tax, gas, electricity, broadband, TV, etc. Depends on your bills but for me I get massive amount of value for my £2/mo, way more that paying bills by card. Can hit Amex limits through other spend so don’t need household bills for that, this offers me a better rate of return. Using credit for Avios is one option, can also take cash or trade up (variable value) with a variety of retailers.

      • Thanks Alan. Not sure it’s for me but knowing about other avenues is always good info.

      • Yes we also get breakdown cover, worldwide family travel insurance, travel discounts which more than covers the fee each year. And we regularly trade up on the cash rewards for gift vouchers

  5. RussellH says:

    Re buying avios via groupon.es.

    I have done this a couple of times, and although it takes about 10 days for the avios to post, I have had no problems.
    I do not read Spanish, but the process is pretty intuitive I would have thought. Really no need to mess about with google translate.

    • Optimus Prime says:

      +1

      Never had an issue with groupon.es

      I’ve also always received the extra Avios for buying through Iberia Plus Store.

      • Shoestring says:

        I did buy that Groupon way once with no issues. Never again as I can get ‘unlimited’ Avios for 0.8p from my cheap Avios fountain (Avios + Money), surely the easiest way by far to pick up 0.8p Avios in quantity.

        You’re not really buying them but you’re saving them & it amounts to the same thing once you’ve got a stash going.

        • Shoestring says:

          Admittedly more useful for European travel, where only mugs pay for Club Europe & the rest of us travel Economy! 🙂

          [Unless you get your points for free/ cheaply or somebody else is paying or you really need 2x 32kg 🙂 ]

        • Y for us in the Eu, with exit seats. Much more space than CE.

        • Peter 64K says:

          Club Europe is good for those with specific dietary requirements to guarantee a light meal they can eat. Not always possible to get at an airport and often dire with buy on board. Taking your own is also potentially a lot of hassle, especially in the return flight.

        • Shoestring says:

          seems a bit odd to pay *so* much more if one of your main reasons is simply getting a snack you want/ can tolerate! You buy your specific dietary requirement food on all the other meal occasions in your life, shame you can’t do the same/ plan ahead if you’re going to be up there in a plane…

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