This week, Qatar Airways debuted a new feature on its booking platform, giving customers an additional way to pay for their cash fares. Avios Max, which is now live on the Qatar Airways website, lets you pay for cash fares using Avios, opening up new ways for you to leverage your points.
Pay for Qatar Airways Cash Fares with Avios
Qatar Airways has just debuted a new feature on its website called Avios Max, a feature that allows you to pay for cash fares using your Avios.
To access this option, all you need to do is:
- Search and select your desired flights on the Qatar Airways website
- Sign into your Qatar Airways Privilege Club account during the booking process
- Look for Avios Max as a payment option when it’s time to pay for your flight
It’s important to know that in order for the Avios Max option to appear, you’ll need to have enough Avios in your account to cover the whole base fare cost of the ticket.
If you don’t have enough points to cover the full base fare cost, you won’t see the Avios Max option. Instead, you’ll only see the Cash + Avios option and the standard option to pay entirely with cash.
Also, keep in mind that when choosing the Avios Max option, you’ll still have to pay cash for taxes and fees.
Notably, it’s long been possible to pay for up to 50% of a flight using Avios through the Cash + Avios option; however, the ability to cover the entirety of the base fare using Avios is certainly an interesting development.
As with all things related to airline award bookings, there are a handful of important terms and conditions that you should note if you decide to use the Avios Max payment option.
First of all, Avios Max can be used to pay for flights marketed by Qatar Airways, and operated by Qatar Airways, Oneworld carriers, or partner airlines. The option isn’t available for award tickets or award upgrades.
Fortunately, bookings made using Avios Max are eligible for Avios and Qpoints accrual with Qatar Airways Privilege Club, based on the fare paid at the time of booking. This means you can recoup some of the Avios you’ve spent and add Qpoints towards your elite qualification.
It’s worth noting that the Avios redeemed for Avios Max transactions may be refundable, though this will depend on the applicable ticket fare rules at the time of booking.
Also, as you would expect, the usual standard terms and conditions apply for tickets purchased using Avios Max, so you’ll want to check the fare rules at the time of booking to ensure you understand the options and limitations of your fare.
Is Avios Max a Good Deal?
Now that we’ve got a handle of what Avios Max is and how it works, let’s take a look at whether or not it’s a good deal and how it might be best leveraged.
To get a sense of how much value is available when using Avios Max as a payment option, let’s use the example of a one-way flight in economy from Doha to Abu Dhabi:
- Option 1: Paying with cash for $444.20 (all figures in CAD)
- Option 2: Using Cash + Avios for 19,257 Avios + $221.20
- Option 3: Using Avios Max for 35,016 Avios + $53.90
In this example, with the Cash + Avios option, you could use 19,257 Avios to cover $223 of the base fare cost, resulting in a value of 1.16 cents per Avios.
If you instead opted for the Avios Max option, you’d wind up covering $390.30 of the base fare for 35,016 Avios, which works out to a value of around 1.12 cents per Avios.
We value Qatar Airways Avios at 2 cents (CAD) apiece, which is much higher than the value you get from Avios Max, or Cash + Avios for that matter.
Based on this example, it actually looks like you get marginally better value by using Cash + Avios over Avios Max, which is pretty interesting.
Now, this is just one example, and the numbers could be different for other flights; however, so far, our initial searches have yielded similar values of between 1.1–1.2 cents per Avios.
The takeaway from this example and our cursory exploration of the option is that although Avios Max isn’t the most valuable way to redeem Avios, it does potentially have its place.
The most useful aspect of Avios Max is that you can redeem your Avios for any seat on any flight. This opens the door to a much bigger inventory of seats than is typically offered for award redemptions.
This could be of particular interest for anyone who has looked for a Qatar Airways Qsuites flight through Qatar Airways Privilege Club and encountered no award availability, or at best, Flexi pricing at twice the cost.
If you don’t have a need to redeem your Avios for flights through Privilege Club or to transfer them into another flavour of Avios for a redemption with British Airways, Aer Lingus, or Iberia, Avios Max provides an additional redemption option that may be well-suited to your needs.
Furthermore, at 1.1–1.2 cents per Avios, using your points via Avios Max is often a slightly better choice for cash tickets than booking through a bank’s rewards program.
For example, rather than booking a cash ticket on Amex Travel or Avion Rewards at 1 cent per point with American Express Membership Rewards or RBC Avion points, you could transfer your points to Avios first, and choose Avios Max to cover a higher portion of the cash cost with the same number of points.
That being said, your best bet is still to pay cash for cash tickets and hold out for a “normal” award seat to become available through Privilege Club, especially if you’re aiming to score a high-value booking like a Qsuites business class flight. You’ll get much better value redeeming your Avios this way than you would by using Cash + Points or Avios Max.
Qatar Airways recently debuted Avios Max, which lets you pay for the full base fare of a cash ticket with Avios.
When using Avios Max, you’re still on the hook for taxes and fees, but in theory, you can redeem your Avios for pretty much any Qatar Airways-marketed flight, giving you lots of booking choices.
Despite having a lower value than what you’d get with an award ticket, if you’re hoping to snag a seat with limited saver or Flexi redemption availability, Avios Max is definitely worth exploring.