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.)

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Comments

  1. Sorry for straight into O/T – I’m booking a combined all-inclusive room and car rental with Marriott Holidays (booking both together is nearly £600 cheaper than the room alone…!?)

    It says I’ll earn Marriott bonvoy points, but does anyone know if still at 10-points/$1?

    I’ve registered for the double points promotion. Would a Marriott Holiday booking count? Package is £2,000 so considering a cheeky pre-holiday £50 matress-run to activate promotion. Worth it?

  2. Shoestring says:

    Worth remembering that +50% bonuses [when you buy Avios points from BA/ Iberia] come along fairly frequently (twice a year?), reducing the cost to about 1p/ point on higher quantities. (And ISTR on Iberia it was 1p/ point even at lower quantities back in December.)

  3. Osagie says:

    Hi Rob,
    I think in this context it would be good to mention, the Avios purchase bonus promotions which both BA and Iberia both seem to have done recently in the last year, which now appears to be a semi-regular, twice a year sale.

  4. Peter 64K says:

    Don’t forget the pretty regular 50% bonus avios on purchases via BA and Iberia.

  5. Peter 64K says:

    Also the odd other option that pops up like vente privee and an economist offer.

    If buying via Groupon.es then going via the IberiaPluStore on Iberia’s Spanish website used to give a small bonus.

  6. Doug M says:

    OT: Amex rewards to Marriott or Hilton. I remember a 1:3 Hilton 50% bonus rate a while back. Do these happen with any regularity, do Marriott ever do a similar bonus offering?
    Thanks.

    • Amex virtually never does bonuses in the UK. The Hilton one was an exception and heavily targeted.

  7. Matt B says:

    I ended up paying £31 for 1000 avois last year when F seats came up suddenly and we were 800 short. Didn’t want to lose them so had to bite the bullet!

  8. By far the best way of buying Avios is using Tesco clubcard vouchers. You can get 600 for £2.50. That makes them 0.42 pence each.

    • Shoestring says:

      Your big assumption is that a £2.50 Tesco clubcard voucher is only worth £2.50.

      No offence, but that valuation is for numpties, ie people who would exchange the £2.50 voucher for £2.50 of groceries.

      A Tesco voucher is worth a lot more than its headline/ printed value. You might not be able to use Uber (where £2.50 = £7.50) but there are plenty of other ways to use the vouchers and leverage value, eg https://secure.tesco.com/clubcard/boost/hotelscom/UK-009591.prd – also £2.50 = £7.50.

      Which means you’d be instead opting for 600 Avios, now ‘costing’ £7.50 or in other words you’re buying Avios for 1.25p/ point.

      Only if – and it’s a big ‘if’ – you’d never be able to get any value out of a £2.50 Tesco clubcard voucher other than £2.50 of groceries, could you argue for 0.42p/ point.

      • Julian says:

        Shoestring has a point on the real value of a Tesco Clubcard voucher but he is ignoring firstly the fact that Tesco Clubcard vouchers very annoyingly expire every two years (it should be at least every five years or preferably never in my opinion given how many redemption opps they have like ferries that encourage you to save them up long term) so converting to Avioscan be a very good way to use rather than lose a Clubcard voucher if they are about to expire. And its easy to use the Clubcard vouchers this way whereas using them for ferry journeys or in restaurants all involves a significant amount of hassle in remembering to do things sufficiently in advance (eg must book a month ahead on ferries across the Irish Sea or the Channel)

        To be fair I only ever converted a significant amount of Tesco Clubcard vouchers to Air Miles (as then was) when there was a 2 x promotion offer (making the cost of a Clubcard point a nominal 0.2p each) several years ago and currently I am mainly using them on Wightlink ferry journeys to the Isle of Wight where the Clubcard vouchers can be redeemed in to Wightlink vouchers and used to book ferry journeys immediately right down to time of departure (unlike all the other ferry companies where you must book a month ahead and therefore may end up travelling on dates with lousy weather during your stay).

