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What is an Avios point worth?

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I am often asked for my thoughts on how to value an Avios point.  In our articles we use 1p as a ball-park figure, and it is the value I use myself, but the real world is more complicated.

For the value of the new readers who always join us in January, looking to plan travel for the year ahead, I want to run through my thinking again today.

What is an Avios worth TO YOU?

The value of an Avios point to you is based on numerous factors:

where you fly

what cabin you fly in

whether you normally use a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher and (the one rarely considered)

what class and/or airline you would pay for if Avios flights were not available

You need to know how YOU value an Avios because it impacts on what you are willing to pay for them.

What is an Avios point worth?

We occasionally see offers which allow you, indirectly or directly, to pick up Avios for 0.75p to 1p each.  Should you jump in at these prices?  You can’t be sure unless you have valued your Avios for your personal circumstances.

You need to be sure that you are getting substantially more for an Avios than your cost price to make it worthwhile.  This is especially true because you are substituting something very liquid – cash – for something that is not very liquid at all.

The same goes for Avios-earning credit cards.  Once you’ve got your British Airways Premium Plus American Express ‘2 for 1’ voucher in the bag, you need to know whether 1.5 Avios per £1 is a better deal than a cashback credit card or, say, 2 Marriott Bonvoy points per £1 via the Marriott Bonvoy American Express.  If not, your British Airways Premium Plus Amex card can go back in the drawer.

Here are six different Avios scenarios – which is right for you?

Instead of answering the question of Avios value directly, I devised six scenarios for an Avios redemption.  As you can see, each puts a different value on an Avios point.

Before we start, remember that Avios points definitely have a ‘floor’ value. There are various non-flight redemptions available for Avios via ba.com such as wine, travel ‘experiences’ or hotels.   In general, you receive around 0.5p per point when you do this.

‘Part Pay With Avios’ adds another dimension.  Depending on the route and class you are booking, you will receive between 0.55p and 0.8p when redeeming Avios towards a British Airways cash ticket.

If you ever have the opportunity to acquire Avios for less than 0.5p, you will definitely come out ahead.  Whether higher valuations make sense depends on how you spend them.

Here are some potential Avios redemption scenarios.  Which one is right for you?

What is an Avios point worth?

1. Andrew takes two long-haul holidays a year with his wife and two children, requiring four Club World tickets per trip.

Let’s assume these are 120,000 Avios per seat Club World redemptions (eg Dubai, Boston). One of the two holidays uses the 2 x British Airways American Express 2-4-1 vouchers which Andrew and his wife earn each year.

Let’s assume £533 of taxes per ticket – the curent figure to Dubai.

Andrew is financially well off.  He redeems on leisure routes (Middle East, Caribbean etc) where in a BA or other airline sale a Business Class cash ticket during the school holidays would cost around £1,499 return.  He can afford to pay cash if necessary.

Total Avios spent per year for two holidays = 720,000 for eight people across two trips (6 x 120k, adjusting for the 2-4-1’s).  This assumes that all the flights are at peak pricing periods.

Value received: £1,499 per flight if paying cash – £533 taxes on Avios tickets = £966 per seat x 8 tickets = £7,728

Value received per Avios = 1.07p

1.07p is a ‘real’ saving since Andrew would pay cash in a sale for Business Class seats if necessary.  There is intrinsic extra value from the ability to cancel the Avios seats if needed. However, the calculation ignores the miles and tier points that cash tickets would bring.

If one of these trips fell into an off-peak period, saving 20,000 Avios per person (80,000 Avios in total), then the value would increase to 1.20p.

The annual fee for the two British Airways Premium Plus credit cards is not factored into this analysis.

What is an Avios point worth?

2. Jez and Louise live in the South East and use their Avios to do European short breaks, flying Economy from Friday to Sunday. They do not spend enough to be able to generate a BA Amex 2-4-1 voucher, and do package holidays for their ‘main’ holidays.

Avios required for an Economy flight to Prague: 9,000 plus £35 taxes based on a peak weekend.

I have used the ‘mid point’ pricing because this is generally the best value of the various ‘cash and Avios’ combinations offered by BA.

British Airways cash price: £180 per person for a shoulder season ticket on a ‘hand baggage only’ fare, booked three months in advance.  However, Jez and Louise would use easyJet from Gatwick if Avios seats were not available, with a typical price (out Fri, back Sun) of £150.

Value received per Avios = 1.28p.

