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One of the best ways to unlock valuable redemptions in this hobby is to earn transferable points. Since you aren’t forced into a specific airline or hotel program, you’ll enjoy incredible flexibility when it comes time to book a trip. They’re also a great guard against potential devaluations by individual programs, since you’d just choose not to transfer points into that currency anymore. The Chase Ultimate Rewards program is one of my favorites in this category thanks to the array of partners and the lucrative earning rates on cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve.
But how exactly do you transfer points to partners, and how do you then book awards once the points post to your account? I’ve written about most of the Ultimate Rewards transfer partners in the past (like Hyatt, United and British Airways), but two new partners were added at the end of 2017: Iberia and Aer Lingus. Today I’ll go through how to transfer your points to Iberia Plus as well as the process for redeeming those Avios once they arrive in your account.
Before you can actually transfer points to Iberia (or any transfer partner, for that matter), there are a couple basic steps you’ll need to complete. The first is to make sure your Ultimate Rewards-accruing credit card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card is set up for online access. This process begins by visiting and looking for the “Not enrolled? Sign up now” link:
From there, simply enter the corresponding information from your account to create your online profile with Chase.
If you already have an online account with Chase for a different credit card (like the IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card), you can click on Manage Accounts from the Customer Center at the right to start the process of linking a new card to your existing account. You’ll then click on Add Accounts from the My Information section.
The second essential item is to make sure that you sign up for the Iberia Plus program and make sure your account is active (though hopefully you’ve already done this if you’ve read my post on common points and miles mistakes!). You can sign in to your existing account by visiting Iberia’s homepage and clicking Log In at the top, or you can create a new account from this link.
After you’ve completed these two tasks, you’re ready to start transferring!
Transferring to Iberia
The actual process for transferring Ultimate Rewards points to all partners starts the exact same way:
1. Log in to your Chase account and click on the Go to Ultimate Rewards link at the top right:
Alternatively, if your online view has been converted over to the “Chase for Business” user interface, scroll down and click on Ultimate Rewards at the bottom left:
(1a. If you have more than one card account, choose your desired one from the next page.)
(Note that in order to transfer points, you must select a premium card like the Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve or Ink Business Preferred. You can transfer points earned on cards like the Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Unlimited; they just need to be moved to the premium card’s account first. For a step-by-step guide on how to do this, check out my post on Combining Ultimate Rewards Points.)
2. Hover over the Use Points drop-down menu and select Transfer to Travel Partners.
3. Find the Iberia Plus line and click Transfer Points.
4. Select yourself or an authorized user from the drop-down menu, enter your Iberia member ID, then click Continue.
5. Enter the number of points you want to transfer (must be in increments of 1,000) and click Continue.
6. Review your details on the next page and then click Confirm & Submit.
The next screen should confirm that the transfer was successful.
We’ve tested each of the Ultimate Rewards transfer partners to see how long it takes for the points to appear in your frequent traveler account, and fortunately transfers to Iberia are instantaneous. There are a few important things to keep in mind with these transfers:
- The transfers are nonrefundable, so be certain you want to make the transfer before you click Submit.
- You can only transfer to yourself or an authorized user.
- You can combine points from your different cards or transfer points between your account and that of your spouse/domestic partner. For complete details, check out my post on combining Ultimate Rewards points.
Booking With Iberia
Now that you’ve made the transfer, it’s time to actually redeem your Avios with Iberia. In addition to redeeming miles for flights on Iberia metal, you can also book award flights on Oneworld airlines like American or British Airways as well as non-alliance partners like Vueling or Royal Air Maroc. Shortly after the carrier announced the addition of premium economy to its long-haul routes, it also updated its award chart, in which TPG Senior Writer Julian Mark Kheel found some interesting values.
Before getting to those, here’s a step-by-step process of how to actually book award tickets with Iberia Plus:
1. Start by visiting Iberia’s homepage and click on Log In at the top right.
2. Enter your Iberia Plus number and PIN (which must be six digits) and then click GO.
(2a. Update your contact information, if necessary, then click Continue.)
