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British Airways is sending out emails to its Executive Club members promotion a deal in which you can save on hotel bookings and car hire when you pay with Avios rather than cash. The headline savings rate is 15%….but is this even an offer you should be considering?
15% Off Avios Hotel & Car Hire Bookings
The terms & conditions are simple:
- All hotels & car hire deals offered by British Airways are included
- Discounts apply to hotels and car hire booked between 3 September and 30 September 2018.
- Bookings must be for travel up to 31 December 2019
- All offers are for full Avios or Avios & Money bookings only.
- Discount does not apply to cash only bookings.
- The discount has been applied to the price shown once logged into your Executive Club account using this link.
How Good Or Bad Is This Promotion
I value Avios at 1.0 cents each as I don’t subscribe to some of the vastly overblown valuations I’ve seen elsewhere (Avios are a niche play in the miles and points world and I genuinely don’t understand where some of the higher valuations come from) so that’s the measure I’ll be using to decide how good or bad the deals in this promotion are.
I selected two hotel bookings and two car hire deals at random and compared their Avios cost in this promotion to the cheapest cash prices I found elsewhere on the internet – here are the results:
Hotel Example 1
A random 1 night stay at the Rome Marriott Grand Hotel Flora costs 57,100 Avios:
Using my valuation of 1.0 cents/Avios that equates to $571 for the night and, straight away, you should suspect that this is expensive. This is, after all, just a 4* hotel.
To prove the point here’s how much that hotel would cost if booked with cash on Marriott.com:
€374 converts to approximately $435 at the time of writing and that’s $136 cheaper than the equivalent booking using Avios.
Hotel Example 2
A random night at the Intercontinental Los Angeles Century City costs 32,250 Avios:
Using my valuation of 1.0 cents/Avios that equates to $382.50 for the night and for an LA hotel that doesn’t sound too terrible – I’ve seen this property cost more and less than that amount.
For the same exact date IHG.com shows the cash cost of the IC Century City (including taxes and fees) as being $304.95:
Rental Car Booking 1
The cheapest car on offer for a random 7-day car rental booking from Milan Malpensa Airport costs 17,450 Avios in this promotion:
Using my valuation of Avios that equates to $174.50 for the week or approximately $25/day.
Right now, a car in the same class can be rented (via kayak.co.uk) for a grand total of just $33!
Please note that this isn’t the daily rental rate, this is the cost for the entire week including taxes and fees!
Paying for this booking with Avios would see you overpay by over $140.
Rental Car Booking 2
The cheapest car on offer for a random 7-day car rental booking from LAX costs an amazing 61,650 Avios in this promotion:
If Avios are valued at 1 cent each that makes the weekly rental equate to a staggering $616.50….and if you happen to value Avios higher then the price just gets more ludicrous!
You shouldn’t need me to show you the cash cost of this rental to know that this is a truly woeful deal but here it is anyway:
An equivalent sized car would cost almost $400 less to rent with cash and, while 61,650 Avios was the cheapest car on offer from BA for the dates I chose, I found numerous other cheaper rental deals for anyone prepared to book a smaller car.
Overall this isn’t a very good promotion at all and just about everyone should be staying well clear of it.
If you’re so Avios-rich that the currency no longer has any real value to you (you earn it quicker than you can spend it) then it’s probably ok to book a hotel or car with Avios and keep your cash in your pocket….but you will still face drawbacks.
Bookings made with cash (and direct though the hotel chain or car rental agency) will earn loyalty points, credit towards elite status and the bookings will see any status you hold honored – the same is not true for bookings made via BA and paid for with Avios.
There may be some outlying examples where booking with Avios rather than cash will save you some money but I suspect they’ll be harder to find than an American Airlines international premium cabin award.
Avios can be an extremely useful currency when used for short-haul flights so using them in a promotion like this would be an expensive mistake for an overwhelming majority of TFM readers – I suggest you move on and don’t look back.