I have received a request to try and explain how Avios work. It’s a pretty complex question though and I’d suggest reading sites like Headforpoints and the British Airways section of Flyertalk to get more expert thoughts than I can provide.
I will try to simplify things though. Whether I succeed or not is another question. What you read below is definitely not the full story! I’ve written previously about Avios too.
What are Avios?
A currency that can be redeemed buying flights, hotels and car hire around the world.
How can I earn Avios?
Flying with British Airways, other One World Airlines, Aer Lingus and Flybe.
Our business class flights to Chile will net 26,000 Avios each. Shorter economy flights earn significantly fewer Avios.
Booking holidays via BA Holidays.
A £2,000 holiday will earn 4,000 Avios.
Shopping at Tesco.
£100 spend a week will earn over 12,000 Avios a year.
Filling up with petrol at Tesco, Esso and Shell.
£200 a month of Tesco fuel will earn nearly 3,000 Avios a year.
Using certain cards from Lloyds Bank and American Express.
Sign up bonuses can be as high as 35,000 Avios and £500 a month in spending can earn 9,000 Avios a year.
Completing surveys with eRewards and Rewards for Thoughts.
Sign up bonuses of 600 Avios. Ten minute survey a week will earn 2,400 Avios a year.
You can also redeem TopCashback earnings for Avios. This post gives you more information.
What are the best value flight redemptions?
An Avios ticket is fully flexible and can be changed or cancelled for a £35 fee. Most cheap airline fares are non-flexible.
8,000 Avios plus £35 can get you return flights with hold luggage from from London to Prague.
13,000 Avios plus £35 can get the same from Manchester to Ibiza.
100,000 Avios plus £498 will pay for return UK to New York flights in business class.
As a rule, flights to Europe in economy or flights further afield in business class provide best value for money. But there are numerous permutations and there will be examples that bend that rule. I’ve done well redeeming for QANTAS flights to get me between Australian cities.
Avios flights in long haul economy often attract taxes that are close to a non-flexible fare. If you’re confident you’ll be travelling on those dates it makes little sense to pay with Avios.
Longer flights such as those to the American west coast or Australia usually see higher class reward seat availability snapped up 355 days in advance. It’s rare to be able to get any seats that suit.
There are ways to redeem long haul for fewer Avios and lower taxes through Iberia if you fly yourself to Madrid first. Feel free to ask – it gets complicated!
Obe other consideration is that Avios is very much a British Airways currency that you can earn and occasionally spend flying with their One World partner airlines. Although British Airways is currently increasing its routes from Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol they are predominantly a London based airline. Sometimes a Ryanair flight from the north can be better than an Avios redemption that needs a Yorkshireman to get to Gatwick.
More information can be found at the excellent Headforpoints site which adds three articles daily. The BA section of the Flyertalk web site is also helpful, albeit more advanced.
If you are applying for an American Express card get in touch (email address in the contacts info above) and I’ll send you a referral link that will earn us both additional Avios.