Buy British Airways Avios With a 50% Bonus

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British Airways is running a buy Avios promotion. Now through April 11, 2021, Executive Club members can get a 50% bonus when buying Avios. While this is better than the 30% bonus from February 2021, it's still a poor deal—particularly for U.S.-registered accounts (more on that later). However, there are still some cases where it could be worth considering.

buy Avios with a bonus

A Note on Buying Avios

Buying points isn't usually the best way to accumulate any award currency—Avios or otherwise. It's much better to earn points and miles through everyday purchases, credit card welcome bonuses, and traveling. However, there are at least a couple of scenarios where buying points can make sense.

First, if your balance is just short of booking that next great redemption, buying points can be the fastest solution. Considering award availability can change in a second, waiting around for points to post may make the difference between snagging an award and not.

Second, it's often possible to save money by buying points for an award redemption instead of paying the cash fare. I'll get into some examples of this later in the post—but needless to say, I'm all about saving money.

Key Terms of the Buy Avios Promotion

  • Buy or Gift Avios between now and April 11, 2021 and receive a 50% bonus.
  • Under normal circumstances, Executive Club members can buy a maximum of 100,000 Avios (pre-bonus) per year. However, under the current promotion, BA has raised the cap to 200,000 Avios.
  • To buy or gift Avios, you must have at least one Avios in your account.
  • Avios purchases can be refunded within 14 days, provided they haven't been used.

With this promotion, you get a flat 50%—regardless of how many Avios you buy. So, there are no tiers or minimum purchase thresholds to worry about.

British Airways Club World Business Class
At one time, British Airways' ‘Club World' seats were industry-leading.

Different Prices for Different Regions

Here's the real kicker with buy Avios promotions. British Airways offers different prices depending on where you've registered your Executive Club account:

  • Executive Club accounts registered in the U.S. can buy 300,000 Avios (200,000 + 100,000 bonus) for $5,523—1.84¢ per Avios.
  • Executive Club accounts registered in Europe can buy 300,000 Avios for €3,601 (roughly $4,236)—1.41¢ per Avios.

Unlike Iberia (which allows you to select your preferred currency), British Airways determines the currency based on your account.

As a baseline, I typically value Avios around 1.4¢ each, and both purchase rates are higher than this rate. However, AwardWallet users have redeemed British Airways Avios for an average of 3.54¢ each. Avios redemptions averaged more than 2¢ in each category we track:

  • Short-haul economy and premium economy: 2.28¢
  • Short-haul business and first class: 3.39¢
  • Long-haul economy and premium economy: 2.15¢
  • Long-haul business and first class: 4.50¢

Buy Avios and Save

British Airways utilizes a distance-based award chart. So, shorter flights are going to cost less. There are several British Airways sweet spots where buying Avios could save money compared to paying a cash rate. Moreover, members who meet certain criteria can transfer Avios between British Airways and Iberia. That means that you could utilize purchased Avios to leverage Iberia's award chart as well.

Let's take a look at a couple of scenarios where buying Avios could make sense.

Los Angeles to Kona on American Airlines

Using British Avios for flights on AA is a staple redemption among award travelers. And no route is more loved for this strategy than a one-way to Hawaii from the West Coast.

Nothing beats a Hawaiian hike.
  • Mileage Rate: 13,000 Avios + $5.60
  • Typical Cash Price: $253
  • Redemption Rate: 1.9 cents per mile
  • Cost to Buy 13,000 Avios (at 1.84¢ per Avios): $239.33
  • Cost of Buying 13,000 Avios (at 1.41¢ per Avios): $183.56

Miami to St. Kitts and Nevis on American Airlines

If you live on the East Coast and don't find the long flight to Hawaii appealing, Avios presents another great option to get your tropical fix.

Book a stay at the luxurious Park Hyatt St. Kitts Christophe Harbour.

For whatever reason, flights to the Caribbean tend to be expensive relative to the flight time. However, thanks to British Airways' distance-based award chart, you can save money by using Avios instead.

