Avios reward pricing is all over the place. It is complex enough when just looking at British Airways flights and the various combinations of cash and points, but when you factor in Iberia and partner airlines it gets even crazier.
I thought that Santiago in Chile was a good example because it is served by British Airways, Iberia and LATAM. I’ve not looked at options with Qatar Airways because it is a bit of a diversion to go via Doha given the alternatives.
Even if you DON’T want to go to Chile, keep reading because the same principles apply to other Iberia routes.
Option 1: Fly British Airways direct from London to Santiago
Santiago is better value than it should be, sitting in Zone 8 of the (unpublished) British Airways reward chart. The flight is 7,228 miles and it should technically be in Zone 9 and priced the same as Sydney!
I have selected the ‘most Avios, least cash’ option as this is the best for someone using a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher – everyone else may find another combination better value:
- 220,000 Avios + £600 off-peak (see screenshot below)
- 240,000 Avios + £600 peak
Option 2: Fly Iberia direct from Madrid to Santiago, booked on ba.com or iberia.com
Even though you should book this flight on ba.com, to make cancellation easier if necessary, it still prices off the Iberia Avios reward chart because it is an Iberia flight. Santiago is in Zone 7 of 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.
You pay (again, I take the ‘most Avios’ version which is best for someone using a 2-4-1 voucher):
- 102,000 Avios + £195 off-peak (see screenshot below)
- 150,000 Avios + £195 peak
You also need to add in the cost of getting to/from Madrid on a separate ticket. You make substantial savings (£150ish) on Air Passenger Duty by taking a separate economy flight to Spain.
The total savings, as you can see, are ludicrous when flying on Iberia.
TWO people could fly Business Class, from Madrid to Santiago, using a British Airways American Express companion voucher for just 102,000 Avios + £389 return off-peak.
Option 3: Fly LATAM direct from Madrid to Santiago, booked on ba.com
Finally, here is an option with a partner airline. LATAM is no longer a member of the oneworld alliance but retains codeshare and frequent flyer partnerships with British Airways and Iberia.
This is what you pay to fly with LATAM. Remember that, as a partner airline, all dates are priced as peak dates:
- 185,500 Avios + £59 (see screenshot below)
You also need to add in the cost of getting to/from Madrid on a separate ticket.
Do not book this ticket on the Iberia website because partner airline redemptions booked via Iberia Plus cannot be cancelled. Book via ba.com and you can cancel for a full refund for the usual £35 fee.
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 or a partner airline.
In this particular example, it is a no-brainer to take Iberia via Madrid. Whilst LATAM has lower taxes, the additional Avios required means that it isn’t the best value overall. This is especially true if you have a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 companion voucher for Iberia.
British Airways is terrible value on this route. However much you may prefer a direct flight from London, the lure (assuming two travellers with a 2-4-1 voucher) of paying 102,000 Avios + £390 between you from Madrid vs 220,000 Avios + £1,200 from London is probably too strong to resist.
In fact, the Iberia option is so cheap that I’d be tempted to keep my 2-4-1 voucher for another day and pay the full price for two people of 204,000 Avios + £390 ….
How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (December 2023)
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:
There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:
You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points. These points convert at 1:1 into Avios.
SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive 30,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 30,000 Avios) with American Express Preferred Rewards Gold. You receive 25,000 points if you spend £3,000 in three months and a further 5,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.
SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive a huge 100,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 100,000 Avios) with The Platinum Card. You receive 75,000 points if you spend £10,000 in six months and a further 25,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold
Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 points (TO 9th JANUARY), FREE for a year & four airport ….. Read our full review
The Platinum Card from American Express
Crazy 100,000 points (TO 9th JANUARY) and a huge range of valuable 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 10,500 Avios.
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.
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.
Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.