        But anyway the basic point is that there is always a cost to buying Avios points and usually its not a good idea to buy them at all because at any moment the currency can be heavily devalued by the issuer as has happened several times before (they also try to wipe out people’s Avios holdings completely by having a time out rule if the Avios account hasn’t been used for either two or three years as well as taking away Reward Saver for no activity in the last year). The only case where its worth buying is if you just short of the minimum amount needed for some major and valuable long haul redemption in Club or First Class. Even then it is often better to use the option to pay less Avios by paying more cash with Avios and Money (as opposed to Part Pay With Avios which often isn’t a good idea unless you are very Avios rich) than to buy further Avios from Tesco, Amex, Groupon or whoever else.

        • One way of extending your clubcard vouchers is to use them to buy a £2.50 entry to the BA comps offered a Couple of times a year. And the change from each voucher is returned in the next quarterly statement. This extends them another 2 years, whilst you wait for an avios conversion bonus..some hope. Hasn’t been one for. While. But it means you can keep your vouchers live if need be, and not low them to expire by accident. Tesco are good with the emails advising you of expiring vouchers anyway.

        • Shoestring says:

          oh I exchange Tesco clubcard points for Avios/ Virgin miles, no problem with that (though I’ve always been able to use the 20% bonus promo these last few years)

          just wouldn’t want to kid myself I was getting the points for 0.42p

        • Julian says:

          I’ve actually managed to roll over quite a few two year old Tesco vouchers by calling Clubcard customer services in the last day or two of the voucher’s validity until I get one of the nice helpful staff in Wales rather than one of the hardbitten ferocious harridens in Scotland.

          As long as the voucher only has two or three days to go they usually agree to reissue it in the next quarter’s mailing. But they don’t have to do this and have been getting slowly more difficult eg they would reissue them up to 6 months after they had expired and now they won’t by claiming they can no longer see them on their system the day after they expire….

  9. Shoestring says:

    O/T £50 bonus for New Customer registering and making their first money transfer of £150+ with WorldRemit

  10. Is it possible to buy a PE using “avios and money” and then use points to upgrade?
    The avios and money options for CW are not good deals.

    • That is an interesting question which I’ve never heard before …. but I see what you’re getting at.

      Although you’d need both CW and WTP availability on the same flight which is not so common.

      • The question is inspired by this article. We travel as a family of 3 to a relatively unpopular destination twice a year. It’s a pain for me to redeem a long haul business class flight without using a 241 voucher, as I need to buy some avios regularly.

    • Julian says:

      Surely the simple answer is that you can’t do this because Avios and Money flights are redemption flights and you can’t then further upgrade a redemption flight class wise with cash as I understand it (whereas you can of course upgrade a cash flight in World Traveller Plus to Club World using Avios subject to Avios flight availability)

      Its presumably for precisely this reason that the Avios and Money options for long haul flights in Club are now so much less attractive. If you could just redeem in to a PE flight with Avios and then use Avios to upgrade it to Club then the Avios and Money deals for a Club World flight would have to be a lot more attractive than they are at present.

      Also the unattractive nature of the Avios and Money pricing for Club World is in itself presumably a direct product of the devaluation where Avios redemption flights in Club World now cost 3 x rather that 2x the Avios required in World Traveller?

  11. Rui N. says:

    Can we use the ‘Avios and Money’ option if we don’t have enough points for a given booking?
    That is, can we search for a flight that we know we won’t have enough avios for, and then start to book it and use that option to buy the needed Avios?

    • Yes

      • Julian says:

        The answer is Yes provided that you still have enough Avios to meet the requirements of the minimum number of Avios allowed to be used on an Avios and Money purchase on that flight. If the minimum number of Avios for an Avios and Money purchase is still more than the total Avios you have then you are going to need to either buy more Avios (from Groupon, Tesco, BA, Amex or whoever, all of whom usually take some days or weeks to credit the Avios to your account) or otherwise not make that booking.

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