  • Mileage Rate: 11,000 Avios + $15.60
  • Typical Cash Price: $357
  • Redemption Rate: 3.1 cents per mile
  • Cost to Buy 11,000 Avios (at 1.84¢ per Avios): $202.51
  • Cost of Buying 11,000 Avios (at 1.41¢ per Avios): $155.32

Chicago to Madrid in Iberia Business Class

Like I hinted before, just because you're buying Avios from British Airways doesn't mean you have to book with them. You could simply transfer your Avios to your Iberia account. Iberia's award chart has several sweet spots of its own, one of which involves flying business class to Europe.

iberia-business-class
Iberia business class

It's possible to book Iberia business class from Chicago to Madrid for only 34,000 Avios during off-peak season. Unfortunately, if you do this via British Airways, you'll get hit with the airline's infamous carrier-imposed surcharges:

Ouch…

However, if you transfer your Avios and book with Iberia, the taxes/fees are much more reasonable.

  • Mileage Rate: 34,000 Avios + $101.64
  • Typical Cash Price: $2,260
  • Redemption Rate: 6.3 cents per mile
  • Cost to Buy 34,000 Avios (at 1.84¢ per Avios): $625.94
  • Cost of Buying 34,000 Avios (at 1.41¢ per Avios): $480.08

Buy Avios with the Right Card to Maximize Your Earnings

Like many loyalty programs, British Airways partners with Points.com to process Avios purchases. This means buying Avios will (unfortunately) not qualify for any ‘travel' bonus category on cards that offer one.

With that in mind, the best card to use will fit into one of two categories:

  1. A card that offers a great return on everyday purchases
  2. A card on which you're currently completing a minimum spending requirement

Here are some of our favorite cards for everyday purchases:

Other Ways to Earn British Airways Avios

If you aren't in a rush, there are several other (less expensive) ways to add to your Avios stash.

British Airways Transfer Parters

For one thing, British Airways partners with several major transferable currencies, including:

  1. American Express Membership Rewards 1:1 ratio (transfers immediately)
  2. Chase Ultimate Rewards Points 1:1 ratio (transfers immediately)
  3. Marriott Bonvoy Points 3:1 ratio with a 5,000 Avios bonus for transferring 60,000 points (transfers in 10 hours)

Consequently, any card earning these three award currencies can, in effect, earn British Airways Avios. Even better, if you collect more than one, you can simply pool them together.

British Airways Co-Branded Credit Card

If you're looking for a big boost to your Avios balance, you may want to consider applying for the British Airways Visa Signature® Card (review). That's because the card currently offers a sign-up bonus of 50,000 bonus Avios!

British Airways Visa Signature® Card
British Airways Visa Signature® Card
Annual Fee$95
Welcome Bonus Earn 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening. Plus earn a Travel Together Ticket after you spend $20,000 total on purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Earn 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Plus earn a Travel Together Ticket after you spend $20,000 total on purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Earn 5 Avios per $1 spent on purchases with British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia, and LEVEL within your first 12 months from account opening, thereafter earn 3 Avios.
  • Earn 3 Avios per $1 spent on hotel accommodations when purchased directly with the hotel within your first 12 months from account opening, thereafter earn 2 Avios. Plus earn 1 Avios per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • 10% off British Airways flights starting in the US when you book through the website provided in your welcome materials.
  • Every calendar year you make $30,000 in purchases on your British Airways Visa card, you'll earn a Travel Together Ticket good for two years.
  • Pay no foreign transaction fees when you travel abroad.
  • Simply tap to pay with your contactless British Airways Visa Signature Card. Just look for the contactless symbol at checkout. It's fast, easy and secure!
  • 3X Avios per $1 spent on purchases with British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia, and LEVEL
  • 2X Avios per $1 spent on hotel accommodations
  • 1X Avios for every $1 spent on all other purchases

The card offers several valuable benefits for frequent BA flyers, with only a modest $95 annual fee. However, there are a couple of drawbacks. First, not everyone will be able to spend enough on the card to earn the full bonus. Second, many of the cards offered by 1:1 transfer partners deliver better earning rates. With that said, if you want to earn a lot of Avios in a hurry (and can meet the spending requirements), that sign-up bonus could be valuable enough.

