Buying Avios is the most straightforward way to top up your British Airways Executive Club balance. The best use of those points is for cheap last-minute Business and Economy Class flights on Qantas in Australia, American Airlines in the US, and Japan Airlines and Cathay Pacific in Asia.
The offer to look out for is a 50% bonus on Avios; this usually only happens twice a year. While there isn’t an offer at present, we recommend brushing up on all the info in this guide if you’re interested in buying Avios for future travels, particularly once we can spread our wings internationally once more.
Why this guide is useful
Avios are great for redeeming short-to-medium flights on oneworld partner airlines. For example, you’ll need 12,500 Avios for a one-way Business Class hop between Sydney and Brisbane (versus 18,400 Qantas Points). Purchasing Avios with a 50% bonus means that you can score this flight for ~A$370, including taxes, instead of cash tickets which retail from A$800.
You will need an active British Airways Executive Club account to take advantage of this offer. If you have not already done so, you can sign up for a British Airways Executive Club account here. You must also have at least one Avios point in your Executive Club account. Otherwise, you will see this very abrupt message:
Past offer details
|Last updated: 25 May 2021|
There are no current Avios promotions. This guide will be updated when the newest offer is released. The previous offer is displayed below.
- Current offer: 50% bonus (non-tiered)
- Ends: 11 April 2021 at 23:59 GMT
- Best value redemptions: short-to-medium non-stop domestic Business Class flights in Australia, the US, Asia and Japan
- Book awards online or phone: most awards can be searched for and booked on the British Airways Executive Club website. If not, expect long wait times, which are reduced if you call their number in Singapore (provided later in the guide)
You can purchase between 1,000 and 200,000 Avios (excluding the bonus) during this promotion, which is double the maximum points you can usually buy in one year. At the top end, this would have you buying 300,000 Avios (with the bonus) for a total of US$5,523, at a cost of 1.84 US cents per mile.
There are usually two purchase links to choose from (which we explain below), with British Airways Executive Club being the most useful for travellers in Australia and New Zealand (but that is the only active one for this particular promotion):
Note: As Avios expire after 36 months of inactivity in your account, make sure to keep your account active by earning/redeeming points regularly.
Why it might be worth buying Avios in advance
Whilst generally the frequent flyer community will tell you not to purchase points without a specific redemption in mind, British Airways Avios could be the exception to the rule. This is due to a unique utility — whilst the greatest value in purchasing points is normally for a long-haul redemption in a premium cabin, Avios are great for short-notice domestic trips when prices are often sky-high.
For this reason, many advanced points collectors like to make sure they always keep a supply on hand, particularly as Qantas is increasing reward seat availability on domestic and trans-Tasman routes.
The basics: British Airways and Iberia
Avios are the frequent flyer loyalty currency of IAG (International Consolidated Airlines Group). That’s the parent company of oneworld partner airlines British Airways and Spanish flag carrier Iberia. Points can be transferred between the two programs (BA Executive Club and Iberia Plus) with ease.
There are two separate (yet intertwined) Avios programs:
The price for BA and Iberia Plus Avios differs based on the Euro exchange rate. British Airways Executive Club will be of the most use to Australia-based travellers. This is the main focus of this article, and later on, we’ll cover how each can be leveraged for their own benefits.
As a result, it pays to join each of these programs to get the most out of the Avios currency and associated loyalty programs. It’s also worth noting that British Airways devalued their program in May 2019, so another devaluation would be unlikely in the immediate future.
What are the Avios sweet spots?
Whilst British Airways has devalued their award chart, they remain excellent value for short- to medium-haul awards on oneworld partner airlines.
Here are three examples in Australia:
- A one-way ticket from either Brisbane to Sydney or Sydney to Melbourne both fall into their lowest bracket at under 600 miles. At this level, a one-way ticket will set you back 6,000 Avios in Economy or 12,500 in Business. Compare this to 8,000 and 18,400 Qantas Points respectively.
- Brisbane to Melbourne is over the 600-mile mark so will fall into the next bracket: 9,000 in Economy or 16,500 in Business. Once again, this is considerably less than Qantas.