This is a ‘real’ saving compared with the easyJet price. There is extra value from the ability to cancel the Avios ticket.

If Jez and Louise travel on an off-peak weekend the cost of the trip would fall to 8,000 Avios per person which takes the value per Avios point up to 1.43p.  The value also goes up if they would take checked luggage, since Avios tickets allow one free suitcase per person.

What is an Avios point worth?

3. Glynn and Sarah live in Yorkshire and use their Avios to do European short breaks, flying Economy via Heathrow. They do not spend enough to be able to generate a BA Amex 2-4-1 voucher, and do package holidays for their ‘main’ holidays.

Avios required for an Economy flight to Prague from Manchester via Heathrow: 18,000 plus £70 taxes on a peak weekend

BA cash price:  Not comparable as they would fly Jet2 from East Midlands if they could not use Avios.  Typical cash price for a shoulder season weekend, booked three months in advance, is £170.

Value received per Avios = 0.55p

Glynn and Sarah would be crazy to transfer in Heathrow and add two hours to their travel time for such a poor return.  It would make more sense to redeem their Avios points for a hotel room in Prague and receive around 0.5p per point.

Even if Glynn and Sarah travel off-peak, it remains poor value.  At 16,000 Avios per person the value per Avios point only increases to 0.62p and in reality the direct Jet2 flight would be cheaper off-peak too.

What is an Avios worth?

4. David is single and happy to take an odd routing if necessary. He only flies Economy when using his own money but is happy to fly Business Class when using Avios. He would normally spend around £350 on a holiday flight to New York in Spring.  He lives in the South East.

David flies Iberia in Business Class from Madrid to New York for 68,000 Avios + £160 in tax return, based on an off-peak date (plus 15,000 Avios + £35 for a British Airways Economy flight to Madrid from Heathrow to position).  His total cost is 83,000 Avios plus £195.

Value received per Avios (based on £350 cash for a direct flight): Not clear   

David has spent £155 less in money than the cost of an Economy cash ticket, and gets to fly in Business Class instead, but obviously using 83,000 Avios to save £155 is not smart. 

The real value, of course, is that he is flying Business Class and not Economy but he would never pay for Business Class.  How should he judge the value?  

He knows that he giving up around £500 of free hotels rooms by choosing to use his 83,000 Avios for the flight instead of for a hotel booking in New York, so presumably he must value the upgrade at least this highly.

What is an Avios point worth?

5. Alex and Nicky earn enough Avios per year for one long-haul redemption to California in Club World, using their BA Amex 2-4-1 voucher. They would be willing to pay £1,750 each for a cash ticket in a BA sale or flying BA ex-Europe. Taxes will be £660 per person.

This is potentially the most likely scenario for a Head for Points reader without children.  You use using one 2-4-1 voucher per year for one major redemption for a couple.

Alex and Nicky spend 150,000 Avios (with the BA American Express 2-4-1 companion voucher) and pay £1,320 of taxes. This assumes they travel in a peak period.  The cash alternative would have been £3,500 for two.

Value received per Avios: 1.45p

This is a ‘real’ saving because they would pay cash otherwise. They also gain cancellation flexibility which a cash ticket would not have, although they lose out on the Avios and tier points earned on a cash ticket.

The value increases to 1.74p if they travel to California in an off-peak period for 125,000 Avios.

The annual fee for the British Airways Premium Plus credit card is not factored into this analysis.

What is an Avios point worth?

6. Charles and Vicky also do one long-haul redemption each year to California in Club World. They earn fewer Avios than Alex and Nicky, so prefer to ‘Upgrade Using Avios’ a World Traveller Plus ticket to Club World.  They expect to pay £900 in a BA sale for their WTP ticket and would pay up to £1,750 for Club World.

The ‘miles for upgrade’ cost of this ticket would be 50,000 Avios per person during a peak period. This saves them £850 per person on the cost of the Club World ticket.

Value received per Avios: 1.7p

This is a ‘real’ saving because they would pay for Club World if necessary.

If Charles and Vicky travel off-peak, the value per Avios point DROPS to 1.42p.  This is because the cost of upgrading World Traveller Plus to Club World is higher – at 60,000 Avios – during off-peak periods.  Crazy but true.

What is an avios worth?

What about First Class?

You will notice that none of these people flies First. That is because very few of us would pay cash for First, even if we would pay cash for Business Class. The additional Avios you spend for First over Club World give you intrinsic satisfaction and perceived value, but do not translate to a hard cash saving.