Bottom Line

British Airways currently offers a promotion for Executive Club members to buy Avios with a 50% bonus. However, given how British Airways determines the currency used, this deal's actual value varies from okay to downright terrible. U.S.-registered accounts can buy points for __¢ each, which is an objectively disappointing value. Most people would do better by waiting for a better promotion or generating Avios through credit card spending.

With that said, there's still value to be had when leveraging British Airways' award sweet spots. If you need Avios in a hurry, keep this deal in mind.

Would you buy British Airways Avios for 1.84¢ each?

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Comments

  • Avatar

    I fly both AA and BA. Always seen the two as sisters. Wish they would work a little better together
    But who knows

    Sure thing is though as soon as it all opens I am flying again. Miss it terribly

  • Avatar
    Terence Baker says:

    It does seem to be an awful amount for air miles considering we here in the U.K., BA’s base, have not been able to travel for months and are just emerging from a total lock down. International flights still are prohibited, and BA and other airlines should think twice before potentially jeopardising pent-up travel demand.

  • Avatar
    Jennifer Beech says:

    It’s a pity the Airmiles programmes for BA and AA don’t tie up more effectively.

    We travel (in normal times) twice a year from the UK to the US and usually it’s with either BA or AA, or BA with an AA connecting flight.

    We have Airmiles with both and it’s hard at times to know what to register for. It would be hugely better if they used their One World partnership to help make the way Airmiles interact much simpler.

  • Avatar

    Avios used to be a fabulous program but not any more sadly after the recent devaluation…

  • Avatar

    I’ve used BA Avios for several domestic AA flights, but it looks like flying to Hawaii or the Caribbean should be my next move once the pandemic subsides….great use of Avios while avoiding the ridiculously outrageous BA surcharges.

    • Avatar

      Absolutely agree! My favorite use (during normal times at least) is flying lie-flat AA business class under 1,150 miles in distance (e.g. MIA-DFW) for just 16,500 Avios each way.

  • Avatar

    50% sale is pretty good for BA especially if you have a flight to book in the near future and are close to that redemption!

  • Avatar

    Thanks for showing examples of some flights and costs involved!

  • Avatar

    Not the best time to invest in this offer

  • Avatar

    I understand the airlines need money but with these never ending offers for miles and points it’s an indication of the general devaluation of almost all programmes.

  • Avatar

    Can usually get good upgrades with Avios. Not worth it at present.

  • Avatar

    Even by purchasing this offer, I doubt whether I would get to use it this year.

  • Avatar
    Edward Monrad says:

    Hah no way is this interesting, given how cash strapped airlines are they should be offering far higher discounts for folks to give them what amounts to very low interest loans!

  • Avatar

    British Airway’s fuel surcharge is very high. BA flights in and out of London Heathrow airport have a very high surcharge. So I try to avoid fly out of London Heathrow with BA if possible.

  • Avatar

    What I hate about BA as I am sure many others do is the insane amount of surcharge you have to pay for the flight. We are now not using american airline mileage cards because they offer a lot of flight on BA to Asia with high surcharge. The others in Europe don’ which is good. If we need additional miles, which I doubt we will use this but oh well…

  • Avatar

    Love using Avios points for use on no BA flights to avoid their crazy taxes for UK airports!

  • Avatar

    I will not be buying British Avios miles for 2.12 cents each. I cannot believe in the current environment that any airline would still be charging fuel surcharges.

  • Avatar
    Gilberto Souza de Morais says:

    IMHO, it is not worth buying the Avios with only 30% bonus.