150,000 Avios, but they seem almost worthless. Advice sought!

After a dalliance with a rewards credit card some years ago, I have about 150,000 Avios now sat in a BA "Executive Club" account, following the end of the Avios programme. I'm now getting emails telling me that they will expire if I don't do something with them, so I started to look.

The thing is that I live in the economic wastelands in the North of England and it looks like BA don't seem to fly from our northern, grass airstrips any more. Having a quick look at a few flight options (I say "quick", but BA might win an award for worst and slowest website ever), you also need to pay taxes on top of the Avios, and these often seem to work out more than just flying using a low-cost airline who fly from our local airports.

I had visions of taking my wife for a cheap, random European city break, but this now looks extremely optimistic. 150,000 avios sounds a lot, but are they actually worthless and is there anything useful I could (or should) use them for that will actually save me money over just flying using Jet2 / Ryanair / Easyjet from an airport that isn't in London?

Recommendations and suggestions very much welcomed!

Comments

  • Suzycoll
    Suzycoll Posts: 144 Forumite
    First Post First Anniversary Name Dropper Combo Breaker
    hi
    I would just write off the Avios points as pointless having them really. Just carry on with EasyJet, Ryanair etc - if you can book early some OK prices on most of them. If you leave it late prices quite high.

    Personally I have come out of ALL rewards programme (including supermarkets, Boots etc)  as most are useless & just marketing tools for them all
    sorry I do not have any advice re Avios per se
    Regards 
  • daern
    daern Posts: 11 Forumite
    First Anniversary Name Dropper First Post
    Yeah, I'm gradually coming to the same conclusion. I wasn't planning on retiring on the proceeds, but I hadn't figured that they would be quite as useless as they actually seem to be. I guess if you travel a lot from Heathrow anyway, they might be useful for getting upgrades, but if you live north of Milton Keynes, they're probably a waste of time. I guess it'll be Yorkshire Airlines for me in future!
  • DullGreyGuy
    DullGreyGuy Posts: 10,183 Forumite
    First Post First Anniversary Name Dropper
    daern said:
    After a dalliance with a rewards credit card some years ago, I have about 150,000 Avios now sat in a BA "Executive Club" account, following the end of the Avios programme. I'm now getting emails telling me that they will expire if I don't do something with them, so I started to look.

    The thing is that I live in the economic wastelands in the North of England and it looks like BA don't seem to fly from our northern, grass airstrips any more. Having a quick look at a few flight options (I say "quick", but BA might win an award for worst and slowest website ever), you also need to pay taxes on top of the Avios, and these often seem to work out more than just flying using a low-cost airline who fly from our local airports.

    I had visions of taking my wife for a cheap, random European city break, but this now looks extremely optimistic. 150,000 avios sounds a lot, but are they actually worthless and is there anything useful I could (or should) use them for that will actually save me money over just flying using Jet2 / Ryanair / Easyjet from an airport that isn't in London?

    Recommendations and suggestions very much welcomed!
    If you google reward flight finder you come across a third party website that is much more user friendly in terms of being able to find flights. For free membership you can find available rewards to a destination of your choice. You can also put in a date range and a start location and it will show all flights anywhere in the world etc - cant remember if thats in the free or premium level these days.

    Reward Flight Savers you only pay a £1 or so in cash but are only available on some short haul flights
    Reward Flights you pay the full taxes and given economy flights are predominately taxes the benefits are small in lower class (though reward bookings are flexible up to the day before departure) however the savings are much greater if you book higher class of cabins.

    It all comes down to your preferences... we booked a Reward Flight from Hong Kong to the UK in 1st class for $5 per person. The cash price at the time was £12,000 per person. Clearly would have never paid the cash price so difficult to say what we truly saved but a $5 flight was certainly cheap and I did drink my weight in some exceptionally good wines. 
  • daern
    daern Posts: 11 Forumite
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    Thanks @DullGreyGuy I'll take a look at that website. Looks like you can sign up for 7 days for free, so will give it a go and see if it comes up with anything interesting.
  • bagand96
    bagand96 Posts: 6,097 Forumite
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    Generally speaking the real value of Avios is to use them for upgrades on long haul flights. However @DullGreyGuy has given good advice on you can use them well for short haul flights with reward saver.

    Failing that you could move them into Nectar and have around £1000 to spend in Sainsbury's.  That actually might work out best for you if you were planning on burning the Avios on a flight from London for the sake of it. Avios to Nectar conversion rate devalued! What should you do? (headforpoints.com)
  • cymruchris
    cymruchris Posts: 5,137 Forumite
    First Anniversary First Post Name Dropper Photogenic
    If you convert them to nectar points you could likely get a couple of free ipads or some other electronic item equivalent - one for you one for your partner. I'd certainly do that over 'losing them'.
    An ex-bankrupt on a journey of recovery. Feel free to send me a DM reference credit building credit cards from the usual suspects :) Happy to help others going through what I've been through!
  • Suzycoll said:
    I would just write off the Avios points as pointless having them really. Just carry on with EasyJet, Ryanair etc - if you can book early some OK prices on most of them. If you leave it late prices quite high.
    Astoundingly bad advice to someone with 150,000 Avios. At a bare minimum, 150,000 Avios are worth 200,000 Nectar points, and therefore £1,000 to spend at Sainsburys, Argos or Ebay, amongst other places. If the OP were to just write them off as worthless, they would be missing out on months of free groceries!

    Admittedly for flights, Avios are more useful if you live in the south east of the country. And admittedly, BA don't make it easy to get good value out of them. But if you would prefer to use them for a treat you could:
    • Book your accommodation on the Nectar Hotels website. Again, your 150k Avios are worth £1,000 here.
    • Fly from Manchester to New York on Aer Lingus. Return flight is 26k Avios + £300 per person. Bit more expensive than a low cost flight but a fully flexible fare including baggage etc. For more Avios and less money you could also fly long distance on BA with a connection in London.
    • Incorporate a trip to London into your holiday? DullGreyGuy's advice about Reward Flight Finder and Reward Flight Saver is good, but I would add that within Europe you should generally use the option that involves spending £17ish per person per flight, as that gives the best value overall. The £1 option uses more Avios than necessary.
    With Avios you should bear in mind that one Avios = 0.66p of Nectar points as a minimum. If you're using the Avios well (e.g. by booking flights at busy times when it would've been much more expensive to pay cash) you'll be getting more value out of them than 0.66p worth of Nectar points. Also bear in mind that once you convert Avios to Nectar points, they will have lost value and you'll get fewer Avios if you try to convert them back.

    You also needn't rush - you just need to earn a single point to stop them expiring for another 36 months. You can do that by buying something via the Avios eStore and earning points (a bit like cashback). There are hundreds of retailers there where you can buy something cheap that you needed anyway.
  • daern
    daern Posts: 11 Forumite
    First Anniversary Name Dropper First Post
    Bloody hell, I didn't even know about the Nectar conversion! I'm so glad I asked the question here - thanks everyone!
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