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.

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, 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 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.)

Comments (144)

  • Shoestring says:

    [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.]

    In a few days, Iberia will (probably) announce its usual January 50% sale off award redemptions. LY:
    – valid for travel between February 1 and April 15, 2019
    – valid for economy, premium economy, and business class redemptions
    – valid for travel on Iberia, and not for travel on any of their partner airlines
    – valid for Iberia Plus members with accounts registered in Spain (easy to get round this by switching your IB address to Spain)

    Needless to say, saving the BA/ UK fees combined with 50% off means an Economy redemption/ award flight becomes incredibly cheap (ie ex EU flights on points from Madrid, long haul)

    • Jtz says:

      Thanks for this will look out for it!

    • Mike Bickle says:

      What’s an IB address please?

      • Shoestring says:

        Iberia & the address you use for your home address/ pyour profile, eg some hotel in Cordoba

        • Mikeact says:

          You need to be careful with that one, particularly if moving Avios around, ie BA-IB etc., and the likely implications. Personal details have to be the exact same on both accounts, if you’re thinking of moving Avios.

          • ChrisC says:

            And you also need to consider that if you do change your BAEC account to another address then you can’t change it back for another 6 months.

            And if I recall correctly if you have a BA Amex then your monthly spend avios won’t transfer to BAEC until the addresses match again.

      • Lady London says:

        Its the Spanish version of an IP address.

    • JRC says:

      Shoestring are you Martin Lewis in disguise?! Have you ever thought of creating your own blog/ site? I suspect there would be a lot of interest!!

      • Shoestring says:

        I doubt it, I like reading the small guy blogs from time to time (a couple of them must make a fair living out of it, I do get that) – but they really/ generally only regurgitate stuff from HFP & other ‘big’ sources – not much in the way of original material – imv no point diluting HFP and don’t worry I get plenty of good ideas *out* of this site from editorials & readership comments so it’s more take than give (ie works fine in my favour, as for pretty much all of us) 🙂

      • Charlieface says:

        I hope not. Martin Lewis was good at the beginning when he was doing it himself because he appreciates the value of learning new things and how they work. The current editors just regurgitate the same stuff again and again as if it’s a newly discovered trick.

        • Rob says:

          There are only a certain number of tricks though! Which is why you’re commenting on an article which has run 4 times in the last 5 years, albeit with a chunky rewrite each time …

    • Harry T says:

      @Shoesteing thanks for the hot tip. Do Iberia do these promotions at any other points of the year with regularity? And are the routes that cost less Avios chosen are random? I’m wondering if it’s worth transferring say 100k Avios over to Iberia preemptively (thinking of two business class returns to US for partner and I).

    • marcw says:

      High hopes! IB is not that consistent with their promos, unless you have an ICON card. Last year was in january, year before in december, year before in october…

      • Lady London says:

        overdue now though.

        • Lady London says:

          As I mentioned yesterday for both IB and LH suggest you look regularly and proactively on them directly for your promos. Not everything gets emailed. For some strange reason airlines also seem to split their information provision geographically for functionality that quite likely is not split geographically.

  • Henry says:

    Just got one way JAL business class for 16k points and 20 quid in fees.
    Cash price was 700 pounds
    Very happy with the value received

    • Genghis says:

      Big pat on the back! In such simple terms my best is about an 8p / avios on a Spanish domestic. However, I’d never have paid cash. A train / car hire hire is the alternative and is what I should use to judge against value obtained.

    • Jtz says:

      That’s amazing, from where to where?

    • idrive says:

      for the records, which route and how did you book (which pot of miles)?

    • guesswho2000 says:

      Nice, just done similar (HKG-HND) for 22k and £45. Cash price is A$1,900 on JL, but I wouldn’t pay that for a 4h flight. However MU is available (via PVG) for A$770, which I would pay. I consider it a win either way

      • Stu_N says:

        Cathay J out/ F back between Hong Kong and Tokyo was a bonkers avios/p redemption for us (north of 10p per Avios IIRC). In reality we’d have flown economy or maybe premium economy if we were paying cash, and that comparison made using Avios terrible value. If the opportunity came up I’d do it again as Cathay F was really quite special and now want to do a proper long haul F with them.

