These are the best ways to redeem 100,000 British Airways Avios

Mar 31, 2021

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Two cards in the Avios family — the Aer Lingus Visa Signature® Card and Iberia Visa Signature® Card — offer an impressive welcome bonus of up to 100,000 Avios after meeting tiered minimum spending requirements: 50,000 Avios after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of opening your account, and an additional 50,000 Avios after you spend $20,000 total on purchases in the first year of account opening.

Plus, the British Airways Visa Signature® Card currently offers 50,000 Avios after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of opening your account. Plus, you can earn a Travel Together ticket after you spend $20,000 total on purchases in the first year of account opening.

But when it comes to a huge travel credit card bonus, it’s not just the big headline number that’s important — it’s what you can do with those points or miles.

And when we’re talking Avios, there’s a lot you can do with them, but also several options you want to avoid. Knowing which is the vital piece of the puzzle to help you get the most value out of this bonus.

Here, I’ll show you some of the best ways to redeem 100,000 Avios. But before that, I’ll give you a quick overview of the differences between the three types of Avios and how to use them.

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In This Post

the difference between different types of avios

British Airways and Iberia Planes at LHR
There are three different types of Avios — each with different uses. (Photo by Fasttailwind/Shutterstock)

Before we dive into redemptions, it’s important to discuss how Avios work.

There are three types of Avios out there: Aer Lingus Avios, Iberia Avios and British Airways Avios. Each has different award charts and sweet spots, giving you a ton of different redemption options. Better yet, you can move your Avios between programs — for example, if you have Iberia Avios, you can move them to British Airways.

You can learn more about moving Avios between accounts in our complete guide. There are a few restrictions to keep in mind when doing this — for example, if you want to move from British Airways to Iberia, both accounts must be open for at least 90 days. With that in mind, try and make your accounts before you need to use them, so you don’t run into difficulties.

We published an article that compares the three types of Avios late last year. As a quick recap, each of the carriers has distance-based award charts with different sweet spots. For example, you’ll want to use British Airways Avios for short-haul domestic flights, while Iberia Avios can be a great bet for flights to Europe. Read the full article for a complete breakdown.

With that out of the way, let’s jump into the best ways to redeem 100,000 British Airways Avios.

Related: 6 best ways to redeem 100,000 Iberia Avios

Short-haul awards — here and elsewhere

Maximize your Avios by booking short-haul flights on American Airlines. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Since British Airways has a distance-based award chart and American Airlines and Alaska Airlines are Oneworld partners, you can use Avios to book any American or Alaska flight with saver-level award availability.

Now, that used to be a terrific deal for short-haul flights because the bottom level distance band is just 4,500 Avios for flights up to 650 miles long, which meant you could get tickets on expensive shuttle routes like New York to Washington, D.C. for just 4,500 Avios. Meanwhile, American would charge 12,500 miles for the same flight.

Unfortunately, British Airways changed the rules in 2015 and slightly devalued its partner award chart years later. Now the lowest band costs 6,000 Avios each way in economy, and British Airways now charges a minimum of 7,500 Avios for all flights to, from or within North America. The lowest price is available on flights up to 651 miles long, like New York-LaGuardia (LGA) to Boston (BOS) and Washington-Regan (DCA).

LGA to BOS Avios Award Price
(Screenshot courtesy of British Airways)

Flights up between 651 and 1,151 miles cost 9,000 Avios. This includes popular routes like New York-JFK to Miami (MIA) and Chicago-O’Hare (ORD) to Denver (DEN).

EWR to MIA Avios Award Price
(Screenshot courtesy of British Airways)

Also, what many folks forget is that the 6,000 Avios restriction is only in place for flights related to North America — you can still get that price on flights anywhere else. This is great for hopping around Oneworld hubs where cash prices are high, like Hong Kong (Cathay Pacific) or Japan (JAL), potentially letting you stretch your bonus for as many as 16 short flights with a 100K welcome bonus.

HKG to TPE Avios Award Price
(Screenshot courtesy of British Airways)

Related: How to book awards using British Airways Avios

Domestic business class on American

Use your Avios to catch American's best business class seat flying domestically
Use your Avios to catch American’s international business-class seat flying domestically. (Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy.)

On the other hand, another change in the last few years in booking American flights with Avios actually radically improves the situation. In the past, AA coded its domestic premium cabin as “first class” instead of business, even though in most cases there are only two cabins on domestic AA flights — economy and premium. Since the Avios chart has three different prices for economy, business and first, American domestic premium awards would price at the highest “first class” price, making them outrageously expensive.