(In the last example, if Charles and Vicky would never pay £1,750 for Club World but would pay £900 for World Traveller Plus, then the 1.7p valuation per point is NOT ‘real’ because they would never have spent the extra money for business class in the first place.)

If you earn your Avios for free by flying, the value you get per point is not a concern. However, let’s assume you earn your miles via an Amex credit card at a net cost of (say) 0.5p per Avios.  There is a cost to these ‘free’ Avios because you could earn a different reward from other credit cards if you wished.

In this case, you need to understand that the extra 50,000 Avios for First over Club World to California is actually costing you £250 (50,000 x 0.5p) in lost rewards from other cards.

Whether that is good value is down to you – but if you’ve paid for the Avios, you need to understand the choice you make.

What about long-haul economy redemptions?

You will notice that none of these people flies British Airways long-haul economy.  This is generally a poor use of Avios points because of BA’s taxes and charges.

However, the guaranteed availability of four Avios seats per flight at peak periods may lead to times when economy redemptions do offer value.

As an example, an off-peak redemption to San Francisco in World Traveller / Economy is 32,500 Avios plus £350.  Any cash price of over £600 would see you getting 0.75p+ per Avios of value, although this would be rare at off-peak periods.

How should you value your Avios?

How YOU value an Avios is totally dependent on how you use them.

As I have shown above, there are good deals to be had in the right circumstances.  It is, easily, possible to get over 1p of value per Avios point.


how to earn avios from credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (April 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.

If you have a small business, we especially recommend Capital On Cap’s Visa card which comes with a generous bonus worth 10,500 Avios:

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 (60)

  • Chris Heyes says:

    Not sure it’s possible to work out my senario ?
    I never pay cash for flights.
    Never use package holidays (once only TUI never again)
    I’ve always flown BA (or BOAC before BA) never any other
    Usually two long haul flights a year (now only 1 due to age 73)
    long haul flights 3/4 weeks hols always arrange and book hotels transport between destinations sometimes AA sometimes shuttle myself.
    Always stop at Sofitel Heathrow, or Hilton Gatwick the night before
    Partner says that’s the start of her holiday (who am i to argue lol)
    Some times 2/4 three week European breaks as well (in the past)
    We have now decided to make the long haul flight next year our last
    Boulder (Denver) Sedona (Phoenix) Lake Powell (Page) if it goes ahead. Cut European hols down to two a year at most and stay uk more.
    To be honest I’ve never thought of Avios (or Airmiles) as a means of saving money, more a luxury travel vehicle
    Never paid cash for a ticket (except for the TUI holiday the once)
    Used to pay BA £10 each to fly Manchester to Gatwick with breaky and drinks lol
    flown BA Economy once, always club or business with Avios
    Quite proud of myself that we have never paid for a cash flight for a “Holiday” ever,
    since Airmiles began a long while ago (before Airmiles stayed uk)

    • memesweeper says:

      If you’ve never paid cash, then your stash of miles is priceless 😁

      • Chris Heyes says:

        mermesweeper Yes never paid cash used to find collecting large amount of miles very very easy 2 grown up kids plus stepkids would always let me pay for their shopping plus all their large purchases all the time with my/our (partners) Clubcards plus Amex (they would just transfer money into my Acc) was a weeze especially Tesco Petrol filling vans up using my card used to hit the cap everytime before that no cap on 4 cards lol
        I once had over 2.5mil Avios of course been stung with devaluations Gr But with that many Avios/Airmiles it doesn’t really affect anything

  • Sean says:

    O/T.
    Does anyone know if Qatar airways customer services is even picking up calls?
    My flight has been changed and I need to either request a refund or a travel voucher but the online website keeps redirecting me to call a customer service agent in the UK but they never pick the phone up!

  • TGLoyalty says:

    I’ll never agree that valuing something should only be based upon what the person is willing to pay like in example 3. There has to be consideration of what the market price is. Perhaps not at the time you lock in the flight but atleast of the typical advanced sale fare ie like in your first analysis. A trip UK to NYC in business is £1200 (gets as low as £1k) the £350 the person is willing to pay in economy is irrelevant.

    I’m willing to pay £1000 for a round the world ticket in business class as that’s all it offers be in “value” doesn’t mean anyone will ever sell it to me.

    • Andrew says:

      Frequently for me the value of my Avios is for what I’m *not* willing to pay cash for.

      I’ll happily pay £75 for the cost of Diesel for the return drive between Oxford and Perthshire.
      I’m comfortable paying around £60-£150 for a planned return domestic flight in economy between London and Edinburgh.

