Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

How Santiago shows up disparities in Avios flight reward pricing – with taxes from £42 to £604

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On Saturday I ran an article on how and why you should book long-haul Avios Business Class redemptions on Iberia via Madrid.

I used New York as an example of how you can get great deals with Iberia (on some days, you’re comparing 68,000 Avios + £155 of taxes on Iberia from Madrid vs 120,000 Avios + £667 of taxes on BA from London!).

A reader recommended I take a look at Santiago in Chile as another example of huge pricing disparities.  This route is especially interesting because it also lets you compare a partner airline (LATAM) with very low taxes.

Let’s assume that you want to go to Chile.  Even if you DON’T want to go Chile, keep reading because the same principles apply to other Iberia routes such as the six in the USA, Tokyo, Shanghai, Johannesburg etc.

Option 1:  Fly British Airways direct from London to Santiago

Santiago is in Zone 8 on the British Airways Avios reward chart.  British Airways is being generous here, because the flight is 7,228 miles and it should technically be in Zone 9 and priced the same as Sydney!  You pay:

175,000 Avios + £588 of taxes off-peak (see screenshot below)

210,000 Avios + £588 of taxes peak

How to book Santiago with Avios

Option 2:  Fly Iberia direct from Madrid to Santiago, booked on ba.com

Even though we are booking this flight on ba.com, it still prices off the Iberia Avios reward chart because it is an Iberia flight.  Santiago is in Zone 7 on the Iberia Avios reward chart.  Iberia is also being generous here, because the flight is 6,649 miles and it should technically be in Zone 8.

102,000 Avios + £604 of taxes off-peak (see screenshot below)

150,000 Avios + £604 of taxes peak

You also need to add in the cost of getting to/from Madrid on a separate ticket.  You won’t save anything in taxes but the Avios saving is chunky.  However, don’t book this, because …..

How to book Santiago with Avios

Option 3:  Fly Iberia direct from Madrid to Santiago, booked on iberia.com

Let’s be clear here.  This is the IDENTICAL flight I just priced above in Option 2, except that I am booking it on the Iberia website instead of the British Airways one.

102,000 Avios + £162 of taxes off-peak (see screenshot below)

150,000 Avios + £162 of taxes peak

This is an astonishing saving of £442 per person in taxes and charges!  The ONLY difference is that you are booking the Iberia flight on iberia.com instead of ba.com.

How to book Santiago with Avios

Option 4:  Fly LATAM direct from Madrid to Santiago, booked on iberia.com

Finally, here is an option with a partner airline.  LATAM is a very respected airline and a oneworld alliance member, with a good business class product.  You can check out its website here.

This is what you pay to fly with LATAM.  Remember that, as a partner airline, all dates are priced as peak dates:

175,000 Avios + £42 (see screenshot below)

You also need to add in the cost of getting to/from Madrid on a separate ticket.  You also need to remember that this ticket is non-refundable because Iberia does not allow changes to redemptions on partner airlines outside BA and Iberia.

How to book Santiago with Avios

Which option is best?

As I said earlier, this article isn’t really about Santiago.  It is more about highlighting the huge differences in taxes and charges if you can fly with Iberia instead.

Of course, you can’t use a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher on Iberia, LATAM or any other partners.  You will need to pay BA’s taxes and charges.

Even then …..

On a peak British Airways day, two people using a 2-4-1 voucher will be paying 210,000 Avios + £1,176 in taxes and charges to fly from Heathrow to Santiago.

If you DON’T use the voucher, you could either pay 350,000 Avios + £83 on the LATAM flight from Madrid to Santiago, or 300,000 Avios + £324 on the Iberia flight from Madrid.

I would see all three of those options are roughly equal, but of course you’d still have your 2-4-1 voucher for another BA trip.

PS.  How do you move Avios from British Airways Executive Club to Iberia Plus?

Here is a quick reminder of how it works:

You need an Iberia Plus account, which you can open at the Iberia website

Your Iberia Plus account MUST be 90 days before it will accept transfers

Your Iberia Plus account MUST have earned 1 Avios before it will accept transfers – the easiest option is moving 1,000 American Express points into it, but you could also credit a hotel stay or a BA or other partner flight or a car rental etc

In theory you can then use ‘Combine My Avios’ on ba.com to do the transfer

If you get error messages, you need to use avios.com as an intermediary.  Log in at avios.com, go to ‘Combine My Avios’, pull the Avios from BA and then push them to Iberia

If you no longer have an active avios.com account, go to this page of the Aer Lingus website and open an AerClub account.  You can log in to avios.com using those details.


How to earn Avios points from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (October 2022)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points (SPECIAL OFFER), £200 travel credit and unbeatable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Run your own business?

We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,000 Avios.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,500 points bonus – the most generous Avios Visa for a limited company Read our full review

You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

Comments (72)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • EOC says:

    Also even if you go RFS on BA to T4s you will have to go get your bags landslide then check in again with IB for PVG. Thats what BA don’t do for Oneworld and now even for the same company !

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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