Maximizing British Airways Avios: The Avios and Cash Option
This is the next installment on my new Maximizing British Airways Avios series. Other posts include Master FAQ Post on British Airways 100,000 Mile Offer, Spotlight on Taxes and Fees, Distance-Based Awards, Travel Together Companion Ticket, Household Accounts, Using Avios to Upgrade Paid Tickets, Save Money on Fuel Surcharges by Transferring British Airways Avios to Iberia, Using Avios For Non-Flight Redemptions.
One of the less advertised aspects of the British Airways Executive Club is the ability to use a mixture of Avios and cash on award redemptions. While I normally ignore most attempts to sell me Avios directly from the airline since they’re mostly at ludicrous prices between 2.85-5.3 cents per Avios, this one can make sense depending on how you value Avios and the amount of cash you are comfortable laying out for an award. The big thing to note is that the Cash and Avios option basically sells you Avios at varying rates based on the type of award you are booking.
Let’s take a look at some economy, premium economy, business and First class Avios and Cash redemption options on both British Airways and partners. Note: Avios and Cash awards are not available on all partners (most notable excluding Cathay Pacific).
Example 1: American Airlines economy one-way award from Miami to Santiago, Chile.
Economy options are:
25,000 Avios and $23.70 or
22,500 Avios $58.70 (pay $35 more to save 2,500 Avios, which values them at 1.4 cents each) or
20,000 Avios and $88.70 or (pay $30 more to save 2,500 Avios, 1.2 cents each) or
17,500 Avios and $123.70 (pay $35 more to save 2,500 Avios, 1.4 cents each) or
15,000 and $153.70 (pay $30 more to save 2,500 Avios, 1.2 cents each) or
12,500 and $183.70 (pay $30 more to save 2,500 Avios, 1.2 cents each)
Summary: 1.2 cents per Avios is a pretty amazing deal, though it all depends on the type of tickets you purchase. In this example, the one-way economy fare cost $3,409 (this is an extreme example, but I'm sure there are people out there who pay through the roof for last minute tickets). In this case, spending the 12,500 Avios and cash co-pay would save you $3225.30, or 26 cents per Avios. Okay, I know this example is extreme, but you get the point that essentially buying Avios at 1.2 cents each can be a huge value.
Example 2: JFK to London roundtrip in Premium Economy (World Traveller Plus)
60,000 Avios and $763 or
54,000 Avios $843 (pay $80 more to save 6,000 Avios, 1.33 cents each) or
48,000 and $923 or (pay $160 more to save 12,000 Avios, 1.33 cents each) or
42,000 and $1,003 (pay $240 more to save 18,000 Avios, 1.33 cents each) or
36,000 and $1,073 (pay $310 more to save 24,000 Avios, 1.3 cents each) or
30,000 and $1,153 (pay $390 more to save 30,000 Avios, 1.3 cents each)
Summary: Again, 1.3 cents per Avios isn’t bad, but it’s not great either. However, if you’re short on Avios, this is a good way to use the ones you do have and shell out a little extra cash on a slightly premium ticket.
Example 3: Business class roundtrip JFK to London
80,000 Avios and $1,103 or
72,000 Avios $1,313 (pay $310 more to save 8,000 Avios, 3.875 cents each) or
60,000 and $1,623 or (pay $520 more to save 20,000 Avios, 2.6 cents each) or
48,000 Avios and $1,923 (pay $820 more to save 32,000 Avios, 2.56 cents each) or
40,000 Avios and $2,133 (pay $1,030 more to save 40,000 Avios, 2.575 cents each)
Summary: Not such a hot deal. My guess is that BA knows they can sell business class (it's often the hardest award to find), so they don’t need to incentivize people more to redeem for it.
Example 4: Royal Jordanian to Bangkok in business class - same rates as the British Airways itinerary - 2.6 cents per Avios for the highest option.
Example 5: Business class London to Athens is a much better deal and is priced like Premium Economy options
20,000 Avios and $26.00 or
18,000 Avios and $56.00 or (pay $30 more to save 2,000 Avios, 1.2 cents each) or
16,000 Avios and $81.00 (pay $25 more to save 2,000 Avios, 1.25 cents each) or
14,000 and $106.00 (pay $25 more to save 2,000 Avios, 1.25 cents each) or
12,000 and $131.00 (pay $25 more to save 2,000 Avios, 1.25 cents each) or
10,000 and $156.00 (pay $25 more to save 2,000 Avios, 1.2 cents each)
Example 6: First class JFK to London
120,000 Avios and $1,103 or
108,000 Avios $1,343 (pay $240 more to save 12,000 Avios, 2 cents each) or
90,000 and $1,683 or (pay $580 more to save 30,000 Avios, 1.93 cents each) or
72,000 Avios and $2,033 (pay $900 more to save 48,000 Avios, 1.875 cents each) or
60,000 Avios and $2,263 (pay $1,160 more to save 60,000 Avios, 1.93 cents each)
Summary: Not amazing, but not terrible either especially if you really value First class awards (since the tickets are usually exorbitantly priced - even to upgrade from business to first)
Unfortunately, you can’t redeem Avios and cash for some itineraries on BA’s airline partners so, for instance, you need all the Avios necessary for the full redemption amount on flights like American Airlines from Los Angeles to Honolulu. However, even the normal Avios price of this flight (25,000 roundtrip) is still cheaper than booking using AA miles.