Avios are the frequent flyer airmile of British Airways. My advice on the 10 best ways to buy and earn cheap and bonus Avios airline points can be found below.
You can buy airline miles at any time but the crucial thing is to buy them for a lower price than you value them. I recently valued my Avios at £0.02 per point. This is a generous valuation compared to other frequent flyer bloggers who tend to value Avios at £0.01. Whatever you work out your valuation to be (and it IS worth grinding through your upcoming flights to work out your own Avios valuation), here is my advice on how to top up your balance and buy the cheapest Avios points available.
1. Apply For A SPG Credit Card: Avios Cost £0.0058
My Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Credit Card is my Amex choice for spend in the UK. If you want to apply for this card and drop me an email and I can supply you with a referral to get you 11,000 Starpoints if you spend £1,000 in the first 3 months of membership. This card has a £75 annual fee and you earn 1 SPG point per £1 spent. Cards like this will cost you more than the miles you make if you do not pay off your balance every month (APR is high).
11,000 SPG points converts to 11,000 Avios. If you spend £75 to get this card and then close the account after the bonus, you will have realised 11,000 Avios + 2,000 Avios for a £75 fee (The 2,000 additional Avios relates to the £2000 that you need to spend in the first 3 months to get this bonus).
13,000 Avios for a £75 fee and expenditure of £2000 means you have “paid” £75 for 13,000 Aviois which works out at an amazing £0.0058 per Avios point.
If you can spend £9,000 on this card in the first year before closing it, you will be able to take advantage of the SPG to Avios 5,000 bonus. This means you can convert 20,000 SPG to 25,000 Avios.
Of course, you can also keep your SPG as SPG and spent it at any starwood hotel around the world (and that includes Marriotts too). See how I spend my SPG in my more detailed review of the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Credit Card.
2. Buy whilst making a Flight Redemption: Avios Cost £0.007
You can currently buy Avios at £0.007 when you make the right flight redemption. When you book an Avios redemption on the British Airways website, you can reduce the number of Avios you use in return for paying more cash. This can be a rather good deal.
For a long-haul economy redemption on a return flight to New York, Economy prices are
26,000 Avios + £365. But if you pick the highest Avios buy-back offer which is 9,100 Avios + £495, you are “buying” Avios for 0.77p. A similar deal is available in Premium Economy, but the deal is not so good in Club World.
In Euro Traveller, booking a flight with Avios London to Nice costs:
4000 Avios + £ 17.50
3550 Avios + £ 22.50 (buying Avios for 1.1p)
2200 Avios + £ 42.50 (buying Avios for 1.38p)
In Business Class pricing is:
7750 Avios + £ 25.00
7000 Avios + £ 35.00 (buying 750 Avios for 1.3p)
4300 Avios + £ 65.00 (buying 3,450 Avios for 1.16p)
Clearly buying Avios as part of a redemption booking can be a great way of building (or not spending) your Avios balance but it must be at a valuation that works for you (source of this cheap Avios purchase offer is HeadforPoints.com).
3. Bonus Tesco Points: Avios Cost £0.008
Tesco often offers generous Tesco point bonuses on LEGO and other products from Tesco Direct. A regular one is 1,000 bonus Tesco points which equates to 2,400 Avios when you spend £60 on Lego. If you value your Avios at £0.02 like me, you are getting £58 worth of Avios for spending around £60. What a great way to stock up on presents! If you don’t need any LEGO, you can always sell it on Amazon. Just make sure you do a price comparison first as the prices on Tesco.com are often significantly higher than on Amazon.
If you sold the LEGO that cost you £60, for £40, then you are in effect buying your Avios at £0.0083. This does not take into account the time it takes to collect, sell and post the item.
Of course, it isn’t just LEGO that Tesco does bonus offers on, there are all sorts of household goods that it generates sporadic offers on so it is worth keeping an eye out. If you subscribe to our newsletter (at the bottom of the page) and regularly check the Tesco offers page, you should not miss these deals.
4. Redeem Hotel Points: Avios Cost £0.02
Many hotels enable you to convert your hotel points to Avios;
10,000 IHG points = 2,000 Avios. I use my IHG points to book into the Intercontinental Park Lane which costs around £300 per night or 60,000 IHG points valuing my IHG points at £0.005. If I converted them to Avios (which I value at £0.02), I would be getting a valuation of £0.004 per IHG point which would be worth it if I was short of Avios or had too many IHG points.
20,000 SPG points = 25,000 Avios. I value my SPG points at £0.03. This is not a bad deal but it doesn’t quite work for me as I have plans for my SPG points at the JW Marriott in Venice. If I did not, I would consider converting my SPG points from both my SPG credit card and my stays into Avios.
50,000 Hyatt points also converts to 25,000 Avios which also doesn’t give me good value, but the valuation really depends on where you usually like to spend your points.
5. Buying Hotel Points & Converting Them To Avios: Avios Cost £0.02
I collect Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) points with my SPG Credit Card, which can be transferred to almost any airline which makes them extremely valuable. You can buy SPG points and if you can wait, Starwood offers point-buying sales eg 30% off sale making buying points an even better deal.
