Millions of us collect them for flight discounts and upgrades. But how many of us get the most out of Avios points?
Experts say few collectors really know the best ways to use their jars, which vary depending on how many points you’ve racked up over the years.
Here, three pro points reveal how to get the most out of your money…
Experts say few Avios collectors really know the best ways to use their pots – which vary depending on how many points you’ve racked up over the years
What are avios points?
Avios points are rewards earned by spending on specialist credit cards that users aim to pay off in full each month.
They can also be earned by flying with British Airways (BA), redeeming Nectar Points and through sign-up bonuses from American Express and BA and Barclaycard Mastercards.
Staying at a BA partner hotel, renting a car with Avis, shopping in BA’s online store, buying fuel and converting BPme Rewards points and linking your Uber account to BA’s Executive Club are other ways to grow your kitty.
What can you spend Avios on?
Generally, Avios can be used to cover the cost of flights or flight upgrades.
However, they can also be redeemed for BA hotel bookings or converted into Nectar Points and spent at Sainsbury’s, Argos or eBay. Avios can be donated to charity through the BA Better World Community Fund.
They can also be spent on BA vacation packages for the first time. . . but experts say this new option generally doesn’t offer good value.
When it comes to spending, Rob Burgess, editor of loyalty website Head For Points, says “the 1p rule” is key to finding a good deal.
He aims for every Avios he spends to be worth 1 pence. So, for example, 30,000 points should get you £300 worth of flights or upgrades.
If you get more than 1p of value per Avios, that’s a good return; less than 1p is a bad deal.
If you have a bumper…
If you’re rich in Avios points, booking long-haul business class flights is almost always the best way to spend them, experts say.
BA’s Reward Flight Saver program, which allows users to spend more points in exchange for lower taxes and airfares, is a good way to do this.
This scheme was recently modified to add long-haul destinations. This means Avios collectors can use more points on a booking than ever before.
Savings: BA’s Reward Flight Saver program offers users a way to spend more points in exchange for reduced taxes and airfare
Michele Robson, editor of travel website Turning Left For Less, explains: “You can now travel business class to New York for 160,000 Avios and £350 in fees. Previously the limit was 110,000 Avios, but an additional £853 in fees.
The typical business class flight from London to New York costs £2,000, experts say. So in the example above, where you spend 160,000 Avios and £350 in fees, the value is 1.03 pence per Avios point.
However, the number of reward flights is limited, which can be difficult to pin down. You should also compare the cost of the same flight without using Avios to ensure it offers good points value.
Nicky Kelvin from The Points Guy UK recommends the SeatSpy website. He says: “BA’s website is clunky, but SeatSpy lets you find reward flight availability.
“You can search for specific dates and it will tell you what routes are on offer, or you can search for routes and it will give you available dates.”
If your transport is medium-sized…
Customers with a knack for collecting Avios may not know how to use their grow pot.
Mr Burgess recommends checking out other airlines that accept Avios – Qatar Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus – for the best deals.
He says: “While you’ll need to spend 300,000 points and around £700 on business class flights from London to Sydney on BA, you’ll only need 180,000 Avios and £600 for business class on Qatar. Airways.
“Around £3,500 is about as good as you’d get on a cash flight to Australia, so that works out to 0.93p per Avios in value for the BA flight, but a bumper 1.6p per Avios for Qatar.”
Shop around: As well as British Airways, other airlines that accept Avios include Qatar Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus
Mr Kelvin says another good way to use up a mid-sized pot of Avios is to book a premium economy ticket with cash and then use your points to upgrade.
“It depends on the route, but it’s often best to use points on an upgrade on peak dates.
“For example, upgrading a one-way London-Hong Kong ticket to premium economy in cash on BA would cost 36,000 Avios on off-peak dates, but 30,000 Avios on peak dates.
“That’s because you pay the difference between what it would have cost you to use Avios for business class and for premium economy, which are often closer in value at peak times.”
Under the 1p rule, that equates to an upgrade for as little as £300, whereas buying a business class flight can cost thousands of pounds extra.
Mr. Kelvin adds: “The important thing is that there has to be availability in a higher cabin, so you need to plan upgrades in advance. Book a ticket and SeatSpy can send you an alert when a seat becomes available in business or first class.’
And if you’re just starting…
If you have a relatively small pot, you can still put it to good use. Experts agree that short-haul saving is almost always the best way to spend points.
Michele Robson says: “Booking an award flight in economy class on short-haul European flights may be chargeable. Halfway through, for example, you can save because even low-cost airlines are expensive. The trick is to research how much the flight would normally cost.
Reward Flight Saver means you can reduce taxes and fees to just £1 for a return flight. For an off-peak round trip to Berlin, you can spend 18,500 Avios and £1.
Under Mr Burgess’ 1 pence rule, this equates to £186 – £185 ‘worth Avios’ and the £1 fee.
But he warns that the £1 tax option is rarely the best value on short haul, and you’re better off paying with less Avios and more cash. You get the best deal if you spend 9,500 Avios and £35 – the equivalent of £130, with the Avios “worth” £95 added to the £35 fee.
And if traveling isn’t your thing, points can also be converted into Nectar credit. An Avios is now worth 0.67p in Nectar Points, so 30,000 Avios will give you £201 to spend. But it’s not good value for money compared to flights and upgrades.
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