What is an Avios point worth?

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It is over a year since I last discussed my thoughts on how to value an Avios point.

With a lot of new readers this week, as happens every January, I thought it was worth running the numbers again to see if they still they stack up.

The value of an Avios point to you is based on numerous factors:

where you fly

what cabin you fly in

whether you normally use a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 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 regular offers – albeit not running today – which let 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 for an Avios than your cost price to make it worthwhile.  This is especially true because you are substituting something very liquid – cash – for something that is not very liquid at all.

What is an avios point worth?

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 Bonvoy 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 ba.com 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.  Which one is right for you?

What is an Avios point worth?

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

Let’s assume these are 120,000 Avios per seat Club World redemptions (eg Dubai, Boston). One of the two holidays uses the 2 x 241 vouchers Andrew and his wife earn each year. Let’s assume £547 of taxes per ticket – the curent figure to Dubai – because he redeems on BA instead of, say, routing on Iberia via Madrid to save money.

Andrew is financially well off.  He redeems on leisure routes (Middle East, Caribbean etc) where in a BA or other airline sale a Business Class cash ticket during the school holidays would cost around £1,499 return.  He can afford to pay cash if necessary.

Total Avios spent per year for two holidays = 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 per flight if paying cash – £547 taxes on Avios tickets = £952 per seat x 8 tickets = £7,616

Value received per Avios = 1.06p

1.06p 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 1.19p.

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

What is an Avios point worth?

2. Jez and Louise live in the South East and use their Avios to do European short breaks, flying Economy from 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.  I have used the ‘mid point’ pricing because this is generally the best value of the various ‘cash and Avios’ combinations offered by BA.

British Airways cash price: £180 per person for April 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 £150.

Value received per Avios = 1.28p.

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 1.43p.  The value also goes up if they would take checked luggage, since Avios tickets allow one free suitcase per person.

What is an Avios point worth?

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 an April weekend, booked three months in advance, is £170.

Value received per Avios = 0.55p

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 0.62p and in reality the direct Jet2 flight would be cheaper off-peak too.

What is an Avios worth?

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 £156 plus 68,000 Avios return, based on an off-peak date (plus 15,000 Avios + £35 for a BA Economy flight to Madrid from Heathrow to position). His total cost is 83,000 Avios plus £191.

Value received per Avios (based on £350 cash for a direct flight): Not clear   

David has spent £160 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 £160 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.  How should he judge the value?  He knows that he giving up around £500 of free hotels rooms by choosing to use his 83,000 Avios for the flight instead of for a hotel booking in New York.

What is an Avios point worth?

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 £660.

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 £1,320 of taxes. This assumes they travel in a peak period.  The cash alternative would have been £3,500 for two.

Value received per Avios: 1.45p

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 1.74p 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.

What is an Avios point worth?

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, 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.

What is an avios worth?

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 £258.  Any cash price of over £500 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.

(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. RussellH says:

    A thought about valuing tier points:

    They can be of value, certainly, but as they have a specified expiry date, they can have none at all.
    Our last transatlantic trip (bought partly with avios, upgrading WTP=>CW) was for a wedding in California, so we had no choice as to dates. The outward travel was ten days before the end of my partner’s tier point year, but six weeks after mine.
    This meant that she forfeited all the tier points for the outward journey within days of earning them – no value at all.
    Doing the same amount of BA travel after that trip, I managed to scrape into Bronze for 15 months, while she remained Blue.

    • Agreed. I’m Bronze and my tier point year ends in early June and without getting 280 more points (I’ve only had one cash flight this year) I’ll drop to Blue at the beginning of August. I could do two 160 point returns after my year resets and get Bronze for nearly two years and leave myself set up well to get back to Silver.

      However, if they switched to say a rolling 365 day collection period, you would probably only get a year of status rather than over 18 months if you time it correctly

    • Tier points that don’t get you to a higher tier are worthless. Otherwise, they are basically impossible to value. You’d have to work out what cash value you put on reaching a given status, which will be difficult to quantify and probably different for everyone.

