Avios are the reward currency for British Airways, Qatar Airways, Iberia and soon Finnair. While not that common in Australia, they are gaining more prominence. British Airways recently opened sign-ups to their Executive Club program to Australians and Qatar Airways had recently been added as a transfer partner to American Express’ Membership Rewards program. These airlines are all members of the Oneworld alliance meaning there’s potential to earn points when flying on Qantas, Cathay Pacific, and Japan Airlines – all airlines with a large presence in Australia. While Qantas points are quite easy to collect in Australia without flying, most people don’t know how to earn Avios in Australia without flying. Here’s a short guide on how to top up your balance and save money on flights.
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Purchasing Avios really is one of the best ways to save money if you time your purchases right and know what you’re doing. Depending on the flight you want, you may not be able to purchase all the points for your journey, so this is best used to top up points and get to the destination you want. However, in some cases, you may be able to secure all the Avios points needed for a journey at a much lower price than paying cash.
To use this method, you must have earned at least 1 Avios before you can buy points. The easiest way to do this if you aren’t already a Qatar Airways Privilege Club member is to sign up and use the promo code JOINPC23 if you plan on flying with them in the near future for 2,000 points. Alternatively sign up and transfer some points from your American Express account to meet this threshold. Remember, these can be transferred freely to the British Airways Executive Club as well.
How many points can you purchase?
If you go down the points purchasing route, note that you can only purchase up to 200,000 points per calendar year, plus whatever the bonus points given at the time of the offer are. The points cost varies based on how many points you buy, starting at £49 for 2,000 points to £3,539 for 200,000 points or a cost of between 0.025p and 0.017p per point. With a bonus offer such as the recent 40% bonus, the cost per point dramatically reduces from about 0.017p to 0.013p per point.
Qatar Airways also offers the ability to buy Avios however their purchase rates are slightly more expensive at £62 ($117) for 2,000 points and £4,693 ($8864) for 200,000 points. It’s worth noting that Qatar lets you purchase up to 250,000 points per year and their last bonus offer had a 60% bonus on top of the points purchased. This can change the value proposition in your favour. Remember Avios can instantly be transferred between British Airways and Qatar Airways at a 1:1 rate.
There are other ways to buy points even cheaper
British Airways also offers a couple of other unique ways to purchase points which aren’t as straightforward but offer points at a substantially discounted rate.
- Subscriptions give you a fixed amount of Avios per month. This can be paid monthly or annually (giving you 2 months free). The maximum amount you can purchase is 200,000 points per year and the current cost is £1989 ($3757) per year or only 0.01p per point.
- Balance boost allows you to multiple any points you’ve earner on your Avios account in the last 30 days. This includes credit card sign-up bonuses which can be a handy benefit and multiply your bonus points easily. You can choose to boost your balance by x1, x2 or x3 at rates of 0.0092p per point if you choose the x3 option. This rate only applies to the first 300,000 points, after which the rate increases to 0.00177p per point.
Avios is a more flexible currency if you want to go down the points purchasing route as there are a variety of options, and unlike Qantas or Velocity, bonus offers are frequent, making the value proposition greater.
When should you buy points?
One big caveat to buying points is you shouldn’t buy them without a redemption in mind. Do your research first and find some reward seats. Seats can go quickly, especially in business class and especially on high-demand routes. This means if you purchase points without checking availability first, you might be out of pocket and stuck without any reward seats to buy.
Ensure you know the maximum number of points you can buy. It’s easy to get caught out if you want multiple seats and only realise once you’re going through with the purchase. British Airways allows you to purchase 200,000 points per year. There are different limits to points subscriptions and boosts.
Note the requirement to have earned at least 1 Avios point before you can buy points. Luckily, with the Qatar partnership, both Virgin and Qantas flights can earn Avios, so if you credit your next domestic flight to Qatar Airways, you’ll have met the threshold to qualify for these promotions in the future. You can also consider transferring a few points from your hotel loyalty program of choice to achieve the same thing.
What can you get for your points?
There are two main ways to use purchased points:
- Top up your balance to reach a redemption which you otherwise might not be able to get. This is, of course, much cheaper for you if you’re only a few points short and is quite easy to justify.
- Buy the entire required points for a booking to save money compared to the cash price.
Let’s see the type of redemptions you could get:
- East Coast Australia to Europe in business class at a 50% discount. Post-pandemic prices for business class from Australia are through the roof. Especially for flights between Australia and Europe. It is not uncommon for return flights to cost $10,000. With Avios you can buy enough points to fly business class return from Sydney to London for about $4,200 (potentially cheaper with a greater than 40% points bonus) and pay $600 in taxes. This means instead of paying $10,000 you pay $4,800 for the same flight. Not to mention Qatar’s business class is one of the best flying today.
- Europe to West Coast USA in business class at a 60% discount. Similarly, to the above, a business class fare to West Coast USA will set you back about $6,000. If you were to find a reward business class seat on British Airways, this would set you back 90,000 Avios and $400 in taxes. Buying these points would cost you $2,000, saving you significant money.
- Australian flights between secondary and smaller airports. These flights can be surprisingly expensive in airports with monopoly routes or popular tourist destinations. Try finding a flight between Sydney and Alice Springs, and you’ll be shocked to see prices north of $1000. If you were to purchase Avios and book a reward ticket, you’d only pay $500, saving you at least 50%. This story is much the same in other rural Australian airports.
There are quite a variety of flights you can use this tactic on. With limited points earning opportunities, it is one of easier ways to earn Avios in Australia. To make buying Avios points a worthwhile venture, it’s always worth comparing the cost to that of a cash ticket. Typically, the best value is found in booking business class reward seats and finding shorter flights during peak periods or monopoly routes where award availability is high, and cash prices can be very high. This strategy becomes even more useful if you earn Avios through other routes and top up your balance with these strategies. Remember to use the balance boost and subscription features to get points even cheaper and save even more money!