Score round-trip business-class flights to Europe for $1,132 by buying points for cheap
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
Purchasing airline miles or hotel points generally isn't a great value, but that can all change when a lucrative bonus is released. And one of these promotions just launched.
Now through Dec. 20, you can get 50% bonus points when purchasing Iberia Avios. And unlike other airline buy miles promotions, there's no need to buy a large amount of miles to get this sweet bonus — you'll get a 50% bonus even when buying just 2,000 Avios.
If you maximize this promotion by buying at least 100,000 Avios, you can purchase them at just 1.33 cents each. That's less than TPG's valuation of Avios, which pegs them at 1.5 cents each, making this promotion certainly worth a look if you know how to utilize the Iberia Plus or British Airways Executive Club programs.
For those who need a refresher, here are some of our tips on how to maximize Iberia Avios and — since you can transfer Iberia Avios to BA Avios at a 1:1 ratio — how to maximize British Airways Avios, especially on American Airlines flights.
For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter
Saving miles on American Airlines award flights
Here's one example that I booked and flew at the end of 2018: American Airlines award flights for 17,000 Avios per person for an itinerary that AA was simultaneously charging 80,000 AAdvantage miles to book:
Iberia awards on American Airlines flights start at just 11,000 Avios round-trip plus around $11 in taxes. At the maximized 1.33 cents per Avios promotional purchase rate, that means that you can score short-haul American Airlines awards for as little as $158 including taxes and fees. While one-way AA awards briefly showed through Iberia last year, that was a temporary glitch, leaving round-trip awards as your only option.
Longer trips of up to 2,000 total flight miles cost 17,000 Avios — those trips would cost $238 all-in at the 1.33 cents promotional purchase rate plus taxes. For example, not too long ago TPG Senior Editor Nick Ewen got some incredible value from one of these Iberia awards for a round-trip flight from Fort Lauderdale (FLL) to Charlotte (CLT), redeeming 17,000 Avios plus $18.70 — and that was before Iberia reduced the taxes/fees on AA awards.
That exact same flight would've set him back over $700 out of pocket!
It's important to note that booking American Airlines awards through Iberia can be frustrating, and sometimes it doesn't work at all. However, these sweet spots are worth the hassle of trying.
Cheap award flights to Europe
Another great use of Avios is flying in Iberia business class across the Atlantic. Flights on off-peak dates start at 68,000 Avios round-trip plus around $227 in taxes and fees from U.S. gateways like Iberia's A330 from Boston or Chicago:
Or, fly Iberia's new Airbus A350-900 business class from New York-JFK:
At 1.33 cents each, those Avios would cost $905 — bringing the total cost to around $1,132 for a transatlantic round-trip in business class.
Even if you aren't buying at least 100,000 Avios to get the optimal 1.33 cents per Avios rate, you can still get a great deal. If you already have or can transfer some Avios, you can buy 67,500 Avios for €845 (or about US$940). Adding in the taxes and fees, that brings the total cost to $1,167 round-trip.
Searching availabilty on Iberia's website can be annoying as you have to check day-by-day. Thankfully, you can now search Iberia award availability through American Airlines' website. I'd recommend using the old award availability tool, searching the overwater routes and then limiting the results to nonstop options. This makes it easy to see which dates have award availability.
Just watch out on routes that American Airlines also has award availability, as the AA award calendar can't be limited to just Iberia awards. Also, remember that you can set an award availability alert on ExpertFlyer if the date you want isn't available now.
Details of this Iberia Avios promotion
There are some important details you need to know to get the cheapest rate. Most importantly: Don't buy Avios priced in U.S. dollars. Iberia charges more than a 30% premium for members that buy Avios with U.S. dollars instead of euros. This is true up and down the purchase chart, but let's look at just a few examples:
|Avios purchased including bonus||Price when buying with euros||USD conversion of euro cost||Price when buying with USD||Premium charged|
And it doesn't really take a trick to switch the purchase rate to euros. In the header of the Iberia buy miles website, just switch your region to Spain to get the euro prices (and of course make sure to pay with a credit card that doesn't charge foreign transaction fees).
The next thing to keep in mind is that Iberia charges a range of prices depending on how many miles you buy. Before the bonus, the regular price for buying Iberia Avios starts as high as €0.027 per Avios (~3.01 U.S. cents). But, you can drop that price to as low as €0.012 per point (~1.33 U.S. cents) with this promotion.
To save you the math, here are all your options for buying Avios with this promotion (exchange rates accurate at time of publication):
|Purchase Rate||Bonus rate||Total Avios||Cost in euros||USD equivalent||Cents per Avios|
How to buy Iberia Avios
To take advantage of the promotion, follow these steps:
- Log into your Iberia Plus account.
- At the top of the webpage, select "Buying or transferring Avios" through the Iberia Plus menu. You can also try this link.
- Select Purchase next to "All Iberia Plus customers."
- Select the number of Avios you’d like to buy.
- Add your credit card details.
- Review the information, check the box to agree to the Terms and Conditions and click "Pay Now" to finalize the purchase.
There's a standard limit of 100,000 purchased Avios per calendar year, per account. However, this limit is being elevated to a maximum of 200,000 Avios per calendar year for this promotion.
Which credit card should you use?
As mentioned earlier, since you'll want to purchase Avios priced in euros, it's important that you choose a credit card with no foreign transaction fees. Since this transaction is processed by Points.com, these purchases likely will not code as travel. So, you won’t get bonus points from cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve. As a result, you’ll want to use the best non-bonus category credit card for your situation.
Related: Best travel credit cards
Alternatives to buying Avios
Iberia Plus is a partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards (1:1) and American Express Membership Rewards (1:1). In TPG testing, Chase points transfer to Iberia Avios instantly but Amex points take about 48 hours arrive, so be sure to factor in that timeline if you’re trying to transfer Amex points directly to Iberia Plus for an award ticket.
However, if you have a British Airways account that's been open for at least 90 days, you can transfer Amex points to British Airways Avios instantaneously (1:1) and then transfer BA Avios to Iberia Avios (also 1:1).
In addition to the 90-day rule, you need to make sure your personal information is listed identically in both carriers’ systems before you’re allowed to transfer between accounts. Your birth date, email address and name all have to match exactly before the transfer can occur.