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How to Buy Avios: The Ultimate Travel Hack for Cheap Flights

British Airways A320 flight

Ever wanted to fly Business Class or first class, and wondered how people on Instagram, TikTok or YouTube who fly Business Class or first class regularly can afford it? It’s no secret that Business Class and first class flights often cost thousands of dollars for long-haul flights.

Well there is another way to fly in Business Class or First Class for less – airline miles. Specifically, Avios flight redemptions with British Airways Executive Club for British Airways and oneworld flights.

Redeeming airline points and airline miles for premium cabin travel is the ultimate travel hack, as you will likely only need to pay cash for minimal airport taxes and fees, when compared to the cash fare. If you don’t have a bank of Avios sitting around, Buying Avios can make sense, as even with the additional cost, you can still save yourself thousands of dollars (or pounds) compared to paying cash.

Below, I will discuss how to buy Avios through British Airways, to use for Avios flight redemptions on British Airways flights, and flights redemptions with oneworld partners. This method can work out significantly cheaper than buying flights outright with cash, especially for premium cabins.

British Airways Club Europe cabin, a great use of Avios for flight redemptions.

What are Avios?

Avios are British Airways version of airline miles or airline points. The British Airways loyalty program is called the British Airways Executive Club, and Avios are their currency.

With Avios, you can spend them on flight redemptions (amongst other redemption opportunities) with British Airways, oneworld partners or codeshare partners. For more information on other Avios redemption opportunities besides flights, check out my other article here

Flight redemptions are subject to availability, but British Airways does guarantee that at least 4 business class (Club World or Club Europe), 2 premium economy (World Traveller Plus) and 8 economy (World Traveller) seats are available for redemption on every British Airways flight in their network.

Why should I buy Avios? Is it worth it?

You should generally not buy British Airways Avios speculatively, as with all airline loyalty programs, they can be devalued at any stage.

However, if you have a specific flight redemption you wish to book and you require an Avios top-up, or have no airline miles (Avios) or loyalty with British Airways at all and the cost of buying Avios is cheaper than the cash price of your particular flights, it can be worth buying Avios for that specific redemption.

Use Forward of the Wing’s Redemption Value Calculator, to check the redemption value of a specific Avios flight redemption. I generally aim for a redemption value higher than 1.5c / 1.1p per Avios, however if you need to buy Avios, the cost is your baseline.

I always check the redemption value across different cash co-payment and flight redemption options (including dates, flight routes and cabins) to maximise the value I get from my Avios on specific Avios flight redemptions. This is super handy for long-haul flights, as you can look at the British Airways and oneworld network for options between continents (such as between Asia and Europe), and then purchase low-cost repositioning flights either to the origin of that flight, or from the destination to your intended destination. Compare the total price to non-stop cash paid flight options, but generally buying Avios can still work out significantly cheaper for Business Class or First Class Avios flight redemptions than booking with cash.

How to buy Avios

I cover some ways you can earn Avios in my article here, if you are looking at earning Avios with your everyday spending, both online and in-store.

Try to only buy Avios outright for specific Avios flight redemptions you are looking to purchase, with availability. Buying Avios speculatively could lead to devaluation, or an increased number of Avios required on certain routes. However, if you have a specific flight redemption in mind, with a higher redemption value than the cost to buy Avios (or top up your existing Avios balance), it makes financial sense.

This is especially true around peak travel periods such as British School Holidays, peak British and European Summer, bank holiday weekends, and other public holiday periods such as Christmas and Easter, when cash flight prices can be high. Book early for these dates, as the finite number of rewards seats on each British Airways or oneworld partner flights generally sell out early. Rogue expensive cash fares can also take place on certain routes due to increased demand, so buying Avios for redemption flights on these expensive dates, if available, can save you money.

British Airways Engine View from Plane

Buying Avios: My Process

If I want to buy Avios for a specific redemption, here is the process I use to make sure buying Avios represents good value.

Check Avios Flight Redemptions Availability

Firstly, use the “Book with Avios” tool on the British Airways website to check availability for the specific flight route you are after, and dates. If you are flexible with dates, this will work in your favour as you may be able to shift your dates by a day or two to get off-peak pricing, and may have access to premium cabins.

