Purchase British Airways Avios With Up To 30% Bonus - Worth It?
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
British Airways is running a 30% "bonus" on purchased British Airways Avios from now until August 2. The more Avios you buy, the higher the bonus you get, unfortunately it still doesn't make this a good deal.
Here’s the breakdown of the number of Avios you purchase versus the bonus you get:
-1,000-8,000: 5% bonus for a total of between 1,050 and 8,400 Avios
-9,000-16.000: 10% bonus for a total of between 9,900-17,600 Avios
-17,000-23,000: 20% bonus for a total of between 20,400-27,600 Avios
-24,000: 30% bonus for a total of 31,200 Avios
The bonus is hard-coded into the britishairways.com "Purchase Avios" page, so you don’t have to enter a special code or anything.
Prices for Avios range from 5.3 cents apiece if you purchase just 1,000 of them ($53 total) to 2.85 cents apiece if you purchase the annual maximum of 24,000 ($685 total). In terms of this promotion, Avios range from 5.05 cents apiece to 2.2 cents apiece, so you are getting a discount on the higher end.
Avios can only be purchased online and in multiples of 1,000. Purchased Avios are non-refundable, so no changing your mind later. They usually appear in your account immediately, but can take up to five working days.
So the real question is, as always, is it worth it? As usual, I’d say that if you have a specific award in mind that you need these for, and you do the math so that you’re not spending a ridiculous amount of money on the Avios to get you to the award threshold, then you might as well get a discount on your miles. That said, even really great redemptions would have trouble pulling over 5 cents of value out of Avios points, so buying just 1,000 points and getting a 5% bonus seems useless. Especially since you can just purchase Amex points for 2.5 cents apiece and transfer them at a 1:1 ratio to British Airways Avios, so you don't have to worry about getting a transfer bonus to make purchasing points worth it. Or, I’d even rather get the British Airways Visa and spend $1,000 of regular expenses I'd be paying anyway on it, which would score me a 25% bonus for a total of 1,250 Avios. If timing is an issue, though, you could consider it.
I think one instance where this might be worth it (and it's still a stretch) would be if you were flying premium economy on British Airways from the East Coast to London and you wanted to upgrade using Avios. Upgrading one cabin class each way takes half the amount of base Avios points you need for an economy redemption on that route, so from New York to London that number would be 10,000 Avios. For roundtrip, you’d need a total of 20,000 Avios to upgrade from premium economy to business class.
With this promo, you could purchase 17,000 Avios for $493 and get a 30% bonus of 3,400 Avios for a total of 20,400 Avios, putting you just over the edge for the upgrade points necessary.
That’s no small amount of money, but when you think about it. Your premium economy ticket would you around $1,700 (I booked a sample itinerary in September). A comparable ticket in business class on the same days would cost around $4,300. Instead, you could use your 20,000 Avios (which cost you $493), and probably an additional $300 in taxes for the more premium ticket. Taking all those costs into account, you’d be getting about $1,800 in value out of your 20,000 Avios, or about 9 cents each. Not bad. But you've still put down a lot of cash to get there.
Obviously, this redemption requires a fair outlay of money up front, so I’d only recommend it if you were going to spend the money on premium economy and upgrading anyway but were short the Avios points necessary. Otherwise, I think it’s better in a pinch to buy Amex points and transfer them to Avios, or to get the British Airways Visa Signature Card and earn your points with your everyday purchases since you get 3 Avios per $1 you spend on British Airways, and 1 Avios per $1 on other purchases anyway.