In 2010, Iberia merged with British Airways and the newly combined company formed IAG (International Airlines Group). In 2015, IAG purchased the Irish carrier, Aer Lingus.
Despite the purchase and renaming, each individual entity continues to operate under its original brand and uses their own loyalty program. Each with its own highlights and, of course, its quirks. Collectively, these 3 carriers use a miles currency known as Avios, which can be transferred from one IAG loyalty program to the next. Understanding each program is essential if you want to maximize your Avios redemptions, but for now, we will focus on Iberia’s award charts and sweet spots.
The Iberia card comes with a great welcome bonus, and while it is one of the highest available, it also comes with a huge spending requirement.
The spending requirement structure is broken down into a few different tiers and can be achieved after completing the following:
- Earn 50,000 Bonus Avios after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. Plus earn an additional 50,000 Bonus Avios after you spend $20,000 total on purchases within your first year of account opening.
- Earn an Aer Lingus companion pass after spending $30,000 total within a calendar year.
The Aer Lingus card also offers bonus Avios when you spend within certain categories including 3 Avios per dollar spent on purchases made with Aer Lingus and its partners, Iberia and British Airways. You will earn 2 Avios per dollar spent on hotels when you book directly with the hotel. This does not include bookings through third party sites like Expedia or Orbitz. Finally, you will earn 1 Avios per dollar spent on all other purchases with no limit to the number of Avios you can earn.
Iberia’s website can be glitchy. For example, while actively searching award flights for this review, the website randomly kicked me off and I had to login again and restart my search. If you are patient and willing to work through the quirks, the rewards can be worth the headache.
If you would like to transfer miles from partner British Airways to Iberia, you will need to make sure your Iberia account is at least 90 days old and that you have some activity, be it flights or just transferring miles in from programs like Chase Ultimate Rewards to your account. You’ll also want to be sure your names match exactly, i.e. don’t have one account with William and the other with Bill. Make sure the email addresses match, as well.
Iberia uses a different award chart for each partner, and although not identical, the charts are similar. Iberia’s award chart is distance-based, meaning that rather than assigning a mileage cost by specific regions of the world as zone-based programs do, Iberia charges by the number of miles flown. Distance-based award charts tend to have better redemption options for a larger variety of short haul flights and more wiggle room with routings, but are typically not as good for longer flights.
One of the great uses of Iberia Avios is the ability to use them for short haul flights. Flights under 650 miles cost just 4,500 Avios during the off peak season and 5,000 Avios during peak.
A flight from Madrid, Spain to Marseilles, France costs just 4,500 Avios in economy or 9,000 Avios in business class.
Another reason to use Iberia Avios is because they are one carrier that does not pass on carrier imposed fuel charges, unlike their partner British Airways. For flights to Europe, this can result in huge savings. Using Avios to book and fly on British Airways could cost hundreds and even over a thousand dollars in taxes and surcharges, in addition to your miles. With Iberia, the cost is normally around $80 to $100.
A one way flight from Chicago (ORD) to Madrid (MAD) is only 17,000 Iberia Avios in economy, 25,500 in premium economy and 34,000 in business class. The fees are around $80, regardless of the class of service.
Iberia sales come around a few times a year and you can book economy for just 12,500 Avios and business class for 25,500 Avios. This is one of the very lowest offers on the market for flights to Europe
Avios are also useful for families as the airline regularly releases more award seats than other airlines. On this search from Chicago to Madrid, the flight has nine seats available in premium economy. Business class regularly opens four seats at a time.
Forbes Advisor uses data collected from several government agencies to determine baseline income and spending in various categories for consumer credit cards. The 70th percentile of wage-earning households brings in $100,172 annually and are able to charge $26,410 to credit cards each year.
The Chase Iberia credit card earns the following:
- 3 Avios per dollar spent on Iberia, Aer Lingus and British Airways
- 2 Avios per dollar spent on hotels when booked directly with the hotel
- 1 Avios per dollar spent on all other purchases
Forbes Advisor estimates that an average consumer will spend $1,755 per year on flights, so for someone flying on Iberia or one of their sister companies and using the Iberia card to pay for those flights, they would earn a total of 5,265 Avios. In addition, Forbes estimates that a household will spend a further $2,820 each year on other hotel purchases. This means that Iberia cardmembers could potentially amass 5,640 Avios a year from these categories.
Other expenses that can reasonably be charged to a credit card add another $16,101 in annual spending and would earn 16,101 Avios, for a total of 26,826 Avios earned each year in addition to the first-year welcome bonus.