Membership Rewards adds an airline partner

The American Express Membership Rewards program has been around for a long, long time, allowing the accrual of points for redemption on a variety of airlines, hotels, stores and even casino chips at one point.  The participating airlines seem to vary at any given point in time depending on whether AmEx is willing to pay and whether the airline is willing to sell the points.  In the past week or so AmEx has quietly added a new airline transfer partner to the US-based Membership Rewards program – the Spanish carrier Iberia.  Iberia is the second Membership Rewards partner to participate in the OneWorld alliance, bringing another means of accessing redemptions within that alliance to the Membership Rewards program.  That’s the good news.

American Express will transfer your points to Iberia at a ratio of 1,400:100.  The reward charts are pretty granular, with flights within Spain or to the Balearics or Gibraltar only 900 points for a round-trip ticket (so only 12,600 AmEx MR points) in “Tourist Full” class, which seems to have no inventory controls.  Flights are 1/3 cheaper for “Blue Class” which is limited inventory from what I can tell.  Flights from Spain to the USA, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America are only 4,750 points (or ~66,000 MR points), again in the “Tourist Full” class which seems to not be inventory restricted.  They also offer one way rewards, with some fares just being 1/2 of a round trip and some (the transatlantics) having a premium attached.  But these are only on Iberia-operated flights.  When you start getting into partners the numbers go up pretty quickly, which is the bad news.

The redemptions are based on total miles traveled and class of service, with the breakdown looking like this:


Miles Required

Total miles traveled Coach Business First
0 – 600 18,200 35,000 53,200
601 – 1,000 22,400 44,800 65,800
1,001 – 2,000 28,000 54,600 82,600
2,001 – 4,000 33,600 75,600 99,400
4,001 – 5,000 39,200 82,600 116,200
5,001 – 8,000 44,800 88,200 133,000
8,001 – 12,400 56,000 112,000 168,000
12,401 – 18,000 77,000 154,000 232,400
18,001 – 25,000 105,000 210,000 315,000
25,001 – 30,000 110,600 221,200 331,800
30,001 – 35,000 133,000 266,000 399,000
35,001 – 40,000 154,000 308,000 462,000
40,001 – 50,000 176,400 352,800 529,200

The numbers at the top of the chart aren’t terrible, but when you start getting into ‘Round The World ticket distances, particularly in the premium cabins, the numbers are pretty bad.

So if you’re looking to get around within Spain or between Spain and something nearby, this looks like a decent option.  For longer flights or partner flights the numbers aren’t so great.  Then again, the rates of redemption in Mexicana, the other OneWorld partner don’t seem to be all that great either (70K in coach between N. America and Europe versus 44,800-77,000 on Iberia), so this might not be so bad.

More options is always good, even if not all the redemption values are terrific.

Happy Flying!

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.