However, in late 2016 American finally began coding its domestic premium cabin as “business class,” which means you can now use Avios to book seats up front on domestic AA flights at the middle, business-class price, which is much more reasonable.

The real kicker is that American Airlines regularly flies internationally configured widebody aircraft on domestic routes, including 777s and 787s. You’ll find AA’s flagship 777-300ER operating some flights between New York-JFK and Miami (MIA), a 1,089-mile journey. You could book a business-class award on this flight for only 16,500 Avios, giving you enough Avios for three round-trips from a 100K welcome bonus.

JFK to MIA Avios Award Price in Business Class
(Screenshot courtesy of British Airways)

Related: American Airlines schedules wide-body jets on 3 unexpected domestic routes

West Coast to Hawaii

The four-tiered main pool area of the Andaz Maui.
Use Avios on Alaska Airlines and make your way to the Andaz Maui. (Photo by Nick Ewen/The Points Guy.)

Since we’re on the subject of American, another sweet spot you’ll find with Avios is the ability to fly from major West Coast cities to the Hawaiian islands for just 13,000 Avios each way, thanks to the Avios distance-based chart. That beats the award rate for all the U.S. airlines, and there’s no close-in booking fee either.

But in this case, it’s not just about American’s route network. Alaska Airlines is also a British Airways partner, which means you have access to Alaska’s flights to Hawaii as well (though you’ll need to call to book Alaska flights with Avios since they aren’t searchable at ba.com). That opens up routes that AA doesn’t serve, but Alaska does, such as San Jose (SJC) to Honolulu (HNL) and Seattle (SEA) to Maui/Kahului (OGG).

So if you live almost anywhere on the West Coast — or can easily position there — Avios can be your friend to Hawaii. At this rate, you can book almost four round-trip economy tickets to a tropical paradise with your British Airways Visa Signature welcome bonus.

Related: The best ways to get to Hawaii using points and miles

JAL first class to Tokyo

(Photo by Samantha Rosen / The Points Guy)
Japan Airlines first class is an excellent way to head to Asia. (Photo by Samantha Rosen/The Points Guy.)

If you want to burn your entire haul of 100,000 Avios on one awesome flight, Japan Airlines first class is a great choice. You can depart from either San Francisco (SFO) or Los Angeles (LAX) to Tokyo (HND/NRT) and spend 11 hours in style. There are also minimal carrier surcharges on flights to/from Asia, so you’ll only have to add $100-$200 in cash to your redemption. These flights technically cost 103,000 Avios each way now, but you’ll be able to cover that with the Avios you earn from spending your way to the bonus.

Keep in mind that American — who is also a Oneworld partner — has a more favorable award chart for first-class flights to Tokyo. Booking this same JAL seat with AAdvantage would only cost 80,000 miles, a 20,000-mile discount. But AAdvantage miles are also harder to come by than Avios since American isn’t a transfer partner with any major flexible currency programs (except Marriott). Meanwhile, you can transfer points to British Airways from Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy.

Related: The best websites for searching Oneworld availability

Aer Lingus at off-peak prices

An Aer Lingus A330 takes off from Nw York JFK in April 2017 (Photo by Alberto Riva/TPG)
Aer Lingus is now part of the Avios award program. (Photo by Alberto Riva/The Points Guy.)

In 2015 British Airways brought Aer Lingus into the Avios fold, and in the process, made a few changes. While it devalued the previous sweet spot in which you could fly from Boston to Dublin for just 12,500 Avios in economy or 37,500 Avios in business class, it added the ability to redeem for Aer Lingus flights at off-peak prices.

If you can travel during the off-peak dates — which cover roughly eight months of the year — now you can leave from a handful of different U.S. cities, including as far west as Chicago, instead of having to reposition to Boston and get to either Dublin for just 26,000 Avios round-trip in economy or as low as 50,000 one-way in business. And if you live in the south in cities like Orlando and Miami, or the west in Los Angeles and San Francisco, the price only increases to 33,000 Avios round-trip in economy and 62,500 one-way in business.

Here are the best routes for your consideration, allowing you to score nearly four full round-trip tickets to Europe from a 100K welcome bonus. When you consider how cheap flying within Europe is, you can use this Aer Lingus sweet spot to really open up the entire continent.

