What is the cheapest way to buy Avios points? (Avios Redemption University, Lesson 7)

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What is the cheapest way of buying Avios points?

The “Avios Redemption University” series is a good starting point for beginners, although I hope everyone will learn something from it.  Click here to see the other “Avios Redemption University” articles.

It is inevitable that, at some point, you will need to buy Avios in order to make a redemption booking.  It is rarely great value but if you are just a few thousand short of your target then it clearly makes sense.

The obvious thing to do is to go to ba.com and buy Avios via the website here. However, you may be missing out on some clever tricks which can reduce the cost of buying Avios points sharply.

There are FIVE realistic methods of purchasing Avios, plus a few more options which simply do not compete on price and still wouldn’t even under a special offer. This article does not reflect any special offers which are currently running, so do take a look at ba.com first.  Occasionally there are offers like this one:

Buy Avios

Do you really need to buy Avios at all?

First, think about whether you really need to buy Avios at all.  If you are using a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher or a Lloyds Avios upgrade voucher then you have to use ‘all Avios’ to book.  You don’t have any options.

For any other Avios booking, however, you have the option of using ‘Avios and Money’.

How to use ‘Avios and Money’ to reduce the Avios you need

I explained how ‘Avios and Money’ works in this article earlier in the series. It is often a lot cheaper to use ‘Avios and Money’ to reduce the number of points you need rather than buying additional Avios.

For example, for a World Traveller Plus return flight to New York, you can use:

52,000 Avios plus £377 taxes and charges (the headline list price) or

20,800 Avios plus £617 plus taxes and charges

In this example, you are saving 31,200 Avios by spending £240.  This is equivalent of buying 31,200 Avios for 0.77p each which can’t be done that cheaply elsewhere.

Remember that ‘Avios and Money’ is NOT possible using an American Express or Lloyds voucher, or on flights with Japan Airlines or Russian airline S7.

What are the options if you do need to purchase Avios?

Let’s take a look at the options:

1. Buying Avios via ba.com

The official link to buying Avios is here. The standard price is a shocking £31 for 1,000 (there is a flat £15 handling fee which bumps up small purchases) through to £3,215 for the maximum 200,000.

At standard rates, the price is 3.1p when buying 1,000, 2p when buying 5,000 and 1.6p when buying 35,000.

Note that the purchase is handled by an external company and does not appear as ba.com on your card statement. This means that you do NOT receive double Avios points for charging the purchase to a British Airways Premium Plus American Express card.

Avios via Groupon Spain

2.  Buying Avios via Groupon Spain

For the last three years or so, Iberia Plus has been selling Avios via Groupon in SpainIf you click here you will see the latest version of the offer.  If the offers shows as closed then it is not currently running, but history shows it will be back soon.  It is not running at the moment.

Here are typical prices which are substantially cheaper than buying Avios directly via ba.com:

    • 1,000 Iberia Plus Avios for €19 (1.63p)
    • 2,000 Iberia Plus Avios for €29 (1.25p)
    • 4,000 Iberia Plus Avios for €59 (1.27p)
    • 8,000 Iberia Plus Avios for €109 (1.17p)
    • 15,000 Iberia Plus Avios for €199 (1.14p)
    • 20,000 Iberia Plus Avios for €259 (1.11p)
    • 34,000 Iberia Plus Avios for €429 (1.06p)

Whilst these deals were administratively messy when they first appeared, I get fewer complaints these days.  The IT seems to be working better now.  Of course, all of the information is in Spanish but Chrome can translate the page for you.

Once your Avios have arrived at Iberia Plus, you need to use the ‘Combine My Avios‘ feature to move them from Iberia Plus into British Airways Executive Club.  Your Iberia account needs to be 90 days old before you can transfer in or out of it.

‘Combine My Avios’ can be buggy, but this article explains how to get ‘Combine My Avios’ to work if you are struggling.

The Groupon Spain page you need is here.

Very occasionally the same offer runs on Groupon Ireland.  This is preferable as you are dealing with an English-language website and an English-speaking support centre if you have any issues.  If it is currently running, this link will divert you to itIt is not running as of 12th April.

Buying Avios via Iberia Plus

3. Buying Avios via Iberia Plus

Here is the Iberia page for buying Avios. If you have an active Iberia Plus account (ie the account is over 90 days old and you have earned 1 Avios in it directly, perhaps by crediting a British Airways flight or Amex Membership Rewards point) then you can transfer them to BA using ‘Combine My Avios‘.  This is free.

Iberia has an odd purchase structure. There are 20 price points – you cannot buy the exact number you want.  This means you may end up purchasing a few thousand more than necessary.

It starts at €54 for 2,000 Avios and increases to €3,600 for 200,000 Avios.  You need to do the maths based on the current exchange rate to see if this is better than buying via ba.com.

Buying Membership Rewards points

4. Buying American Express Membership Rewards points

This is a neat little trick for anyone with an American Express Platinum, Gold or Green card.

Whilst this is not described anywhere on the Amex website, you can buy up to 10,000 Membership Rewards points per year for 1.5p each. These can be transferred across to Avios at 1:1 so you effectively buy Avios for 1.5p each.

For relatively modest quantities, this is a cheaper option than buying directly.  The only downside is that it will take 24 hours for American Express to transfer the points across to Avios.

To make a purchase, you need to ring Amex. It may take a while for the agent to work out how to do it as few people ever do this.

5. Buying hotel points in a promotion and transferring them

Many hotel schemes let you buy points and also convert points to Avios.  However, at full price, neither World of Hyatt, Hilton Honors, Marriott Bonvoy, Radisson Rewards or IHG Rewards Club points are cheap enough to be worth considering.  Links to the ‘buy points’ pages of most airline and hotel schemes are here.

Occasionally, however, you get a bonus on converting hotel points to Avios like this one last October.  You can also get regular bonuses for buying hotel points.

If these offers come together at the same time – so you get a bonus when you buy the hotel points and then get a bonus from British Airways when you convert them to Avios – it can mean a good deal.  We always cover these deals when they are running.

Conclusion

For small quantities, buying American Express Membership Rewards points could be the way to go if you have the right payment card.  However, unless you need the points urgently, I would hold out for the next Groupon Spain offer or for a general ‘buy Avios‘ bonus from British Airways.

Want to learn more about how to maximise your Avios redemptions?

You can see the full list of all 15 articles in the ‘Avios Redemption University’ series here.

(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. ChrisC says:

    In section 2 via groupon it says IB account needs to be open for 90 days before you can transfer to BA.

    In section 3 buying them via IB it says open 90 days and to have had activity on the account before you can transfer.

    Is it deliberate that these two methods have these different criteria before being able to move them to BA or does a groupon purchase count as an activity?

  2. Simon Cross says:

    Why have you omitted exchanging Tesco vouchers for Avios. £2.50 voucher gets you 600 Avios so 0.42p each – the cheapest way of all and sometimes (admittedly rarely these days) a bonus on top.

    Maybe not the best value redemption of Tesco vouchers – I tend to use mine to get shuttle tickets ( £5 of vouchers gets you £15 towards tickets) but sill the cheapest way to “buy” avios

    • Andrew M says:

      Simon, your “£2.50 voucher”. Should it ever be valued at £2.50 when (I think) there is only one possible redemption where that would be so? Surely not. You get 3x face value with it, so £7.50. So, to calculate the cost to you of using it instead for 600 Avios, you should be valuing the voucher at £7.50. In other words, 1.25p per Avios. Most definitely not the cheapest way of all.

      • Andrew M says:

        If I’m offered a £2.5M property for £250k, I’m going to grab it, because it most certainly should be viewed as having a value far in excess of that which appears on the piece of paper. All Tesco have done, is to stamp £2.50 on the piece of paper. No bearing whatsoever on its true value.

    • Spursdebs says:

      I agree with you Simon, I’m on the grandfather rate of 800 points per 2.50 and I earn a chunk of points every quarter.

      • Simon Cross says:

        Wht “grandfather” rate.

        I have been converting for years and have never hear of this.

        How do you get it?

        • Genghis says:

          If you’ve been converting for ages you get this rate.

          Sadly you can’t get it now.

        • Spursdebs says:

          You haven’t been converting as long as me Simon lol
          It used to be even better as my Son works for Tesco and I used to get his staff discount of 10% but sadly no more.

