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Iberia Airlines, based in Madrid, is the flag carrier airline of Spain and a member of the Oneworld alliance. With extensive networks within Europe, Latin America and some destinations in Northern Africa, there is a good chance that this airline could fit into your travel plans at some point.
Iberia’s frequent flyer program, Iberia Plus, allows you to earn points with several partners, as well as redeem for flights and other benefits through them. Here's what points collectors need to know about flying Iberia.
About Iberia Airlines
Considering Iberia has limited routes to the U.S., you may not be too familiar with this airline.
Fare types: Iberia operates long-haul flights with special cabins for business class, which it calls Business Plus, as well as premium economy and economy cabins. The short and medium-haul flights have regular business class instead (an economy class seat with the middle seat blocked off), plus economy. It doesn't have any aircraft with first class service.
Main U.S. routes: While Iberia doesn't have many flights servicing the U.S., it does fly to some key airports where you can connect to and from your desired destination. With a clear emphasis on the East Coast, it services New York, Miami, Boston, Chicago and San Juan in Puerto Rico. It flies to Los Angeles on the West Coast only.
Points currency and loyalty program: Points accrued in the Iberia Plus frequent flyer program are called Avios, just like those from British Airways, since both airlines are part of the same parent company. However, these Avios are separate and don't accrue together with any Avios you may already have on your British Airways account, even though they are transferable between accounts.
How to earn Iberia Plus Avios
Earn by flying
Avios earned by flying are based on a combination of the distance flown and the class of service as follows:
For every mile flown in economy, you will earn anywhere from 0.25 to 1 Avios.
You are awarded 1.5 Avios per mile when flying on anything classified as Limited Business.
You’ll get 2.5 Avios per mile flying on Flexible Business tickets.
Earn by spending on credit cards
The Iberia Visa Signature® Card allows you to earn:
3 Avios per dollar spent on Iberia purchases.
2 Avios per dollar spent on accommodations when booked directly with the hotel.
Any other purchases earn 1 Avios per dollar spent.
The current sign-up bonus for this card is: Earn 100,000 Avios after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.
» Learn more: The best travel credit cards right now
Earn by transferring
Transfer from Chase Ultimate Rewards®
Iberia is one of Chase’s Ultimate Rewards® transfer partners. You can transfer your points to Iberia Plus at a 1:1 ratio in an almost immediate transfer. Check for transfer bonuses as Chase rotates bonus partner transfers regularly — in fact, there was an offer for 30% bonus on transfers for Iberia in late 2020.
Transfer from AmEx Membership Rewards
American Express Membership Rewards are transferable to Iberia Plus Avios at a 1:1 ratio as well. Do make sure you’re not planning to book your flights immediately, as the Membership Rewards program estimates the transfer time at four working days. AmEx runs some promotional bonuses for transferring to partners, so check regularly to see if you can get an even better value.
Transfer from British Airways
You can transfer Avios from your British Airways account into your Iberia Plus at a 1:1 ratio; the transfer is virtually immediate barring issues with your account. There are some requirements to do so, like both accounts being open for at least 90 days. If you’re considering this transfer for a future trip, we would recommend opening the accounts so that you would meet that criteria when the time comes.
Other ways to earn
Shop online. The Iberia Plus Store shopping portal allows you to earn Avios for any qualifying purchases you make online provided you initiate your shopping through its portal.
Book dining in Spain. If you’re planning on visiting Spain, there is an option to earn bonus Avios for each restaurant reservation for two or more people, but it is available for select restaurants in Spain only.
Purchase Avios. You can also buy Avios on the Iberia website, with a maximum of 200,000 Avios per transaction, per year. Iberia posts its price lists on this website.
Ways to redeem Iberia Avios
For Iberia flights
Iberia Plus uses a distance-based chart for redemptions and uses a peak and off-peak pricing calendar. The longer the flight distance, the more Avios you will need to book that award flight. Further, depending on dates, the price will be lower or higher if it falls within more desirable dates or not.
You will often find that the higher priced dates coincide with holidays and special events, such as Christmas, New Year's and all of the summer season.
For partner award flights
Iberia is a member of the Oneworld alliance, and as such, it partners with a variety of airlines.
Additionally, it partners with nonalliance airlines Vueling, Level, Interjet, Binter, LATAM and Avianca.
You can use Avios to upgrade tickets purchased in eligible economy class fares into the business class cabin. There is no way to do this online, so be ready to do it over the phone. Pricing will vary based on the ticket type and route.
Have more flexibility
Avios&Money is an option that offers the ability to offset the cost of a ticket by redeeming some of your Avios as a form of payment. This tends not to be a great conversion for your Avios, as you can usually get better value by booking an award ticket directly, but it is an option.
» Learn more: 5 Iberia Avios sweet spots
Iberia Plus elite status
Iberia slices its loyalty program elite levels in the following six tiers offering different benefits to each.
Classic: This is the participation prize of sorts — you get this status simply by signing up. There are no benefits other than the ability to accrue Avios and get priority on waitlists at the airport before other nonmember flyers.
Silver: You will reach this level once you have earned 1,100 elite points or flown 25 segments. As a benefit, you’ll start earning 25% more Avios on each flown mile, priority boarding and an additional checked bag. This level equates to Oneworld Ruby status.
Gold: This level requires 2,250 elite points or 50 segments flown. Your bonus earning goes up to 50% and you're given access to any Iberia lounge at airports, plus you get Group 1 boarding and check-in priority. This status correlates to Sapphire in the Oneworld program.
Platinum: You achieve this status with 12,500 elite points over the course of two years or 6,250 over the course of one year. You start earning an additional 100% of your flown miles, get two upgrades to business class when purchasing a flexible fare economy ticket and are granted the ability to gift someone Gold status for a year. This level maps to Oneworld Emerald status.
Infinite: Achievable once you earn 125,000 lifetime elite points since account opening, and you get Infinite status and its benefits for life. These perks include two free upgrades per year and the ability to gift Gold status. Infinite is essentially lifetime Platinum status with no need to requalify each year. This also translates into lifetime Oneworld Emerald.
Infinite Prime: You can reach this top-most level with Iberia Plus once you have accumulated 200,000 lifetime elite points. It equates to somewhat of an enhanced lifetime Platinum status. You'll be able to give Gold status to two people instead of one, as well as earn four business class upgrades instead of two. No differences at this level on the Oneworld tiers; this still maps to Emerald.
The qualification requirements don’t run on a calendar year basis. Instead, Iberia starts counting April 1 and ends on March 31 of the following year.
What else you need to know
Less fuel surcharges
Compared with partner British Airways, redemptions on Iberia flights typically require much lower fuel surcharges, thus saving you a bit of money. Further, some reward prices for similar routes and partner flights are substantially cheaper on Iberia when compared with British Airways. Make sure to shop around and take advantage of the ability to transfer between Avios accounts.
There are a few quirks when booking Iberia Plus award flights that aren’t as advantageous. When booking flights that include Oneworld partner segments, no changes will be allowed after the fact — so make sure your itinerary is solid before you hit purchase.
More tasty snacks
If you’re a fan of sampling local fare before you get to your destination, Iberia has plenty of Spanish-inspired menu items on its in-flight meal service, along with a superb selection of typical Spanish liqueurs, like pacharán, several whiskey and brandy options, and muscatel and cava.
» Learn more: The best airline credit cards right now
If you fly Iberia Airlines
While Iberia may not be the best option for earning and achieving elite status for U.S.-based flyers, redeeming points could present some excellent value. The ease of racking up points via credit card transfers and even British Airways transfers merits consideration of this program to see how you can benefit from it in the future.
With its expansive network in Europe and long-haul connections across the globe, chances are Iberia and its partners can get you wherever it is you want to travel.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card