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Travel Hang out in America's coolest neighborhoods

23:50  02 october  2021
23:50  02 october  2021 Source:   loveexploring.com

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  5 best ways to redeem 100,000 Iberia Avios © Provided by The Points Guy
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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.

If you’re reading this post, chances are you’re sitting on a large stash of Iberia Avios and want to put them to good use. Or maybe you’re looking at the 100,000-Avios sign-up bonus for the Iberia Visa Signature Card after meeting minimum spend requirements and wondering what you can do with the bonus.

Since Iberia is a member of the Oneworld alliance, you have lots of options when it comes time to redeem, especially on American Airlines flights.

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In This Post

Iberia-operated transatlantic flights to/from Madrid

Here’s an overview of how many Avios you’d need for one-way, nonstop flights to Iberia’s hub in Madrid. Note that Blue-class fares allow you to book economy awards for fewer Avios, but you’ll incur a fee if you need to change or refund a Blue-class fare.

Origin Blue/economy Premium economy Business
Off-peak Peak Off-peak Peak Off-peak Peak
New York (JFK) 17,000/22,000 20,000/28,000 25,000 35,000 34,000 50,000
Chicago (ORD) 17,000/22,000 20,000/28,000 25,000 35,000 34,000 50,000
Boston (BOS) 17,000/22,000 20,000/28,000 25,000 35,000 34,000 50,000
Miami (MIA) 21,250/27,750 25,000/35,000 31,750 43,750 42,500 62,500
Los Angeles (LAX) 21,250/27,750 25,000/35,000 31,750 43,750 42,500 62,500
San Francisco (SFO) 21,250/27,750 25,000/35,000 31,750 43,750 42,500 62,500

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

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At these rates, you can get a ton of travel out of 100,000 Iberia Avios. Here are just a few examples:

  • Five one-way Blue-class, off-peak awards from the East Coast to Madrid. The total for five legs would be 85,000 Avios, with each leg costing 17,000 Avios. Taxes and fees on a single outbound flight to Madrid will cost $86, while the outbound flight from Madrid will run you $122.
  • Two to four one-way premium economy awards from the U.S. to Madrid.
  • One round-trip business-class award from the U.S. to Madrid during off-peak dates. Availability for business-class awards is tightening but is still possible to find.

Not interested in visiting Madrid? You can easily tack on a connecting flight to another European city, starting at 4,500 Avios one-way in economy class. More importantly, Iberia lets you create mixed-class awards online. So you can fly economy on short legs and save some Avios when booking transatlantic business-class awards.

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Related: How to transfer British Airways Avios to Iberia

Really enjoyed my @iberia business-class experience on the A330! Seats were comfy and the footwells were massive. For the most privacy, pick a window seat in an even-numbered row!

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Using Avios for American Airlines-operated flights

Despite being devalued in May 2021, Iberia’s distance-based chart for American-operated flights still has a few sweet spots. One-way domestic AAdvantage MileSAAver awards typically cost 12,500 American miles, while flights under 500 miles require 7,500 AAdvantage miles. However, Iberia lets you book AAdvantage awards for as little as 6,000 Avios each way.

Note that AAdvantage might offer a lower award price through its Web Specials. However, short- and medium-haul domestic award flights typically cost less through Iberia than AAdvantage.

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Although Iberia should now allow one-way awards on American Airlines, they don’t show up on iberia.com yet, even if the space is available. So, if you want to redeem your Iberia Avios for American awards online, you must search for and book a round-trip.

I recommend checking aa.com or ExpertFlyer (owned by TPG’s parent company, Red Ventures) to find MileSAAver space and then popping your round-trip dates into Iberia’s Avios search engine to book. That said, even when searching round-trip, it might not always show up on Iberia’s website due to frequent technical glitches. If American has saver-level award space available and it’s not showing on Iberia’s site, you can also try to book it through Iberia over the phone.

Here’s how Iberia’s award chart for one-way American Airlines redemptions breaks down. As you can see, it’s practically identical to British Airways’ partner award chart.

