By Julian, author of Devil’s Advocate…
As most Frequent Miler readers already know, Avios is a common mileage currency between British Airways and Iberia, which means it’s possible to instantly transfer Avios between the two airlines. This makes
the current 25% transfer bonus from Amex Membership Rewards to Iberia extremely useful, especially since the ratio was devalued back at the top of October 2015. One Amex MR point is now usually only worth 0.8 Avios, but with the transfer bonus we can get back to a 1:1 ratio. Update: This promotion from 2015 is no longer active — the current transfer ration from Membership Rewards to Iberia is 250:200.
However, as most Frequent Miler readers also already know, the tools for transferring Avios back and forth are, to be charitable, bloody awful. Errors abound for no reason, options are available and then suddenly unavailable, and sometimes the entire endeavor simply loops back upon itself ad infinitum. Frankly, I’d almost prefer to battle the Walmart MoneyCenter Express than attempt to transfer Avios back and forth.
Fortunately, there are 3 different ways available to try and push a transfer through in either direction, and when you’re having trouble with one method, often the others will work instead. While I’ve seen all 3 methods discussed in various places on the web, I’ve yet to find all of them in one easy-to-reference page, so hopefully this will be of use to many people having issues.
Before we get started, it’s important to review the three requirements you must meet before you can transfer Avios in either direction. These apply no matter which method you use to transfer…
- Your Iberia Avios account must have already been open 90 days. Many folks state that both Iberia and British Airways accounts must be open 90 days, but based on some deep digging it appears only the Iberia side actually has this requirement.
- You must have some sort of “activity” in your accounts, meaning they can’t just be open and sitting there unused. A transfer from Amex to Iberia or British Airways counts as activity, so that’s an easy and free way to do it.
- Your profile details on both accounts must be exactly identical. This especially includes your name, e-mail, and birthdate, so make sure you match everything.
Also, if you have a British Airways household account, you won’t be able to use either method #1 or method #2 below — you’ll want to skip directly to method #3 instead. If you don’t know what a British Airways household account is, then it’s safe to assume you don’t have one. Which means you can start with…
Method #1 — Use ba.com
This is by far the most popular and easiest way to transfer Avios back and forth. It is also, unfortunately, the most flaky and error prone. But when it works, it’s very simple, so you might as well start here.
Sign into your British Airways Executive Club account on ba.com, then navigate to the “Manage my account” page (which you’ll find under the “Executive Club” tab at the top of the ba.com home page). This is where you’ll find the link to “Combine my Avios” at the lower left side…
Click on this and you’ll get a nice introduction on how you can transfer your Avios. Click at the bottom and you’ll be brought to the page in which your current British Airways Avios are listed on the left. Sign into your Iberia Avios account on the right, and then you’ll be able to choose either to move from British Airways to Iberia or the other way around. Enter the amount of Avios you want to transfer, and you’re done.
Now, it is entirely likely that before you get to this screen, you’ll encounter what I like to call “the British Airways website experience.” Meaning that it won’t work. You’ll either get an error of some sort that makes no sense, or the intro screen will reload in an endless loop, or ba.com will simply announce that what you are asking it to do is utterly impossible.
Don’t believe it — it’s a trick. As long as you’ve satisfied the above 3 requirements, you’re simply hitting a website glitch (or rather “enjoying the magic of ba.com”).
Before giving up on this method, you may want to try it again from the start. Use another browser, or switch to incognito mode, or clear your cookies. Depending on the day, I’ve had any one of these solutions work, or sometimes none of them. So give them a shot.
But if none of that helps, then it’s time to move on to…
Method #2 — Use Iberia.com
A hat tip for this one goes to Head For Points, who has an excellent step-by-step primer already written on it. Rather than repeat it here verbatim, I’d recommend you check out his page. The one note I’ll mention is that the link on the Iberia website to transfer Avios is extremely well hidden on the “Buying and Transferring Avios” page, so they clearly aren’t looking to make a big deal of it.
Again, like the first method, you can go in either direction from iberia.com, meaning you can “pull” miles from British Airways to Iberia or “push” them from Iberia to BA. So if you’re having trouble with ba.com (and I’ll bet $20 bucks that you are), try doing it from the Iberia side regardless of which way you want to transfer.
Method #3 — Use avios.com
If the first two methods have failed, then it’s time for extreme measures. There is a third site that serves as a combination travel booking tool and shopping portal. It’s called avios.com and it allows Avios to be transferred between itself, British Airways, and Iberia. So you can use it to move miles between the two airlines.
Unfortunately, though, there’s a bit of a hitch — the avios.com site isn’t designed for use in the U.S. Therefore, when you register for an account, it requires you to have a mailing address in either the United Kingdom or South Africa.
The good news is they’re not going to be sending you any mail, so if you feel so inclined, you can “borrow” a United Kingdom address for the purposes of registering. For instance, I had a lovely time staying at the Plaza on the River hotel in London last April, so much that I’ve decided to consider it my second home.
However, remember that all three sites will require you to have the identical personal details. It appears avios.com doesn’t match the mailing address, but you will definitely want to make sure that your name, birthdate, and e-mail all match perfectly across your British Airways, Iberia, and avios.com accounts.
Once you’ve registered, just look for the “Combine my Avios” link under the “My Account” tab.
From there you’ll get the same transfer window we saw on ba.com and iberia.com. Just remember that when using avios.com, it acts as a third Avios account that’s separate from your others. So you’ll need to make two transfers — one from either Iberia or British Airways to avios.com, and then a second one from avios.com to the other airline in order to get your Avios all the way across.
And if all else fails…
Keep trying. All three of these sites are annoyingly buggy, and they’ll work one day and then not work the next. So don’t give up. If you get really frustrated you can try calling one of the airlines, but neither British Airways nor Iberia are exactly known for their outstanding customer service. So be prepared to wait a long time to deal with someone surly. Hey, it’s still better than fighting the Walmart MoneyCenter Express.
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