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:
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:
The cheapest option is 2,950 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:
It is a joke. £25 to transfer 1,000 Avios to another person? This is pure profit for British Airways.
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.
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.
Let’s assume my Mum has 23,340 Avios from a one-off trip. 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.
The only catch is that, as per this HfP article, BA has suspended the ability to create Household Accounts until 17th November. This is whilst back-end work is done on the Avios IT system.
PS. If none of this appeals, tell your friend to cash out their Avios into Nectar points.
250 Avios are worth 400 Nectar points, which can be redeemed for £2 to spend in Sainsbury’s, Argos or on eBay. If they do not have a Nectar account, you can pick up a card in a large Sainsbury’s store or sign-up online and wait for a card to be posted to you. Full details of the Avios / Nectar partnership are here.