Departure City Route Flight miles
(one-way)
Off-peak rate
(economy)
Boston BOS-SNN 2,895* 13,000*
Boston BOS-DUB 2,993* 13,000*
Hartford BDL-DUB 3,078 13,000
New York JFK-SNN 3,095 13,000
New York JFK-DUB 3,179 13,000
Newark EWR-DUB 3,193 13,000
Philadelphia PHL-DUB 3,272 13,000
Toronto YYZ-DUB 3,279 13,000
Washington, DC IAD-DUB 3,404 13,000
Chicago ORD-DUB 3,674 13,000
Minneapolis MSP-DUB 3,735 13,000
Orlando MCO-DUB 4,072 16,250
Miami MIA-DUB 4,165 16,250
Seattle SEA-DUB 4,540 16,250
San Francisco SFO-DUB 5,098 16,250
Los Angeles LAX-DUB 5,181 16,250

*Despite the distance falling below 3,000 miles, Aer Lingus prices these routes as though they cover 3,000+ miles

Aer Lingus is owned by IAG, the same company that charged so much for fuel surcharges that it got sued and was forced to settle. So, you’d be right in assuming that there will be fuel surcharges tacked onto these award flights. But, they aren’t as bad as you might think.

I priced out a couple of different award options to see exactly how much you’d need to pay beyond the terrific award rates above. From New York-JFK to Shannon (SNN), awards cost $113 one-way or $258 round-trip when booking with Aer Lingus Avios. From Miami (MIA) to Dublin (DUB), awards cost $125 one-way or $285 round-trip. Those fees are steep enough to ruin this deal for many.

Considering British Airways is infamous for surcharges, one might assume that BA’s fees are even higher. But shockingly, BA actually charges substantially less in taxes/fees while still requiring the same number of Avios. From JFK to Shannon, awards price out at $35.07 one-way and $114.55 round-trip. From Miami to Dublin, the round-trip award cost just $118.83 in taxes/fees.

The next limitation to these cheap rates is that you’re going to have to fly during off-peak dates. The good news is that most of the calendar is considered off-peak — including parts of April and June and all of May 2021. Here’s a look at 2021’s off-peak dates:

  • Jan. 7 to March 25
  • April 12 to June 11
  • Sept. 6 to Dec. 15

Spring can be a great time to visit Europe, with mild temperatures and fewer crowds. Just note you have to call British Airways to book this award ticket.

Related: The best ways to get to Europe using points and miles

Maximize your Travel Together ticket

The Travel Together ticket lets you stretch your Avios even further. (Photo by Mike Wilkinson/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The British Airways Visa Signature card currently offers a 50,000 Avios after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months of account opening and a Travel Together Ticket after spending $20,000 in the first year. The card also offers a Travel Together Ticket after spending $30,000 in a given year to all existing cardholders, so regardless, you’ll need to put a solid amount of spend on your British Airways card to earn it.

The Travel Together ticket is similar to a companion pass. It lets you bring another passenger with you on any British Airways-operated award ticket for just the cost of taxes and fees. You can use this fare on any British Airways round-trip ticket that originates in the U.S. — including tickets in first and business class. Further, there must be open award space for both passengers in the same cabin.

You can use the Travel Together Ticket to get a ton of value on first and business-class awards. For example, you can book New York-JFK to London-Heathrow (LHR) in British Airways business class for 100,000 Avios and $1,272.52 on off-peak dates. Your Travel Together ticket would let you book this for two passengers for the same 100,000 Avios and $2,545.04 in taxes and fees.

Of course, this is a lot in taxes and fees thanks to British Airways’ huge fuel surcharges. At the same time, however, you’re getting 4.39 cents in value, given two business class tickets cost $6,939 on the same dates. This is an excellent redemption and another great way to maximize 100K British Airways Avios.

JFK to LHR BA Business Class Itinerary in Google Flights
(Screenshot courtesy of Google Flights)

Related: How to earn British Airways Avios quickly

Bottom line

Perhaps the most telling thing is what you don’t see on this list — using Avios for transatlantic flights on British Airways or non-flight redemptions such as hotels and cars. Since British Airways insists on tacking huge surcharges onto its award tickets, using Avios for transatlantic flights on the carrier itself usually doesn’t make any sense. And the value you’ll get from burning Avios on hotels or car rentals often isn’t worth the cash you’re saving in the first place.

But now that you know the best uses, you can get terrific value from the up to 100,000 Avios welcome bonus on the Aer Lingus and Iberia credit cards, regardless of whether you prefer economy or premium class or tend to take either international or domestic flights. Just remember the hows and whens so you can use your Avios wisely.

Additional reporting by Ethan Steinberg and Andrew Kunesh

Featured photo by Ryan Patterson/The Points Guy.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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