Save on taxes and fees: How to transfer British Airways Avios to Iberia
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Although it is most associated with British Airways, Avios is also the mileage currency of Iberia and Aer Lingus. While redemption rates via all three programs are mostly the same (i.e., distance-based with some attractive cash and points options), one key area in which they differ is the amount of taxes and surcharges on award tickets. Often, you can book the same awards through Iberia for significantly less than through British Airways.
Generally, you can’t transfer points between frequent flyer programs. But the Avios program is a notable exception. While your Avios in each program remain separate and distinct, you can transfer them freely between the airlines if each of your accounts is active.
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Why you should transfer Avios
British Airways tends to get a bad rap thanks to the exorbitant taxes and surcharges the airline levies on awards on its own flights and partner flights that begin, end or pass through the U.K. This is where redeeming Avios through the Iberia Plus program comes in handy.
By using the Iberia Plus program, you can save hundreds of dollars and have access to better award availability on Iberia’s own flights. The Iberia Plus program also offers periodic promotional award redemption rates that can be incredible bargains for trans-Atlantic travel. For instance, we’ve seen Iberia offer business class flights from the U.S. to Madrid for just 17,000 Avios. Another perk of booking through Iberia is that you can easily mix and match business class flights with economy segments on the same itinerary.
You may also need to transfer Avios if you’re looking to use Capital One miles through Iberia Plus. Although Iberia isn’t a direct transfer partner of Capital One, British Airways is. So, you can convert Capital One miles into Iberia Avios by first going through British Airways.
Comparing the Iberia and British Airways award charts
Let’s start with a quick look at both the British Airways and Iberia award charts. Both charts are distance-based and feature peak and off-peak dates. Rates on peak dates usually correspond to the rates for partner flights.
British Airways doesn’t publish award charts anymore, but here are the rates you can expect on British Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus flights:
(distance in miles)
You can find the Iberia Plus redemption charts here. This is the off-peak chart:
And this is the peak chart:
As you can see, the rates among all three charts are pretty similar, but the two programs’ off-peak dates are not the same.
The main reason you should consider using Iberia Plus Avios instead of British Airways is quite simple, though. You’ll generally pay less in taxes and fees. A lot less in some cases. The greatest difference seems to be on Iberia’s flights between the U.S. and Europe, for which British Airways charges hundreds of dollars more in taxes.
Examples of awards that are cheaper through Iberia
Here are several examples that prove this point. Let’s start with the most dramatic.
Below is a round-trip, off-peak business class award from New York to Madrid on Iberia. The total would cost 68,000 Iberia Avios plus $175.
British Airways would also charge you 68,000 Avios, but a whopping $1,494 in taxes.
It’s not just in business class, either. For example, here’s a round-trip, off-peak Iberia award from New York to Madrid in economy class for 34,000 Avios plus $151.
For the same flight, British Airways would charge you 34,000 Avios plus $494 — over $300 more. At that price, why would you ever book through British Airways?
While these are the scenarios where you’re saving the most money, you can also get a discount by booking flights on British Airways using Iberia Avios. A one-way, off-peak award on British Airways from New York-JFK to London Heathrow (LHR) in business class would cost 50,000 Avios plus $748.
Here’s the same award using Iberia Plus — 50,000 Avios plus $729. The savings aren’t huge, but they’re there.
Don’t expect as big of a savings if you’re looking to redeem on another Oneworld partner, though.
Iberia used to be a cheaper option than British Airways for booking domestic awards within the U.S. on American Airlines. But it devalued its award chart in 2021 and now charges virtually identical rates as British Airways for American awards. Iberia’s site also often has issues displaying American Airlines award space online.
Transferring Avios from British Airways to Iberia
Activating your Iberia account
To transfer Avios from British Airways to Iberia, you must register for an Iberia Plus account. Do so as soon as possible. After all, to be eligible for such a transfer, your Iberia account must have been open for at least three months and have some qualifying earning activity (meaning you must have earned at least one Iberia Avios).
You can meet this requirement by crediting a flight on Iberia or its Oneworld partners to your account, buying points or transferring rewards from one of Iberia’s partner programs like American Express Membership Rewards or Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Make sure the name on your British Airways Avios account matches that on your Iberia Plus account exactly and that you are using the same email address for both. This information must match for you to move Avios between your accounts.
Once your Iberia Plus account is eligible for British Airways transfers, log in to your British Airways Executive Club account and click on the “Combine my Avios” tab under “Manage my account.”
You’ll be directed to this page detailing how you can move Avios between your accounts. From this page, click on “Combine my Avios.”
From there, enter your Iberia Plus number and PIN.
Then you are taken to this page showing your linked accounts. You can choose the number of Avios you want to move between them and in which direction.
If your accounts are matched and active, the process is quick and easy.
Earning Iberia Avios
Aside from flying, you can easily earn Avios and activate your Iberia Plus account through credit cards. You can either pick up a cobranded credit card that earns Avios directly or a transferrable points card that earns rewards you can transfer to Avios.
The easiest and cheapest way to activate your Iberia Plus account is to transfer points from a partner program: American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards or Marriott Bonvoy. As mentioned, Capital One isn’t a transfer partner of Iberia, but you can transfer Capital One miles to British Airways and then Iberia.
To transfer your Amex or Chase points to Iberia, you need a credit card that earns transferrable points. Cards that fit the bill include The Platinum Card® from American Express, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Points transfer from Amex and Chase at a 1:1 ratio, while Marriott points transfer at a 3:1 ratio (2.4:1, including the 5,000-Avios bonus for every 60,000 points transferred).
Just be sure to pay attention to the below transfer times. Unlike transfers to British Airways, these aren’t always instant.
|Program||Transfer time to Iberia|
|American Express Membership Rewards||48 hours|
|Chase Ultimate Rewards||Instant|
|Marriott Bonvoy||24 hours|
The Iberia credit card
The other useful method for racking up a bunch of Iberia Avios is the Iberia Visa Signature® Card. This card is currently offering a sign-up offer of 100,000 Avios after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening.
Cardholders earn 5 Avios per dollar spent on purchases with Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia, and LEVEL within the first 18 months from account opening, and thereafter earn 3 Avios per dollar spent. Earn 3 Avios per dollar spent on hotel accommodations when purchased directly with the hotel within the first 18 months from account opening, and thereafter earn 2 Avios per dollar spent. Plus, earn 1 Avios per dollar spent on all other purchases. The card also comes with other perks like 10% off flights and a $1,000 discount voucher toward Iberia flights when you make $30,000 in purchases in a single calendar year. It has a $95 annual fee.
Related: Iberia Visa Signature card review
There are plenty of reasons to consider redeeming Iberia Plus Avios instead of British Airways Avios. It’s easy to transfer points from Amex, Chase and Marriott to Iberia instead of British Airways. And if British Airways is still one of your main mileage programs, you can easily transfer Avios between the two using the “Combine my Avios” function.
Iberia’s site is better at finding award availability on the airline’s own flights and will charge you significantly lower taxes and surcharges than British Airways. There are also sweet spots to be found where British Airways and Iberia’s off-peak dates do not quite match up.
So, before redeeming either British Airways or Iberia Avios, search for the awards you want through both sites and see which one represents a better deal.
Additional reporting by Eric Rosen.
Featured image by Dennis Kartenkaemper/Shutterstock.
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