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)

  • James says:

    I used avios as cash on a recent flight booking with BA – 15,100 for around £100 saving (if that), regret set in after 24 hours so could not cancel

  • James says:

    OT – Is cancelling BAPP after getting avios bonus (26k) and 241 voucher completely ok? any recent data points would be appreciated. I’ve had the card for 3/4 months now

    • Anna says:

      It seems fine to date, however for extra security you could just downgrade to blue until you’ve used the voucher.

      • Polly says:

        He’s fine cancelling, As he might not use that voucher for 23 months, so maybe a bit of a waste holding on to it. So maybe better referring from the BAPP to gold etc etc or to each other.. keep the avios rolling in…

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Yep just done it myself. Over 55k Avios and 2-4-1 in my BA account for grand sum of £62 card fees. I also had around £260 of unique Amex offers I didn’t get on any other card from what I can recall.

      Though still have a plat which i still hope they’ll improve the earning rate on.

  • Mikeact says:

    I’m just about to book another Lloyds , so called, ‘upgrade’ voucher. Wife and I will book a One Way Business from Jersey (she’s not keen to go further afield to start) over to Oregan. Albeit that I hate the BA charges, I have to accept that paying around £650 is not bad for two comfortable seats, plus, of course, 65000 Avios which in my book is excellent value.
    Coming back, we will use Avios on AA , or FB on Delta, to connect with a KLM Promo Award (25/50% off regular Awards) to get back to London…again this will be excellent value for us.

    • Lady London says:

      The bed matters on the way back as its a full 10 hours or so and overnight is it not? Wondering is this why you chose to make the return flight not on BA, but on KL AA or DL? So presumably DL to keep taxes lowest? Or AA nnnER for comfort?

      • Mikeact says:

        Correct, but not sure where we will end up before thinking of heading home, could be Atlanta, Minneapolis or even Boston. Whoever has the best ‘deal’ then we’ll go for it. Low cost Delta is very tempting having done it last year, but it depends on the old ‘supply and demand ‘. I suppose I’m fortunate enough to have many options available…..I doubt many go to the US with a one way ticket only….our neighbours think we’re crackers..”You mean you’re going to Australia (last year) for three months and play it by ear …. no bookings etc.etc..”
        It’s all good fun and never yet had to sleep in the back of the car….and (secret), we’re well into our 70’s !

        • Mikeact says:

          ps Boston is probably the only departure point where the lack of a bed wouldn’t be too much of a problem for us, but it would have to be PE at a minimum ! Otherwise, a bed it is.

        • Lady London says:

          How do you get on with immigration then? I.e.return ticket required?

          Impressed with age, gives me hope for the future! Would like to hear about any ‘near misses’ you might have had 🙂

          • Mikeact says:

            We’ve never been asked…..always a first time I suppose…..guess I’d have to fire up the phone and find something to book..quickly !

        • Lady London says:

          I think I would maybe take a look at Charleston route on the way back.

          • Mikeact says:

            That was another thought, particularly if we head out Hilton Head way. Although we wouldn’t mind heading up to Philadelphia to finish up with some of the Amish community in Lancaster County….a few now offering B&B…..complete with electricity.

  • Gavin says:

    Personally I consider the 241 voucher to have almost no value.

    I don’t require the additional flexibility.

    If I consider 1 Avios point to be worth 1p, the cost of booking two business class flights with the 241 plus taxes and charges, is often more or similar to the cost of just booking with cash during a sale. Plus you get tier points and earn Avios (or other miles) for cash bookings, and a wide choice of airline.

  • Joe says:

    Question if you cancel using 241 can you reuse it?

  • lumma says:

    My personal use for Avios has changed a lot recently. I can no longer be bothered to try and collect either Avios for business class – I’d rather keep them for short haul and either fly economy or on sale business class tickets for Long Haul.

    Last minute Avios economy short haul at the lowest possible number of Avios is the way forward. Usually if I have a few days off work consecutively, I’ll look for a combo of Avios out to somewhere in Europe with a LCC flight back. I like watching football in Europe, so often I’ll check the upcoming fixtures and try to get to a game. Just before Christmas I booked to go to Barcelona for El Clasico the night before. Flight out was 2,500 Avios plus £60 – Cash ticket for this flight was £300+ on BA and £200+ on the alternatives to get me there before kickoff with Ryanair back to Stansted the next afternoon for £12.

    But in this case the ppa is irrelevant. I wouldn’t have taken the trip without the Avios. The other side of the coin is the very cheapest Low Cost Carrier tickets are often at far worse times that what you can get with Avios. That 6am flight out of Luton can really spoil the first day of your holiday Vs the 10.30am flight from Heathrow

    • Lady London says:

      Maybe then UUA would be something that could work out for you? Having reached same conclusions am considering this for next time I buy WTP.

      • lumma says:

        Upgrading from premium economy to club definitely seems to be the best use of a reasonable amount of Avios for long haul.

        9 hours or less though, I’m quite happy in economy as long as I have an aisle seat. I actually find the daytime flights from the East Coast of America quite pleasant in economy. I do work on my feet all day so sitting in a chair while someone brings me a few beers and a microwave meal while watching a few films is actually a nice change!

        • Harry T says:

          It’s interesting you say that because I now sit a lot more for work than I used to and value being on my feet or lying down more because of this (sitting for ages screws up my back and neck). So I think I’d actually appreciate a flat bed seat more now.

          • Lady London says:

            Unless you’re petite I would guess that as a rule of thumb the older you get, the more you appreciate it!

          • Harry T says:

            @Lady London
            Good point and I’m definitely not petite!

    • Polly says:

      Like you, sometimes, l won’t even bother with a last minute trip unless avios available. Def mix and match between Ryan air LGW and T5. On Monday l popped over for a family lunch, £12.50 each way on Paddy Air. Didn’t even look at BA with fares like that. Crazy.
      Avios were a godsend to me when my mum was on her way out. So many last minute RFS, it was brilliant.
      My best one was on a foggy night, got the last Literally! seat to London, avios in CE to LCY. Had to be back. It was pricing up close to £500. I even offered it to a couple of chaps desperate to get back too, but BA wouldn’t offload me or compensate me. So those avios were worth a lot.

  • 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.

    • lumma says:

      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

    • Stu_N says:

      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.

  • Mark says:

    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 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?