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How to fully use or transfer a small Avios points balance from a friend or family member

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How can you use up a small Avios balance from a friend or family member who doesn’t want them?

There may be people in your family who have a British Airways Executive Club account with a small Avios balance which is, realistically, never going to be used.

There are a few ways of getting your hands on ALL of these Avios points, running the balance down to zero.

Here are two options which are not ideal, and a third which does the job nicely:

How to use up a small Avios balance from a friend or family member

Option 1:  Redeem your friends Avios for a flight for yourself

Duh.  Yes, I know.  This is not exactly rocket science.

However, you might have forgotten that British Airways allows one-way Avios flight redemptions.  You may also have forgotten that you can use fewer Avios if you are willing to use more cash.

And, of course, an Avios ticket can be redeemed for anyone.

This seems to be cheapest flight redemption available – a one-way to a Zone 1 destination (Amsterdam in this case) using the fewest possible Avios:

How to use up a small Avios balance from a friend or family member

The cheapest option is 2,200 Avios plus £42.50.

The only snag with this method is that, unless you need cancellation flexibility, you might get a cheaper deal paying for a one-way flight to Amsterdam!

Option 2:  Pay BA to transfer your friends Avios to you

British Airways Executive Club allows you to pay to transfer Avios to someone else.

(Of course they do!  It makes ‘money for old rope’ look like hard work.  BA takes your money, doesn’t create any new Avios and simply moves them from one account to another.  Is there an easier way to make money?)

Here is the ba.com page for buying, gifting or transferring Avios.  Click on ‘Sharing Avios’ in the left hand menu.

(This is the same page you need if you want to buy Avios whilst the current 75% ‘buy Avios’ bonus for BA Amex cardholders is running.  The landing page shows 50% but once you click through and log in it adjusts to 75%.)

Here is the pricing:

How to use up a small Avios balance from a friend or family member

It is a joke.  £25 to transfer 1,000 Avios to another person?!  Even the ‘best’ deal costs £175 to transfer 27,000 Avios.  This is £175 of pure profit for British Airways.

Forget it.

The only worthwhile part of transferring is that Gold Executive Club members can transfer 27,000 Avios per calendar year for free to up to six different people.  Even here, there is a snag.  The person who is receiving them needs to be added to your ‘Friends & Family’ list.  This can only be amended once every six months.

How to use up a small Avios balance from a friend or family member

Option 3:  Using a Household Account to run an Avios account down to zero

This technique is the one I actually wanted to cover today.  This is how you use a Household Account to empty out a small Avios balance belonging to someone else.

A British Airways Household Account lets you pool Avios from up to six people, including children.  I don’t want to go into how they work because we just published this ‘Avios Redemption University’ article on how British Airways household accounts work.

Let’s assume my Mum has 23,340 Avios from a one-off trip, or because I signed her up for the special 20,000 points bonus on Amex Gold which is currently running.  I want to get my hands on those Avios but don’t want Mum in my Household Account for ever.

Let’s also assume that I have exactly 300,000 Avios.

Step one – create a Household Account

I create a Household Account with my Mum (creating a BA household account is explained in this article).  Our household balance is now 323,340 Avios.

You will need to change the home address of the other person to yours if they do not live with you.

Step two – move most of my own Avios out of the Household Account

A few weeks later, I find that I need to book myself a Club Europe flight to Athens for 40,000 Avios.

Remember that redemptions from a Household Account are taken pro-rata irrespective of who is travelling.  In this case,  92% of the Avios would come from me (as 300,000 of the 323,340 Avios are mine) and 8% from my Mum.  This is no good, however, because we want to get her Avios balance down to ZERO.

To make this happen, I move 283,340 of my own Avios from the Household Account to my Aer Lingus AerClub, Vueling Club or Iberia Plus account using ‘Combine My Avios’.  This article explains how ‘Combine My Avios’ works.

The Household Account now shows:

    • Me: 16,660 Avios
    • Mum: 23,340 Avios
    • Total: 40,000 Avios

Step three – book your Avios flight

I book my Club Europe return to Athens for 40,000 Avios.  Both accounts are taken down to zero.

Step four – move my Avios back into the Household Account

I move back my 283,340 Avios from Aer Lingus, Vueling or Iberia to British Airways via ‘Combine My Avios’.

The Household Account then shows:

    • Me: 283,340 Avios
    • Mum: 0 Avios
    • Total: 283,340 Avios

Step five – break up the Household Account (six months later!)

I break up the Household Account.  You need to wait six months to do this as a change to a Household Account can only be done once every six months.  I have used up every single one of my Mum’s Avios – nothing has gone to waste.  Her standalone account, once the Household Account is split, will show zero Avios.

(It is worth noting, as per the comments below, that many people have been able to break up a Household Account without waiting six months.  I have stated the official rules above but it seems that they may not be applied.)

If you are thinking of doing this, be aware that, for six months, you will be operating under the restrictions of a Household Account.  These are minor but the key one is that you can only redeem for members of the Household Account or people on your Friends & Family list.  You do not have free reign to redeem for anyone you like without moving your Avios back into Aer Lingus, Vueling or Iberia.

If that is not a problem, this method offers a good way of cleanly emptying out Avios accounts belonging to your friends or family.

(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 (32)

  • Caz says:

    What about MR points that are in mum’s account? If I wanted them as avios could I get the MR points transferred directly to my BA account if we have the same surname (I think i saw someone mention this recently) or will they check all details, address etc?

    • Rob says:

      It is normally a full check. I know, historically, Nectar and Radisson did not check names at all. This may have changed. BA doesn’t allow it.

      What I don’t know is whether (as works in the US) if you get a supplementary card for yourself on your Mum’s account this would allow you to receive a transfer?

      • Caz says:

        Hmm, worth enquiring about when the time comes to transfer as I do have a supp. If not then I think I will go the Marriott route for some future hotel stays as at least she can then call up to transfer them to me and it’s all above board!

    • Genghis says:

      As a slight data point, I transferred my MR points by mistake to wife’s IB acct and went through fine. Same surname, same address, however.

  • Nick G says:

    Rob.

    I read this thinking I might get some ideas on how to spend say a small amount of Avios. Last year I used up 300k on various flights including Qatar so for me it was a great use of them. Now I’m back to about 50k.

    Any chance of an article on suggestions on a good use of Avios for flights or hotels or holiday ideas for 2 people (even though we are a family of 3) on for example 50k Avios, 100, 200? I’m thinking flights close to the band edges, or good value versus cash prices etc

    Gives people ideas/hopes of either to save, burn them, buy them etc. I know I would be interested to read it and the comments would probably provoke debate. Just a thought.

    • Genghis says:

      Too many variables I’d say. It might work in case study type format, ie a reader talks about how they collected and spent their points. Do for singles, couples and families.

    • AJA says:

      I would look at RFS redemptions in Europe. 50k would buy a couple of business class flights or 4 economy flights. Might stretch a bit further if combined with a companion voucher.

  • guesswho2000 says:

    Not sure if I’m correct, but a big snag if it is true (sure I’ve read it somewhere) – the transferring out of your own Avios temporarily – if you do this to a dormant IB account (for example), don’t they instantly expire and disappear? Not sure if this is the case for the Avios.com run programmes…

    • Genghis says:

      Which is why I transfer 1k MRs every couple of years to IB.

    • Lady London says:

      One or two of us are have 90k reasons for hoping this might happen to certain balances at IB of a negative nature… if it does at 3 years them only about 19 months to go

  • xcalx says:

    Do make sure your Iberia account has had some valid activity to keep it alive or the avios will vanish.

    • Danny says:

      I don’t think they instantly expire. Isn’t there a monthly (or at least periodic) sweep? That’s what happened to me when I lost some years ago. So if you transfer across, boor your flight, then immediately transfer back you should be fine. Could always do a small test transfer to check first.

  • david says:

    What a terrible son.

    No just kidding. great tips.