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:
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.
2. Buying Avios via Groupon Spain
For the last three years or so, Iberia Plus has been selling Avios via Groupon in Spain! If 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 it. It is not running as of 12th April.
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.
4. Buying American Express Membership Rewards points
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.
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?
How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (September 2023)
As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!
In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.
You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:
There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:
You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.
Run your own business?
We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,500 Avios.
You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.
EDIT: Applications for this card are temporarily suspended due to IT issues with the British Airways On Business SME loyalty scheme.
There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.
Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.