4 versions of Avios: When to use Aer Lingus, Qatar Airways, Iberia and British Airways
All members of the International Airlines Group use Avios as their loyalty currency. These airlines include Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia, Level and Vueling. Qatar Airways, a major shareholder of IAG, also adopted Avios as its loyalty currency in 2022. You can move Avios freely between different airline accounts in any direction.
Each form of Avios has its benefits and drawbacks. For example, British Airways Avios are great for short-haul awards, while Iberia Avios are your best bet for business-class awards to Spain.
If you’re confused about the best Avios to use for each redemption, you’re not alone. Here, I’ll walk through the pros and cons of each of the Avios currencies and when you should use each of them.
An overview of the different Avios currencies
As discussed, Avios is the loyalty currency used by all the IAG airlines. Each of these currencies has separate award charts, but you can use any of the four Avios to book tickets on all of the IAG carriers.
To make things even more interesting, each IAG carrier has its own set of partners. Aer Lingus, for instance, has a partnership with United Airlines. You can earn Aer Lingus Avios when flying United, but you can’t do the same with British Airways or Iberia Avios.
Further, earning rates on flights will vary. Aer Lingus Avios are earned based on the price you pay for a flight on Aer Lingus, while partner flights earn Avios based on fare class and distance flown.
On the other hand, British Airways and Iberia Avios are earned based solely on the fare class and distance of a flight. This is the same for flights operated by the carrier or a partner airline.
Thankfully, though, you can take advantage of all the Avios partners by transferring points between accounts. Just note that your Iberia account must be open for at least 90 days before transferring Avios from British Airways to the airline.
The four types of Avios — Aer Lingus, Qatar Airways, British Airways and Iberia — are each managed on a different website. You can manage Aer Lingus through Avios.com, Qatar Airways on QatarAirways.com, British Airways on BritishAirways.com and Iberia on Iberia.com. Historically, the British Airways website has the best search function of the four. You may wish to start there to find availability, before deciding which program to redeem through.
Related: How to avoid British taxes and fees on award trips
Earning Avios with credit cards
You have two options for earning Avios with credit cards: cobranded credit cards and cards that earn transferable points. Cobranded credit cards earn Avios directly, while transferable-points cards earn a bank currency that can be transferred to Avios at a 1:1 ratio.
Each has its own benefits — here’s a look at both types of cards.
Earning Avios with cobranded credit cards
There are three Avios credit cards available in the U.S.: one each for Aer Lingus, British Airways and Iberia. Each card is issued by Chase.
These cards are each offering bonuses that could net you 75,000 Avios — here’s a look:
- Aer Lingus Visa Signature Card: Earn 75,000 Avios after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.
- British Airways Visa Signature Card: Earn 75,000 Avios after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.
- Iberia Visa Signature Card: Earn 75,000 Avios after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.
Related: Combat high fuel surcharges, earn flexible Avios: British Airways Visa Signature credit card review
Earning Avios with transferable-points cards
You can transfer American Express Membership Rewards, Bilt Rewards, Capital One and Chase Ultimate Rewards points to each of the types of Avios (excluding Qatar Airways, though note the easy way to combine your Avios). You can also transfer Citi ThankYou points to Qatar Airways.
These points transfer at a 1:1 ratio and transfers should process immediately.
Looking to quickly earn points to transfer to Avios? Here’s a look at the best American Express cards to use to earn American Express Membership Rewards points:
- American Express® Gold Card: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new card within the first six months of card membership. Earn 4 points per dollar on dining at restaurants, 4 points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year, then 1 point per dollar), 3 points per dollar on airfare purchased directly from airlines, and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases ($250 annual fee; see rates and fees).
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the card in your first six months of card membership. Earn 5 points per dollar on airfare purchased directly from airlines or through American Express Travel (on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year), 5 points per dollar on prepaid hotel bookings with American Express Travel and Amex Fine Hotels + Resorts, and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases ($695 annual fee; see rates and fees).
Prefer Chase Ultimate Rewards points? Here’s a look at our favorite Chase credit cards:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. Earns 2 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on travel and 3 points per dollar on dining purchases.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. Earn 3 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on travel and dining purchases.
Meanwhile, you can earn Capital One miles with these personal cards:
- Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card: Earn 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Earn 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
- Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card: Earn Earn 20,000 bonus miles once you spend $500 within the first three months from account opening.
Here are the best options to earn Citi ThankYou points:
- Citi Premier® Card: Earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. For a limited time, earn 10x points per dollar on hotels, car rentals, and attractions (excluding air travel) booked on the Citi Travel℠ Portal through June 30, 2024. Earns 3 ThankYou points per dollar on air travel, hotels, restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations, and 1 point per dollar on other purchases. (See rates and fees).