Distance Economy Premium economy Business First
1-650 6,000 9,000 12,500 24,000
651-1,151 9,000 12,500 16,500 33,000
1,152-2,000 11,000 16,500 22,000 44,000
2,001-3,000 13,000 25,750 38,750 51,500
3,001-4,000 20,750 41,250 62,000 82,500
4,001-5,500 25,750 51,500 77,250 103,000
5,501-6,500 31,000 62,000 92,750 123,750
6,501-7,000 36,250 72,250 108,250 144,250
7,001-11,770 51,500 103,000 154,500 206,000

Now, here are a few of the best sweet spots when using Iberia Avios for American Airlines-operated flights:

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Economy itineraries less than 650 miles

You’ll need 6,000 Avios for itineraries with a one-way flying distance of up to 650 miles on American Airlines. For example, a round-trip from Washington Reagan (DCA) to Charleston, South Carolina (CHS), for 12,000 Avios is a heck of a steal.

Business-class itineraries less than 2,000 miles

Iberia charges just 12,500 to 22,000 Avios each way for business-class awards less than 2,000 miles. That’s great considering American normally charges 25,000 miles for most domestic business-class awards. Even better, Iberia doesn’t charge more Avios for flights that offer lie-flat seats, such as the daily 777 flights between New York-JFK and Miami (MIA).

Related: Fly lie-flat domestic business class for the price of coach

a desk with a computer and a chair: Business class on American Airlines’ 787. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy) © The Points Guy Business class on American Airlines’ 787. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Economy class between the West Coast and Hawaii

Another sweet spot you’ll find is the ability to fly from West Coast cities like Los Angeles (LAX) and Phoenix (PHX) to Hawaii for just 13,000 Avios each way in economy. That’s much better than what any of the major U.S. airlines charge for these awards.

Economy itineraries between 3,001 and 4,000 miles

With 41,500 Avios, you can also book a round-trip economy ticket on American Airlines. Eligible routes include flights to Europe from the East Coast or Central/South America from Los Angeles (LAX), Dallas (DFW) or Miami (MIA).

Using Avios for Royal Air Maroc-operated flights to Casablanca

a group of parked cars: Business class on Royal Air Maroc’s 787. (Photo by Brendan Dorsey/The Points Guy) © The Points Guy Business class on Royal Air Maroc’s 787. (Photo by Brendan Dorsey/The Points Guy)

Since it’s a Oneworld partner, you can also book flights operated by Royal Air Maroc using Iberia Avios. However, you must call to book the flights.

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Royal Air Maroc offers a daily flight from New York (JFK) to Casablanca, Morocco (CMN), which will cost you 124,000 Avios round-trip in business class. Economy class, on the other hand, only costs 41,500 Avios. Carrier surcharges are less than $200 for the round-trip flight.

Related: American Airlines adds online award booking for Royal Air Maroc

Upgrading with Iberia Avios

There are also some useful opportunities to upgrade Iberia-operated flights using your Avios. However, you must have a revenue ticket in an eligible fare class. Also, keep in mind upgrade prices depend on your travel dates. The Iberia award chart mentions the following fare classes as upgrade-eligible to business class: flexible economy fares (Y, B and H fare classes) and premium (W fare class).

In terms of upgrades to premium economy, Iberia doesn’t specify eligible economy fares. A phone agent also could not tell me which economy fare classes were eligible for premium economy upgrades. However, she could check on a flight-by-flight basis once I had my revenue itinerary booked.

Destination Economy to premium economy (off-peak/peak) Economy to business (off-peak/peak)
Premium economy to business (off-peak/peak)
New York, Boston, Chicago 8,500/15,000 17,000/30,000 8,500/15,000
Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco 10,500/18,750 21,250/37,500 10,500/18,750

* Prices are one-way.

Upgrading to premium economy from the East Coast during off-peak dates is a steal. And suppose I were flying for work and could get my company or client to pay for an upgrade-eligible economy ticket. In that case, I’d certainly consider 17,000 or 21,250 Avios to upgrade to business class for a long-haul flight. Similarly, upgrades from premium economy (W) tickets to business are fantastically priced during the off-season (and even peak dates).

