British Airways launches new 50% to 75% bonus Avios promotion: Should you buy miles now?

May 5, 2020

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Editor’s note: At TPG, our top priority is providing our readers with the information needed to make educated decisions about travel and rewards-earning strategy. This is not the best time to travel, domestically or internationally, as airlines have cut major parts of their route networks. But we are sharing this information to provide value for future travel once coronavirus concerns have subsided.

Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – British Airways Visa Signature Card              

This is a recurring post, regularly updated with the latest promotion.

There are plenty of ways to earn British Airways Avios, but if you still need to top up your account quickly, the U.K.-based airline just gave you one more option. From now through May 17, you can get a 50% bonus on all Avios you purchase from the carrier. And if you have the British Airways Visa Signature Card, you’ll get a 75% bonus.

With this 50% bonus, the rate of purchasing Avios falls as low as 1.84 cents each, and with the 75% bonus, 1.58 cents. The good thing about this promotion is that

the bonus is available at all purchase levels, starting at 1,000 Avios, although British Airways prices its purchase rates in a way that makes it a poor value at the lower levels.

In addition, the airline has reset purchasing limits on all British Airways Executive Club accounts. So while you can typically only purchase 200,000 Avios per year, any Avios you purchased earlier in the year won’t count towards your purchase limit during this promotion.

Let’s take a closer look at this promotion and see if it’s a good deal. And, should you even buy Avios in the middle of the global coronavirus outbreak?

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Should I buy Avios now?

There’s no doubt that the travel industry is in a tough place right now, and British Airways is no exception. That said, there are a few things you should keep in mind before you buy Avios during this promotion.

The first is the airline’s financial outlook. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the airline cut nearly 12,000 employees, suspended its all-business-class flight from London-City (LCY) to New York-JFK and parked a good chunk of its fleet. This shows us that British Airways isn’t in the best financial place, leading many to wonder if the airline is at risk of going bankrupt.

British Airways planes at Heathrow Airport
(Photo by Steve Parsons/PA Images/Getty Images.)

While we’re confident that the airline will make it through the coronavirus travel downturn, we can’t guarantee that this will be the case. In a worst-case scenario where the airline does go insolvent, the Avios you purchase during this promotion could be rendered worthless.

In addition, we only recommend buying airline miles if you have an immediate plan to use them to book travel. Since it’s still not safe to travel for fun, you’ll likely be buying Avios for travel in late 2020 or early 2021 travel at the earliest. Again, there’s no way to guarantee that travel will be safe by this time, so you should be aware of British Airways’ change and cancellation policies before you buy miles in case you do need to cancel an award ticket.

In the end, you should only purchase Avios through during this promotion if you’re aware of the risks and understand that — in a worst-case scenario — your miles could become worthless if the airline were to go belly up.

Related: Airline coronavirus change and cancellation policies: A complete list of major carriers

There’s no shortage of other ways to earn British Airways Avios

One more thing to keep in mind: it’s relatively easy to earn British Airways Avios. British Airways Executive Club is a transfer partner of both American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards, so you can instantly transfer your points to the airline if you have a redemption in mind.

Further, British Airways has a U.S. cobranded credit card with Chase. This card offers a lucrative welcome bonus, awards statement credit towards the carrier’s notoriously high fuel surcharges and gives you a Travel Together companion fare when you spend $30,000 on the card in a calendar year. While we usually recommend putting your spending on a transferable points card, you may find this card worthwhile if you use all of its benefits.

Here’s a look at some of the best cards for earnings:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred Card:  100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. (transfers 1:1 to British Airways)
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve: 560,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months from account opening. (transfers 1:1 to British Airways)
  • British Airways Visa Signature Card: 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Plus, earn an additional 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $20,000 total on purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. (transfers 1:1 to British Airways)

Buy Avios promotion details

Still interested in buying British Airways Avios? The carrier is offering this bonus on all Avios purchased through the British Airways website regardless of how many Avios you purchase. However, you’ll get the most value from this promotion if you opt to buy at least 150,000 Avios.

This is because British Airways prices Avios on a sliding scale. In other words, the more Avios you buy, the cheaper Avios get. For example, buying 1,000 Avios (equal to 1,500 Avios during this promotion) costs $53, meaning that you’d pay 3.53 cents per Avios when you factor in the 50% bonus.

On the other hand, you can purchase 150,000 Avios (equal to 225,000 Avios during this promotion) for $4,149. This is equal to 1.84 cents per Avios — significantly cheaper than if you purchased a smaller amount of Avios. You can view Avios pricing on British Airways’ buy Avios page.

British Airways cobrand credit card members are eligible for a 75% bonus

Those with a British Airways cobranded credit card issued in the U.S. or U.K. are eligible for a 75% bonus on all miles purchased during this promotion. This drops the price to 1.58 cents per Avios when you buy more than 150,000 Avios, which is by far the lowest price we’ve seen for Avios in recent history.

Additionally, this extra bonus means a cobranded cardholder can purchase up to 350,000 Avios during this promotion. Maxing out this bonus would require that you purchase 200,000 Avios (equal to 350,000 Avios with a 75% bonus) for $5,523.

Does buying Avios ever make sense?

TPG values British Airways Avios 1.5 cents apiece, so you’re still paying 0.34 cents per point more than our valuations when you buy Avios through this promotion and don’t hold a British Airways credit card. That’s not to say that there are no good deals to be found though; if you use your Avios for high-value redemptions, there’s a good chance you can score much more than 1.84 cents per point in value.

For example, you can use 154,500 Avios and $239.61 for a round-trip business-class ticket from San Francisco (SFO) to Tokyo (NRT) on British Airways’ Oneworld partner Japan Airlines (JAL). This same flight costs $10,775 in business class on many dates in October, meaning that you’d get 6.82 cents per point in value if you redeem your Avios for this flight. Plus, you’d save a good chunk of cash in the process.

You can also transfer your British Airways Avios to Iberia Avios and take advantage of ultra-cheap business class award tickets from the U.S. to Madrid. But with the current situation in Spain, don’t expect to take this flight until sometime in 2021.

Related: The best uses of 100,000 British Airways Avios

How to buy British Airways Avios

To take advantage of the promotion, follow these steps:

  1. Visit the BA buy Avios page.
  2. To buy Avios for yourself, select “Buy Avios.”
  3. Log in to your account
  4. Select the number of Avios you’d like to buy.
  5. Add your credit card details.
  6. Review the information, check the box to agree to the Terms and Conditions and click Pay Now to finalize the purchase.

There’s historically been a limit of 100,000 purchased Avios per calendar year, per account. However, this limit was elevated to a maximum of 200,000 Avios per calendar year during a recent promotion and has been maintained since. Bonus Avios don’t count toward this maximum purchase amount.

As noted in the introduction, this limit has been reset for this promotion, so Avios purchased earlier in the year will not count towards your 2020 Avios purchasing limit.

What credit card should I use to buy Avios?

When you buy Avios, you’re actually making a purchase with Points.com. These transactions don’t count as an airfare or travel purchase, so you won’t earn bonus points on a credit card that offers extra points on travel purchases. This means you’ll want to purchase Avios with a credit card that earns more than 1 point per dollar spent on all purchase categories.

Some of our favorite cards for everyday spending include The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express (2x Membership Rewards points per dollar on the first $50,000 per calendar year; then 1 point per dollar, terms apply) and the Chase Freedom Unlimited, which earns 1.5% cash back on purchases. Better yet, you can transfer this cash back to an Ultimate Rewards-earning card, effectively earning 1.5 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar.

Featured photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images.

JT Genter contributed to this post.

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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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