- Citi Rewards+® Card: Earn 25,000 bonus points after spending $1,500 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. For a limited time, earn 5x points per dollar on hotels, car rentals, and attractions (excluding air travel) booked on the Citi Travel℠ Portal through June 30, 2024. Earns 2 ThankYou points per dollar at supermarkets and gas stations (on the first $6,000 per year, then 1 point per dollar), and 1 point per dollar on everything else. Also, Citi automatically rounds up to the nearest 10 points on every purchase. No annual fee. (See rates and fees)
Related: Bilt adds Aer Lingus, British Airways and Iberia as transfer partners
Best ways to use Aer Lingus Avios: Aer Lingus flights
Now that you know the basics, let’s look at the best ways to use each type of Avios. I’ll provide you with actual redemptions you can make with each type of Avios and explain why it’s best to use one over the others.
The best way to use Aer Lingus Avios is for nonstop flights operated by Aer Lingus.
Short-haul flights on Aer Lingus are a great use of Aer Lingus Avios with redemptions starting from just 4,000 Avios off-peak / 4,500 Avios peak domestically within Ireland and to the likes of the United Kingdom, France and the Netherlands.
For long-haul flights operated by Aer Lingus, the pricing is the same as when using British Airways Avios, but the fees and taxes can be marginally lower. Off-peak flights from the U.S. east coast to Dublin (DUB) are only 13,000 Avios off-peak / 20,000 peak each way in economy, or 50,000 off-peak / 60,000 each way in business class. If you are not departing the United Kingdom, you can save on fees and taxes as the U.K.'s APD Tax is not payable.
If you are connecting on Are Lingus to another destination, such as to mainland Europe via Dublin (DUB) or Shannon (SNN), you can expect the Avios cost to rise as AerClub charges per flight, not per zone.
Related: Pot of gold: A review of Aer Lingus on the A321neo in business class from Dublin to Philadelphia
Best ways to use British Airways Avios
British Airways has the most versatile of the three Avios. It has the widest range of uses, but it also has the most downsides. The most common downside? High fuel surcharges on British Airways tickets. You’ll pay over $500 for a one-way business-class ticket on most British Airways routes when flying business class unless you choose the new Reward Flight Saver option to pay more Avios to reduce fuel surcharges.
This is true of all British Airways award tickets when booking with a Oneworld partner. The only way to lower the cost is by booking with Asia Miles, though you’ll still pay over $200 per one-way business-class ticket in most cases.
Thankfully, there are many ways to use your British Airways Avios without high surcharges. Let’s take a closer look at how British Airways prices award tickets.
A look at the British Airways award charts
British Airways has two award charts: one for IAG airlines and another for partner airlines. The IAG award chart is split up into peak and off-peak pricing, while the partner award chart maintains the same pricing for all awards.
These award charts are distance and segment based. This means that you’ll pay more Avios for longer tickets and those with layovers. So a flight from Chicago to London via Dublin will cost more than a direct flight from Chicago to London.
Here’s a look at the IAG award chart:
(distance in miles)
|Economy off-peak||Economy peak||Premium economy off-peak||Premium economy peak||Business off-peak||Business peak||First class off-peak||First class peak|
And here is the partner award chart for flights operated by partner airlines (all flights are charged at the peak price):
(distance in miles)
** Zone 1 Avios awards are unavailable for flights to, from or within the U.S.
To calculate the price of an award, use a website like GCmap.com to find the physical distance of your flight and match it to the respective section on one of the award charts above. Calculate any connecting flights separately and add them to the price of the other awards to find the total cost of an itinerary.
Simple enough, right? With that out of the way, let’s take a look at the best times to use British Airways Avios to book awards.
Short-haul tickets anywhere
Short-haul tickets are one of the best British Airways Avios redemptions. They start at just 4,750 Avios for an off-peak award flight 650 miles or less in distance. Partner awards start at 6,000 Avios but exclude flights within North America. Meanwhile, partner flights in North America start at 7,500 Avios for flights 650 miles or less and get more expensive for longer flights.
Booking short-haul flights with British Airways can still be a great deal, even if you’re booking flights in North America. A flight from New York's LaGuardia Airport (LGA) to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport (ORD) clocks in at 733 miles, meaning you need 9,000 Avios one-way in economy class. This is often cheaper than what you'll pay to book the same flight with American's AAdvantage program.
You’ll get an even better deal when booking flights that take place outside of the U.S. Some of the best examples of this are flights within Europe. For example, an off-peak award ticket from London to Brussels requires just 4,750 Avios and minimal taxes.
You can get good value when booking mid-haul flights using British Airways Avios too. That said, always compare the price of booking with Avios to the price of booking with other points currencies to ensure you get the best value for your points.
Aer Lingus long-haul tickets in economy or business class
My favorite way to redeem British Airways Avios is for Aer Lingus flights from the U.S. East Coast to Dublin. While you used to be able to book these tickets from Boston for just 10,000 Avios one-way in economy, the award now costs 13,000 Avios on off-peak dates after British Airways “moved” the country further to the east.
Other cities in this range include Hartford, New York, Newark and Philadelphia. Flights from all of these cities cost just 13,000 Avios for off-peak dates and 20,000 for peak dates in economy, or 50,000 and 60,000 in business class.
