Why You Should ALWAYS Have a Stash of Avios on Hand

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Gilbert Ott over at God Save the Points ran a funny Twitter thread a few weeks ago, asking followers to guess how many Avios he had. The answer was 10. I was particularly amused because my Avios balance was 50 at the time. Gil’s point was that Avios are so easy to earn that you should never be afraid of fully redeeming your Avios. I completely agree, and was perfectly happy with my balance of 50 Avios – safe in the knowledge that I regularly earn more.

Fast forward to mid-October and I came to regret my balance of 50 Avios…

What Happened?

I was sitting in a London pub with a friend at 7pm when I received a phone call. Due to a bit of a family emergency – all fine now – I needed to fly home to Spain ASAP.

After making my excuses, I got online… only to find that next-day flights were costing £500-600 on British Airways and £250+ for Easyjet and Ryanair (it will be a cold day in you-know-where before I give Ryanair £300 for a single flight (once all extras are included) from Stansted…).

Luckily, British Airways was offering a Business Class reward seat for the first flight of the morning I could conceivably make…

There was only one problem, however…  I didn’t have any Avios available!!! (and no points that would immediately transfer)

And due to the vagaries of BA’s Avios & Money award booking scheme, I would have needed at least 8,750.

Buy Some Avios?

I certainly tried, but I clearly chose the day where BA’s website was glitching interminably. Nonetheless, to buy 8,750 Avios I would have needed to buy 10,000 Avios for £175 at the regular price. Add-on the £82.50 of Avios & Money and I would have ended up paying £250.

Perhaps defensible under the circumstances – and definitely preferable to the Ryanair option – but sacrilegious nonetheless to a travel hacker such as myself (when I should really have no shortage of lower-cost Avios).

What Did I Do in the End?

Luckily, American Airlines AAdvantage was offering the same award space as British Airways.

With my Twitter feed full of warnings of an imminent devaluation of American Airlines miles, I decided to burn most of my remaining balance of AA miles. Even though I was ultimately receiving less than 1p per mile of value – when they can be worth 1.5p or more – it was the lowest “cash cost” way I could think of to get home ASAP.

The Lesson Learnt

If instead of 50 Avios I had 8,750, this article would have been quite different. But the next time a relevant promotion comes along – allowing me to buy Avios at a reasonable price – then I will be refilling my Avios account. Now I know that a balance of 10 or 50 Avios is not all that funny after all…


  1. Richmond_Surrey says

    These last minute flights on BA rewards are really useful. Bought tickets hours before flights many times.

    • Craig Sowerby says

      Yes. A good GGL friend would be great! 🙂 (free sending of Avios to other members)

      That’s actually a good idea for an article. Because even my friends who say “feel free to use my Avios” get a bit annoyed when I tell them they have to pay for the taxes themselves with me reimbursing them later…

      • Niall says

        Ah good point. For me, Gold friends have been useful when I have been a lowly Silver and needed a double avios booking for flights at peak times. Look forward to the article ‘how to pick your friends based on their frequent flyer status’ 😉

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