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British Airways Avios 25% Bonus – Worth It?

by on February 18, 2014 · 2 comments

in British Airways, Buy Miles Promotions

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British Airways is currently offering a bonus of up to 25% on the purchase of Avios between now and March 23, 2014. As always, the question I’ve been getting about this sale is – is it worth it? Let’s take a look at the numbers.

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Avios normally cost between about 2.8-5.3 cents apiece depending on how many you buy. With this promo, there is no bonus for buying between 1,000-4,000 Avios. When you buy 5,000-26,000 Avios, you only get a 15% bonus. If you buy 27,000 Avios – the annual maximum per account – you get the 25% bonus.

To get the full bonus, you must by the maximum 27,000 Avios.

To get the full bonus, you must by the maximum 27,000 Avios.

You can buy 25,000 Avios for $768, and then with the 25% bonus, you’ll end up with 33,750 Avios at a final cost of 2.27 cents apiece.

Now, mileage prices over 2 cents each don’t really get me excited. Especially because with US Airways’ frequent (though we might have seen the last of them thanks to the merger) 100% buy miles bonuses you can purchase miles at 1.88 cents apiece, and with their 100% share miles bonus late in 2013, you could have minted miles for the low, low cost of 1.1 cents each.

So 2.27 cents apiece isn’t really that great in the grand scheme of things. Not only that, but when booking Avios awards, British Airways will actually let you pay a cash co-pay instead of using all the Avios an award would normally require, and the price often works out to much lower than that – around 1.875 cents per Avios in a lot of cases like the one below, which was a recent one-way short-haul business class award. Granted, you still need the Avios to cover at least part of the trip, but if you’re just trying to buy Avios to make up for a little deficit, then it’s cheaper just to pay these cash co-pays.

BA will actually let you pay a cash co-pay on awards so you don't have to use all the Avios - and it's usually at a pretty decent rate.

BA will actually let you pay a cash co-pay on awards so you don’t have to use all the Avios – and it’s usually at a pretty decent rate.

However, this specific buy miles bonus could be interesting if you had particular, high-priced redemptions taking advantage of BA’s distance-based award formula. On the one hand, let’s say you wanted to use 25,000 of your Avios to book an award trip from the west coast to Hawaii. Buying those Avios at the price of 2.27 cents apiece would run you $567.50. You can often find lower fares to Hawaii, but at best, you’re pretty much just breaking even and would be subject to award availability.

On the other hand, BA awards start at 4,500 Avios one-way for flights under 650 miles or 9,000 Avios roundtrip, so purchasing those would be about $102 or $204 respectively at this price. If you wanted to use those Avios on expensive routes like New York to Montreal or perhaps some expensive intra-European ones like London-Berlin, where airfares can run into the hundreds of dollars, this could definitely be worth it. Before making the purchase, though, I would crunch the numbers on the awards you’re interested in, though, and see if it makes sense to purchase the ticket or use Avios for it instead.

I just wouldn’t purchase these Avios speculatively unless you have a specific, imminent use for them. After all, there are lots of other great ways to top up your BA account in a hurry. British Airways is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards (if you have the Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold or Ink Plus), Starwood Preferred Guest (and when you transfer 20,000 points you get 25,000 Avios), and American Express Membership Rewards (the rewards program of credit cards including the Premier Rewards Gold and Platinum cards) which runs fairly frequent transfer bonuses of anywhere from 20-50% (though we haven’t seen a 50% bonus in a while now).

If you don’t have a credit card with any of these programs, you could consider using this promo to top up your British Airways account at a bit of a discount, but otherwise, I’d consider transferring your Ultimate Rewards points or waiting for an Amex transfer bonus to do so.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • BA-help

    TPG — a bit off topic, but about BA. Let me know if you have any advice about dealing with BA’s refund/points when a flight is cancelled, and rebooked on a non-BA carrier.. The short note: I lost my Avios on the return, and tier status. Customer service is giving me the run-around for almost 5 months now.

    Details:

    I took my parents last Oct. to visit family roots in Scotland/Ireland on BA. We paid extra for premium economy (not any reward or upgrades — full price). On our return (which was supposed to be from Shannon-London-Denver)… London had fog… all flights cancelled….so in Shannon we were re-booked on Aer LIngus to Boston, and then United from Boston to Denver. And we were put in coach seats (because, that’s all that was available).

    Since Oct., I have went through BA’s system — asking for partial refund of the premium economy fare on the return — and, even more importantly, none of my Avios mileage on the return went through for my seat (which was important, as it would have boosted me from bronze to silver status, too in tier levels).

    BA keeps saying they are “working on getting back to me.”… It’s been almost 5 months… zero results.

    Any ideas on how to deal with this. I’m not a penny pincher, but I for sure lost (for several months now) my tier status as a regular BA flyer.. While they are friendly, they also seem to do NOTHING…but promise they will look into it.

  • pixeleyz

    Newbie alert. I’m interested in upgrading to Business Class on BA for an upcoming flight LAX>LON for 2 people. I have 30K Amex points to transfer. Was thinking about booking with cash through Amex for the 3x points. It seems that the cost is not much higher than any of the aggregators.

    I also have 50K locked away by Chase on an Amazon card. Has anyone been able to transfer them out?

    Would there be value in buying Avios at a bonus for the class upgrade?

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