  • Jtz says:

    How would I value avios if I’m scenario 2, but would probably go for let’s say £70 weekend flights…..but I value my time way more so if I could get a flight from LCY I would probably do that
    Thanks

    • Shoestring says:

      you can ascribe a value to your family time, be it £50/ hour or whatever – eg save 2 hrs x 2 of you, you saved another £200 to add to the mix/ value equation

      • Jtz says:

        Thanks for that shoestring, going to work it out as the OH ‘needs’ time to unwind at home before work on monday.

        OT data point 2nd po said I cant top up with amex

  • Gabriel says:

    One question about scenario 1: the HFP value of each 241 BA voucher is £1100, so the actual value received in this scenario is surely only £5416 versus 72k avios spent and x avios lost.

    • Alex W says:

      The value of a 241 is 50% of the saving you made by not paying cash. E.g. in scenario 5 they saved £2180 therefore the 241 was worth £1090.

      • Gabriel says:

        Exactly, and the value of the avios points needs to be changed accordingly. In your example you can’t say that the 241 was worth £1090 and the avios the full £2180.

        • Genghis says:

          The only mistake I see is using £535 as the taxes in the description but then £547 as the taxes in the calcs.

        • Alex W says:

          I agree with Gabriel, it’s one or the other and not both. I think one’s valuation of an Avio should stay the same regardless of whether a voucher is used or not. In scenario 5, they effectively used 300,000 Avios to save £2180 and the 241 voucher saved them 150,000 Avios. The value achieved per Avio is only 0.73p, not 1.45p.

  • James Whitehead says:

    As a family of 5 – I wouldn’t underestimate the value of snapping up 4x economy flights when they become available 355 days in advance of February half term week… great value to be had!

    • Shoestring says:

      indeed – Xmas 2020 the current redemption hitting T-355 right now – got the outward on the best day for Xmas hols, some other guy beat me to the redemption but luckily went for the early slot and we wanted early afternoon – I’m doing the midnight wait up for the return flight as there’s one really good slot timing lunchtime and I’m not giving up that one

    • Rob says:

      Totally agree, that is what I use a Gold Priority Reward for!

    • Anna says:

      +1 – 2 of us flying to AGP in July on RFS, cash price £610, the other 2 on a BA holiday booking and will get avios & tier points, plus we don’t have to pay the balance until 5 weeks before we travel.
      Win-win.

  • Andrew says:

    So, I found out yesterday afternoon that I’d need to go down to Docklands today. This gives a good opportunity for a quick post Christmas trip to Scotland from London.

    The cash cost of the basic Economy trip LCY-EDI-LHR would have been circa £520.

    Now, it’s not a like for like comparison as there were only Business tickets left on Avios. The options were:-

    25,500 + £1 – 2p per Avios
    19000 Avios + £ 31.00 – 2.5p per Avios
    15500 Avios + £ 51.00 – 3.0p per Avios
    11200 Avios + £ 81.00 – 3.9p per Avios
    9600 Avios + £ 101.00 – 4.3p per Avios
    8600 Avios + £ 121.00 – 4.6p per Avios

    I could play games, and say that technically the Business ticket was £650, so the value could be 6.1p per Avios at the 8,600 level.

    I paid 9,600 Avios and, will bank it as 4.3p per Avios.

    • Stu_N says:

      Yes, for short-notice trips Avios can be excellent value, I had a genuine 4p per Avios last year on an EDI-LCY flight last year. £200 for cheapest practicable flight which was actually FlyBe, vs 4,000 Avios and £35 for redemption.

      • Harry T says:

        I did a one way RFS from Heathrow to NCL earlier this year at the last moment, when cash prices were around £300-400 for economy fares and above £500 for business. The only Avios tickets left were business fares. Definitely felt like good value for Avios!

        • lumma says:

          Quite often, the night before BA release some extra economy seats in my experience. It’s risky, but there’s often just Business seats on the LHR-NCL routes in the final two weeks, but the day before I can often get an economy seat.

          It’s a very cheap way for me to have a last minute trip back home to the north east. Last minute avios redemption up and the very last train out of Newcastle, which is often only £20 even just a couple of days ahead of time – it’s also pretty empty so can stretch out in standard class. Arriving at Kings Cross at 1am isn’t always the most pleasant however.