To check British Airways flight availability, if your dates are flexible, click on the “Find availability with British Airways on other dates” tool to show a calendar view with available flight redemptions for your searched route in a calendar view, in the cabin you have searched for. Do note, that this function does not show partner flight redemption availability.

To check for partner airline flight redemption availability, unfortunately you do need to search manually for the route, dates and cabin you are after. If your preferred search isn’t available, you will need to check for availability by checking individual dates for flight redemptions, by selecting one of the three dates either side of your search date.

Once you find a flight route, date and cabin with availability either on British Airways, oneworld partners or another partner airline, it’s time to book.

Avios Flight Redemptions: Buying Avios

If you don’t hold any Avios (maybe you mainly use a different frequent flyer program) or are short of the required number of Avios for the flight, you have a few options.

Adjust cash co-payment with Reward Flight Saver

British Airways operates “Reward Flight Saver” on their own flights. This allows you to increase or decrease the cash co-payment for airport taxes and fees, and instead change the number of Avios you spend. If you are just short of the required number of Avios, this is an option to pay more cash.

Buy Avios

If you wish to Buy Avios, on the British Airways website, click “Discover” -> “Executive Club” -> “Collecting Avios”. On the left hand sidebar, there is a “Buying Avios” option. From there, click “Buy Avios”. Select how many Avios you require, and it will tell you the cost. Sometimes British Airways does have sales or bonus points when you purchase Avios.

You can purchase as little as 2,000 Avios for £49 ($60), up to 200,000 Avios, with the price per Avios less the more you purchase.

Once you have bought the Avios you require, go back to the British AirwaysBook with Avios” tool.

British Airways Plane taxiing towards the gate

Insider Tip: Alternative Ways to Buy Avios

Instead of buying Avios, here are some unique travel hacks to consider that you can use to increase your British Airways Avios balance, for less cost.

Balance Boost

With British Airways’ Shopping Portal, you can receive Avios on your everyday online shopping, shopping in-store at selected merchants and travel bookings and experiences, when booked through the portal.

If you have had a particularly large recent transaction that has completed and you have received the Avios, or you have recently completed lots of British Airways or oneworld flying and received the Avios, you could look to Balance Boost to get even more Avios for cheap. 

Balance Boost is a British Airways program that lets you purchase extra Avios at a fixed price based on the Avios that have hit your British Airways Executive Club account in the last 30 days. Avios must have been received into your British Airways Executive Club account, so pending transactions do not count.

You can balance boost your Avios earnings over the last 30 days by either 1x, 2x or 3x. The more you balance boost, the cheaper the cost per Avios. You can boost once per transaction, and there is no limit or cap on how many Avios you can earn from Balance Boost per calendar year. The only thing to note is that there is higher pricing above 300,000 cumulative Avios boosted per year, so only boost transactions above that if the redemption value of an upcoming Avios flight redemption you wish to make is above the Balance Boost price per Avios.

Balance Boost Prices are as follows:

First 300k Avios (Over 300k Avios)1x2x3x
USD1.25c (2.3c)1.22c (2.3c)1.2c (2.3c)
GBP0.96p (1.77p)0.94p (1.77c)0.92p (1.77c)

As you can see, even though there is no cap, the price you pay per Avios above 300,000 Avios per year is significantly higher, so other Avios earning methods may be cheaper.

Generally, I look for Avios redemptions with a redemption value greater that 1.5c (1.1p), so this can be a great way to acquire Avios for cheap.

Avios Subscription

British Airways Executive Club have a Avios subscription offer, for those frequent flyers who need a consistent Avios top-up each year, at a discount. It’s also a great way to accumulate Avios with a yearly or monthly subscription, helping to budget throughout the year. Note that prices for Avios subscription packages are shown in British Pounds, but you can still purchase these in the US.

If you use your Avios for family holidays, or December Holiday season travel, but don’t usually earn enough Avios for the whole family, this is a fantastic option to help spread the cost.

Even better, with the annual subscription, you get 2 months free.

