Throughout the year, British Airways often puts on sales for buying Avios. In some cases, it can represent a good deal, while in others, it’s not necessarily a bargain.
One of the quirks of buying Avios is that you’re charged a different base rate depending on which country you reside in. Canadians and Americans both are subject to pricing in US dollars, while residents of Europe are charged in British pounds or euros, depending on where they live.
British Airways has announced that as of May 1, 2023, there will be changes to the cost of buying Avios. For anyone who is subject to pricing in US dollars, this is actually good news, as the base price will decrease by around 17%, while European residents will have to pay 10–18% more.
Upcoming Changes to the Price of Purchased Avios
As of May 1, 2023, the cost of buying Avios will change. In some cases, the cost is going up, while in others, the cost is going down.
The bad news is that if you’re subject to buying Avios in euros or British pounds, you’ll have to pay more. The increase is more dramatic in euros than it is with pounds, which is unfortunate news for anyone who happens to buy Avios in Europe.
The cost in euros is raising 10–18%, and the cost in pounds is raising 4–10%, depending on how many Avios you buy.
On the other hand, the price is actually decreasing for anyone who is subject to payment in US dollars, which includes both Canadians and Americans.
Prior to May 1, 2023, the base price for purchasing Avios in US dollars ranges from 4 cents per point (USD) at the high end to around 2.8 cents per point (USD) at the low end. As of May 1, 2023, the cost is dropping to 3.25 cents per point (USD) at the high end and 2.3 cents per point (USD) at the low end.
This represents a drop in price of around 19% for small amounts of Avios and around 17% at the higher end, with other percentages in between.
For context, the equivalent prices in US dollars for buying Avios in British pounds ranges from around 3.1 cents per point (USD) at the high end to about 2.2 cents per point (USD) at the low end. Converting from euros, the new prices will be equivalent to around 3.7 cents per point (USD) at the high end to about 2.6 cents per point (USD) at the low end.
In other words, the pricing in British pounds is still the best deal, although the difference between the new pricing in US dollars is almost negligible. As currencies fluctuate, so will the above conversions, which are meant to only be illustrative of the different costs depending on where you live.
It’s important to note that the base price of purchasing Avios varies depending on how many you buy, too. You’ll pay more per Avios if you buy fewer points, and you’ll pay less if you buy more. The difference becomes fairly trivial after buying 25,000 Avios, as the cost per point pretty much flattens out from there.
Keep in mind that during sales, the discount is determined from the base price of points. So, for Canadians, Americans, and anyone else who is subject to pricing in US dollars for points sales, you may want to have a closer look the next time an Avios promotion comes up.
Is Buying Avios Ever a Good Deal?
It goes without saying that speculatively buying points can be risky. After all, the cost of a redemption might increase without warning overnight, and if that were to happen, you’d be getting less value from your points than if you were to have already redeemed them.
However, there are some cases when buying points can make sense.
Let’s consider the example of booking a flight in Qatar Airways Qsuites, one of the world’s best business class products.
A cash ticket between Seattle and Doha might price out at $10,167 (USD) for a round-trip booking.
If you were to book the same flights with Qatar Airways Avios, which can be transferred instantly from British Airways Avios at a 1:1 ratio, you’d need 140,000 Avios and around $218 (USD) in taxes and fees.
With the new pricing, you’d need to spend $3,455 (USD) to buy 150,000 Avios at the base rate. Even when you take into consideration the taxes and fees on the award booking, you’re still coming out way ahead and saving a large sum of money versus if you were to have paid cash for the same flights.
Under the previous pricing, you’d have to pay $4,149 (USD) for the same amount of Avios, and while you’d still have come out ahead, it’s about to get even sweeter with lower costs.
Keep in mind that this doesn’t take into consideration any sales on points. For example, if you were to buy 150,000 Avios with a 50% discount, you’d wind up even farther in the black.
If you plan on buying Avios, you’ll want to wait for a sale and have an immediate, specific use in mind to make sure you’re getting a good deal. You’ll want to ensure that the flights you’d like to book are available on points first, and if that’s the case, then you could consider proceeding with a points purchase.
British Airways is changing the base rate of buying Avios. As of May 1, 2023, the cost of buying Avios is increasing in British pounds and euros, and decreasing in US dollars.
This is good news for anyone who is subject to pricing in US dollar on purchased Avios, as you’ll be paying around 17% less than what you currently have to pay.
Buying points can make sense in certain situations, and if you have a good reason to buy Avios, it’ll come at a cheaper price in US dollars in the near future.