Iberia Avios promotions

Iberia sometimes has promotions on award flights. For instance, it has offered lie-flat business class across the Atlantic for 25,500 Avios. Under another sale, Iberia offered 25% off the Avios required for Iberia Express-operated flights, resulting in intra-Europe flights from Spain pricing out for just 7,500 Avios.

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When it comes to topping off your Iberia balance, there are also somewhat frequent transfer bonuses from American Express Membership Rewards.

Iberia has offered some generous promotions. (Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy) © The Points Guy Iberia has offered some generous promotions. (Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy)

Things to keep in mind when redeeming Iberia Avios

Here are a few things to remember about redeeming Iberia Avios:

  • Iberia has a distance-based award chart for flights operated by the Iberia Group and you can book one-way award flights. However, Iberia partners each have their own distance-based award charts (most are identical), some of which require round-trip bookings. To combine one or more Oneworld partners on an award itinerary, use the Oneworld award chart.
  • Awards are priced per segment, not the distance between your departure and arrival airports.
  • Carrier surcharges for transatlantic award flights are the most reasonable of all the Oneworld programs (though try to avoid London).
  • To keep your Avios from expiring, you must have activity in your account at least once every 36 months.
  • Since you have to pay taxes and fees on Avios awards, be sure to use a card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or The Platinum Card® from American Express. Both cards offer generous rewards on airline purchases and great trip insurance.

How to earn Iberia Avios

Here are three of the easiest ways to earn more Iberia Avios for your next redemption.

Iberia Visa Signature Card

The Iberia Visa Signature Card could help you earn more Avios. (Photo by John Gribben/The Points Guy) © The Points Guy The Iberia Visa Signature Card could help you earn more Avios. (Photo by John Gribben/The Points Guy)

The easiest would be to pick up the Iberia Visa Signature Card. The card currently offers a generous welcome bonus of 100,000 Avios after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening.

It also comes with some valuable perks like a 10% discount on paid Iberia flights and a $1,000 discount voucher to use toward two tickets on the same flight each year you spend $30,000.

Related: 100,000 Avios now for travel later: A review of the Iberia Visa Signature card

Transfer points

Alternatively, you can transfer American Express Membership Rewards points (1:1), Chase Ultimate Rewards points (1:1) or Marriott points (3:1 with a 5,000-Avios bonus for transferring 60,000 points). As such, you can transfer points from cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or American Express® Gold Card directly to Iberia.

Transfers from Chase are usually instant, while it takes around a day from Marriott and up to 48 hours from Amex. In addition, you may be able to take advantage of one of Amex’s or Chase’s routine transfer bonuses and get up to 40% bonus Avios.

Related: The top credit cards from international airlines

Transfer British Airways Avios to Iberia

Similarly, you can transfer British Airways Avios to Iberia Avios so long as both accounts have been open for at least 90 days and have previous activity. This is particularly useful if you have a haul of Avios that you earned with the British Airways Visa Signature Card — which is currently offering the same welcome bonus of 100,000 Avios after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.

Even better, you could earn the 100,000-Avios bonus on both the British Airways and Iberia cards (keep Chase’s 5/24 rule in mind, though). This is also useful if you want to transfer Amex points to Iberia but don’t want to wait 48 hours. Transfers from Amex to British Airways are instantaneous, as are transfers from British Airways to Iberia.

Finally, if you don’t have any points that you can transfer to Iberia — or you want to save them for higher-value redemptions — you can often buy Iberia Avios for cheap. For instance, Iberia has sold Avios for as little as 1.33 cents each. Sometimes you can even find discounts on Avios via Groupon.

Related: Three versions of Avios: When to use Aer Lingus, Iberia and British Airways

Bottom line

There’s a lot of value to be found in the Iberia Plus program. If I had 100,000 Avios, I’d put my attention squarely on booking Iberia-operated, off-peak transatlantic award flights. I’d also look for great revenue fares and then attempt to upgrade to either premium economy or business class. That said, there are also some good deals to be had with American-operated short- and medium-haul economy awards and Royal Air Maroc flights to North Africa.

However, you should probably avoid redeeming Avios for Oneworld-operated long-haul business class on itineraries over 5,000 miles as these partner awards balloon to 100,000 Avios and higher.

Additional reporting by Richard Kerr.

Featured photo of Iberia business class by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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