British Airways has 4 Avios subscription packages to choose from:

  • Voyager – 20,000 Avios per year
  • Traveller – 50,000 Avios per year
  • Explorer – 100,000 Avios per year
  • Adventurer – 200,000 Avios per year

Pricing of the 4 Avios subscription packages are as follows:

Monthly£26/month (£312/year)£55/month (£660/year)£105/month (£1,260/year)£199/month

The Cost per Avios of each Avios package is:


  • Voyager – 1.56p per Avios
  • Traveller – 1.32p per Avios
  • Explorer – 1.26p per Avios
  • Adventurer – 1.19p per Avios


  • Voyager – 1.30p per Avios
  • Traveller – 1.10p per Avios
  • Explorer – 1.05p per Avios
  • Adventurer – 0.99p per Avios

As you can see, the more Avios you subscribe to, the better the value. Always aim for a redemption value for your Avios greater than the cost of your Avios. There are definitely subscription options with a cost per Avios lower than 1.1p (1.5c), so this can be a worthwhile option for buying more Avios.

In all, the Avios Subscription is a great Avios top-up option if you need a consistent number of Avios each year that you cannot get through flying, everyday spend with credit cards, shopping partners, or Balance Boost. Whilst I don’t recommend buying Avios speculatively, if you know you will need these Avios for a particular redemption and the route has plenty of Avios availability consistently, this can be a great option.

Make sure to pay with a British Airways co-branded Credit Card or Rewards Credit Card that partners with British Airways (such as American Express Membership Rewards) to earn additional Avios from this subscription.

Nectar (UK-residents only)

British Airways Executive Club and Nectar has a partnership where you can instantly exchange Avios and Nectar Points. If you shop at Sainsburys and other Nectar Points regularly (tip: use the Nectar app and save offers for bonus points), converting Nectar Points is a great way to top up your British Airways Executive Club account.

The exchange rate is:

400 Nectar Points = 250 Avios

 300 Avios = 400 Nectar Points

As you can see, it is more expensive to exchange Avios for Nectar Points and the redemption value of Nectar Points is fairly low, so I wouldn’t recommend using your Avios on grocery shopping unless you needed to. You get a much higher redemption value for your Nectar Points by converting them to Avios and using them for flight redemptions instead.

To create the link between your two accounts, connect your Nectar account and British Airways Executive Club account in the Nectar app, or you can do it through the British Airways website. Then, you can exchange Nectar Points for Avios, and vice versa.

This is a super handy way to top up your Avios if you are just short of your next Avios flight redemption, if you currently hold a bank of Nectar Points from your everyday grocery shopping with Sainsburys.

British Airways Plane flying over Windsor on takeoff from London Heathrow

How to Book Avios Flight Redemptions

With your shiny new Avios balance, search again for the flights you wanted and found availability for earlier on the specific dates, route and in the selected cabins with the “Book with Avios” tool. Select the specific cabin and flights you are after, and you will see the total Avios and co-payment options at the bottom of the screen. Click continue.

You will be able to select the specific co-payment and Avios combination you wish to redeem. Generally, the higher the cash co-payment, the higher the Avios redemption value, as less Avios are required. I recommend to explore the Avios redemption value for each of the 6 co-payment options in an Excel spreadsheet before you book. Generally, I aim for an Avios redemption value greater than 1.5c per Avios (or use the price per Avios you bought them at). This is to make sure you are getting better value than the cash price of your ticket.

Follow the booking process, inputting your details and pay for the co-payment with your credit or debit card to complete your booking.

British Airways Plane on pushback

No Avios Flight Redemptions Availability?

As mentioned above, British Airways does guarantee a minimum of 12 to 14 seats are available for Avios redemptions on each British Airways flight (in classes that are available). However, simply due to sheer demand, key popular long-haul routes (including London – Singapore – Sydney) with few flights, usually less than one flight per day, often show no availability across months. Some routes are even already sold out all year. Availability is released 355 days out, but this is still quickly snapped up by eagle eyed British Airways Executive Club members.

Take routes popular with families such as London to Orlando. 8 economy seats mean that only 2 families of 4 can book Avios redemptions on each flight.

Let’s look as some ways you can find availability if you keep finding the routes you are seeking are showing no Avios flight redemption availability.

