You Can Buy Avios With A 50% Bonus……But For Most It Isn’t A Good Idea

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British Airways has launched a 6-day Avios sale in which it’s offering Executive Club members a 50% bonus on all Avios purchases. The promotion runs through 23:59 GMT on Monday 5 December and, although a 50% bonus represents the best offer we’ve seen this year, this is almost certainly a promotion most should be avoiding.

Buying Avios With A 50% Bonus – Headline T&Cs

  • This promotion is only open to Eligible Participants.
  • An Eligible Participant is a person aged 18 or over and is a British Airways Executive Club (‘BAEC’) Member.
  • Between 00:01 hr GMT Wednesday 30 November and 23:59 hr GMT Monday 05 December 2016 BAEC Members will receive 50% Avios bonus upon any Purchase or Gift Avios transaction.
  • Eligible Participants may Gift Avios (purchase for someone else) during the promotional period, provided that the recipient holds or opens a British Airways Executive Club account and the recipient’s BAEC membership number is entered at the time of purchase.
  • Members can receive up to 100,000 gifted Avios. The recipient will receive 50% bonus Avios.
  • Eligible Participants may not exceed their annual 100,000 Avios limit. Bonus Avios do not count towards your annual limit.

Full terms and conditions via this link

The Math

The 50% bonus is available on any number of Avios purchases so the promotion doesn’t force BAEC members to buy more Avios than they need…but I’m not sure anyone should be buying Avios anyway.

A purchase of 100,000 Avios (for example) would net a 50,000 Avios bonus for a total of 150,000 Avios at a total cost of $2,775:


That works out to be 1.85 cents per Avios (1.5p/Avios) and that’s a terrible deal.

Here’s why.

Hopefully by now everyone has realised what terrible value Avios offer when redeemed for long-haul travel (thanks to the horrendous fees that Avios redemptions incur) but, just in case anyone is still in doubt, here’s an example:

New York – London Business Class Roundtrip

During off-peak pricing this trip would cost 100,000 Avios and $1,123.69 in taxes and fees:


So, if you were to buy the required Avios in this promotion your total cost for this trip would be:

(100,000 x $0.0185) + $1,123.69 = $2,973.69

We regularly see Business Class flights from the US to the UK at under $2,000 for a round trip (there were some available just last week) so this is not a good deal at all.

Not only is this a poor deal but it only gets worse if you want to travel greater distances – Los Angeles to London is an even worse deal thanks to the incredible number of Avios needed for such a flight.

How about short-haul flights?

Short haul flights are usually where you can get the best value out of Avios because fares can be expensive while the number of Avios needed is low.

A classic example of this is the New York – Boston route:

LGA – BOS will set you back 7,500 Avios & $5.60 for a one-way Economy Class fare…..


……and, if you were to buy those Avios in this promotion, the total cost would come to $144.35.

Generally we’re told that it’s last minute fares that cost the most so let’s see how much a fare from New York to Boston would cost for tomorrow on American:


You can have your choice of flights for just $129 one way.

A different kind of short-haul flight where Avios can be useful is intra-Europe where, just like in the US, the taxes and fees on Avios award flights are comparatively low. So do those flights make this promotion look any better?

Taking an example where I don’t expect fares to be particularly cheap (flights to Italy during the summer vacations) this is how the math works out:

London – Rome roundtrip Economy Class

The reward flight costs 15,000 Avios & $55 for a long weekend in Rome…..


….so, in this promotion, that trip would cost a total of $332.50.

The cash fare for those exact same flights comes to £221.90 or $275…..


….and, if you’re slightly flexible with the times you can fly, you can find flights on the same days that will cost just £167.90 or $208:


If you’re prepared to book “basic” fares than you can do the trip for even less.

Buying Avios to book this trip is a truly bad idea.

Is There An Occasion When Buying Avios In This Promotion Is A Good Idea?

Yes…..and it’s a very specific occasion.

If you can see that the cost of a cash fare for your trip is greater than what a reward flight would cost (and reward flights are available for booking) then it may be a good idea to buy some Avios and book your trip that way.

Don’t forget, however, that a cash fare will earn you Avios and Tier Points while a reward booking will not….those tier points and Avios that you would be forgoing may have value to you so you should take that into account when working out the best course of action.

Bottom Line

For most travelers this is a promotion that should be avoided but, just to be on the safe side, make sure you do the math and work out the difference in cost between the cash fare and the cost if you were to purchase Avios and book reward flights. That way you’ll see for sure how good or bad the deal is.

Note: don’t forget that British Airways handles its own Avios purchases so be sure to use a credit card that offers a bonus for airline/travel purchases if you do decide to buy some Avios.