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Update: Saving Money on Fees by Transferring British Airways Avios to Iberia Avios + Iberia Award Promo

by on June 5, 2013 · 24 comments

in American Express, Avios, British Airways, Iberia

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One of the best ways to get more value out of your British Airways Avios is to transfer them to Iberia, which is also part of the Avios program, and book your trip on Iberia instead because booking flights from North America to Europe and within Europe on Iberia generally incurs much lower carrier-imposed fees and surcharges than flying British Airway.

However, it looks as though Iberia has recently raised – albeit just slightly so far – the surcharges on its awards. They are still far below British Airways surcharges, but still something to keep in mind if you’re planning award travel. For more information on transferring Avios between your British Airways and Iberia accounts, see this post. Just remember, both of your Avios accounts must be open for at least three months before you can transfer Avios to Iberia – so it’s too late for summer travel, but you might be able squeeze a fall trip in. Also note that Iberia is a 1:1 transfer partner of Amex, so you can still take advantage of their low fees by transferring in from Amex or Starwood. To open an Iberia Avios account, go here.

To take a quick example, last year, an Economy (not the lowest Blue level) award ticket from Miami to Madrid required 37,500 Avios and $48 one-way.

35,000 Iberia Avios to Madrid each way.

37,500 Iberia Avios to Madrid each way.

That same ticket this year would now cost you the same 37,500 Avios (again not at the very lowest saver “Blue” level) and 68.50 EUR or $90, nearly double!

IBERIA AVIOS MIA MAD Economy

While $90 for an award ticket to Europe one-way isn’t horrible, it is an indication that Iberia is starting to impose higher fees on award tickets. Even if you’re paying the premium for the higher fare class ticket, with the current Amex transfer bonus to British Airways of 35% (ending Friday!), you’d need to transfer just 56,000 Amex points to British Airways then transfer those to Iberia for a roundtrip economy ticket, which is below what most carriers will charge you (60,000 for economy roundtrip to Europe). Plus, if you can snag the Blue saver level, you’re looking at only having to transfer 37,000 Amex points (for a total of 50,000 Avios) for roundtrip economy tickets from the east coast to Europe.

It’s not all bad news. A business class ticket from Miami to Madrid on Iberia will cost you 50,000 Avios and 78.50 EUR ($103).

AVIOS IBERIA MIA MAD BUSINESS[1]

And just to compare, the same ticket would cost you the same 50,000 Avios, but an astounding $452.20.

Avios MIA MAD BIZ

Although British Airways also gives you a cash and points option where you could choose to pay $967 and just 30,000 Avios.

In the US, Iberia flies to New York, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, and Miami. In terms of searching for Iberia awards, Iberia’s site actually does a decent job at pulling in inventory, but you can always search on ExpertFlyer as well for business class availability.

25% Award Discount Promotion

Iberia is also offering a 25% discount award promo right now through June 30, 2013 for a few city pairs in Europe and South America.

Iberia Avios DiscountThe discount is valid in any class and is for the following bands:

Band 2: From 5,625 Avios for a one way trip instead of 7,500 Avios To / From Madrid to Milan or Munich.

Band 4: From 9,375 Avios for a one way trip instead of 12,500 Avios To / From Madrid to Accra.

Band 6: From 18,750 Avios for a one way trip instead of 25,000 Avios To / From Madrid/Barcelona to Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo.

Band 7
: From 22,500 Avios for a one way trip instead of 30,000 Avios To / From Madrid/Barcelona to Buenos Aires.

AVIOS IBERIA MAD GIG PROMO PRICING[1]I took a quick look around for awards, and this one from Rio de Janeiro to Madrid and found discount tickets readily available throughout this coming week in economy, though business class awards were still pricing out at the normal level of 50,000 Avios each way despite the promo supposedly being available for all classes.

AVIOS IBERIA MAD GIG BIZ[1]Still, that economy redemption for 37,500 miles roundtrip from South America to Europe – which will only cost you 28,000 Amex points if you factor in the 35% transfer bonus to British Airways Avios – is a pretty great deal, though sadly the promotion is limited to flights in June.

Oops I Booked Through British Airways
I actually once booked an Iberia flight with British Airways Avios, forgetting that booking it through Iberia would be cheaper. You can always pay $40 to cancel your British Airways award, then transfer those miles to Iberia and book to save hundreds in fees. Granted, there needs to be availability, but if so it would easily be worth the change fee to get the lower fees.

Remember, you can still book awards on Aer Lingus and Air Berlin at low fees using British Airways Avios, so don’t just assume you’ll be gouged with fees when using Avios for trans-Atlantic travel!

Disclaimer: The responses below are 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 posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Joshua MacDonald

    TPG – http://www.headforpoints.com/2013/06/04/iberia-drops-reward-flight-saver-redemptions-will-ba-follow/ doesn’t seem to effect long-haul but short hops intra-EU

  • Ramsey

    I don’t think Iberia has flied out of IAD for some time now. I could be wrong, but I thought they ended the IAD service.

  • EBP

    Not sure where to post this question, but was hoping someone could help. I’ve got a ton of Delta miles (I live in Atlanta) and about 400K Amex points. My wife and I like to get out of the country a few times each year for a 7-10 days. I’m trying to be creative, based on the posts regarding transferring points since Delta is so limited. But it seems that using Iberia or Aer Lingus out of ATL isn’t an option? Any thoughts on how I can take advantage of any of the international partners?

