Super Reader Jorge sent me an awesome spreadsheet that instantly does all the math on British Airways’ Cash & Avios awards, so you can quickly see whether booking one is a good deal.

Usually when redeeming British Airways Avios for an award ticket, you are offered a menu of prices. You can pay the normal amount of miles + taxes + fuel surcharges (though there are no fuel surcharges on these partners.) Or you can pay fewer Avios and more cash. Here’s a typical menu of six options on a one way economy award from Los Angeles to Lima.

Screen Shot 2014-05-19 at 11.54.29 PM

  • What does Jorge’s spreadsheet do with those options?
  • How can you use the spreadsheet when booking Avios awards?

Key Links:

What Jorge’s spread sheet allows you to do is to literally copy that menu of options and paste it into a cell on the spreadsheet.

Screen Shot 2014-05-19 at 11.52.23 PM
Ctrl or Cmnd + c
Ctrl or Cmnd + v
Ctrl or Cmnd + v

Then the spreadsheet calculates the “price” of each Avios saved by using any of the five Cash & Avios options.

Screen Shot 2014-05-19 at 11.52.35 PM

The example I’ve just shows was for a one way award from Miami to Manaus in economy on American Airlines. The options range from 12,500 Avios + $2.50 to 4,000 Avios + $97.50. (There are no fuel surcharges on Avios redemptions for American Airlines flights within the Western Hemisphere.)

Screen Shot 2014-05-19 at 11.50.42 PM

The spreadsheet spits out the difference in price and the Avios saved with each option. The far right column shows the amount of money you have to put up to save each Avios.

If any of the numbers in the far right column is cheaper than your personal valuation for Avios, then you should be booking a Cash & Avios award. My personal valuation is 1.7 cents, so I would want to book Miami to Manaus in economy as a Cash & Avios award.

——–SKIP THIS IF YOU DON’T CARE TO KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AVERAGE AND MARGINAL————————————

But you shouldn’t necessarily choose the Cash & Avios option that says “Best Value” next to it. That’s simply measuring the cheapest per Avios price.

Instead, you should buy the option that gives you the most total value, which is the amount of Avios you save times the difference between their price and your value for them. When a Cash & Avios award is a better deal than a normal Avios award, the best deal will almost always be to use the fewest Avios and most cash possible.

——————————————————————————–

Jorge’s spreadsheet is fun to play with and does five quick arithmetic problems for you instantly.

It confirms my general advice, which is to use Cash & Avios awards for economy redemptions, where you often have to pay only 1.1 cents per Avios you save.

Screen Shot 2014-05-19 at 11.54.17 PM
Los Angeles to Lima in economy

Avoid using Avios on business and first class awards, where the price per saved Avios routinely exceeds 2 cents.

Screen Shot 2014-05-19 at 11.55.22 PM
Los Angeles to Lima in business

What the Spreadsheet Doesn’t Do

The spreadsheet doesn’t set your personal valuation for Avios. You need to do that for yourself to determine at what price per Avios saved you want to book a Cash & Avios award versus a normal Avios award.

Here’s my valuation of Avios, where I came up with the 1.7 cent per Avios figure.

Your value for Avios depends on a lot of things including:

  • How you’d use them
  • Whether you live at a oneworld hub or not
  • How many you have
  • How much money you have

Bonus

Don’t forget about the list of Category 1, 2, 9, and 10 Hiltons (and why those are the only important ones) that reader Jeremy made for everyone last month and the accompanying map Dave made.

If you have an awesome resource you’ve created that you want to share with everyone, drop me an email!


Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

The comments section below is not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all questions are answered.