Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

How Santiago shows up the oddities of Avios reward pricing – with taxes from £59 to £600

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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.

Avios flights to Chile Santiago

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Santiago is better value than it should be, sitting in Zone 8 of the (unpublished) British Airways reward chart.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
Avios flights to Chile Santiago

Option 2:  Fly Iberia direct from Madrid to Santiago, booked on or

Even though you should book this flight on, 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.

Avios flights to Chile Santiago

Option 3:  Fly LATAM direct from Madrid to Santiago, booked on

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 and you can cancel for a full refund for the usual £35 fee.

Avios flights to Chile Santiago

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 (September 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:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

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

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £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 famous annual 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.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

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

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points 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.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers 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.

EDIT: Applications for this card are temporarily suspended due to IT issues with the British Airways On Business SME loyalty scheme.

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 bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit 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 (59)

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

  • Mikeact says:

    I agree, although the Chile example quoted above, seems to indicate that Iberia flights ex MAD, should always be booked via BA….for the same price, and protection. But that is not my experience …booking Avios via IB direct has always been less expensive. However, mine are North America flights, which may or may not make a difference.

  • C says:

    I booked DUB-LHR-SCL with BA in First using a 241 then separately booked SCL-MAD-MAN with IB in Business. BA linked the booking and refunded half of the return flight avios.
    Total cost using a 241 voucher was £340 per person plus around 200k avios (can’t remember the exact amount)

  • Mark says:

    Not quite sure I got this right – but anyway ! Tried some random dates from Dublin (some HfP readers live in Ireland !) and it came up with Economy : 65000 avios + £53.00 via Madrid with reasonable flight times and Iberia out and Iberia to Madrid then Aer Lingus Madrid to Dublin.

  • brian says:

    Spent a lot of time looking at this recently but with GRU as the destination. I agree that the Iberia option seems like a no brainer but the big spanner in the works that I encountered was that Iberia only opens up two Business seats for redemption by default which is far from ideal when you are a family of 3.

  • brian says:

    BA offer at least 4 business seats do they not, and 2 PE?

    • Mikeact says:

      Sorry, meant PE , but couldn’t modify answer or delete.

      • Michael C says:

        The 2 PE everywhere is massively annoying: end up with me down the back when flying to GRU!!

  • Matt says:

    I have flown out of Madrid many times. In the past when I booked separate tickets (cash to MAD, avios out of MAD to South America) they could not “link” the tickets (I called the call center to link the two tickets, and also tried at the airport).
    Therefore I had to check out my luggage and then check it back in.
    As I was connecting inside the EU I had no passport check, but still a hassle.

    Side note, when booking via Iberia opting to pay part cash part avios it was good value, I paid €315 to reduce the avios required by 37,700.. so effectively 0.83 cents (0.7pence) per avios

  • Jessica says:

    The issue with flying out of Madrid is that the flight leaves too early in the morning. So you would need to fly to Madrid the previous night and overnight in a hotel. You would need to factor in this cost as well.

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

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