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British Airways offering Avios points as a flight refund option – is it worth it?

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British Airways has added the option to take Avios rather than a cash refund or voucher if your flight is cancelled.

This only applies to normal cash tickets, not the taxes element of Avios redemptions, and it requires your flight to have been cancelled.  It is not available if you voluntarily ask for a refund under the ‘Book With Confidence’ guarantee.

The offer is only available over the telephone, although that doesn’t make a lot of difference at the moment given that online refunds are still unavailable!  It does mean that you won’t be offered it if you are cancelling a travel agent-booked flight, however, as these are cancelled electronically.

This is a one-shot offer – you cannot change your mind once you have accepted.   To be clear, this offer is in addition to your cash refund rights and vouchers which will continue to be offered.

Is this good value?

You need to look at this as buying Avios with cash since that is effectively what you are doing given that the cash alternative is on the table.

You should only go ahead if you would have done the same deal if BA had launched a ‘buy Avios’ deal at the same rate.

That said, the rate is VERY attractive at half the normal ‘buy Avios’ price.  In other words, it is the equivalent of getting a 100% bonus on the usual ‘buy Avios’ price.

Here are some typical examples, assuming that British Airways is using exactly half of the standard ‘buy Avios’ price:

£127 – 15,000 Avios – 0.85p per Avios
£250 – 28,600 Avios – 0.83p per Avios
£567 – 70,000 Avios – 0.81p per Avios
£1607 – 200,000 Avios – 0.8p per Avios

0.8p is better than the 0.92p you would have paid under the 75% buy Avios bonus that British Airways recently offered. This was the most generous bonus we have ever seen.  Even the irregular Groupon Avios offers are generally just above 1.0p per Avios.

At this rate, you should be able to make a ‘profit’ when using the Avios on flight redemptions.  Based on Rob’s spreadsheet of the last 7.7 million Avios he redeemed, he got 1.18p of value.  This is using very conservative valuations for the flights booked, eg valuing a Business Class flight to Dubai at £1,500 because even if BA isn’t charging that there is usually a deal with a secondary airline.

As our core article on ‘What is an Avios worth?’ shows, it is easy to get a lot more than 0.8p.  Rob’s 1.18p real-life valuation is low because he does a lot of Gold Priority Rewards (using double Avios to force open a seat, mainly due to school holiday restrictions) and doesn’t always have a BA Amex 2-4-1 voucher to use.

Conclusion

In the current circumstances, you might be happier to have cash in the bank rather than adding to your Avios collection.  I wouldn’t blame you for that.

However, if you don’t need the money urgently, this is an EXCELLENT opportunity to pick up a lot of Avios VERY cheaply indeed.

Remember that this offer is in addition to existing cash refunds or vouchers, and not a replacement, so no-one is losing out.

(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 (86)

  • mr_jetlag says:

    Any non cash refund option carries a risk (default risk if the airline goes bust, devaluation risk if it doesn’t). I’ve processed about a dozen covid related refunds and only accepted a voucher on one (TAP, whose call centres are literally worse than a chocolate N95 mask).

  • Globetrotter says:

    OT: Has anyone been able to get through on the Gold line? Been trying for over a day – keep getting cut off midway through the recorded greeting. INTENTIONAL technical glitch?

  • Jon says:

    What are everyone’s thoughts on the likelihood of UK (or other countries’ for that matter) APD being significantly reduced in the coming months/year or so, as a way to try to stimulate the airline industry?

    Might affect the ‘refund as voucher vs Avios vs cash’ equation? Especially re vouchers – something tells me airlines are unlikely to offer any partial refund if the taxes turn out to be cheaper when you come to redeem your voucher… 😉

    • Rhys says:

      I wouldn’t hold my breath

      • Rob says:

        Given that the UK is heading towards bankruptcy at an alarming rate, I wouldn’t be expecting any tax cuts of any sort this side of 2030.