The best Avios sweet spots – The Points Guy

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Avios has become an increasingly popular loyalty currency.

While you may traditionally think of Avios as the type of rewards used by British Airways, it is the official points currency used by the following programs:

Avios can be transferred between any of these programs at a ratio of 1:1, so each Avios is theoretically worth the same in each program; however, there are sweet spots in each program to be aware of.

Finnair Plus will also adopt Avios as its points currency in late January 2024.

Here are the best Avios sweet spots and which program(s) to book them through.

Short-haul European flights on British Airways

BEN SMITHSON/THE POINTS GUY

British Airways Executive Club charges just 4,750 Avios each way for off-peak flights it operates from London to destinations up to 650 miles away (peak-date flights are only 5,250).

This includes destinations in Ireland, Scotland, Denmark, France, Germany, Austria and Italy.

Fees, taxes and surcharges will set you back $31 each way (this can vary depending on current exchange rates), though you also have the option to reduce this to just $1 by redeeming 9,250 Avios, which is about as close to “free” flights as you are likely to find.

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For flights of 651-1,151 Avios, the off-peak cost is 7,250 each way on off-peak dates (or 8,250 on peak dates). This includes European destinations further afield in Europe, including in Portugal and Northern and Eastern Europe.

Award flights typically include full-size cabin baggage and a checked bag, so they can be a great way to get around basic fares that include none of these items.

Book through: British Airways Executive Club

Related: An excellent use of Avios: British Airways’ Reward Flight Saver redemptions

Short-haul domestic flights on American or Alaska

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British Airways prices flights in North America slightly differently than in the rest of the world. Zone 1 flights — those that cover 650 miles or less — typically require 4,750 to 5,250 Avios for economy on British Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus, or 6,000 Avios on most other partners.

However, British Airways prices nonstop economy Zone 1 flights within North America on all dates at 7,500 Avios. Then, Zone 2 flights and higher use the same pricing as other partner airlines. Despite this restriction, you can still get solid value if you find saver-level award space with American Airlines or Alaska Airlines.

With Zone 1 economy flights in the U.S. pricing at 7,500 Avios and Zone 2 flights pricing at 9,000 Avios, you should be able to fly out of virtually any American Airlines hub to dozens of destinations.

This opens up valuable options, including from any New York airport to Miami International Airport (MIA) or from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD) to Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) for only 9,000 Avios in economy class.

Book through: British Airways Executive Club

Related: A review of American Airlines economy on the Boeing 777-300ER from Los Angeles to London

Island-hop through the Caribbean

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

British Airways operates several fifth-freedom flights between Caribbean islands using wide-body aircraft before or after these planes return to London. You can book just the island-hop flights in economy, premium economy or business class — and best of all, as British Airways operates them, you will only pay the Zone 1 pricing starting from just 4,750 Avios.

As these flights are usually not full, award availability is excellent.

BA’s fifth-freedom network does change from season to season, but you can currently book the following:

  • Nassau’s Lynden Pindling International Airport (NAS) to Grand Cayman’s Owen Roberts International Airport (GCM)
  • Antigua’s VC Bird International Airport (ANU) to Tobago’s A.N.R. Robinson International Airport (TAB), Providenciales International Airport (PLS) and St. Kitts’ Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport (SKB)
  • St. Lucia’s Hewanorra International Airport (UVF) to Grenada’s Maurice Bishop International Airport (GND) and Trinidad’s Piarco International Airport (POS)

Book through: British Airways Executive Club

Related: What it’s like flying British Airways for a 20-minute flight between Caribbean islands

Fly American or Alaska from the West Coast to Hawaii

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

British Airways Executive Club offers the ability to fly from major West Coast cities in the United States to the Hawaiian Islands for just 13,000 Avios each way, thanks to the Avios distance-based chart. That beats the award rate for all the U.S. airlines, and there’s no close-in booking fee either.

But in this case, it’s not just about American’s route network. Alaska Airlines is also a British Airways partner, which means you have access to Alaska’s flights to Hawaii, though you’ll need to call to book Alaska flights with Avios since they aren’t searchable on ba.com. That opens up routes that AA doesn’t serve but Alaska does, such as from Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC) to Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) and from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) to Maui’s Kahului Airport (OGG).

So, if you live almost anywhere on the West Coast — or can easily position there — Avios can be your friend to Hawaii.

Book through: British Airways Executive Club (you may need to call)

Related: The best ways to get to Hawaii using points and miles

Fly JetBlue Mint to the Caribbean

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

You can now redeem Qatar Airways Privilege Club Avios for JetBlue-operated flights.

While the rates for transcontinental and transatlantic flights are steep, there are some good deals on flights under 2,000 miles in length, which cost 26,000 Avios each way in Mint business class (or 13,000 Avios in economy).