          • Harry T says:

            @Lumma
            I agree about last minute seats opening up, though perhaps they are just people cancelling? I haven’t been lucky enough to find a last minute economy seat on that route yet though, sadly. Not that I can really complain about having to fly Club.

          • lumma says:

            @Harry T

            I’ve found it happen often – I think I’ve done it twice up to Newcastle and I’ve also done Barcelona, Munich, Lisbon, Bilbao. All within the last 24 hours before the flight. Other than Newcastle, I have been rather flexible on the destination though.

    • Lady London says:

      If you are BA Gold I’ve noticed that Economy Avios seats and the better timed flights will often show to you as available whereas a blue/bronze is only seeing Business class seats and not being shown any availability on more attractively timed flights.

      “To them that hath shall be given.”

      • Stu_N says:

        LadyLondon – Golds can redeem in economy for the usual number of Avios as long as the lowest fare buckets (Q,O and V) are available for sale. I think my City flight example (real 3p/ Avios) was one of these. It’s a published, and potentially very valuable, benefit of BA Gold.

    • The Savage Squirrel says:

      If you ever need to get somewhere in a hurry … there’s no doubt that unplanned last-minute travel that you will have to pay for yourself is the ultimate sweetspot of Avios and nearly all other redemption schemes.

  • John says:

    An avios is worth 0.6p and that is final for me. Working out valuations as in the article is mainly for bragging purposes, or if you are short of avios and want to buy some for an immediate redemption.

    I just consider that sometimes I pay e.g. £600 (10000 avios) for a flight that is being sold at £2000. If I would pay £1500 for that flight my profit by using avios is £900.

    This also makes it easy to work out benefits from credit cards etc. With a BAPP a purchase of £100 which earns 150 avios, I consider equivalent to paying £90.10 in cash or a non-tesco debit card.

    • Shoestring says:

      there’s bragging – accepted as true – and there’s also big pat on back – I am more motivated by the latter, ie self validation/ self actualization

      both bragging & pat on back are motivational, both valid

      • Lady London says:

        Pat on back to you Shoestring for being the one to kick off a ripple equivalent of the 90k Iberia last week. Benighted travellers in airports will be thanking you and some of us will be buying a bit more duty free as well.

        Plus I’m pretty sure you were the one that resurrected (is that a bad word?) the pet opportunity. Pat pat pat thank you.

        • Anna says:

          The pat on the back is everything! The scientific explanation is that achieving a desired outcome makes your brain release dopamine which gives you a buzz. It probably explains a lot about this hobby!

        • Shoestring says:

          Red By Dufry – the unsung hero was – I think! – the real A – who tested it first while I was struggling with a smashed mobile – I will double check later who it was

        • the_real_a says:

          Have they killed it yet?

  • Harry T says:

    Something I think needs to be addressed is flexibility. My girlfriend is a PhD student and my current employer is fairly flexible about when I take my leave. As such, we can travel at pretty much any time, if we have enough leave left. This means we can grab the best [email protected] deals for both short and long haul when sales are on. As we are young and don’t have kids, we can also do an exEU or journeys with more connections. We also live in Newcastle, so redeeming Avios is limited to a few RFS at Manchester or Edinburgh, or flying long haul.

    We don’t fly for work so we don’t earn a huge amount of Avios, which makes them seem more valuable to us. But we can also fly EasyJet to Europe if we want to or buy a business long haul in the Qatar sale. I still haven’t worked out how much an avios is worth in our situation! Perhaps they would be worth more if we lived in the South East or had kids and could only travel in school holidays?

    • Russ says:

      A lot of what you say resonate with us. We use them mostly as a cheap way of holding flexible RFS flights which is rather handy if plans fall through, meetings get changed, flights get cancelled etc. Quite often we can cancel these and end up paying cash as sales crop up. But for last minute spur of the moment weekends away they are very useful. On top of short hops we usually have four mid/long haul holidays a year paying cash on flash sales. Some places we stay at are not chain hotels we save points with so, avios bridge that gap nicely.

      So I don’t know how to value ours either. We stay on around 1.28 million avios which we just don’t seem go over before the spending urge kicks in. I also tend to think the game changes somewhat if you earn avios through buying cash tickets rather than collecting from other sources although for the sake of discussion they tend to be treated the same.

    • Lady London says:

      Hum. Middle seats in J for you currently then!

      Old marrieds in 2A and 3A…. 🙂