Each of these redemptions carries under $100 in taxes and fees per one-way ticket, making it a great way to avoid British Airways’ notoriously high fuel surcharges on long-haul flights.
To book these flights, find award space using Expert Flyer (owned by TPG’s parent company, Red Ventures) or United.com and call British Airways to book. The phone representative should waive the phone booking fee if you tell them that the award isn’t bookable online.
Related: Great service, thin seat: Review of Aer Lingus on the A321neo in economy from Dublin to Philadelphia
Best use of Iberia Avios
Iberia Avios have become one of my favorite points to use for booking flights to Europe. The airline has excellent deals when booking Iberia-operated flights from the U.S. to Madrid, with connections available to other major European cities.
The award chart is split into peak and off-peak dates, with the latter offering great prices on business-class flights. The airline publishes peak and off-peak dates on its website.
Here’s a look at the current award chart:
|Origin||Blue Class / Economy (off-peak)||Blue Class / Economy (peak)||Premium economy (off-peak)||Premium economy (peak)||Business (peak)||Business (off-peak)|
|New York City||17,000 / 22,000.||20,000 / 28,000.||25,000.||35,000.||34,000.||50,000.|
|Chicago||17,000 / 22,000.||20,000 / 28,000.||25,000.||35,000.||34,000.||50,000.|
|Boston||17,000 / 22,000.||20,000 / 28,000.||25,000.||35,000.||34,000.||50,000.|
|Miami||21,250 / 27,750.||25,000 / 35,000.||31,750.||43,750.||42,500.||62,500.|
|Los Angeles||21,250 / 27,750.||25,000 / 35,000.||31,750.||43,750.||42,500.||62,500.|
|San Francisco||21,250 / 27,750.||25,000 / 35,000.||31,750.||43,750.||42,000.||62,500.|
You’ll find the best deals when booking off-peak business-class awards. A 34,000-Avios flight from New York to Madrid is as good as it gets, and the product is pretty solid too. Even booking peak dates isn’t a bad deal — destinations on the East Coast and in the Midwest cost just 50,000 miles one-way. Here is the peak calendar.
Related: Best ways to redeem 100,000 Iberia Avios
Best use of Qatar Avios
When Qatar Privilege Club adopted Avios as its loyalty currency in 2022, the redemption rates, fees, taxes and surcharges were largely brought in line with British Airways Executive Club levels. This meant that the cost of some redemptions flying Qatar Airways were reduced in British Airways Avios, and redemptions on British Airways should match the Executive Club award chart even if booked through Privilege Club.
Unfortunately, there are some frustrating quirks in the Privilege Club program to be aware of. Privilege Club uses peak and off-peak dates (as Executive Club also does). However, Privilege Club doesn't publish a calendar of these dates, and they appear to be slightly different between Privilege Club and Executive Club, so if your dates in one program are showing as peak, its worth checking the other program.
The best way to use Qatar Avios and the Privilege Club program is to book connecting flights flying Qatar Airways. There are two reasons for this:
- While the Executive Club search engine is usually the best user experience of the four Avios platforms to find availability, it often fails to show all Qatar Airways flights, especially those with overnight connections. Where Qatar has multiple flights daily to a destination, the Executive Club platform may only show one flight option, while the Privilege Club option will show multiple options.
- Privilege Club offers "Flexi Awards" where there is no availability at the normal levels. These are twice the amount of Avios, which will often be poor value; however, if you have plenty of Avios and there are no other options at the lower level, this could make sense. Executive Club does not offer this.
Qatar Airways' award-winning Qsuite business-class product is widely considered to be one of the best business-class products in the world today. Redemption rates from the United States to Qatar's hub in Doha are just 70,000 Qatar/BA Avios per person each way in business class with no fuel surcharges, which is a terrific deal. This rate is from anywhere in the U.S. Qatar flies from, so it is an especially good value from Los Angeles or San Francisco if you can find award space.
If you wish to travel farther than Doha, the redemption rates from the U.S. are excellent, including:
- 75,000 Avios each way in business class to Dubai.
- 85,000 Avios each way in business class to India.
- 85,000 Avios each way in business class to the Maldives.
- 95,000 Avios each way in business class to Bangkok and Singapore.
- 100,000 Avios each way in business class to Bali.
Economy-class redemptions for all of these destinations are 50% of the Avios cost of business class.
Related: Qatar unveils 3 new airport lounges in Doha for Oneworld frequent flyers
Avios are one of the easiest loyalty currencies to earn and redeem. Here, we discussed all the best ways to use the four types of Avios, giving you solid examples of the best redemption in each practice.
In short: Avoid Aer Lingus Avios and Iberia Avios for long-haul flights on Iberia, especially when booking on off-peak dates. Then, use British Airways Avios to book everything except for connecting flights on Qatar Airways, which you should book with Qatar Avios.
That said, you may have better luck booking Oneworld long-haul tickets that aren’t Iberia or Aer Lingus tickets with another loyalty program like American Airlines AAdvantage.
For rates and fees of the Amex Gold card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, click here.
Additional reporting by Ben Smithson.