  2. Re scenario 4….

    It doesn’t say why David only flies economy on his own money. If it’s because he doesn’t have much spare money and wants to travel at the cheapest possible price every time, regardless of comfort, it doesn’t make a lot of sense that he’s spent 83,000 avios on top of £191 on the flights… he could have put the avios towards his hotel instead and saved himself ~£250, and flown directly.

    It also doesn’t say how he earned those avios but if, say, they came from Tesco Clubcard vouchers that would be nearly £346 in vouchers, which he could have put towards over £1000 in hotels.com credit. Depending on where, and how long, he’s staying that could go a long way towards paying his accommodation costs (saving around £850 net).

    So he’s clearly willing to spend more to fly in business class. The question is, how much?

  3. I value my Avios earned from my BAPP card at 54p. This is based on the spend on the Amex card (including annual £195 fee) divided by the number of Avios credited to my BAEC.

    If I can get better than this on a redemption comparing [the cost of paying cash] versus [Avios minus Avios I would earn on a cash ticket plus taxes fees and charges for the redemption] then I consider I am doing well.

    I don’t do any air travel for work so although I would ideally use the 2-4-1 for long haul I tend to be happy using them for RFS European redemptions. I tend to do one long-haul trip and a couple of European trips for cash as this earns TPs to maintain my Silver status.

    • 54p? each? wow!

      Those must be some very expensive cash fares you’re comparing against! 🙂

      • Oops I meant 0.54p per Avios. I left off the decimal point!

        • Genghis says:

          Interesting calculation. With your method, what about the alternative to the BAPP of an Amex cashyback card and then buying the points if needed or just pay cash for tickets?

          • memesweeper says:

            +1

            The floor value of Avios has to be the ‘money off’ BA will offer you on a ticket, unless you will never fly with them again whilst spending your own money.

          • Genghis I haven’t considered comparing it with an Amex cash back card as you suggest. I just have the Amex BAPP card as the other big benefit I see from it is, that as I use it constantly, the Avios in my BAEC account never expire regardless of the number of times I fly with BA otherwise the 36 month expiry deadline kicks in.

            I did look at the Preferred Rewards Gold Card once I earned the 2-4-1 voucher as that gives more options as to airlines or other rewards but I worked out that 90% of my flying is with BA or OW airlines so it is easiest to just maintain status with BA rather than spread across other airlines. The MR points convert £1 = 1MR = 1 Avios and since I earn at least 1.5 Avios per £1 on the BAPP and 3 Avios per £1 on BA spend I don’t see the point of having both cards especially as after 1 year the PRGC also attracts an annual fee.

            I have a Hilton Honors Barclaycard account which stems from the time I did travel a lot for work and the corporate travel policy was to use Hilton hotels. It comes in handy as I use it to occasionally top up my AAdvantage account which I opened back when you could not credit AA flights to BAEC. But the majority of my spend is on the BAPP primarily to get the 2-4-1 voucher.

          • Shoestring says:

            so one ‘big benefit’ of BAPP is keeping your Avios stash alive? heh heh, I’ll give you the best tip of the day – go to the Avios E store and buy one of these for £2.80-odd from Abe Books
            https://www.abebooks.co.uk/servlet/SearchResults?sts=t&cm_sp=SearchF-_-home-_-Results&an=boyd&tn=any+human+heart&kn=&isbn=

            hey presto – 10 Avios & another 3 years on your Avios expiry – no need to keep a card going for that!

            the tip isn’t the easy way to collect Avios – it’s the book – best book I read last year, feel free to pay £2.80 and read it 🙂

          • Genghis says:

            BAEC points are so easy to keep alive I can’t see this as being a main advantage for a £195 card. The 241, yes. Lufty, however…

          • Lady London says:

            car hire offers do it for Lufty. Lots of them. You have to look on the .de site though.

  4. Thanks Rob. I am trying to compare my situation to the above cases and seems like Scenario 5 fit us but we are also thinking of some European flights from ABZ via LHR.. not sure if you or anyone may shed some lights to make it worthwhile? Many thanks.

    • If you have no choice but to go via Heathrow because Aberdeen has a rubbish route network, then you the extra cost of connecting doesn’t change much. If Aberdeen does have direct flights to everywhere in Europe you want to go, it’s hard to believe going via LHR makes sense from a time, sanity, or pence per Avios perspective.

    • Drive to Inverness and go Departure tax free?

      • Yes Andrew. Definitely that’s one of the option too. Save quite a lot as well. Last time I checked around £500 for Club Suite to Dubai one way. 🙂

  5. Peter K says:

    Just to throw this into the mix. I value avios as more than just the value of the flight. Being gluten intolerant, flying CE means I know I will get a meal/food on a 4+ hr mid-haul flight.

    That is not always easy when flying back from abroad as most short haul airlines don’t really cater for it (RIP Thomas Cook) as well as many airports (certainly not a solid meal).

    • Peter K says:

      But I wouldn’t pay cash for CE I meant to add.

    • Shoestring says:

      imagine my surprise flying back to LHR in Business last Sunday – I was the *absolute last* person to be served lunch and I was getting seriously worried about getting the chicken as there was somebody with a nut allergy on board so all nuts were banned and one of the 3 meal choices had nuts in it so we were down to 2 choices – when they finally got to me and brought me out my *special meal*, Asian Vegetarian! I said, I didn’t order that, they said, must be in your profile, you can have chicken instead if you like, but I said no problem I’ll give it a go – not bad at all, spicy/ curry roasted sweet potato with Basmati rice! True enough, it was in my profile

      • Peter K says:

        Lucky escape there.

      • Lady London says:

        I think that might date back to the late 80’s/early 90’s – IIRC Asian vegetarian was advised as a good move on flyertalk to avoid the horrible generic standard nosh on BA at that time.

        • Shoestring says:

          probably a tip I picked up & forgot

          but I flew 3 times in Business (CE) LY – IB90K – and just got the normal meal

  6. Definitas says:

    Some of the best value redemptions can be US domestic flights. The Fees are negligible (less than £10) and availability with American Airlines tends to be good if booked early. Domestic First (CE equivalent on shorthaul) is also often available. It’s not great and lounges are pretty underwhelming but the cost can be partially mitigated if you have multiple check in bags, which have to be paid for in economy if you don’t have OW status. Redemption is also good value for some international flights departing from the US and to Hawaii

    • CraigyC says:

      I’m new to this miles game having only started reading this site and others a year ago. I’ve managed to redeem my first 2-4-1 voucher for an open jaw to Singapore and back from Kuala Lumpur, our in first back in club.
      Firstly thanks for all the advice given on this site, certainly couldn’t/ wouldn’t have done it without it! The way I view points however is that they’re not really worth anything until you spend them!
      I wouldn’t normally fly long haul personally though I do sometimes with work, which is normally premium economy or business class.
      I probably wouldn’t spend my own money on business class tickets but have paid for premium economy on some long haul trips in the past. I don’t really want to fly economy for long haul ever again if possible.
      So I guess for me I value them at the cost of earning them, which as I’ve earned some through flying, some from sign ups and referrals and obviously through spend it seems to be about 0.2p each.
      The redemption after taxes, fees and the cost of the 241 voucher came to 7p per avios against the cash prices for the same flights. This is excellent but I would never had paid that for the flights.
      Against the premium economy tickets I would have booked it’s nowhere near as good at about 0.8p per avios.
      But I’m still effectively paying for premium economy and getting first/ club. So all I have to know is am I happy to pay 206,000 * 0.002 + 200= £612 for the upgrades? Obviously yes!
      It’s difficult to quantify how much I’d actually pay for those upgrades though in just cash, it would depend if I’d been drinking already!