This includes the following Caribbean routes from the Northeast that feature the Mint cabins and service:

  • Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) to Aruba’s Queen Beatrix International Airport (AUA), St. Maarten’s Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM) and St. Thomas’s Cyril E. King Airport (STT)
  • New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to Aruba and St. Maarten
  • Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) to Aruba

Book through: Qatar Airways Privilege Club. While online redemptions have sometimes been available, you may need to call Qatar Airways if you receive an error message when searching online.

Related: The transcon champ: Reviewing JetBlue’s new Mint Studio biz

Iberia business-class flights to Spain

BEN SMITHSON/THE POINTS GUY

The key to this amazing sweet spot is to fly a nonstop, Iberia-operated flight of 3,001 to 4,000 miles on off-peak dates (check Iberia’s peak and off-peak calendar).

This is because Iberia uses a distance-based award chart for its flights.

IBERIA.COM

Iberia operates several transatlantic flights that fall into the 3,001-4,000-mile distance band. As such, you can book Iberia flights between the following city pairs for just 34,000 Avios each way in business class, plus modest taxes and fees:

  • Boston or New York to Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport (MAD)
  • Boston or New York to Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat Airport (BCN)
  • Washington’s Dulles International Airport (IAD) to Madrid

While flights from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD) to MAD are slightly outside this range, they also price at 34,000 Avios one-way in business class, which is an excellent deal.

Book through: British Airways Executive Club or Iberia Plus

Related: A review of Iberia’s new business-class suite on the A350-900 from Madrid to Mexico City

Off-peak Aer Lingus flights to Ireland

NICKY KELVIN/THE POINTS GUY

If you can travel during off-peak dates — which cover roughly eight months of the year — you can fly to Dublin from a handful of U.S. cities, including as far west as Chicago. This award will set you back just 26,000 Avios round-trip in economy or as low as 50,000 one-way in business class.

And suppose you live in the South in a city like Orlando or Miami, or the West in Los Angeles or San Francisco. In that case, the price only increases to 32,500 Avios round-trip in economy and 62,500 one-way in business, which is still a great deal considering how long these flights are.

Related: Flight review: Aer Lingus business class on the A321neo, Dublin to Philadelphia

Book through: British Airways Executive Club or avios.com

Fly Qatar Airways Qsuite business class to Doha and beyond

ZACH HONIG/THE POINTS GUY

Qatar Airways has what is widely considered one of the world’s best business-class products with its award-winning Qsuite product. Even the carrier’s economy product is a solid option.

Here are the prices for popular one-way itineraries per person on any date in business class (there is no peak or off-peak pricing):

  • New York to Doha’s Hamad International Airport (DOH): 70,000 Avios plus $73.35
  • Boston to Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL): 80,000 plus $201.50
  • Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) to Doha: 43,000 plus $198
  • Miami to Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK): 95,000 plus $202.90
  • Edinburgh Airport (EDI) to Tokyo’s Narita International Airport (NRT): $440.442

While availability on flights from North America is currently scarce, even for Privilege Club members, seats are released last minute, and availability on shorter routes, such as those between Europe and Doha, is readily available with Avios in advance.

Book through: British Airways Executive Club or Qatar Airways Privilege Club

How to earn Avios

THE POINTS GUY

The easiest way to earn a meaningful number of Avios for everyday spending is by applying for an Avios-branded credit card, including:

Each card offers new applicants 75,000 Avios after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening. TPG values Avios at 1.5 cents each, making the full bonus worth $1,125. Each card has a $95 annual fee and earns 3 Avios per dollar spent on purchases with British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia and Level. Plus, you can earn 2 Avios per dollar on hotel accommodations booked directly with the hotel. All other purchases earn 1 Avios per dollar spent.

In addition, at least one Avios program partners with all major transferable currencies (remember, you can transfer Avios between any Avios programs at a 1:1 rate).

The following cards all currently offer strong welcome bonuses that you could easily convert to Avios at a 1:1 rate:

  • The Business Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 120,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases on the card in the first three months of card membership. Terms apply.
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $8,000 on purchases within the first six months of card membership. Check to see if you’re targeted for a 150,000-point welcome offer through CardMatch (offer subject to change at any time). Terms apply.
  • American Express® Gold Card: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $6,000 on purchases in the first six months of account opening. Terms apply.
  • Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Earn 75,000 bonus miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening.
  • Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card: Earn 75,000 bonus miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening.
  • Ink Business Preferred Credit Card: Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $8,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

Bottom line

Avios are quickly becoming one of the most popular and useful currencies.

They are easy to earn and redeem, and remember, you can transfer them from any Avios program to another at any time at a 1:1 rate.

While many of the best sweet spots can be booked through the British Airways Executive Club website (so this is a good place to start), and that arguably has the best user experience for booking and managing redemptions, Iberia Plus and Qatar’s Privilege Club also have their quirks and benefits.

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