Should You Transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to Aer Lingus or Iberia (and Why)?

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Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

Chase Ultimate Rewards added Aer Lingus and Iberia to the list of transfer partners Aer Lingus

I was never interested in the Aer Lingus program, even less in transferring currency as valuable as Chase Ultimate Rewards Points. For one thing, I live on the East Coast and it’s kind of affordable to fly to Ireland on British Airways Avios, so I thought why bother? Well, I might’ve been wrong, because Aer Lingus has some very nice redemption values if you’re OK with an economy seat.

Transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to Aer Lingus Avios

Aer Lingus connects Ireland with the following U.S. destinations (from East to West):

  • Boston
  • Hartford
  • New York (JFK and Newark)
  • Philadelphia (starts on 03.25.18)
  • Washington (Dulles)
  • Miami
  • Orlando
  • Chicago
  • Los Angeles
  • San Francisco
Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

Aer Lingus Award Zones

Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

Aer Lingus Award Chart

Do you see what I see?

Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

The distance between Boston and Dublin is less than 3,000 miles

Yep, the distance between Boston and Dublin is less than 3,000 miles, yet AerClub still puts it in Zone 5. Not cool! And do you know what else is uncool? Fuel scamcharges, ranging from $90 to $120 for flights between Ireland and North America.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

Aer Lingus fuel surcharges are moderate

And yet, try to find another FF program that can get you to Europe for 26,000 per roundtrip. Here is the AerClub Peak and off-peak calendar (peak’s in red).

Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

Peak dates are in red

If you booked your Ireland trip with British Avios, it would cost you 33,000 to 50,000 Avios for a flight from the East Coast (except from Boston, which is slightly cheaper). So AerClub Avios is a better deal in most cases.

Business Class is a totally different matter, IMHO. Not worth it! No way I would waste 3X-4X miles on a 6-7 hour flight just so I can stretch out, but that’s just me.

Let’s sum it up. Transferring your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to AerClub would be well worth it if:

  1. You fly to Ireland in coach.
  2. You fly from Boston, Hartford, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, or Chicago.
  3. You fly within the following dates: January 5 to April 6, April 24 to June 16, or September 11 to December 15.

Transferring your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to AerClub might still be worth it if:

  1. You fly in coach.
  2. You fly to one destination in Ireland from anywhere in North America at any time.
  3. You fly to Europe with a stopover in Ireland from the East Coast during the off-peak dates.

Read some If you want to fly Aer Lingus in Business Class, and have more than one destination in mind, check Cathay Pacific Asia Miles (although you’d better be creative with the latter). I’ll talk about it more in a separate post.

Transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to Iberia Plus

There are two sweet spots in the Iberia Avios program.

  • Economy and Business Class flights between New York/Chicago and Madrid.
  • Some American Airlines flights in North America.

   Using Iberia Avios for U.S. to Madrid

Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

The thing is, you can already transfer British Avios to Iberia Avios and vice versa, although it’s not always straightforward. If either your British Avios or Iberia Avios account is less than 90 days old, you can’t transfer British Avios to Iberia. In this case and a few others, a transfer from Chase may make sense (just remember that you can transfer Amex Membership Rewards to Iberia, too). Iberia Avios can be a great way to travel to Madrid, especially in Business Class. Here is the gist.

Avios devalued its program in winter of 2017, but it didn’t affect the main selling point of Iberia Avios. An off-peak award seat between New York/Chicago and Madrid has remained 17,000 Avios in economy and 34,000 Avios in business (20,000 and 50,000 Avios respectively during peak seasons).

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The off-peak cost of a Business Class redemption for JFK/ORD — MAD

Iberia does add a fuel surcharge comparable to that of Aer Lingus ($100 each way), and it seems to be slightly more expensive during the peak times. A peak award seat between New York/Chicago and Madrid is 37,000 Avios in economy ($187 in taxes and YQ), 60,500 Avios in Premium Economy, and 84,000 Avios ($210) in business.

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The peak cost of a Business Class redemption for JFK/ORD — MAD

   The Iberia TATL Business Class Seat is Very Good 

In all honesty, 68,000 to 84,000 miles plus around $200 in cash is a terrific price for a roundtrip Business Class flight to Europe. I flew Iberia on my way back home from Balboa via Madrid, and liked it better than my inbound trip on American.

The Iberia Business Class Solstys Seat — Very Comfy

Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

The Iberia Solstys Business Class seat felt better than the AA Zodiac seat, especially the spacious ottoman vs. the “feet cubby.”

You can read my brief Iberia MAD-JFK review here.

   Using Iberia Avios in lieu of British Avios for AA flights in the U.S.

There is a limited value in the Iberia Avios vs. British Avios chart for the following reasons:

  • Only roundtrip flights are allowed.
  • Only the first 4 (3.5, actually) distance bands matter.
Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

Iberia award chart for American Airlines

Compare it with the British Avios Chart (credit to Flyertalk):

Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

British Airways Avios award chart

So, when do you win with Iberia Avios rather than British Avios on American Airlines flights?

Most of all, you win when you fly simple roundtrip segments up to 3,000 miles in the U.S. However, also remember that the Iberia Avios program counts the total distance between the departure and destination points, while British Avios counts each segment separately. So if you are comparing flights with one or more connections, Iberia may offer an even better value.

Here is what your savings would look like for a simple nonstop flight:

  • Up to 600 miles – 11,000 Iberia Avios vs. 15,000 British Avios.
  • 601 to 1000 miles – 12,000 vs. 15,000.
  • 1,151 to 2,000 – 17,000 vs. 20,000.
  • 2,001 to 3,000 – 23,000 vs. 25,000.

Interestingly, British Avios has better value for distances between 1,000 and 1,150 miles – 15,000 Avios vs. 17,000.

As you can see, the appeal is limited, but it’s there.

Recap

So, Chase added two new partners to its Ultimate Rewards program: Aer Lingus and Iberia. There is nothing earth-shattering about it, but it’s always nice when we get more choices. There are some, albeit limited, circumstances when you will benefit by transferring Ultimate Rewards points to one of these programs; just make sure you’ve done your homework and found the best option.

Madrid Photo By: Felipe Gabaldón

 

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2 Responses to Should You Transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to Aer Lingus or Iberia (and Why)?

  1. Marianne says:

    I’ve never used Avios, but I have a BA Avios account in case I use them in the future. Since you said your accounts have to be open for 90 days to transfer between BA and IB, I thought it’d be a good idea to open an account with Iberia Plus Avios today. Do they really want my passport number for that? And secondly, after I put in my passport number, I got an error in registration related to the passport number. Is there a simple way to become a member? Thank you very much for any advice you can give me and for all the great content you provide.

    • Andy Shuman says:

      Thanks for your comment, Marianne. I joined Iberia Plus a while ago and don’t remember whether it wanted me to put in the passport number, but I know the site is very buggy. Try to leave it empty or use different browsers or Incognito mode and see if something resolves the issue.

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