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Updated 4 Oct: Be careful – purchases of Iberia Avios may not post as airline purchases – the Platinum Card ® from American Express only earns 1 point/dollar.
Iberia has brought back its popular Avios sale which we last saw back in June and while for some, this will represent a fantastic opportunity to top up an Avios balance, others will probably find it hard to access the best deal available thanks to an issue that first raised its head in the last sale and that still seems to be around.
- The offer is available from 00:01 (CET) Thursday 29 September 2022 to 23:59 (CET) Monday 03 October 2022 only.
- During the Offer Period, Eligible Participants will receive 50% extra Avios (bonus Avios) when they Purchase or Gift Avios.
- This offer is only valid when you Purchase or Gift 2,000 Avios and above. Offer is not valid when you Purchase or Gift 1,000 Avios.
- Avios can only be purchased or gifted at buyavios.iberia.com; compraravios.iberia.com or via Iberia Plus user journey.
- The Purchaser can buy a maximum of 200,000 Avios in any one calendar year.
- The Bonus Avios will not count towards your annual limit of 200,000 Avios.
- Purchased Avios are not refundable once confirmed.
- The transaction currency will be pre-determined based on the registered country of the Iberia Plus account.*
*This is the point that is causing issues – more on this in a moment
It couldn’t be any simpler: Anyone buying at least 2,000 Avios will get a 50% bonus added to their purchase.
This is where I think the bad news will come into play for some people.
Historically, Iberia sold Avios in Euros and US Dollars, and the trick to making sure that you got the best price was to make sure that you bought Avios through Iberia’s Spanish site to get charged in Euros. Purchasing Avios in US dollars has always been more expensive.
Now, however, Iberia’s terms and conditions say that the currency that will be used to sell Avios to Iberia Plus members will be decided by the country in which their account is registered and based on my continuing experience, it’s not going to be possible to do anything about this.
My Iberia Plus account is linked to a UK address and I’m now being asked to pay for any Avios that I’d like to buy in GBP …even when I’m logged in to the Spanish Iberia site.
I’ve tried logging in via Iberia’s Spanish site, I’ve tried buying Avios through compraravios.iberia.com, I’ve used different web browsers, and I’ve even used a VPN to “trick” the Iberia webpage into thinking that I’m logging in from Madrid, but nothing that I do changes the currency that Iberia wants to use. I get charged in GBP every time.
Assuming that everyone is still having the same issue as me, this means that anyone with an Iberia Plus account linked to a US address will be forced to buy Avios in USD and as we know from history, that’s far from ideal.
If Iberia has kept to its historic pricing (I have no way of checking if it has), a US-based Iberia Plus member will probably be offered the chance to buy Avios from 1.84 US cents each while a European-based Iberia Avios member will probably be offered the chance to buy Avios from (the equivalent of) 1.16 US cents each. That’s a big difference!
As a member with a UK-based account, the best price that I’m being offered/Avios is ~1.07p or just 1.16 cents (a new low thanks to the nose-diving pound!). I am, however, being limited to buying 150,000 Avios (+ bonus) in this sale whereas previous sales have permitted me to buy up to 200,000 (+ bonus).
For those who aren’t deeply immersed in the Avios ecosystem, changing the country to which their Iberia Plus account is registered may be a way of getting around this issue (I don’t know because I haven’t tried it), but because the smooth linking of all Avios accounts (BA, Iberia, Aer Lingus, & Qatar Airways) relies on all the accounts being registered to the same address, this probably isn’t a good idea for anyone who really needs all their Avios accounts to work well together.
If after everything I’ve said above you’d still like to buy some Avios (if you can buy them at under 1.35 cents each you may want to do exactly that), keep in mind that even though you’ll earn a 50% bonus by purchasing as few as 2,000 Avios, the cost of each Avios you buy will still decrease the more Avios that you buy.
Why Iberia Plus?
I’ve mentioned Iberia Plus before as it’s a loyalty program to which everyone who collects Avios should belong, and there are 2 main reasons for this:
- Iberia Plus charges fewer Avios on some long-haul routes than the British Airways Executive Club
- Iberia Plus has different peak and off-peak seasons than the British Airways Executive Club
What all this means is that Avios in an Iberia Plus account can often be put to better use than a similar number of Avios in a British Airways Executive Club account.
Is this sale a good deal?
During the off-peak season, you can book an Iberia Plus Business Class redemptions for travel between the US and Europe from 42,500 Avios one-way or 85,000 Avios roundtrip.
If you’re using Avios bought in this sale (at 1.07p/1.16 cents each – the price that I can see) to book this award, this Business Class trip would cost you ~£1,141/$1,239 including taxes, fees, and surcharges.
That’s an amazing deal and you’re unlikely to find many Business Class non-stop cash fares on full-service carriers that can compete with that price.
If you’re originating in Europe, there are some similarly great deals to be had…like this one to Rio:
Once again a roundtrip off-peak Business Class fare will cost 85,000 Avios, but this time because the taxes and fees will be a little lower than on the US routes this Business Class trip would cost you ~£1,097/$1,192 including taxes, fees, and surcharges.
The further you fly the less amazing the deal becomes as the number of Avios required for the redemption increases disproportionately to the cash price you’d have to pay for the same flights, but there are still other good deals to be had if you put in a bit of time to find them.
Also, don’t forget that Avios can be used incredibly effectively on short-haul routes – especially at 1.07p/1.16 cents each and especially on traditionally expensive routes.
Use the best credit card
Historically, Iberia Avios sales have been processed by Points.com (which eliminated the scope to earn a travel/flight/airline bonus by using a credit card that offers bonus points for shopping in one of those categories) but in this sale, I don’t appear to be going through Points.com when attempting to buy Avios.
Be careful, however.
I put through a test purchase to see what would happen when I purchase Iberia Avios with my Platinum Card® from American Express and when the vendor appeared in my online account, it appeared to be coded as a travel agent (and not an airline).
A couple of days later, the Membership Rewards points that this transaction will earn appeared on my account and confirmed my fears – Amex is not coding Iberia Avios purchases as an airline purchase so anyone using their Platinum Card to buy Iberia Avios will only earn 1 point/dollar.
What this means is that someone wanting to purchase Iberia Avios will probably be better off using a credit card that offers bonus points for spending in the broader “travel” category. E.g.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve® credit card – 3 points/dollar
- Ink Business Preferred® credit card – 3 points/dollar*
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® credit card – 2 points/dollar
*Buying Avios in this sale could go a long way to locking in the great welcome bonus this card is currently offering (details here)
As usual, it’s all about the math but this time anyone with a US-based Iberia Plus account will need to find a way to make sure they’re not charged in USD if this is to be a worthwhile promotion.
If, as I suspect, there’s no way around the currency issue without entering a random European Address into your Iberia Plus account, US members who need to top up their accounts will probably be better off waiting for the next British Airways or Aer Lingus Avios sale.
For everyone else, the best way forward will be to:
- Work out on which routes you’re likely to use Avios
- Check out how many Avios you’ll need
- Check how easy it is to find award space. I
If things line up then it’s probably safe to buy however many Avios you need in this promotion and you’re probably getting a very good deal. Otherwise, move on.
Has anyone with a US-based Iberia account managed to get an Avios purchase to price up in Euro or GBP?