- Melbourne to Perth is 11,000 Avios in Economy, 22,000 in Business and Sydney/Brisbane to Perth 13,000 Avios in Economy, 38,750 in Business. This is about the maximum distance where purchasing points outright can represent any value.
Unlike most other purchased miles, Avios can provide good value for Economy flights, especially when redeeming last-minute. And unlike on their international routes, last-minute Qantas domestic awards are easy to come by. Similar short hops can be useful around Asia on other oneworld partners such as Japan Airlines and Cathay Pacific, or in the US on American Airlines and Alaska Airlines.
How are Avios awards priced?
British Airways Executive Club has a distance-based award chart (similar to Qantas), with each segment pricing separately. British Airways-operated flights offer peak and off-peak award pricing, meaning that the number of points you will pay will depend on the date you wish to travel.
As of 2021, here is the current British Airways partner award chart:
|Miles travelled||Economy||Premium Economy||Business||First|
You’ll also need to pay taxes and surcharges on top. British Airways have a well-earned reputation for their high fuel surcharges. For Qantas domestic flights, expect to pay around £24.10 per person, per flight.
Don’t have enough Avios? You can also opt to pay more cash and use fewer Avios on reward flights. Sometimes, you’ll actually be better off going down this route! See the example below: you can save 33,000 Avios in exchange for paying £280 (~A$512) more. You’re essentially buying those Avios for 1.55 AU cents each, which is far cheaper than any of the ‘buy points promotions’ we have listed above.
When to transfer Avios over to Iberia Plus
One feature of the various Avios programs that differs to most others is the ability to transfer points between each other at a 1:1 ratio.
The main advantage here is being able to access Iberia Plus’s redemption rules with your purchased British Airways Executive Club Avios, or to purchase Iberia Plus Avios and move them over to British Airways if there is a different deal running between the two programs.
Whilst generally almost identical to the British Airways program, Iberia plus publishes a slightly different award chart for flights they operate, and a different on-peak/off-peak calendar. Iberia does not fly to Australia so this may be of no use for domestic travel, but for some very specific redemptions, it pays to have a look at both charts and see if it may have some value.
One particular sweet spot is Zone 4 and 5 Business Class redemptions. This allows one-way bookings in Business Class from New York/Boston to Madrid for 34,000 Avios and Chicago/Los Angeles/Miami to Madrid for 42,500 Avios.
By comparison, these are 50,000 and 62,500 Avios on British Airways. Also, Iberia Plus does not levy fuel surcharges when flying on Iberia-operated flights, increasing the savings.
Head For Points has a complete guide on how to transfer points between the two programs. One key point to note is that your Iberia Plus account must be 90 days old and must have earned at least 1 Avios point to be able to purchase and transfer miles.
The easiest way to fulfil this requirement is to simply credit your next Qantas or oneworld flight, car hire or hotel stay to Iberia Plus since it’s a oneworld member airline. Iberia Plus also regularly runs discounted award redemption offers.
Making bookings using Avios
The British Airways website is one of the most complete search engines around when it comes to displaying partner award availability. It includes Qantas and the other oneworld airlines that fly to Australia. You can see exactly how many reward seats are remaining.
While most itineraries should be bookable online, you may need to call up if you’re having difficulties. One piece of advice mentioned on FlyerTalk is that the shortest hold times can be had by contacting their Singapore office on +65 6622 1747.
An alternative way to get Avios: transfer from Marriott Bonvoy and/or Amex Membership Rewards
The other easy way for Australians to acquire Avios is by transferring through Marriott Bonvoy, which is a points partner of American Express Membership Rewards. If you’re short of Avios and Marriott Bonvoy has its own ‘buy points promotion’, you could consider going down that avenue instead.
Our writer Brandon went down this road when he wanted to secure his Easter 2022 Business Class seats with Avios, but only Marriott Bonvoy was running a promotion at the time.
The best use of Avios is for Business Class travel on short- to medium-haul flights in Australia, Asia and the US. It can also make sense for Economy Class redemptions when cash tickets are expensive, especially last-minute. Keep an eye out for a future Avios sales and you may be able to purchase to immediately redeem a Business Class flight at reasonable prices.
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Thanks to TK from the Point Hacks Community for writing up this guide to buying Avios! Updates by Brandon Loo.