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Sweet Spot Sunday: The cheapest way to book intra-Australia award tickets with points

Feb. 13, 2022
8 min read
Qantas Boeing 737 in the air
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Even if you don’t collect points and miles with the best travel credit cards, it’s not difficult to hop around Australia on the cheap. You can find short-haul flights with budget carriers like Jetstar to many destinations for around $40.

However, these rock-bottom prices come tangled in red tape:

  • You’ll have to pay extra for checked bags — which may potentially cost more than your airfare.
  • You’ll often have to pay extra to choose your seat.
  • You won’t be able to change or cancel your flight.

These expenses and inconveniences turn that excellent fare into a mediocre — or even bad — deal.

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Fortunately, there’s an airline currency that specializes in short-haul flights, and you won’t be subject to any of the headaches above.

British Airways Avios are a great tool for those who want to fly around Australia. It’s especially good for business-class flights.

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Let’s take a look at how British Airways can help you tour Australia for a paltry number of points.

Why it’s special

British Airways prices its award flights according to the distance you fly. This is ideal for short jaunts such as flights within Australia.

For example, here’s a flight from Broome to Melbourne — a 1,900-mile trip — and one of the longest nonstops in all of Australia. You’ll pay just 11,000 Avios and $36 for a coach flight.

(Screenshot from britishairways.com)

As you can see from the below screenshot, this nonstop flight otherwise costs $408, giving you a value per point of 3.38 cents. That’s more than double TPG’s valuations of British Airways Avios, pegged at 1.5 cents on average.

(Screenshot from britishairways.com)

This deal gets even better if you’re booking business-class seats. For the same flight, you’ll pay 22,000 Avios and $36 for a business-class seat — essentially double the points price.

(Screenshot from britishairways.com)

But the same nonstop flight retails for $1,661 in cash. That means you’ll get a whopping 7.38 cents in value per point — nearly 5 times the average value, per TPG valuations.

(Screenshot from britishairways.com)

Related: Maximizing the British Airways distance-based award chart

How to book this award

When using British Airways Avios for inter-Australia flights, you’ll be flying British Airways partner Qantas. Here’s the award chart that will apply to you:

Zone No.

(distance in miles)

EconomyPremium economyBusinessFirst
Zone 1**

(1-650)

6,000.9,000.12,500.24,000.
Zone 2

(651-1,151)

9,000.12,500.16,500.33,000.
Zone 3

(1,152-2,000)

11,000.16,500.22,000.44,000.
Zone 4

(2,001-3,000)

13,000.25,250.38,750.51,500.
Zone 5

(3,001-4,000)

20,750.41,250.62,000.82,500.

These prices reflect one segment. For example, if you were to book a nonstop, 600-mile flight, you’d pay just 6,000 Avios. But if you were to book a 600-mile flight that included a stopover, you’d pay 12,000 Avios. For this reason, you’ll always get the best deal for nonstop flights.

Related: The ultimate guide to British Airways Avios

Here’s how to book

(Photo by Eric Rosen/The Points Guy)

Step 1. Search your flight on Great Circle Mapper (optional)

Before you get too in the weeds searching for award seats, you can first estimate the number of points you’ll need for your itinerary with Great Circle Mapper. Simply enter your origin and destination, and it’ll tell you the distance of your flight.

For example, Sydney to Perth is 2,041 miles. After referring to the above award chart, we can predict that this flight will cost 13,000 Avios to fly coach and 38,750 Avios to fly business class.

(Screenshot from gcmap.com)

Step 2. Find “Book a flight with Avios” on the British Airways website

Log into your British Airways account and hover over the “Book” tab at the top of the screen. You’ll see “Book a flight with Avios” — click that.

(Screenshot from britishairways.com)

Step 3. Enter your travel information and choose your flights

You’ll now have the option to choose your destination, travel dates, etc. This will bring you to the results page where you should have multiple flights to choose from. For this example, we’ll choose a one-way, business-class seat, which costs 38,750 Avios (as we expected from Step 1) and $30 in taxes and fees.

(Screenshot from britishairways.com)

Step 4. Compare the cash price before you book

You’ll always want to make sure you’re getting a good deal for your travel rewards. Jump on Google Flights just to price the ticket. If you need help identifying a good deal, check out our Awards vs Cash Calculator.

This particular award is a lie-flat seat and costs $1,836 in cash. That means we’re getting a value of 4.66 cents each — a no-brainer to use points, as it’s more than three times TPG's valuation of Avios.

(Screenshot from britishairways.com)

How to earn points for this award

(Photo by John Gribben/The Points Guy)

British Airways has one credit card — the British Airways Visa Signature Card. You’ll receive earn up to 100,000 Avios. Earn 75,000 Avios after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening and earn an additional 25,000 Avios after you spend $20,000 in the the first 12 months of account opening.

You can also transfer Iberia Avios and Aer Lingus Avios to British Airways, as they all technically earn the same type of points. Your accounts just need to be open for at least 90 days to be eligible to transfer between Avios programs.

Additionally, British Airways is a transfer partner of the following transferable currencies:

And when you transfer Marriott points in increments of 60,000, you’ll receive a 5,000-point bonus. This means 60,000 Marriott points transfer to 25,000 Avios.

If you're looking to increase your Ultimate Rewards balance, consider opening one of these Chase cards:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: Earn 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
  • Ink Business Preferred Credit Card: Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

Related: 18 ways to earn more British Airways Avios

Bottom line

If you’re slowly making your way around Australia, you may never pay more than 6,000 points and some nominal taxes and fees. In turn, you could visit five cities for just 30,000 points. And because British Airways Avios are some of the easiest points to accrue, you’ll have no problem funding a bucket list itinerary Down Under.

Business class is where the real outsized value lives — but no matter which cabin you book, you’re almost guaranteed to get a great deal with British Airways Avios in Australia.

Featured image by (Photo by James D. Morgan/Getty Images)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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Rewards

1 - 3X points
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Annual Fee

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670-850
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Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent, Good

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases