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Why is British Airways trashing the value of Avios in its own emails?

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A common theme across numerous articles in recent weeks has been questioning why British Airways seems determined to give the impression that it has trashed the value of Avios – even when, if most cases, it hasn’t.

I have said multiple times that I think advertising headline prices like ‘160,000 Avios + £350’ for an off-peak Business Class flight to New York is an error. I think quoting ‘18,500 Avios + £1’ for an off-peak Economy flight to Amsterdam to be madness.

Why is BA trashing the value of Avios in its own emails?

These statements imply, respectively, that you need a stupid number of points for a premium redemption (which isn’t actually true) and that Avios have virtually no value (which isn’t actually true). Who is going to be persuaded to get a British Airways American Express credit card after seeing that you need to spend £18,500 to get a ‘free’ Economy flight to Amsterdam?

If you are on the British Airways email list, you will have received an email yesterday about the current sale. We will do our own analysis of the deals but it will need to wait until we are back in the office next week.

This chart was prominent in the email:

Avios economy pricing

I mean …. who approved this?!

Running down the list, this chart implies that Avios are worth 0.44p.

If you’re reading HfP then you will know that this is nonsense, and that 1p+ is relatively easily achievable. Yet here is BA effectively telling its members that their points are worth 0.44p, and even less if you factor in the points earned back on a cash ticket.

Next week, I presume, it will be emailing the same people to take out an Avios Subscription (0.8p+ purchase cost), take advantage of a ‘buy Avios’ bonus (usually around 1.1p each), take out a credit card etc. It makes no sense to me.

Thanks to the multiple readers who forwarded the email to me with their choice comments.


How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (February 2023)

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

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 21st February 2023, the sign-up bonus on the British Airways Premium Plus American Express card is increased to 35,000 Avios from 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

35,000 Avios (ONLY to 21st February) and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review

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

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

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

The Platinum Card from American Express

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

Run your own business?

We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,500 Avios.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers Read our full review

You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year 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.

Comments (70)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • smblcklck says:

    “The maximum purchase is doubled to 160,000 points. This would double up to 320,000 points with the 100% bonus.”

    Is the maximum purchase being doubled also a targeted offer? I’ve only got the +80% and 80k so 144k max purchase

  • memesweeper says:

    HfP say ”that 1p+ is relatively easily achievable”

    … it is under fairly specific circumstances: eg, you fly in club in Europe, or you are a couple with companion voucher and a long haul redemption in WTP, or if you would otherwise be travelling with a flex or semi-flex ticket, or if you book a super-popular route at midnight on the night the seats are released. The vast majority of leisure travellers book in economy, and book the cheapest, non-refundable tickets. There is no route to 1p value in Avios for these people at all.

    Having said that 0.65p off at ebay/Argos/Sainsbury’s is achievable for anyone, and even that’s better than these headline examples.

    Of course, this campaign might be driven by someone who does not work in marketing demanding that a push is made for more Cash + Avios bookings, as these bookings represent best the margin for BA. Which might explain why the marketing team are actively drawing attention to what must be one of the worst redemption values available.

    • cinereus says:

      Exactly. For a huge number of people they would never pay cash for these tickets so the point is moot. For a huge swathe of people, Avios are worth 0.66p and that’s the end of it.

      Also 18,500 + £1 is probably the most appealing thing for this group of people. They can easily hit the SUB and get a couple of free flights. Much better than trying to get a nominal 1p value out of Avios when you can pay cash for economy for much much less and spend the Avios at Ebay.

      • Save East Coast Rewards says:

        Last minute short haul bookings can be worth it on Avios.
        On the fun side I remembered in 2016 sitting in London with friends on 30 Dec wondering what to do for New Year. We ended up using Avios to fly EDI-LCY when cash prices were high. I’ve used it many other times for impulse trips since then

        On the practical side, my dad has been very ill this year and one time when I found out he was in hospital I managed to get BLQ-LHR-NCL a few hours before I was due to fly. Cash prices were high, so BA wouldn’t necessarily get my money, I d have considered other options if Avios wasn’t available.

  • The Savage Squirrel says:

    Not sure this counts as such bad marketing.
    0.5p looks bad to us as we are anchored to our 1p+ of Avios value.

    Many of the general public are not anchored to this value, or any value. They don’t know whether 0.5p is good or terrible so you’re not trashing a value, you’re establishing one. If you can encourage them to redeem for low return-on-avios redemptions rather than high then surely that’s good marketing – you’re encouraging people to make transactions that increase your profitability by paying more for less in return by making it seem attractive or desirable – which is the whole purpose of commercial advertising….

    • memesweeper says:

      “They don’t know whether 0.5p is good or terrible”

      If they are deciding which rewarding Amex to take out the BA ones suddenly all look terrible if you think you’re getting 0.45p each. This is not hard maths to do, and even relatively unsavvy consumers will do this calculation.

      Rob is right: it’s unwise to promote a 0.45p valuation to your customers whilst selling the same Avios to finance companies for much more.

      • DaveJ says:

        “If they are deciding which rewarding Amex to take out”

        I’m not sure they do. They just think that spending £10k/£20k will get them a free flight.

        Even The Times had an article a few months ago saying that you get a free flight with a 2-4-1 voucher.

  • Andy says:

    Maybe it’s poor marketing on BA’s part, although I also do wonder what percentage of people who have some Avios approach spending them differently to the per point value mindset.

    I absolutely understand the logic and benefit of maximising points usage, but even with that knowledge, I tend to still to begin my year with a starting point of “I’m likely to want a trip to the US next year, and have a 2 for 1 voucher to use up by November, how can I use up points to use get the routes I want on these long distance routes” – and then spending what I have available (for a good or bad rate) rather than optimising a per penny cost. The logic being the points could expire, I have to ensure I align my trip with my partners holiday, I don’t know how much my travel might vary (I never expect to take more than a few BA flights a year as I’m not near a BA airport) and I will only likely ever spend Avios on flights… so I tend to approach it like a bonus flight/upgrade experience I wouldn’t have had anyway.

    Anecdotally, many of the people I’ve ever spoken to who have a BA credit card and a a chunk of points building up have tended to be self-educated and even less clued up on the use of them than me (often struggling to figure out how to spend them), which I find interesting. I wonder if this type of “here’s a way to use them” just appeals to a chunk of the audience that works a bit more like this?

  • Kevin says:

    “Pick 3 cities in America, one east coast, one west coast and one somewhere else, and throw in Dubai too. People love Dubai these days. Search a few random dates on and copy and paste any old prices in GBP and Avios. Then stick it in an email. Doesn’t matter what it says, it’ll tick a box for Xmas/New Year marketing promo.” – Instructions given to BA work experience students this week!

  • bafan says:

    I flew SJO-MAD two weeks ago for 40k+ avios and $138 in taxes in Business. Cash ticket was about $4k. I get that not that many people need a one way ticket but I got a cheap flight out of the US…insane value for me. Nearly 5p per avios.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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