Currently, you can buy up to 30,000 Starwood points for $.035 per point. If you purchased 20,000 for $700 = £526, and convert them at a rate of 1:1, they will add 5,000 bonus Starpoints for every 20,000 you transfer at a time. The result is Avios at a rate of £0.021 which is not very cheap. If there is a SPG sale, this brings the cost down considerably although this method will never offer a headline-worthy deal. The same goes for the other hotel chains. This is a way to buy Avios but the rate is not great and this method is really only useful if you need a topup of points to reach a redemption level.
6. Taking Out BA Premium Plus American Express Card: Avios Cost £0.0078
I have reviewed the BA American Express Cards previously. In a nutshell, The standard BA Amex has no fee when you apply or ongoing. It currently earns a 5,000 Avios bonus when you spend £1,000 (plus additional 1,000 referral bonus) plus 1 mile per £1 spent and generates a 2-4-1 voucher each year when you spend £20,000. The voucher lasts for 1 year.
The BA Premium Plus American Express is the one I use. It has a £195 annual fee. It currently earns a 25,000 Avios bonus when you spend £3,000 (plus additional 1,000 referral bonus) plus it earns 1.5 miles per £1 spent. Crucially this card generates a 2-4-1 voucher each year when you spend £10,000 (instead of having to spend £20,000 of the free card) AND this voucher lasts for 2 years rather than the 1-year voucher you get on the standard card.
With the paid card you are paying £195 for 25,000 Avios which works out at £0.0078 per Avios. You also earn with your spend with these cards
7. Taking Out Lloyds Avios Credit Cards
I have a Lloyds Avios Amex which I use for purchases made outside the UK as they do NOT charge foreign transaction fees (instead of the standard 2.95%), which saves me almost £3 for every £100 spent overseas, plus I collect Avios at a rate of 1.25 for every £1 of Amex spent. Crucially, I pay it off every month. Cards like this will cost you more than the miles you make if you do not pay off your balance every month.
There is no signup bonus so there are no free Avios with this card, but I connect my Lloyds Avios MasterCard (the partner card to the Lloyds Avios Amex above as you get sent a duo pack of cards) to my Curve Card, (I have the black Curve Card), which means that I collect 1.25 Avios per £5 of eligible spend on my Lloyds Avios card plus 3% cashback on my Black Curve MasterCard at shops including Argos, Arcadia Group, B&Q, Boots, Debenhams, Ernest Jones, Feelunique, Gap, H.Samuel, Halfords, House of Fraser, Marks & Spencer, Marriott Hotels, The White Company, Topshop, Toys R Us, Waterstones, Wilko and many more. See all Curve Card cashback earning partners.
I spent £5,000 across these shops over the last year which earned me almost 1,250 Avios (not great) AND 3% reward cashback which worked out at £150.
If you apply for the FREE Curve Card through the link below you will get £5 free to get you started (as will I). Apply for the Curve Card. My referral code, if it doesn’t track automatically, is NRJWI.
I also use my Lloyds Avios Mastercard to purchase Bitcoin on coinbase and any other MasterCard purchases where I can’t use my Amex.
This Lloyds card can be applied for on the Avios website and costs £24 every year and there is no longer any referral code. As a new Account holder, for your first 6 months you’ll get Double Avios whenever you spend with your American Express® Card. That’s a balance-boosting 2.5 Avios per £1 of eligible spend. There is also quite a useful 2 4 1 certificate.
1. UK & US: Get 22,000/25,000 FREE Avios with the Amex Gold Card: Cost Of Avios is NOTHING
For both my UK & US based readers, the absolute best way to boost your Avios is by taking out the FREE Amex Gold Card. It is an incredible deal with a huge free bonus of Membership Rewards. Rewards points can be converted 1 to 1 into Avios.
You also get two free airport lounge passes each year with Amex Gold, valid at airport lounges in the ‘Lounge Club’ network, including the Aspire lounge in Heathrow Terminal 5.
You get 10,000 bonus Membership Rewards points when you renew your Amex Gold membership if you have spent £15,000 in the previous year.
9. Avios Earning Offers With Magazines & Other Introductory Offers
Magazines like the Sunday Times Travel Magazine and the Economist offer sporadic bonus Avios earning offers which earn you Avios for taking out a subscription. Keep an eye out for these offers and make sure you have an Avios valuation worked out in advance to help you work out which of these offers are worth taking advantage of and which aren’t.
10. Flying with Qatar Airways In Their Sales
Funny as it may seen, Flying Business Class on Qatar with a sale ticket is one of the best ways to earn stacks of airline miles. A Business Class fare can also very quickly earn cheap you Tier points to achieve silver or gold status on a return trip to Asia with a layover in Qatar.
Have a read of my reviews of British Airways in First Class, in Business Class and in Premium Economy to help you decide how to spend your Avios miles. I also have a number of tips for booking cheap long-haul flights.
Reviews within this content are solely the opinion of the author and have not been sponsored, influenced, or reviewed by American Express.