What Are the Differences Between Using British Airways or Iberia Avios Points?

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What Are the Differences Between Using British Airways or Iberia Avios Points?

Million Mile SecretsWhat Are the Differences Between Using British Airways or Iberia Avios Points?Million Mile Secrets Team

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Million Mile Secrets reader, Gabriel, commented:

Is there a difference between using British Airways or Iberia Avios points?

And reader Lori asked:

Is there any other way to get activity in your Iberia account other than moving AMEX Membership Rewards points?

British Airways and Iberia are part of the same company.  The points you use for award flights on both airlines are called Avios.  But the airlines have different award charts and redemption rules.

Generally, Iberia Avios points can be more valuable than British Airways Avios points for short-haul partner award flights in the US.

For example, you can book a round-trip award flight less than 600 miles on American Airlines for 11,000 Iberia Avios points.  That’s 4,000 points cheaper than if you book with British Airways Avios points!

British Airways And Iberia Frequent Flyer Programs
You Can Save Thousands of Points by Booking an Award Flight Through Iberia Instead of British Airways

I’ll share some differences between the British Airways and Iberia frequent flyer programs.  And how you can earn points in both programs!

British Airways & Iberia Frequent Flyer Programs

Link:   British Airways Award Flight Calculator

Link:   Iberia Award Chart

British Airways and Iberia are part of the oneworld alliance.  This means you can redeem points from either program for award flights on partner airlines like American Airlines or Air Berlin.

Both programs have distance-based award charts.  The number of points you’ll pay depends on the length of your flight.

For example, with British Airways, a round-trip coach award flight within the US costs:

  • 15,000 British Airways Avios points for flights under 1,151 miles
  • 20,000 British Airways Avios points for flights between 1,152 and 2,000 miles
  • 25,000 British Airways Avios points for flights between 2,001 and 3,000 miles
British Airways And Iberia Frequent Flyer Programs
You Can Save Big on Short Flights With Iberia Avios Points

And with Iberia, a round-trip coach award flight within the US costs:

  • 11,000 Iberia Avios points for flights under 600 miles
  • 12,000 Iberia Avios points for flights between 601 and 1,000 miles
  • 17,000 Iberia Avios points for flights between 1,001 and 2,000 miles
  • 23,000 Iberia Avios points for flights between 2,001 and 4,000 miles

As an example, a flight from Dallas to Memphis is 431 miles.  So you can book a round-trip American Airlines award flight using 11,000 Iberia Avios points or 15,000 British Airways Avios points.

Keep in mind, you can only redeem Avios points for award flights on American Airlines when you find low-level “SAAver” award seats available.  So I recommend searching the American Airlines website first.  And then you can book online through British Airways or Iberia with your Avios points.

British Airways And Iberia Frequent Flyer Programs
Find “MileSAAver” Available Award Seats, Which Means You’ll Be Able to Redeem British Airways or Iberia Avios Points

The Perks and Drawbacks of Using Iberia Avios Points

Each airline also has different rules for award flights.

For example, you can only book round-trip partner airline award flights using Iberia Avios points.  Whereas, you can book one-way award flights with British Airways Avios points for 50% of the prices above.

Also, if your travel plans include a connection, you’re likely better off booking through Iberia.  Because you’ll pay based on the total milage of the trip.  Compared to British Airways, which charges per flight segment.

British Airways And Iberia Frequent Flyer Programs
If Your Flight Has a Connection, You’re Better Off Booking Through Iberia Because British Airways Charges per Flight Segment

For example, let’s say you’re flying round-trip from Miami to Denver, but have a connection in Dallas on the outbound and return flight.

With British Airways, you would pay:

  • 7,500 British Airways Avios points from Miami to Dallas
  • 7,500 British Airways Avios points from Dallas to Denver

So a round-trip flight would cost 30,000 British Airways Avios points (7,500 points per flight segment X 4).

But the total mileage for this trip is ~3,500 miles.  So you can book it for 23,000 Iberia Avios points, which is a better deal!

Transfer Flexible Points to British Airways or Iberia

Link:   American Express Membership Rewards Transfer Partners

Link:   All the Ways to Earn British Airways Avios Points for Big Travel!

British Airways and Iberia are both transfer partners in the AMEX Membership Rewards program.  You get 200 Avios points for every 250 AMEX Membership rewards points you transfer.

British Airways And Iberia Frequent Flyer Programs
Transfer AMEX Membership Rewards Points to British Airways or Iberia. Keep an Eye out for Transfer Bonuses!

But look out for transfer bonuses!  For example, in the past, you could get a 50% bonus when transferring points to Iberia.