  3. Simon Cross says:

    Most of the “three times” value deals with Tesco are dreadful value. Why would you use the voucher in a restaurant when almost every one of the restaurants has “voucher codes” freely available offering 30 or 40 percent off.

    I acknowledged that there are better deals (such as eurotunnel le shuttle) but unless you actually want to do that or something else then the ease of topping up a few avios with a Tesco voucher is a good deal.

    It is also a way to “keep alive” the majority value of a Tesco voucher by exchanging only £2.50 of (say) a £20 voucher for avios and getting the £17.50 reissued with a new long expiry date to save up for something like (say) a eurotunn le shuttle ticket.

    I do that often.

    • Genghis says:

      Have a look at hotels.com, probably just under a genuine 2.6x value. Buying avios would therefore cost 1.08p. You need to weigh up opportunity cost rather than just look at the headline figure.

    • NigelthePensioner says:

      Most of the “three times” value deals with Tesco are dreadful value. NO SO….

      Senior Railcard or Two Together Railcard retail at £30 each……….£15 of Tesco vouchers gets you a card! For me / us this works out at exceptional value!

      • Secret Squirrel says:

        The Iberia Groupon offer IMO – stay well away. The last time this offer was on I paid for 20,000 avios and it took nearly 2 months to get my money back after no avios were credited, numerous live chats and emails to Groupon and Iberia but no joy. I eventually got someone at Groupon to agree I was due a refund.
        I found the Aer Lingus avios offer brilliant, points in my account in 2 x days.

      • Charlieface says:

        There is often a 10-15% off on railcards

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Uber was brilliant, very rare to get any cheaper perhaps 10% off with the Morrison’s offer. I’ve stopped actively looking to collect Clubcard since they left the scheme.

  4. Vistaro says:

    What are everyone’s views on the points brokers? typically BA & Virgin miles are around $0.0165 to $0.020, is it legal, are there problems?

    • I’m happy to introduce you to some people I know who got their BA accounts closed down when they bought miles off brokers. It isn’t difficult to track. It’s not illegal, clearly, in terms of criminal law but it is against the rules of the scheme.

      Do you know any ‘straight’ ways of having large sums of Avios dropped into your account (or transferring from one person to another)? No. Because there aren’t any. It can only be done by dodgy routes which can be identified.

      • Charlieface says:

        Most brokers I know sell tickets direct from accounts, and they mix and match who they use. A fresh small account with a single redemption for a stranger is not really risky, a Gold member doing lots of V class redemptions or business long haul probably much riskier. The risk usually falls on the broker but not always.

        • How is the risk on the broker, when it is you who will be refused boarding at Heathrow?

          • Charlieface says:

            I meant he takes the risk and refunds the money if that happens. Sometimes they don’t refund and they tell you it’s your own risk.
            From what they tell me, last minute is also a risk, also if taxes are paid by someone other than the account holder

          • I doubt getting your money back (eventually) from the broker compensates for being denied boarding at Heathrow.

  5. Richard says:

    Slightly different topic. BA avios expiry rules. Got household account with 5 members. Had flights booked for this May using household avios. Flights have been successfully cancelled (Coronavirus) by me. Avios have been credited pro rata back to all 5 members. Question is two of the household members avios are almost 36 months old. Does the cancellation and refund of those avios reset the 36 months for the individual accounts, especially the two that are about to expire ?

    • Peter K says:

      Try sh0ps away?

      • Richard says:

        Yes might well do that but just wasn’t sure if the refund of points simply reset the clock by itself or because it’s the same points going back in it’s still about the expire ?

        • It didn’t reset the clock on our HH a/c.

          • Richard says:

            Ok thanks for that. I better get some points into the relevant accounts quick then. Thanks

        • TGLoyalty says:

          Shopping can take months but I have noticed just eat pays out very quickly, like within a week.

          Otherwise I’d buy the smallest amount and reset the clock that way.

  6. Thanks Rob for the tip about buying 10,000 MR points. I just utilised that today and wanted to share that the agent was happy to do it via chat. She sent me a form to verify the card security number and other usual security stuff and the 10k points were in my account straight away.

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