How to transfer British Airways Avios to Iberia
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Although they’re most associated with British Airways, Avios are 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 so long as long as each of your accounts is active.
Here’s a step-by-step look at how you can transfer Avios to the Iberia Plus program and why you might want to consider it instead of British Airways Executive Club.
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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 those of partner flights that begin, end or pass through the U.K. This is where redeeming Avios through the Iberia Plus program instead comes in handy.
By doing so, you can save hundreds of dollars and have access to better award availability on Iberia’s own flights. The program also offers periodic promotional award redemption rates that can be incredible bargains for transatlantic travel. For instance, Iberia recently offered 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.
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 off-peak dates when awards are cheaper and peak dates with higher redemption rates that usually correspond to the rates for partner flights.
B.A. doesn’t publish its charts anymore, but here are the rates you can expect on British Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus flights:
(distance in miles)
The Iberia Plus redemption charts can be found 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. Note, however, that the two programs’ off-peak dates are not the same.
The main reason you should consider using Iberia Plus Avios instead of British Airways, however, is quite simple. 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 (JFK) to Madrid (MAD) on Iberia. The total would cost 68,000 Iberia Avios plus $175.
B.A. 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 JFK to MAD 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 B.A.?
While these are the scenarios where you’re saving the most money, you can also get a discount on booking flights on both B.A. and American 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 in taxes/fees.
Here’s the same award using Iberia Plus — 50,000 Avios plus $729 in taxes and fees. The savings aren’t huge, but they’re there.
Iberia’s site often has issues with displaying American Airlines award space online. However, it can be a cheaper option than British Airways on round-trip ultra short-haul flights within the U.S. and shorter long-haul flights.
For instance, a round-trip flight from New York-JFK to Washington-National (DCA) can be booked for just 11,000 Avios round-trip through Iberia. That’s 7,000 Avios cheaper than booking two one-ways with British Airways Avios.
Flights with round-trip distances of 5,001-8,000 miles can be good redemptions too. Just remember that unlike British Airways, Iberia does not let you book one-way flights on American Airlines.
Transferring Avios from British Airways to Iberia
Activating your Iberia account
To transfer Avios from British Airways to Iberia, you’ve got to register for an Iberia Plus account. Do so as soon as possible because to be eligible for such a transfer, your Iberia account must be open for at least three months and have some qualifying earn 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 simply transferring points 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 various 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. When you do, 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.
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 or 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 at once is with the Iberia Visa Signature® Card. It’s currently offering a two-tiered sign-up bonus that includes 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $3,000 within three months of account opening, plus another 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $20,000 on purchases within your first year of account opening.
Cardholders earn 5 Avios per dollar on flight purchases made directly with Iberia, British Airways and Aer Lingus within your first 12 months from account opening, thereafter, earn 3 Avios. Earn 3 Avios per dollar spent on hotels when purchased directly with the hotel within your first 12 months from account opening; then earn 2 Avios thereafter. Plus, earn 1 Avios per dollar on everything else. 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, which is not waived the first year.
Related: Iberia Visa Signature card review
There are plenty of reasons to consider redeeming Iberia Plus Avios over British Airways Avios. It’s easy to transfer points from Amex, Chase and Marriott over 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 flight and will charge you significantly lower taxes and surcharges than British Airways will. Even redeeming Iberia Avios for British Airways and American flights sometimes represent savings. There are also sweet spots to be found where British Airways and Iberia’s off-peak dates do not quite match up.
Before redeeming either British Airways or Iberia Avios, be sure to 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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