6 best ways to redeem 100,000 Iberia Avios
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If you’re reading this post, chances are you’re sitting on a large stash of Iberia Avios and want to put them to good use. Or maybe you’re looking at the 100,000 Avios sign-up bonus (50,000 bonus Avios after spending $3,000 in the first three months. Plus, earn an additional 50,000 after you spend $20,000 total in the first year of account opening) for the Iberia Visa Signature® Card and wondering what you can do with those points. Since Iberia is a member of the Oneworld alliance, you have lots of options when it comes time to redeem, especially on American Airlines flights.
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Iberia-operated transatlantic flights to/from Madrid
Here’s an overview of how many Avios you’d need for one-way, nonstop flights to Iberia’s hub in Madrid:
|Origin||Blue Class / Economy||Premium Economy||Business|
|Off Peak||Peak||Off Peak||Peak||Off Peak||Peak|
|New York (JFK)||17,000 / 22,000||20,000 / 28,000||25,000||35,000||34,000||50,000|
|Chicago – O’Hare (ORD)||17,000 / 22,000||20,000 / 28,000||25,000||35,000||34,000||50,000|
|Boston (BOS)||17,000 / 22,000||20,000 / 28,000||25,000||35,000||34,000||50,000|
|Miami (MIA)||21,250 / 27,750||25,000 / 35,000||31,750||43,750||42,500||62,500|
|Los Angeles (LAX)||21,250 / 27,750||25,000 / 35,000||31,750||43,750||42,500||62,500|
|San Francisco (SFO)||21,250 / 27,750||25,000 / 35,000||31,750||43,750||42,000||62,500|
At these rates, you can get a ton of travel out of 100,000 Iberia Avios. Here are just a few examples:
- Five one-way Blue class, off-peak awards from the East Coast to Madrid. The total for five legs would be 85,000 Avios, with each leg costing 17,000 Avios. Taxes and fees on a single outbound to Madrid will cost $86. Similarly, an inbound segment back home runs $122
- Up to two one-way premium economy awards from anywhere in the U.S. to Madrid.
- One round-trip business class award during off-peak dates. Availability for business is tightening, but not impossible to find.
Not interested in visiting Madrid? You can easily tack on a connecting flight to another European city, starting at 4,500 miles one-way in economy class. More importantly, Iberia lets you create mixed-class awards online, saving you points on short legs when booking transatlantic business class.
Using Avios for American Airlines-operated flights
Iberia’s distance-based chart for American-operated flights has a few sweet spots. One-way domestic AAdvantage MileSAAver awards cost 12,500 American miles. Meanwhile, flights under 500 miles require 7,500 AAdvantage miles. However, Iberia lets you book AA awards for as little as 5,500 miles each way.
Note that AA might offer a lower award price through its Web Specials. Normally, award flights under 2,000 each way are going to cost fewer miles through Iberia than AAdvantage.
One important caveat is that itineraries on AA metal must be round-trip — you cannot book one-way on American with Iberia Avios. In fact, not only do you have to book AA flights round-trip, but you also have to search for AA flights as round-trips when redeeming Iberia Avios.
One-way American Airlines award flights won’t show up on iberia.com, even if the space is available. So check aa.com or ExpertFlyer first to find MileSAAver space. Then pop the identical round-trip dates into Iberia’s Avios search engine to book.
Here’s how Iberia’s award chart for American Airlines redemptions breaks down:
|1 – 600||11,000||22,000||33,000|
|601 – 1,000||12,000||24,000||36,000|
|1,001 – 2,000||17,000||34,000||51,000|
|2,001 – 4,000||23,000||46,000||69,000|
|4,001 – 5,000||28,000||64,000||96,000|
|5,001 – 8,000||42,000||100,000||150,000|
|8,001 – 12,400||65,000||150,000||225,000|
|12,401 – 14,000||75,000||175,000||262,500|
Some great sweet spots of using Iberia Avios for American Airlines-operated flights include the following:
Economy itineraries less than 1,000 miles
You’ll need 12,000 Avios for itineraries with a one-way flying distance of 300 to 500 miles on American Airlines. For example, a round-trip from Washington-Reagan (DCA) to Charleston (CHS) for 12,000 Avios is a heck of a steal.
Economy itineraries between 5,001-8,000 miles
With 42,000 Avios, you can also book several round-trip economy tickets on American Airlines. Eligible routes include flights to Europe from the East Coast or Central/South America from Los Angeles (LAX), Dallas (DFW) or Miami (MIA).
However, Iberia is notorious for having technical glitches with booking American Airlines awards. If American has saver-level award space available and it’s not showing on Iberia’s site, you can also try to book it through Iberia over the phone. Even then, you might experience ticketing issues.
Using Avios for Royal Air Maroc-operated flights to Casablanca
You can book flights operated by Royal Air Maroc using Iberia Avios. However, you must call to find availability — which I’ve found to be pretty good — and book the flights.
Royal Air Maroc offers a daily flight from New York (JFK) to Casablanca (CMN), which will cost you 100,000 Avios round-trip in business class. Economy class, on the other hand, only costs 42,000 Avios. Carrier surcharges are less than $200 for the round-trip flight.
