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British Airways is running a buy Avios promotion. Executive Club members can get up to a 50% bonus when buying Avios. While this is better than other recent promotions, 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.
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 and receive up to a 50% bonus.
- There's no stated end date on this promotion.
- Under normal circumstances, Executive Club members can buy a maximum of 200,000 Avios (pre-bonus) per year.
- To buy or gift Avios, you must have at least one Avios in your account. If you have a zero balance, you'll need to have collected or redeemed Avios in the past 36 months in order to buy Avios.
- Avios purchases can be refunded within 14 days, provided they haven't been used.
With this promotion, you can buy Avios with the following bonuses:
- 30% bonus when you buy 1,000 to 8,000 Avios
- 40% bonus when you buy 10,000 to 90,000 Avios
- 50% bonus when you buy 100,000+ Avios
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 $4,303)—1.43¢ per Avios.
Unlike Iberia (which allows you to select your preferred currency), British Airways determines the currency based on your account.
The Value of British Airways Avios
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¢
This doesn't mean that you'll get this much value from every Avios redemption option. In fact, many Avios redemption options — especially on British Airways flights themselves — can be downright bad redemptions. However, the value can be found when you know where to look.
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.
- 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
- Cost of Buying 13,000 Avios (at 1.43¢ per Avios): $186
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.
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): $203
- Cost of Buying 11,000 Avios (at 1.43¢ per Avios): $17
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.
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:
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): $626
- Cost of Buying 34,000 Avios (at 1.43¢ per Avios): $486
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:
- A card that offers a great return on everyday purchases
- A card on which you're currently completing a minimum spending requirement
Here are some of our favorite cards for everyday purchases:
- Citi® Double Cash Card
- The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
- Chase Freedom Unlimited®
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
- Discover it® Miles
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:
- American Express Membership Rewards — 1:1 ratio (transfers immediately)
- Chase Ultimate Rewards Points — 1:1 ratio (transfers immediately)
- 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 100,000 bonus Avios!
- Earn 100,000 Avios after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from 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.
British Airways currently offers a promotion for Executive Club members to buy Avios with up to 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 1.84¢ 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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