For several years, the Spanish version of the group buying site ‘Groupon’ has been sporadically selling various amounts of British Airways Avios points at large discounts. While the sale prices have generally been great (lower than the 1p per Avios I value them at), the buying process has been complicated, and in many instances customers either didn’t end up receiving the Avios they had paid for, or cancelled the transactions through credit card charge-backs/PayPal disputes.
I bought five ‘packs’ of Avios several years ago when this was first offered, and only received two of the five. So I ended up successfully lodging a PayPal dispute to receive a refund for the three packs I paid for but did not receive.
Why the headaches?
Groupon Spain had a convoluted purchase process as Tiffany painstakingly showed, where you would purchase a voucher for the specified number of Avios, and then redeem this voucher on their website, enter your Avios account number, and the Avios would eventually be deposited into your account. As this was a Spanish offer, Iberia Plus accounts had to be used, and then these could be transferred into Executive Club accounts.
This process was complicated enough but there were additional problems:
- Each page and instructions were only in Spanish, so unless you could read Spanish, you would need to rely on Google translate, which may or may not be accurate
- The voucher numbers would often not work (by saying they were invalid), or would indicate they were redeemed when they were not
- Groupon staff seemed unaware of the problems with the offer, unable to solve them, and could generally only correspond in Spanish (although this may have improved for subsequent offers)
So, I gave up after the first offer and haven’t bought since, despite constantly earning and collecting Avios from other sources where possible.
Enter Groupon, Ireland
There is now a new offer from Groupon, but this time the Irish division, rather than the Spanish division. The big benefit for English-speaking buyers is that the site, instructions and support will be in English which should make the process much easier.
The Avios will be deposited into an Aer Lingus ‘Aer Club’ account, rather than an Iberia Plus (or Executive Club) account, reflecting that this is now an Irish offer, rather than a Spanish one. Like Iberia Plus, Avios in your Aer Club account can be transferred to standard British Airways Executive Club accounts via the ‘Combine My Avios’ method.
If you don’t have a Groupon Ireland account (and let’s face it, few of you reading this likely would!), you are in luck because Groupon Ireland is offering 15% off the purchase price of these Avios, where you use the discount code HELLO15 up to a maximum of EUR20 discount per order.
Avios are again being sold in packs, in the following denominations, and costs (with discount code):
- 2,000 Avios = €19 less 15% = 0.71p/0.95c (per Avios)
- 4,000 Avios = €59 less 15% = 1.10p/1.47c
- 8,000 Avios = €99 less 15% = 0.93p/1.24c
- 15,000 Avios = €189 less €20 = 0.99p/1.32c
- 20,000 Avios = €249 less €20 = 1.00p/1.33c
- 35,000 Avios = €439 less €20 = 1.05p/1.4c
You’ll notice that while most other airline’s mileage sales discount the miles the more you buy, this sale is the opposite. The cheapest price per mile is when you only buy 2,000, while if you are buying 35,000 it will cost you a lot more per Avios than this.
Please note that Groupon Ireland provides 7 Avios cashback for most transactions, which would normally discount the price even further, however it specifically says:
We do not accept missing transaction claims or questions about the 2,000, 4,000, 8,000, 12,000 20,000 or 35,000 Avios that you might buy through “Avios Aer Club” promotions.
We do not offer the 2,000, 4,000, 8,000, 12,000, 20,000 or 35,000 Avios (or any amount of Avios) that you may buy through the Groupon promotions.
You will receive a lower reward than the aforementioned when buying deals of 2,000, 4,000, 8,000, 12,000 20,000 or 35,000 Avios (or any amount of Avios).
My interpretation of that is that you will not earn cashback Avios on purchasing packs of Avios through this cashback portal — but please correct me if you think I am wrong!
The process for purchasing
I always try to get at least 1p per Avios value when redeeming, and have a healthy Avios balance, so at a cost of around 1p or more, I’m not a buyer. However, the 2,000 Avios pack for only 0.71p is great value, and it will allow me to show you the process, so here’s what I did.
Step 1: Sign-up for Aer Club
If you don’t already have an account, sign-up using this link.
Step 2: Select amount of Avios to purchase
Here is the link to the packages of Avios. Remember you can only purchase one of each package, but you can purchase each package in one transaction. If you have family members, they can also open an account and purchase one of each package as well.
Step 3: Apply discount code, and purchase
If you have signed up for a new Aer Club account in Step 1, then enter ‘HELLO15’ at check-out for the 15%/€20 discount. Remember the discount can only be used once, you can order more than one kind of package per transaction, but the 15% discount tops out at €20.
Then you can proceed to pay using the different payment methods. Although I don’t expect the issues of the Groupon Spain experience, you may wish to use PayPal to have the best and easiest dispute options.
Step 4: Redeem your Groupon voucher from June 28
You should have received a confirmation email from Groupon, with a link to your voucher. Click the link and it will take you to the ‘My Groupons’ section of your Groupon Ireland account.
I’m not sure why they are not allowing vouchers to be redeemed for three weeks, but pop a reminder in your calendar for June 28 and then click the link in your confirmation email and then click ‘View Voucher.’ This will open as a pdf attachment.
Step 6: Redeem voucher
You can then visit aviosvouchers.com from June 28 to July 28 to redeem the Groupon code as the ‘Unique Code.’
Note you can only redeem the vouchers to an Aer Lingus Aer Club account, but you can then move these to an Executive Club account using the ‘Combine My Avios’ feature here.
For the 2,000 Avios I purchased through the steps above, there have been no problems so far. But the test will be when I go to redeem the voucher number in a few weeks time.
Still, this is a fairly laborious process for 2,000 Avios, no matter how cheap they are. I’m guessing the reason you cannot redeem vouchers for several weeks is that, like companies offering gift vouchers, they hope plenty of people purchase the vouchers, and then forget to redeem them. This is 100% profit for the companies selling the vouchers.
I wouldn’t recommend spending more than about 1p per Avios, unless you have a very specific use for them and can obtain more value than that. But always remember the substantial co-payments.
For example, I was recently looking at a one-way Qatar Airways business class ticket from Africa to the USA. The revenue fare was around £1,400. I immediately checked Avios availability and while the exact flights were available as an award, the cost was 187,500 Avios per person, plus around £300 co-payment. I could reduce the cost down to 100,000 Avios by paying around £1,500, i.e. more than the revenue cost of the same flights. Even if I was to redeem the full 187,500 Avios I would still be only obtaining less than 1p per Avios for them.
On the other hand, 2,000 Avios is half an off-peak 600 mile Reward Fare Saver to Europe ,which could be excellent value.
If you are buying, please, please, please diarise the voucher redemption follow-up! I may even post a quick article reminding you to do this at the time!
Are you buying Avios at this price?
(Tip of the hat to Head For Points)