Upgrading with Iberia Avios
There are also some useful opportunities to upgrade Iberia-operated flights using your Avios. However, you must have a revenue ticket in an eligible fare class. Also, keep in mind upgrade prices depend on your travel dates. The Iberia award chart mentions the following classes as being upgrade-eligible to business class: Flexible Economy Fares (Y, B and H fare classes) and Premium (W).
In terms of upgrades to premium economy, Iberia doesn’t specify eligible economy fares. A phone agent also could not tell me which economy fare classes were eligible for premium economy upgrades. However, she could check on a flight-by-flight basis once I had my revenue itinerary booked.
|Destination||Economy to Premium Economy (Off-Peak/Peak)||Economy to Business (Off-Peak/Peal)||
Premium Economy to Business (Off-Peak/Peak)
|New York, Boston, Chicago||8,500/15,000||17,000/30,000||8,500/15,000|
|Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco||10,500/18,750||21,250/37,500||10,500/18,750|
*Prices are one-way
Upgrading to premium economy from the East Coast during off-peak dates is a steal. And if I was flying for work and could get my company or client to pay for an upgrade-eligible economy ticket, I’d certainly consider 17,000 or 21,250 Avios to upgrade to business class for a long-haul flight.
Similarly, upgrades from premium economy (W) tickets to business are fantastically priced during off-season (and even peak dates). I’m personally going to set a Google Flights alert for Iberia premium economy tickets to see if I can catch a good fare and then upgrade to business class for practically nothing.
Iberia Avios Promotions
Iberia routinely has promotions on award flights. For instance, lie-flat business class across the Atlantic can be booked for 25,500 Avios. Under another sale, Iberia offered 25% off the Avios required for Iberia Express-operated flights, resulting in intra-Europe flights from Spain pricing out for just 7,500 Avios.
What’s not a good use of 100,000 Avios?
I don’t recommend using Avios for Oneworld-operated long-haul business class on itineraries over 5,000 miles. That’s because these partner awards balloon to 100,000 Avios and higher.
There are certainly better loyalty programs out there to book these kinds of flights with.
Things to keep in mind
Here are a few things to remember about redeeming Iberia Avios:
- Iberia has a distance-based award chart for flights operated by the Iberia Group and award flights can be booked one-way. However, Iberia partners each have their own distance-based award charts (most are identical), some of which require round-trip bookings. To combine one or more Oneworld partners on an award itinerary, use the Oneworld award chart.
- Awards are priced based on the total length of all segments flown, not per segment like British Airways Avios.
- Carrier surcharges for transatlantic award flights are the most reasonable of all the Oneworld programs (though try to avoid London).
- Chicago by distance from Madrid should be in Band 6 but is in Band 5 with New York, Boston and the oft-forgotten San Juan nonstop service.
- To keep your Avios from expiring, you must have activity in your account at least once every 36 months.
- Since you have to pay taxes and fees on Avios awards, be sure to use a card like Chase Sapphire Reserve or The Platinum Card® from American Express. Both cards offer generous rewards on airline purchases and great trip insurance.
How to earn Iberia Avios
In addition to the Iberia credit card, you can transfer points between several programs.
Iberia Visa Signature Card
The easiest would be to pick up the Iberia Visa Signature Card. The card currently offers a generous welcome bonus of up to 100,000 Avios — 50,000 Avios after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months, plus another 50,000 Avios after you spend a total of $20,000 in the first year.
It also comes with some valuable perks like a 10% discount on paid Iberia flights and a $1,000 discount voucher to use toward two tickets on the same flight each year you spend $30,000.
Alternatively, you can transfer American Express Membership Rewards (1:1), Chase Ultimate Rewards points (1:1) or Marriott points (3:1 with a 5,000 Avios bonus for transferring 60,000 points). This allows you to transfer points from cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or American Express® Gold Card directly to Iberia.
Transfers from Chase are usually instant, while it takes around a day from Marriott and up to 48 hours from Amex. In addition, you may be able to take advantage of one of Amex or Chase’s transfer bonuses and get up to 50% bonus points.
Transfer British Airways Avios to Iberia
Similarly, you can transfer British Airways Avios to Iberia Avios so long as both accounts have been open for at least 90 days and have had some sort of previous activity. This is particularly useful if you have a haul of Avios that you earned with the British Airways Visa Signature Card — which is currently offering the same welcome bonus of up to 100,000 Avios after meeting the same tiered minimum spend requirements.
Even better, there’s nothing stopping you from earning the 100,000 bonus on both the British Airways and Iberia cards (just keep the 5/24 rule in mind). This is also useful if you’re looking to transfer Amex points to Iberia but don’t want to wait 48 hours. Transfers from Amex to British Airways are instantaneous and so are transfers from British Airways to Iberia.
Finally, if you don’t have any points that you can transfer to Iberia — or you want to save them for higher-value redemptions — you can often buy Iberia Avios for cheap. For instance, Iberia was selling Avios for just 1.35 cents each at the end of 2019. Sometimes you can find discounts on Avios via Groupon.
In conclusion, there’s a lot of value to be had in the Iberia Plus program. If I had 100,000 Avios, I’d put my attention squarely on booking Iberia-operated, off-peak transatlantic award flights. I’d also look for great revenue fares and then attempt to upgrade to either premium economy or business class. Furthermore, I’d turn my attention to American-operated short-haul or transatlantic economy tickets or flying Royal Air Maroc to Africa.
Additional reporting by Richard Kerr.
Featured image by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy
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