100,000 Avios now for travel later: A review of the Iberia Visa Signature card

Jul 1, 2020

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Editor’s note: We are publishing travel and credit card content because we should all use this time to think about and plan what’s next. Iberia is Spain’s flag carrier, and there are many travel restrictions now that you should be aware of. TPG suggests that you talk to your doctor, follow health officials’ guidance and research local travel restrictions before booking that next trip. 

Iberia Visa Signature Card overview

The Iberia Visa Signature® Card is an intriguing option if you’re interested in collecting Avios points. With Avios, you can redeem for flights across the Oneworld alliance — and even transfer Avios to partners like British Airways. As a cobranded airline card, benefits are fairly run-of-the-mill but you currently can earn a massive sign-up bonus which is nothing to sneeze at. Card Rating*: ⭐⭐⭐

*Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG’s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.

International airline credit cards typically have fewer benefits than their domestic counterparts. Unlike a cobranded airline card from, say, Delta, the Iberia Visa Signature card doesn’t come with priority boarding or a free checked bag, for instance. However, this is the only cobranded offering from Iberia available in the U.S. — and it’s ideal if you’re trying to earn extra Iberia Avios. (Avios are a mileage currency.) 

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The Iberia card comes with a $95 annual fee that isn’t waived for the first year, but the hefty sign-up bonus and a couple of money-saving perks more than offset the cost. Personally, Avios are one of my favorite airline currencies to earn since they can be lucrative for short-haul flying and business class to Spain.

Let’s take a closer look at whether the Iberia Visa Signature deserves a spot in your wallet.

Related reading: The best airline credit cards of 2021

In This Post

Who is this card for?

Iberia is Spain’s flag carrier with a hub in Madrid, flying to almost 120 destinations in 45 countries across Europe, Africa, the Middle East and America. On the surface then, this Iberia card appears to only be valuable for international travelers that fly to Spain.

(Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy)
Madrid Airport (Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy)

However, that isn’t the case. Iberia — and sister airlines British Airways and Aer Lingus — all earn their own version of Avios, and can be used for booking flights all over the world. Iberia is a part of the Oneworld alliance, which opens the door to thousands of mileage redemption possibilities with airlines on every continent.

Additionally, unlike other airline miles, your Iberia Avios balance can be transferred to another airline as long they stay under the same umbrella of the International Airline Group parent company. That includes the ability to transfer Avios to British Airways and Aer Lingus at a one-to-one ratio, if you so choose.

Related reading: Here’s why you should care about British Airways Avios

One important note: The Iberia Visa Signature falls under Chase’s 5/24 rule. If you’ve opened more than five credit cards in the past 24 months (from all banks, not just Chase), your application will be automatically rejected — even if you have a nearly perfect score.

Sign-up bonus

The Iberia Visa Signature Card has a lucrative sign-up bonus of 100,000 Avios after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening. That’s worth a whopping $1,500, based on TPG’s valuations.

One of the best perks of Avios (both the Iberia and British Airways variants) is just how flexible of a currency it is. You can easily transfer credit card points from Chase and American Express to Avios to top up or replenish your Avios balances.

Related reading: Cards that offer sign-up bonuses of 100,000 points or more

Perks

Although the card lacks many of the usual domestic cobranded airline card benefits such as a free checked bag and priority boarding, it does offer a few perks — similar to the British Airways Visa Signature Card — that can make it a worthwhile addition to your wallet.

Earning

Earn 3x Avios even on British Airways flights (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Earn 3x Avios even on British Airways flights (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)

If most of your flying — once flying gets back up to speed — is done on Iberia, British Airways or Aer Lingus, then you’ll earn the most bonus points when using this card. You’ll get 5 Avios for every $1 spent on flight purchases with these airlines within the first 12 months of account opening; then earn 3 Avios per dollar thereafter.

In addition, receive 3 Avios for every $1 spent on hotel accommodations booked directly with the hotel within the first 12 months of account opening; then earn 2 Avios for every $1 thereafter. Plus, 1 Avios for every $1 spent on all other purchases. Based on TPG valuations, that equates to a decent return of 7.5% on flight purchases (with Iberia, British Airways, or Aer Lingus), 4.5% on hotel stays and 1.5% on all other spending.

For a cobranded airline card, these are pretty run-of-the-mill category bonuses. However, as mentioned, there are ways to earn more Avios by transferring from a credit card rewards program including Amex Membership Rewards points or Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

Related reading: Best airline cards of 2020

Redeeming

Iberia has a close partnership with British Airways and Aer Lingus, two airlines that also use the Avios currency. Those Avios can be transferred between each other, which is a nice perk if you have a preference for a particular program. As a U.S. based traveler though, one of the best aspects of redeeming with Iberia is the ability to use Avios for short-haul flights on Oneworld partner airlines, including American Airlines.

Iberia uses a distinct distance-based award chart, different from that of British Airways and Aer Lingus. One of my favorite redemptions is an award chart sweet spot: a one-way business class ticket between New York (JFK) or Chicago (ORD) and Madrid (MAD) for just 34,000 Avios off-peak.

(Photo by Christian Kramer/The Points Guy)
Iberia business class on the A350 (Photo by Christian Kramer/The Points Guy)

On the negative side, the Iberia website is clunky and is not user-friendly. Also, for Iberia partners, each has its own distance-based award charts (most are identical), some of which require round-trip bookings.

With most frequent flyer programs, you’ll get the best value if you use your rewards for flights and Iberia is no exception. However, you can also use Avios for flight upgrades, hotel stays, rental cars and experiences.

Related reading: How to book your first flight using airline miles

Which cards compete with the Iberia Visa Signature Card?

While other cobranded airline cards might be more of a direct competitor, that won’t be the case if you’re looking specifically for Avios. Iberia is a one-to-one transfer partner of both American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards, as well as a three-to-one transfer partner of Marriott, so it’s pretty straightforward to earn Avios.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)
(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a solid card option that earns Ultimate Rewards points with an annual fee of $95. The current sign-up bonus is for 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points (worth $1,200 based on TPG valuations) after spending $4,000 in the first three months from opening your account. You’ll earn 5x points on Lyft rides, 2x points on dining and travel and 1x everywhere else.

Related reading: Guide to using Ultimate Rewards points

American Express® Gold Card

(Photo by The Points Guy)
(Photo by The Points Guy)

The Amex Gold is a worthy competitor to the Chase Sapphire Preferred, although the annual fee is a bit higher at $250 (see rates and fees). The card earns Membership Rewards points. In terms of category bonuses, you’ll get 4x on dining at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets (U.S. supermarkets capped at $25,000 per calendar year, then 1x), 3x points on flights booked directly from the airline or amextravel.com, and 1x points on everything else.

Related reading: Guide to using Amex Membership Rewards points

Bottom line

The Iberia Visa Signature card is a solid option if you want to start earning Avios, or are already invested within the program. With a huge sign-up bonus and decent perks if you’re flying Iberia (or British Airways and Aer Lingus), it’s worth considering adding to your wallet. If you’re over Chase’s 5/24 rule, you’re out of luck though.

While the current environment may not be the best time for flying, it can make sense to prepare for the future of travel — a cool 100,000 Avios wouldn’t hurt once that happens.

Apply here for the Iberia Visa Signature card

For rates and fees of the Amex Gold card, click here.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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.