British Airways Full Year Search for Avios Flight Redemptions Availability

Full Year Calendar Search

On the “Reward Flight Finder” page of the British Airways website, select your origin and destination. Under your preferred dates, you can select “Full Year Search”. Select which cabin class you wish to search for and the number of people.

This search will show you the current British Airways Avios award availability across the next 12 months, for both outbound and inbound.

Do note that this only works for British Airways operated flights only, and does not work for British Airways codeshare partners and oneworld partners. Unfortunately, for partner flight redemptions with Avios, you must search for the route, dates and cabin to check availability.

Reward Flight Availability changes all the time, so if there is no availability currently for your dates, be patient and flexible.

Rhodes, Greece is a Avios Flight Redemptions option with British Airways.

Off-the-beaten-track destinations

If you are fixated on a specific popular destination for your holiday, such as the Algarve, Rome or Spain and the Baleric Islands, and there is no Avios flight redemptions available, consider some more off-the-beaten-track destinations that British Airways flies to.

I cover all the flight routes that British Airways flies, their Avios flight redemption distance band, and what the sweet spot flight routes are to maximize your time in the air, here.

Plus, these off-the-beaten track destinations often have more regular Avios flight redemption availability, greater premium cabin class availability, and once you arrive, are generally less touristy and less populated than the classic holiday destinations. This can also mean better hotels at lower prices, new unique experiences and a more relaxing and enjoyable holiday.

Some of my European sunseeker recommendations include Corfu, Sardinia (Olbia and Cagliari), Zakynthos, Rhodes or Dalaman in Turkey. Make sure to take a look at the Forward of the Wing list of British Airways’ Flight Routes for some more holiday inspiration that’s off-the-beaten-track.

Routes with multiple flights operated by British Airways and Partners

On some flight routes, both British Airways and some oneworld partners operate the same route. This increases the number of flights, allowing more timing options for passengers, and more connecting flight options, without long stopovers. It also provides more Avios flight redemption availability for British Airways Executive Club members, including for Premium Economy, Business Class and First Class.

Transatlantic Joint Venture

British Airways famously has a joint venture with American Airlines, Finnair and Iberia on their transatlantic routes, allowing for passengers to select fares from whichever airline has the best timing to suit you. It also means more daily transatlantic flights, and more Business Class and First Class Avios flight reward availability, including Finnair’s non-reclining sofa business class seat, British Airways brand-new Club Suite, and American Airlines Flagship Business and Flagship First seats. If you can find transatlantic availability from London Heathrow in British Airways First, it’s a great way to access the First Wing and Concorde Room at London Heathrow. The Concorde Room is British Airways’ Flagship Airport Lounge, at it’s flagship airport hub. From New York JFK, First passengers can visit the brand-new Chelsea Lounge.

Codeshare Agreement Airline Partners

British Airways also has a codeshare agreement with oneworld partner Qatar Airways, which makes a great excuse to test British Airways Club Suites and Qatar Airways QSuites in a single Avios flight redemption return trip from London to Doha. Oneworld partner Qantas also operates London to Sydney (the Kangaroo Route) alongside British Airways, with both flights stopping over in Singapore. You can mix and match depending on whichever flight connections and timing work for you best, especially if you decide to stopover in vibrant food and shopping mecca, Singapore.

Looking out for these specific routes operated by more than one British Airways partner can uncover routes with more Avios flight redemption availability, and generally more cabin class availability too.

Last minute Avios Flight Redemptions availability

British Airways Avios flight redemption availability for both British Airways and oneworld partners does change all the time.

Whilst British Airways guarantees the minimum number of seats available on every flight, oneworld partner airlines and other codeshare partners do not. Typically, most airlines release Avios flight redemption availability for flights with low occupancy or at off-peak times, with their own loyalty program members having first access to reward flight redemptions. Closer to the departure date, occupancy becomes clearer, and so Avios flight availability tends to open up.

If you are flexible but can be patient, it can be worth holding out and searching the “Reward Flight Finder” portal regularly to see if any Avios flight redemption availability has opened up. Typically, more Avios flight redemption availability opens up, especially in premium cabins (Premium Economy, Business Class and sometimes First Class) 4-6 weeks prior to departure.