There are more options for earning British Airways Avios points because you can transfer points at a 1:1 ratio from Chase Ultimate Rewards and AMEX Starwood Preferred Guest.

Or you can earn points directly with the British Airways Visa Signature Card, which is currently offering a best-ever up to 100,000 point sign-up bonus.

Also, you can transfer points back and forth between your British Airways and Iberia accounts.  Here’s a step-by-step guide to combining Avios points.

British Airways And Iberia Frequent Flyer Programs
You Can Combine Avios Points Between Your British Airways & Iberia Frequent Flyer Accounts

Note:   You will NOT be able to transfer points between British Airways and Iberia unless both accounts have been open for at least 90 days.  And each account must have had previous activity (like earning or transferring points).

How to Earn Avios Points & Keep Them Active

Keep in mind, Avios points in both programs expire after 36 months of no activity.  To keep your points alive, you can:

Note:   Combining points between both accounts does NOT count as activity.  You must earn and transfer points directly into your British Airways or Iberia frequent flyer account.

Bottom Line

British Airways and Iberia are owned by the same company.  Both use Avios points as their frequent flyer currency, but each airline has different award charts and booking rules.

The airlines are part of the oneworld alliance, which means you can redeem points for award flights on partner airlines, including American Airlines.

For short-haul partner award flights less than 1,000 miles, you can save 3,000 to 4,000 points by booking with Iberia instead of British Airways.  Keep in mind, you must book a round-trip partner award flight with Iberia.

Both airlines are AMEX Membership Rewards transfer partners.  And you can combine points from both frequent flyer accounts.

Have you booked partner award flights using Iberia Avios points?

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You can also use Avios to book Aerlingus, on avios.com – flying through Ireland to Europe bypasses the airport taxes charged in the UK. You can take ferries, buses, trains, and cheap European flights from Dublin or Shannon to Europe.

I transferred BA Avios to Iberia Avios to redeem 2 JNB-MAD-LAX business class flight for 85k ea one-way. On Iberia both segments. Didn’t come up with the IberiA option on BA.

Not sure hiw Iberia is but seemed like a decent redemption.

Hi Daraius – This seemed like a good hack, but is not working for me as explained in your post. It seems to me it’s the total round-trip distance they are using, rather than the distance one-way applied to a round-trip flight. I tried your DFW-MEM example, but literally could not find any AA saver space available in the MEM>>DFW direction in any upcoming month. But I did find flights (that I actually want to book) round trip from BHM to DCA. It’s 673 miles each way, so I was excited to book for 12,000 Avios on Iberia, vs. 15,000 on British Airways and I combined my points as suggested (great hack!). And of course much better than the 25,000 American Airline miles it would be. I had actually been hopeful it would price at 11,000 because before British Airways bumped their award chart for the U.S. only, I had been booking that route for 4,500 Avios, the <600 miles rate.

Instead of 11,000 or 12,000, though, it priced at 17,000 Avios, 2,000 more than British Airways would cost. I called and the representative was able to price a one-way for 12,000 but adding the return bumped it to 17,000. My hypothesis is that going from one way to round trip bumped the mileage from 673 to 1,346, which is the 17,000 band. Thoughts?

If it's the round trip total mileage, the DFW-MEM route would still be cheaper with Iberia than British Airways, but would cost 12,000 miles since 431 miles x 2 = 864 miles = 12,000 Avios rather than 11,000. As noted, I couldn't find availability to confirm. Any insight much appreciated.

You stated that you can only book roundtrip not one way with Iberia. What about an open jaw? I am considering that for a trip to Peru. Thank you.

I’d recommend calling Iberia at (800) 772-4642 to see if you can book your itinerary with points.

Cindy and Rick

We are looking at Europe maybe next spring. I don’t care what cities because we have never been. I was thinking of just booking United Airlines because of the BA fuel surcharges. We have well over one million UR points built up and build around 800K per year.

The problem is award seat availability in first class. If I find one award seat, there is not a second seat. I am looking at the early part of next year just as a gauge to see if there is award seat availability for two people. It’s very frustrating. We are going with friends, too, and I doubt we would ever get four seats, but they may just fly economy, because so far I have been unable to talk them into building points and miles.

How many award seats are there in first or business class? Is it as limited as it seems? How comfortable is economy plus? We are 62 years old, so comfort is important. I assume booking an award seat the minute the schedule opens for a date we would want is essential.

I understand your frustration. Here’s a post you might find helpful:


Also, if you can only find 1 available award seat, you might consider using Chase Ultimate Rewards points to book a 2nd Business Class seat through the Chase travel portal. Here’s a post with more details:


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