Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

People who don’t buy points are already buying points without realising it

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We have run a couple of articles recently about special offers for buying points:

…. and there have been many others. These articles always generate feedback along the lines of ‘I never buy points’.

This approach is wrong on two levels.

should you buy avios?

The first reason why it’s wrong to never buy points ….

The first reason, which I don’t intend to go into again today, is that buying points CAN make financial sense.

I wrote a piece in 2021 explaining how I spent over £2,000 on Hilton Honors points to book our stay at Waldorf Astoria The Palm Dubai over Christmas – and how it saved me over 60% on the cash price.

In 2021 I looked at the value of buying Hyatt points for their great value suite upgrade awards, and we have another upcoming article using an example in Stockholm.

Last October I stayed at Park Hyatt New York using purchased Hyatt points, using £630-worth of points for a room selling for £1,400.

I’m not going over this ground again but it is worth reading the Waldorf article to learn more about my thinking. The bottom line, however, is that flight and hotel prices have been so high in the last couple of years that it is often possible to make the maths stack up in your favour.

The second reason why it’s wrong to never buy points ….

….. is that you are already doing it.

This second reason is what I want to focus on today. You are ‘buying’ miles and points every day without fully realising it. Ironically, you are often paying more for them than you would pay in the points sales which many people dismiss.

There are three ways of obtaining frequent flyer miles and hotel points which are genuinely free:

  • you fly the airline, or stay at the hotel, on a trip which someone else – usually your employer – is paying for
  • you receive a sign-up bonus for taking out a new credit card
  • you receive points from a product or service you would pay for anyway, and there is no alternative pseudo-cash reward

That’s about it. All of the other points you earn are, de facto, being purchased.

After all ….

  • if you convert Nectar points into Avios, you are losing out on 0.8p of free shopping for every Avios you receive
  • if you convert Tesco Clubcard points into Virgin Points, you are losing out on 1p per point of value compared to redeeming at a partner offering 2x face value (eg
  • if you convert Heathrow Rewards points to Avios or Virgin Points, you are losing out on 1p of Heathrow shopping voucher or 2p of Heathrow parking voucher for every mile you earn
  • if you convert Capital on Tap points from their Business Rewards Visa card (Capital On Tap review here) to Avios, you are giving up the alternative of 1p cashback – albeit there would be tax issues if you took the cash as this is a small business credit card
  • if you convert American Express Membership Rewards to travel rewards points, you are giving up 0.45p of Amex statement credit or 0.5p of gift card redemptions per point

There are other occasions where you may pay to take part in a deal purely to earn points. For example, Barclays Avios Rewards charges you a £12 monthly fee to receive 1,500 Avios in return – plus a British Airways upgrade voucher every 12 months.

should you buy hyatt points?

Many of these options require you to pull a trigger, just like buying points

There is, psychologically, a difference between pulling out your credit card to buy miles and points and just picking them up automatically. I get that.

When you use your British Airways American Express card, the Avios just turn up. You are not ‘buying’ the Avios by specifically making a transaction, if you see what I am getting at.

However …..

Whenever you log in to Nectar, American Express Membership Rewards, Capital on Tap, Tesco Clubcard or Heathrow Rewards and make a transfer into Avios, Virgin Points etc, you are ‘actively’ buying those points just as if you’d gone to the ‘buy Avios’ page on


The point I wanted to get across in this article is that we are all buying points, all the time – we just don’t always realise it.

Actively ‘buying’ more points by pulling out a miles credit card vs a cashback one when you make a purchase should be seen in the context of this.

Whenever you buy points directly OR transfer in from another programme such as Membership Rewards, you need to have a relatively firm plan for using them.

At the end of the day you need a good excuse to swap cash (very useful) for points (not so useful, as you’ll discover if you try to pay for your dry cleaning with Avios or Virgin Points).

Comments (69)

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

  • JohnBart says:

    Eg I spend £10k

    Virgin Rewards+ CC costs £160
    Comparing that to Amex cash back card would have saved me £156
    So, £316 for which I get
    15000points worth about £150 plus a
    Reward voucher, let’s assume it’s used on a PE reward seat worth 60k points, £600

    Looks like I made £434?

    But, what if I had just bought points using a cash back credit card?
    At a 70% boost you can get 70.6k boosted to 120k for £1,074 and i no longer need Virgin CC, so flight costs for 2 people

    60k + £1k fees = £1.6k
    120k + £1k fees less virgin cc = £1.914k

    True saving £314

    My head hurts now 😵‍💫

  • Dt says:

    This is a really bad content as article.

    95% of the time buying points is more than the cost of the cash ticket / hotel you want to use them on unless your staying in $1500/night hotels or taking $4000+ international business class flights. He had to use a +$2000/night room for it make sense in his example.

    Open up cards within the banks limits and you’ll be fine.

    • Rob says:

      Correct. We don’t encourage anyone to buy points unless they have a specific reason to do so which makes financial sense.

      Our readers are disproportionately more likely than average to be staying in $1500 hotels or taking $4000 flights though …..

  • Jodie says:

    Buying points at Hilton normally works out in my favour due to the 5th night free and no daily resort fee when paying with points.

    Saved over 365 just in these fees alone at latest wdw trip.

  • David Calton says:

    My problem with buying avios from various promotions is that it is still more expensive than taking a BA subscription. I don’t think the recent Finair and Qatar promotions were good value in comparison as I always work on no more than 1p per avios.

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

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