      Paying £720 cash for an unplanned or opportunistic weekend domestic is something I’d rather not do. 18,000 Avios is fine though.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        thats the power of avios and hotel points for when you really need to be somewhere and costs are high

    • J says:

      Unless a product is tradable, the market price is fairly irrelevant. How ever high the £ per point, there’s no value in swapping your clubcard points for reduced lobster if you have a shellfish allergy.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        of course swapping something for something that’s useless to you is pointless

        but scenario 3 is someone that’s willing to travel business not unwilling.

        • J says:

          But the market price should not be relevant to the decision.

          • TGLoyalty says:

            OK perhaps you are taking exception to the term ‘market’ price as I do not mean the current price but the average price you can buy the good for. It’s undeniable that the price every supplier is charging is what you need to pay if you want that service.

            Flexibility has value over fixed terms, direct has value over indirect (time). How much you value those things at may be subjective as they are personal.

  • GaryC says:

    I think this article is too firmly rooted in the “old” normal. The reality is that there are going to be many months of severe travel restrictions, with some destinations potentially off-limits until 2022. And even that ignores tail risk scenarios around new virus mutations meaning we reset the clock to an extent as we re-tune the vaccines.

    The increasing “taxes and charges” on CW avios redemptions, and often cheaper cash premium cabin fares (even more so ex-EU or ex-INV) further erodes the case for redemption tickets. And you can earn significant avios on top with those fares, particularly as a silver/gold member, a west coast US itinerary can easily net 20-30k.

    Ultimately, what value does a currency have that you are unable to spend for a long period of time? And in that period, you’re at the mercy of avios devaluation, closure of routes, down-sizing or even failure of the airline (I doubt looking after the FF programme would be top of the list in any severe bailout).

    I’d love things to be different – I still have a 7 figure avios balance after cashing in hundreds of thousands for dozens of bottles of champagne and wine that will take me an age to drink. I still think there’s a case for keeping a stash of avios (though I’d happily sell half of mine if there was any secondary market). They can absolutely be useful at times, but I do think the windows of opportunity for using them are so narrow for the foreseeable future that the “1p rule of thumb” valuation needs a serious correction.

    • Rhys says:

      Surely Avios are worth more than cash now because redemptions are so much more flexible?

      • GaryC says:

        Flexibility does have value, yes. But BA’s book with confidence policy runs until end of August and will likely be extended.

      • memesweeper says:

        +1

        I’d only book with miles, or a flexible ticket, right now. Many airlines are offering some flex at old non-flex pricing however.

        GaryC, you are right that something you cannot spend is of reduced value, and devaluation in many reward programmes over the next few years is somewhere between a high risk and a racing certainty. I’ve just sold back some MRs to Amex for 0.9p each… I’d not have done that 18 months ago. Guess that makes my Avios valuation less than 1p each!

    • BSI1978 says:

      +1.
      With 2 vouchers (albeit one with a June expiry date) & stash of Avios, I am not sure when/how I will be able to make use of them and thus given cash prices in any event am wondering whether to go large on some additional Bolly!

      Genuinely think the game, such as it is, will change markedly here on and least for the mid-term.

  • Fenny says:

    David may be single, but what’s his physical health like. Last time I flew economy back from the US, with a teenager behind me kicking my seat for 10 hours, I woke up with a swollen disc and couldn’t walk for 3 days. Off work for a fortnight and couldn’t train for 2 months. Now I’m over 50, I wouldn’t dream of taking a long haul flight in economy. I can’t afford to miss any more training at this age! All my transatlantic flights in the last 6 years have been in business, paid for with miles. Short haul, I don’t mind paying cash for if the price is right.

    So for me, it’s more a case of how many miles do I need to go where I want to go in Business.

  • Harry T says:

    You can fly directly from the regions with Avios too! I have booked several RFS flights from EDI that yielded significantly over 1p per Avios value.

  • Matarredonda says:

    Value is what you personally perceive it to be.
    Those who do not have a huge stash might think real value in using to reduce the cost of a simple domestic or European flight.

  • Mikeact says:

    Shame that reference is made to the uneducated on here…..

    ‘Who, despite your readership growth, are largely still uneducated’

    • Rob says:

      You misunderstood the comment. It meant that despite our growth, we still haven’t grown enough to teach all regular flyers about the value of miles and points and the majority who never head HfP remain in ignorance.

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