3. Enter your departure & arrival cities, dates, and number of passengers; then check the Pay with Avios box and click Search.
(3a. This may take you to another search page; verify your criteria, then click Flight Search.)
4. Review the search results, then choose your desired flight(s) and class(es) of service and click View at the bottom right.
5. Verify the price of the itinerary, then click Continue.
6. Follow the rest of the on-screen prompts to finalize your booking.
At first glance, the addition of Iberia Plus as an Ultimate Rewards transfer partner isn’t all that exciting. After all, British Airways has long been a partner of the program, and one would think that Avios from Iberia and Avios from British Airways are created equally. However, there are a couple of great reasons why you’d want to redeem Avios through Iberia.
The first involves fuel surcharges. British Airways is notorious for adding exorbitant fees to its award tickets, and this also extends to flights operated by Iberia. For example, here’s a round-trip flight from Miami to Madrid in November booked with Avios through British Airways’ Executive Club program:
Here’s the same flight through Iberia Plus:
As you can see, you’re using the same number of Avios but saving $179.52 by booking these flights through Iberia.
The difference is even more significant for premium classes. Here are those same flights in business class booked through British Airways:
And here’s what a round-trip business class award ticket would cost you through Iberia Plus:
Once again, you’re using the same number of Avios but saving a whopping $817.42.
The other main reason why you’d want to book award flights through Iberia instead of British Airways involves short-haul flights on American. When you redeem Avios through British Airways, your award rates follow the carrier’s distance-based award chart, regardless of the airline(s) you’re flying. However, back in 2016, the British Airways Executive Club program added an exception to its award chart by removing the ability to redeem just 4,500 Avios for flights of 650 miles or less in North America. While this option is still available for flights out of other Oneworld hubs, you now need to spend 7,500 Avios each way for award flights up to 1,151 miles in distance in the US through British Airways’ distance-based award chart.
Iberia’s award chart for flights on its own metal is identical to that of British Airways. However, Iberia uses a different award chart for its Oneworld partners:
As you can see, round-trip flights of up to 600 miles in length are just 11,000 Avios, which equates to 5,500 each way. Meanwhile, flying distances of up to 1,000 miles only requires an additional 1,000 Avios, a minuscule amount compared to the prices that these short-haul flights can command. Note that this distance is the total length of the round-trip itinerary, which can still be quite valuable.
Here’s a quick example of how this can work out in your favor. Let’s say you wanted to fly from Orlando to Charlotte, a flight that covers a distance of 468 miles (936 round-trip). Even though it’s a short flight, you’d need to spend $333.10 if paying for the ticket through American:
If you transfer Ultimate Rewards points to British Airways, you’d need 15,000 Avios + $11.20 in taxes & fees:
This gives you a value of 2.1 cents per point, which happens to match TPG’s most recent valuations. This is a solid redemption but nothing too exciting.
However, if you utilize one of the newest Ultimate Rewards transfer partners and send your points to Iberia, you’ll only need 12,000 Avios + $18.70 in taxes & fees:
This boosts your redemption value to 2.6 cents apiece by keeping the extra 3,000 Ultimate Rewards points in your account.
It’s important to note that you’re only better off when your flights total 1,000 miles or less, as this will keep your round-trip itinerary at either 11,000 or 12,000 Avios. If your flights extend past 1,000 miles in distance, transferring to British Airways probably makes more sense. My advice? If you’re looking to book an award ticket on American-operated flights, price the itinerary through both British Airways and Iberia before pulling the trigger on one versus the other.
The Ultimate Rewards program has some fantastic redemptions, and the points regularly appear near the top of TPG’s monthly valuations (pegged at 2.1 cents apiece in his most recent iteration). While you may not have been excited to learn that Iberia had been added as a transfer partner last year, there are some times when it makes a lot of sense to transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to Iberia Plus. Hopefully this post has shown how easy this process is and how valuable the resulting redemptions can be.
Featured image by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images.
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