Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

What is an Avios point worth?

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I am often asked for my thoughts on how to value an Avios point.  In our articles we use 1p as a ball-park figure, and it is the value I use myself, but the real world is more complicated.

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.

What is an Avios point worth?

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.

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, 2 Marriott Bonvoy points per £1 via the Marriott Bonvoy American Express.  If not, your British Airways Premium Plus 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.  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.)

Comments (144)

  • John says:

    It is not factored in that when flying cash, the cash price is reduced by the value of the Avios earned. If these calculations are to make sense, then the value of an Avios earned must equal the value of an Avios spent.

    So if a redemption costs 60k Avios plus GBP 100 while booking cash would cost GBP 1100 and earn 15k Avios, the value of an Avios would be given by

    Value of an Avios = (GBP 1100 – GBP 100) / (60k + 15k) = GBP 1000 / 75 k = GBP 0.0133

  • _nate says:

    The trouble with this is that it all bases things on hypothetical people living in England and planning ahead whereas the best use of Avios is often short-notice redemptions on partner airlines in regions where taxes or fuel charges are lower or non-existent. Then, the cash comparison makes Avios very, very valuable. Also, although it is mentioned here, the flexibility element of Avios is also crucial if you do not fix your plans as far ahead as these hypothetical people do.

    • Rob says:

      True, but the reality is that most people don’t do short notice personal travel – and core weekend break flights are rarely available at short notice. It does work for me, of course, because often we do HFP travel at short notice.

    • guesswho2000 says:

      Agreed 100%, they’re like gold on Qantas domestic flights.

  • Anna says:

    I for one never considered paying for premium cabins before I discovered HFP, thinking they were generally unaffordable for all but high earners. However this changed as I began to learn about earning avios and status from flights and hitting target spends, and of course the benefits offered by BA holiday bookings. I’m not sure whether BA gain or lose from this though, as they are obviously getting more cash business from me but also relinquishing more premium redemption seats!

  • Charlie says:

    It’s really hard to put a financial value on the experience of taking someone close to you on holiday in business/first class, when all they have ever flown is economy previously! This is one of the things that collecting Avios/airmiles allows to happen, and although the cash value is economy based on what you would pay, that intrinsic satisfaction is through the roof.

    • Anna says:

      Totally! I always think of it in terms of the value I’ve got overall rather than money I might have saved.

    • Gabriel says:

      But you can always buy the tickets for cash and give them exactly the same experience, so that kind of puts a financial value on it.

  • Mike says:

    Why doesn’t the wife of Andrew in example 1 get a name. I vote for Sandy – So they could be Andy and Sandy, sound like a lovely couple.

    • Anna says:

      Or “Sandrew” if they are social media influencer types.

    • Rob says:

      Because, oddly, these are all real people and I wasn’t sure on Andrew’s wife’s name. Although, in the cold light of day, I think it’s Sarah.

  • Andrew says:

    Such heteronormative and non-diverse names you use in your examples. So many HFP readers are LGBT and your examples aren’t very inclusive. Just something to think about next time – these little things can make a difference when attracting and retaining readers.

    • Peter K says:

      Surely that says more about the reader than the writer if that would stop them reading a blog?

    • Benj says:

      Umm…Alex and Nicky could be any combination of genders.

      • Nick_C says:

        Absolutely. I assumed Alex and Nicky were gay. And David, single, and going to NY on his own, is sooooo gay.

        I’m joking of course.

        Can we keep PC nonsense away from HfP please. My Husband and I benefit enormously from HfP, both from the articles written by Rob and the team, and the helpful comments and hints from readers. I feel the HfP readership is a real community, and one I associate myself with, unlike the ersatz “LGBT” “community”.

        If you want to discuss gender politics or climate change, there are plenty of other places to do that.

    • Alex W says:

      I hope this is tongue in cheek! Otherwise I would love to hear you view on stereotypically LGBT names.

      • Nick_C says:

        Julian and Sandy?

        • EwanG says:

          It’s been a while since I saw we last had any comments from Julian, and he was usually quite active around the time of the HfP party dates, so Julian if you are out there lurking, hope everything is fine with you!

          • Lady London says:

            Hi Julian, it was good to meet you last summer party and I hope you make it again.

    • Lady London says:

      Who? really? I demand a special reference in any example list to wheelchair users, people of colour, persons of size, and the elderly. Oh, and only one Camilla/Horatio per list.

      The examples are meant to show you things you might consider and or calculate when making a decision. Each person will have their own extra factors to consider. Whatever they are.

    • the_real_a says:

      … reads HfP, gets faux offended feels sense of rage … bang bang bang on keyboard to make nonsense PC political comment…

  • Cwyfan says:

    Your use of the catch all phrase “although they lose out on the Avios and tier points earned on a cash ticket.” is possibly misleading.

    You lose the tier points of the flight, which are very difficult to definitively value, as it has a future impact on status.

    However, the loss of points is 2 fold, in that you lose the avios for the actual flight and also the avios or other reward that you would receive for paying the extra cash with your credit card.,

    Now do the maths!

    • Anna says:

      Although with BA’s “fees” you can still earn a chunk of avios and significant spend towards a target!

    • Shoestring says:

      and don’t forget [The amount you collect depends on which airline you fly, how far you fly, the cabin you fly in, the type of ticket you hold and your Executive Club tier. ] – this link includes an Avios earning calculator

      ie the higher status you are (Blue/ Silver/ Gold etc), the more Avios you earn on the same flight in the same fare class

      so the tier points can affect future earning ability as well

  • Neil Donoghue says:

    I love when this can of worms gets opened! The comments are hilarious and everyone has a different opinion! In short, if you think you get value from your avios than who cares???

    • Lady London says:

      My friend is happy to spend her Tesco points on groceries. I rest my case.

      • Polly says:

        Exactly, l have stopped fainting, when someone tells me they Get X amount off their groceries.. secretly calculating how many avios they missed out on, and how we would use them.
        Plus l have now stopped persuading them to collect avios. Too complicated is the usual comment.
        Ok, more seats for the rest of us, then.