British Airways (BA) has been emailing members in the last few days with details of a new Avios promotion. Between now and the 6th August, you can get up to 45% bonus Avios when you buy or gift Avios.
BA seems to have gone back to the tiered bonus system that it trialled earlier this year, albeit a slightly more generous version. But as I’ll explain in a moment, it still isn’t great value.
Here’s the offer:
• 20% bonus when you purchase or gift 1,000 – 15,000 Avios
• 30% bonus when you purchase or gift 20,000 – 35,000 Avios
• 35% bonus when you purchase or gift 40,000 – 90,000 Avios
• 45% bonus when you purchase or gift 100,000 – 200,000 Avios
What’s pricing like?
BA has once again raised the cap on the amount of Avios you are permitted to buy each year – you can now buy up to 200,000 Avios.
Here are some pricing examples:
Example 1 – 20% bonus
8,000 Avios + 1,600 bonus Avios = £143
Cost per Avios = 1.48p – Awful
Example 2 – 30% bonus
25,000 Avios + 7,500 bonus Avios – £415
Cost per Avios = 1.27p – Poor
Example 3 – 35% bonus
90,000 Avios + 31,500 bonus Avios – £1,455
Cost per Avios = 1.19p – Still poor
Example 4 – 45% bonus
125,000 Avios + 56,250 – £2,015
Cost per Avios = 1.11p – Better but still pricey
If I purchased the maximum amount of Avios with a 45% bonus, I would be paying 1.11p per Avios. While I like to think I can get more value than 1.11p when redeeming my miles, it’s still well above my personal ceiling of what I would pay for Avios.
Nevertheless, there are still some circumstances where this can be a decent deal as I outline below.
Should you ever buy Avios from BA?
Regular Tricks of the Trade readers will know by now that I only advocate buying Avios directly from BA in specific circumstances.
Here’s a reminder of when it can make sense:
1.) Just short of a redemption
You may be planning a trip and intend to grab Avios seats as soon as they are released at 355 days before departure, but you find yourself 50,000 Avios short. This bonus makes having to purchase the Avios directly from BA more palatable.
2.) Buying Avios to save on cash tickets
You were thinking of heading to Miami with your partner for a week over Christmas, ideally in business class. Direct flights on BA, Virgin Atlantic or American Airlines all seem to be in the region of £3,000-£4,000 per person.
A return trip using Avios ordinarily costs 150,000 Avios (peak) + £500 or so in taxes.
If you were to purchase all of those Avios during this promotion that would cost you about £1,700. Using this method allows you to ‘buy’ a business class ticket for £2,200 (once taxes are factored in), saving you more than £1,000 on the cash price.
As I always stress, an example like this assumes you would have paid the cash price if there was no better alternative. If you would never pay £3,000 for a business class ticket, your ‘savings’ in all honesty, aren’t really savings.
3.) Gold Priority Rewards
Let’s say you decided that a last-minute getaway to Santorini was in order for the August Bank Holiday.
A quick check shows direct flights (for 2 passengers) are, ahem, quite expensive:
Alternatively, a BA Gold member can book a Gold Priority Reward and use double Avios to book the same seats.
The total cost for two people would be 80,000 Avios return (peak). Assuming you bought all of those Avios under the current promotion that would cost roughly £975.
In this case, even at 1.19p per Avios, this is a good deal. Buying the Avios has saved you more than £1,000 on the regular cash price.
How to buy Avios
The 45% bonus Avios offer is available until 23:59 on 6th August 2018.
I’m definitely not a buyer of Avios at these prices.
However, if you need to top up your account for a forthcoming redemption or intend to use the Avios where you know cash tickets are particularly expensive, the maths may well work for you.