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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.

Avios wing 15

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.


how to earn avios from credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (May 2021)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.

There are two official British Airways American Express cards:

British Airways American Express card

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and a companion voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

BA Premium Plus American Express card BAPP

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points, such as:

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

Do you have a small business? Until 20th May 2021, you can receive a special sign-up bonus worth 29,900 Avios with the Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa credit card. This offer is exclusive to Head for Points readers. Click here to learn more.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company Read our full review

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for our latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios this month from 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.

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