  • thepointsguy

    Iberia listed it as one of their routes, but it looks like it just might be a codeshare destination.

  • KevininRI

    It is worth checking both to compare surcharges especially intra-Europe. Iberia is not always the same or less than BA even for their own flights. Just booked an Iberia award flight from MAD-BCN using BA Avios. Cost was 4500 Avios plus $22.50. Iberia Avios price would have been 4500 Avios plus $35.91.

  • KevininRI

    Well if you’re going to use Delta miles your best chance at redeeming for “low-level” awards would be on partner airlines (AF/KLM etc.). As for Avios, let’s say you wanted to fly business class on Iberia to Madrid, you could always take a “positioning” Economy flight on AA using Avios to get to Miami for example (4500 Avios + $2.50 each way) then book an Iberia flight from there using Avios on a separate reservation.

  • hansmast

    I do not like the RSS feed change that shows only summaries in the feed! That will decrease my readership.

  • thepointsguy

    Hans- that was an error and its already been switched back but may not have been in effect by this post

  • hansmast

    Awesome! Thanks!

  • AK

    Iberia told me that I can only transfer avios if I have at least one avios point in the account already. That’s a rrealannoyance as the minimum amount to purchase is high.

  • R B

    Thanks! Helpful information

  • GoatLove

    Here’s the English version of the Iberia sign up page: https://www.iberia.com/web/userRegistration.do?tabId=&menuId=IBHMPA&language=en

  • Ed

    I don’t see the option to combine avios on the manage account page anymore. Anyone else?

  • Eric Lin

    Hi TPG, if I want to depart from Hong Kong (since the first part of my trip will be over there) to Berlin or Paris, Europe On June 26th, what should I do to utilize the Avios that I have? I do know that Cathay Pacific is a member of the one world. Can you give me an example for that or tell me an easy way to look up flights from Hong Kong. Many thanks!

  • Dee

    I moved the minimum 1,000 points from my Amex Membership Rewards to my Iberia account to count as “activity” to allow me to move my Avios.

  • Alex

    It looks like Iberia requires one of the Spanish national documents. I’m guessing the passport doesn’t have to be Spanish but I’m a bit reluctant to give them my US Passport #. Any way around it?

  • http://www.leeschneider.com/ leeschneider

    Recently went Chase Ultimate Rewards > British Airways > Iberia. Was able to book tickets with minimal fees vs. BA’s large fees for business class tickets.

  • Benedetta Machado

    I have only begun my research for a late nov/early dec trip to Paris/Florence/Rome trip. We’re flying out of Phoenix. I have over 150000 membership miles and was looking at flights to Paris and returning from Rome. Of course, I almost decided to get rid of this trip when I noticed the extremely high fees when finding options through British Airways through London. Then I came across this website. Wish I had learned about the txfr of MR bonus for Avios a couple days ago. So I’ll hope something similar returns.
    Regarding the best use of points, does anyone know the best option from PHX? I don’t have the program expert flyer and am not sure I’d get it until I’m able to actually have the miles converted into Avios. And it would be short term. We are not frequent travelers. We’re trying to go business class. When I used BA, it cost us over $2000 + miles. Based on this post, should we go through Miami and use Iberia? Maybe go through Boston and use Aer Lingus? We’re attempting to get out Nov 22 and return Dec 7. If someone has any ideas, I’d appreciate the help. Thanks!

  • louielouie

    It appears Starwood is no longer a transfer partner (points —>miles) for Iberia. Their is a drop down menu in Starwood to make a transfer. However, Iberia is no longer on that list of airlines. Am I doing something wrong here?

  • Pingback: 5 Good Reasons why you might want to transfer British Airways Avios to the 'other' Avios – Travel

  • Marvado

    I’d like to know the answer to that too.
    I’m flying out of Miami. Want to book 2 tickets in December for London, but only have my 130,000 avios on BA. My acc on IBeria is not 3 months old, I just opened.

    How can I avoid fees? right now BA is giving me 109K miles + $1300 for 2 tix. I’d like to avoid fees, if possible. What to do?
    thanks

  • Benedetta Machado

    You would have to wait the three months and then transfer the avios points to them. But that puts you at November to book. Did you check American Airlines to see if they have SuperSaver flights available? It’s my understanding that BA has revamped their website, so it may be easier to find flights on the BA site for American. But I would check American first; write down available options; check BA. If BA doesn’t show the lower miles roundtrip, you should be able to call BA and book through them. Tell them you couldn’t find the flights on their website; otherwise, you would have booked online. Ask for the fee waiver because of this. Hopefully, you don’t have to go that route. TPG said that the revamp happened within the past week which is after you asked your question. Good luck.

  • kevin

    Thanks for sharing!!!

    I was thinking if we can do it in a reverse way? Can we transfer our Iberia avisos to British Airways without being charged any fees? I looked it up but didn’t find much information about this. Need your help, thanks!

  • Tom

    I’m interested in using this trick but have a question.
    I found an AA-operated flight from JFK-ZRH that I’m interested in. I don’t have AA points, but I have Avios. On the AA site, taxes are $2.50. On the British Airways site, taxes are $300 (OUCH!).

    What if I were to transfer points to Iberia and book through Iberia? Can I expect to see a reduction in the tax? I couldn’t find a way to view AA flights on Iberia’s website. Would I instead be able to book over the phone?

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