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Sweet Spot Sunday: Use Iberia Avios to manufacture your own cheap business-class fares to Europe

May 15, 2022
8 min read
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Do you know what a mistake fare is?

Mistake fares are a gift to travelers everywhere. On occasion, an airline will misprice a flight for impossibly cheap. If you don’t book a flight immediately, the fare will likely be fixed (or sold out) within hours — or even minutes.

Mistake fares are becoming more and more of a rarity. But there’s a way to “manufacture” a mistake fare — well, sort of. And it’s with Iberia Avios.

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You'll find this trick handy if you’d normally pounce on a $700 round-trip business-class flight to Europe. Let's take a closer look.

Why it’s special

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

The intent of many award travel enthusiasts is to use points and miles to travel for as cheap as possible. That’s an excellent goal (especially considering how easy it is to replenish your points stash when you’re running low). But if you’re willing to split your final bill with a bit more cash, you could skyrocket your redemption value.

On select Iberia routes between the U.S. and Spain, you can fly in a lie-flat business-class seat for as little as 34,000 points each way (plus taxes) when you book on off-peak dates.

Related: Fly business class to Europe from 34,000 Avios each way

For example, here is some business-class availability on a random date in January 2023. As you can see, the price is 34,000 Iberia Avios one-way in business class, plus $124.60 in taxes. A round-trip itinerary on off-peak dates prices out at 68,000 Avios and $281.57 in taxes and fees.

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(Screenshot from Iberia.com)

Meanwhile, a round-trip business-class flight to Europe on Iberia around the same time as the above one-way flight costs $3,842 in cash. Factoring in taxes and fees, you'd get 5.2 cents per Avios from this redemption, which is a great value.

(Screenshot from google.com)

When you go to the checkout screen, you'll notice an "Avios & Money" option. This lets you choose how many Avios and how much cash you'd like to use toward your booking. The more cash you spend, the fewer Avios you'll redeem.

(Screenshot from Iberia.com)

Here’s the points value that each option provides when compared to the sample fare:

  • 68,000 Avios + $281.57 = 5.2 cents per point.
  • 57,800 Avios + $481.57 = 5.8 cents per point.
  • 44,200 Avios + $681.57 = 7.1 cents per point.
  • 34,000 Avios + $891.57 = 8.6 cents per point.
  • 23,800 Avios + $1,091.57 = 11.5 cents per point.
  • 13,600 Avios + $1,311.57 = 18.6 cents per point.

Surprisingly, you'll get more value from your Avios when you elect to spend more cash on your flight. TPG estimates Avios to be worth 1.5 cents each on average. By combining cash with points, you can easily receive 12 times that value when booking round-trip business-class flights on Iberia.

The same goes for one-way tickets, where you can book a business-class flight from Chicago to Madrid for 6,800 Avios and $639.60. This means you can turn a relatively small number of Avios into huge cash savings.

Related: The cheapest ways to book a trip to Spain with points and miles

How to book

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

There are a few big quirks about Iberia’s dirt-cheap award prices to Europe.

First, Iberia only flies to a handful of U.S. cities — and the prices vary by city and date. Here’s what you’ll pay if you were to use Avios during peak and off-peak dates. Refer to Iberia's pricing calendar to determine how your desired flight will price.

CityAward price (off-peak)Award price (peak)
Boston34,000 Avios50,000 Avios
New York34,000 Avios50,000 Avios
Washington, D.C.34,000 Avios50,000 Avios
Chicago34,000 Avios50,000 Avios
Miami42,500 Avios62,500 Avios
Dallas42,500 Avios62,500 Avios
Los Angeles42,500 Avios62,500 Avios
San Francisco42,500 Avios62,500 Avios

Also, the only routes you’ll find at these prices are nonstop to Madrid. That’s not a problem for most of us, because intra-Europe flights are super cheap (sometimes just $20 one-way). If Madrid doesn’t interest you, just hop to the city you actually want to visit and use Iberia as a comfortable shuttle across the ocean.

Here’s how to book these flights.

Step 1. Log in to your Iberia account

You won’t be able to search for award flights until you log in to your Iberia account.

After you’re signed in, you can click “Book flights with Avios” in the drop-down menu at the top right of the page.

(Screenshot from Iberia.com)

Step 2. Enter your travel details

Keeping in mind the above table, choose your origin, destination and travel dates.

(Screenshot from Iberia.com)

Step 3. Choose your flights and payment info

Hopefully, you’ll find the flights you want on your first try.

Once you select business class as your seat choice, you’ll see an “Avios & Money” section at the bottom of the page. The more money you’re willing to spend, the more your Avios will be worth.

(Screenshot from Iberia.com)

How to earn points for this award

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

There are four main ways to earn Iberia Avios in a hurry.

The first is the most straightforward: earning with the Iberia Visa Signature Card. Right now, you can earn Earn up to 100,000 Avios. Earn 75,000 Avios after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening and earn an additional 25,000 Avios after you spend $20,000 in the first 12 months of account opening. Plus, you'll earn 3 Avios per dollar on Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia and Level purchases and 2 Avios per dollar on hotel bookings paid directly to the hotel.

Iberia is also a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards (1:1), Chase Ultimate Rewards (1:1) and Marriott Bonvoy (3:1). These points are easy to accrue with cards such as:

You can also transfer Avios from British Airways, Aer Lingus and Qatar Airways to Iberia. Because of this, you can transfer Capital One miles to British Airways Avios and then transfer those points to Iberia. And you can even transfer Citi ThankYou points to Qatar Airways, then to British Airways and finally to Iberia.

You can earn these points with cards like:

Related: Why Qatar’s switch to Avios is huge news for Citi ThankYou points

Bottom line

To really maximize the potential value of Iberia Avios, split your points payment with cash. You could find that you’re consistently getting 18-plus cents per point in value — particularly if you’re booking business-class flights to Europe.

Iberia Avios are still extremely valuable if you elect not to use this method, but it’s a great way to stretch your points for more lie-flat seats at rock-bottom prices.

Featured image by (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
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  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees