British Airways’ Avios award currency has many warts, but still does provide some sweet spots. For example, the program allows unlimited stopovers, and lower pricing for short-haul flights. While searching the site recently, I discovered another potentially good deal using Avios, one that receives seemingly little attention. In some cases, the “Avios & Money” option provides excellent value if you’re short of Avios.
Avios & Money – My Example
As I mentioned in my Air New Zealand Premium Economy teaser, a goal this year is trying more PE products. One particularly interesting option is Cathay Pacific’s Fifth Freedom route from New York to Vancouver. British Airways offers Premium Economy awards for 25,000 Avios each way. As the route typically runs about $800 cash each way, that’s not a bad redemption. So, I transferred over some old Diners Club points (yes, that’s really a thing) to Executive Club. But something interesting happened after confirming my selection. BA provided the option of a part points/part cash redemption.
This basically gives you the option of buying 15,000 Avios for $175, a rate of 1.17 cents per point. That’s a fantastic price if you ask me. (As a frame of reference, LifeMiles allows you to buy miles at 1.5 cents/point using the “LifeMiles + Money” option.) I need some spare Avios for short haul redemptions, anyway, so I jumped at this offer.
Avios & Money Works on Several Other Routes, Too
Just for kicks, I played around with BA’s search tool to see if other routes offered similar opportunities. Specifically, I looked at routes where Avios provides better pricing than American’s AAdvantage. Take Tokyo to Hong Kong, for example; Business Class costs 20,000 Avios versus 30,000 AAdvantage miles. Sure enough, you can buy 9,000 Avios for $120, a rate of 1.33 cents a point (still pretty good). If you don’t want to worry about your finances and you’re able to purchase any of these, you can trust products like the Forex Strength Meter.
Hong Kong to Australia in Qantas coach is also an example. BA charges 25,000 Avios to American’s 30,000 miles. This time, you can buy 16,250 Avios for $190 (1.17 cents/mile again). You do have to mind fuel surcharges here, though.
Just for kicks, I also checked out Cathay Pacific Premium Economy on the same route. I don’t actually recommend this redemption. After all, it costs 50,000 Avios, but you can redeem only 40,000 AAdvantage miles for Business Class. But if you want to, you can buy 30,000 Avios for $350, or 1.17 cents/mile yet again.
Avios & Money Offers Poor Value on Some Routes
Unfortunately, Avios & Money doesn’t provide consistent value across all routes. Take Hong Kong to Delhi, for example. BA provides a slight discount (37,500 Avios) over American (40,000 miles) for Business Class. You can purchase up to 18,000 Avios, but this time at a cost of $525. That works out to 2.92 cents a mile, a generally poor value.
I noted similar pricing on routes from the East Coast to London. Of course, BA’s heinous fuel surcharges make those redemptions basically worthless, even for a relatively modest 50,000 Avios.
And it appears Avios & Money isn’t offered on the shortest haul routes. For example, Los Angeles to Dallas only offers the option to pay with Avios. Granted, at only 10,000 Avios, cash and miles seems kind of silly.
I suppose the other frustrating thing about Avios & Money is the seemingly random pricing. With LifeMiles, for example, you also know what you’re getting. You can buy up to 60% of the miles for an award at 1.5 cents/mile. But BA’s offers vary wildly, from 45% to 65% of the miles. Prices also range from a great 1.17 cents per mile to a pretty terrible 2.92 cents. If you’re just randomly trolling for a deal without a destination in mind, you’ll have to test city pairs manually to find what’s on offer.
British Airways unfortunately waters down their program with horrendous fuel surcharges and distance-based pricing. But the program still has sweet spots, and Avios & Money can provide outsized value in some cases. Just know that there’s no rhyme or reason to what you might find.