I recently found this the case for an upcoming flight on Qantas from Sydney to Auckland, which has been showing no availability for months. T-1 month, and there are multiple flight options nearly every day on Qantas with both Economy and some Business Class availability. There is also now LATAM Business Class Avios flight redemption availability showing for the same dates. LATAM is an ex-oneworld alliance partner, breaking off on the 1st of May, 2020. British Airways has a separate codeshare agreement with LATAM now, allowing for Avios flight redemptions, and various other shared frequent flyer elite status benefits.

Does buying Avios also give you tier points?

Unfortunately, you can only earn tier points on British Airways or oneworld flights booked with cash. This means buying Avios, or redemption flights booked with Avios are ineligible for earning tier points.

If you are running short on tier points in order to renew or upgrade your British Airways Executive Club elite status, you could consider a mileage run to help boost your tier points.

You can use Avios for Economy and Business Class flight redemptions with oneworld partner, Malaysia Airlines.
You can redeem Avios for Economy and Business Class flights with oneworld partner, Malaysia Airlines.

British Airways Partner Airlines: Can I use my Avios to pay for flights with them?

Yes, through the British Airways website and contact center, you can use Avios to book flight redemptions with oneworld partner airlines as well as British Airways’ other codeshare airline partners. There are definitely some great sweet spot Avios flight redemptions to be had with these airline partners, which can be priced differently to British Airways’ own Avios redemptions, and have lower airport fees and taxes. 

On flight routes covered by multiple oneworld partners, you will usually get more Avios flight redemption availability, which means more dates available, more premium economy, business class or first class flight redemption availability and more flight time availability if there are multiple daily flights on the route.

How many Avios can I buy in a year?

You can buy up to 200,000 Avios per year, for yourself, or for someone else. Perfect for an upcoming trip if you need to top up the number of Avios, or top up the Avios of a travelling companion. The purchasing year is the calendar year, from the 1st of January until the 31st of December.

Avios in your British Airways Executive Club account expire after 36 months of inactivity. That is, not earning or spending any Avios in a 36 month period. If you purchase Avios for yourself or someone else, and yourself or your friend have not had any Avios activity recently, the 36 month Avios expiry resets (which is a handy insider tip). You can buy just 2,000 Avios, and can extend the validity of the Avios you currently hold in your British Airways Executive Club account.

Sweet Spot Avios Flight Redemptions

There are certain flights that are a sweet spot for Avios flight redemptions, with a high redemption value. Typically, you will get the most value in premium cabins (Premium Economy, Business Class and First Class), but recently I have also seen value in long-haul Economy flights with Avios oneworld partners.

Some Economy flights I recently saw that can represent fantastic redemption value depending on the cash fare are:

  • Auckland to London – Qatar Airways
  • Auckland to Dallas Fort-Worth – Qatar Airways (note this goes 3/4 of the way around the world on two ultra long-haul flights via Doha)
  • Auckland to New York – Qantas
  • Doha to Adelaide – Qatar Airways
  • Madrid to Rio de Janeiro – Iberia
  • Madrid to Santiago – Iberia
  • Madrid to Buenos Aires – Iberia

Common amongst all these flights is that they originate outside of the UK and US. There are high airport fees and taxes for UK originating flights, so best to book long-haul flights originating in Europe if departing from the UK. US flights can also have expensive airport fees and taxes, and the cash price can be relatively low, leading to a low redemption value. If you are flying from the US or the UK, it may work out cheaper to book the return inbound flight one-way with Avios, and then pay the outbound flight with cash.

For more Avios flight redemption inspiration, check out the following Forward of the Wing articles:

Plane parked at London Heathrow Terminal 5 with Sunset in background


In all, there are plenty of unique ways to buy Avios for you next Avios flight redemption, than just simply buying Avios outright. Explore them, and compare the cost, and you could be surprised about how much cheaper it can work out to be.

Redemption Value matters, so make sure there is availability for the flight route, dates and cabin class you are after, before you commit to buying Avios. Like all airline loyalty programs, Avios flight redemptions could be devalued at any point, so it’s only worth buying Avios for a specific redemption, not buying speculatively.

If you have any more insider tips and tricks for buying Avios for less, email me at [email protected], and I will update this article for our readers.