      • Shoestring says:

        I’m not sure your logic is right here – or if it’s just definition of terms. You identify the cost of earning them as 0.2p/ point – fine, that is great – nice and low and many of us here would like to be in that position. [my own cost was about 0.3p in the good old days but has now crept up.]

        But if you really *value* them also at 0.2p, you are not ‘making a profit’ or getting a good deal – you are in the same position as a Tesco shopper who uses Clubcard points to buy groceries at face value – ie 1p = 1p, when if the Tesco Clubcard points were exchanged for Avios they would be worth (250 Clubcard–> 600 Avios) = 2.4p

        really, if you *value* them at 0.2p, that means you would be happy to spend them at 0.2p (or 0.2p + something small) & I suspect that is not the case at all

        • CraigyC says:

          Fair comment and you’re right, I wouldn’t be happy to redeem them at that price. But if the cost of my redemptions including the avios cost is less than the premium economy seat I’d be happy to pay for, then getting first or business instead is a bargain.
          How to quantify how much I’d be prepared to pay for the upgrade from premium economy to business is more difficult though.

      • Well done on getting very good reward seats, I also done SIN return last year using a 2-4-1 but I can honestly say the Avios price came out at 3.5p – considering we’ve probably paid identical taxes plus Avios redemption I think you’ve miscalculated if your getting 7p per Avios? Unless I’m mistaken the cost of the flights would have to be over 8 thousand pounds!

        • CraigyC says:

          It depends how you’ve calculated the avios, I used the number of avios I actually spent (206,500) and a 241. The outbound flights show as £6618 each in first, and the returns £1200 each in club, so all in are £15636. If I take off the taxes (£1300 is a guess) I get £14336.
          Divided by 206,500 avios comes to 6.94p per avios.
          I would never have spent that money on flights in reality, but I’ve spent £1000 each on flights which is still less than the seats I would have booked otherwise.
          How to calculate how much I’ve saved is tricky though, as if I wasn’t collecting points I may not have flown to Singapore at all! So I’ve pretty much just spent a load of cash I wouldn’t have otherwise, but it’s going to be fun so who cares!

  7. Thanks Rob, this is the best article I’ve come across for explaining ‘real world’ Avios value.
    I’d say from the examples you’ve given I’ve always managed to get between 2 and 2.5p as travelled off-peak in CW and on my last two trips in F it’s been closer to 3 and 3.5p valuation.

  8. Magic Mike says:

    A few years back I had to go to Nairobi at short notice, and bring back some large heavy boxes. I seem to remember paying 19500 Avios and £300 return in economy, for a ticket that did not include a Saturday night.

    I was Gold so had 90 kg of luggage on the way back included.

    DHL – the next best alternative – was over a £grand, so you don’t always have to compare Avios value with airfares… 🙂

  9. I’m in Ireland so can only grab Avios Points through Aer Lingus who operate their own tier system. I could codeshare with BA to get their tier points but at outrageous ticket prices. There is no worthwhile scheme for earning Avios points unless you’re making very specific purchases through specific websites and no credit card mile-earning schemes at all.

    I had about 4000 Avios built up through various Aer Lingus flying so I’m transferring these to BA and using them as part (roughly half) payment to book a seat on a trip out to Singapore which I’m taking from LHR in a few weeks time.

    Value is only about 0.6p per Avios which is poor but the article is right…. the perceived value of this is quite great to me, someone who will only very rarely fly BA. From making no effort I get a half price seat where I want.

    I will never earn status with BA and will never book an Avios-only flight with BA and likely will never book an Avios-only flight to LHR with Aer Lingus as the Ryanair flight is probably cheaper than the Avios-flight-taxes anyway and I don’t fly enough to get status with Aer Lingus! So its worth it, even if a lot of people on here baulk at 0.6p/avios.

    • Edit: Just to clarify, when I say “Book a seat”, the tickets are paid for, this is early seat reservation. There are Economy 2-seat sets on the top deck of the A380 which we are going to grab.

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