How to Combine Your Avios

avios

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Quite often, somebody somewhere will mention “just combine your Avios and book with…” without really considering whether a beginner to this hobby (or a newcomer to Iberia Plus) even knows what that means.

Avios is the loyalty currency of the International Airlines Group, which is principally made up of British Airways, Iberia, the very-recent addition of Aer Lingus and the now-defunct BMI. Some call them Avios miles or Avios points; I just use Avios and have no idea if the singular is supposed to be Avio. However, Avios is also a loyalty platform, which includes the UK’s avios.com shopping scheme (formerly Air Miles) as well as a version for South Africa; extensions appear to be in the works for Canada, the United States and elsewhere. IAG are regularly seeking to add additional airlines to this loyalty platform, essentially offering an off-the-shelf loyalty programme to airlines such as Royal Air Maroc who might think that the costs of operating a stand-alone loyalty programme outweigh the benefits.

Now, the vast majority of the time somebody asks “can I move my miles from airline programme X to airline programme Y” the answer is no. But IAG allow their loyalty programme members to move their Avios freely between any Avios-based programme. Over the medium term, perhaps everything will be merged into a single programme but, for now, each programme is separate.

The process of moving Avios from one account to another is called “Combining Avios”. The most popular combination of Avios is between British Airways Executive Club and Iberia Plus; frequently there are special offers or reward redemptions that are only available with one programme or the other.

This is actually an unfortunate choice of words, as many beginners then rush to query “can I combine the Avios of my parents/siblings/grandparents/cousins/friends into my account?” Again the answer is no. In order to combine Avios, the following details must be IDENTICAL in the two accounts (at least for an online combination to work):

  • The member’s name is identical in both accounts. This might sound obvious, but actually Spanish citizens have two surnames, so their Iberia Plus account reflects this. British Airways Executive Club doesn’t cater for this, meaning that online combinations of Avios will fail. Another common error is setting up your BA account as “Tim Smith” and your Iberia account as “Timothy Smith”.
  • The member’s birthdate is the same in both accounts. (so forget about stealing your father’s Avios as payback for his giving you his name and calling you Junior)
  • Both accounts use the same e-mail address.

In addition, the following restrictions apply to combining Avios:

  • The Iberia Plus account must be “activated”. The account must have earned at least 1 Avios from a standard earning transaction such as crediting a flight, hotel stay, car rental, etc. Naturally, many people inquire about free or low cost methods of activating an Iberia Plus account. I’m not aware of any current “100% free” methods of activating an Iberia Plus account, but you can always set your browser settings to “Spain”, enter the IberiaPluStore (Iberia’s online shopping portal) and buy a song from ITunes for 1 euro.
  • Your Iberia Plus account must be at least 90 days old.
  • Your British Airways Executive Club account is NOT a Household Account. If it is, you can get around this restriction by opening an individual avios.com account and combining Avios to your avios.com account and separately from avios.com to Iberia Plus. If you have a household avios.com account, you are truly stuffed…

And, in case you were wondering, Combining Avios is not an activity that extends the life of any expiring Avios, or counts as earning 1 Avios within 12 months for the purposes of Reward Flight Saver eligibility.

Assuming your accounts are all set up properly and activated, you can combine Avios via any of ba.com, iberia.com or avios.com.

With BA, you log-in to your Executive Club account and, whilst hovering over “Manage my account”, you click on “Combine my Avios”. From there all is straightforward.

combine-avios-ba

With Iberia, the capability is hidden away and counter-intuitive. You log-in to your Iberia Plus account and hover over the Iberia Plus menu in the top right hand corner. You then select the “Avios” sub-menu and aim for the “Buying or transferring Avios” link.

combine-avios-ib1

You will then be taken to a page that is principally concerned with selling you Avios. But way down at the bottom of the page you will see this, and from there all should be straightforward.

combine-avios-ib2

With Avios.com, you log-in to your account and hover over “Your Account” in the top right hand corner. One of the links you’ll see is Transfer Avios to/from British Airways or Iberia. From there all is straightforward.

combine-avios-avios

Once you get the hang of it, it becomes second nature to combine your Avios between accounts. If you happen to have a very inactive account, make sure to double-check the last time you made a qualifying activity – you don’t want to move any BA Avios to Iberia Plus and have them expire immediately!

Although perhaps worthy of an entirely separate post, every Avios collector should have at least three accounts open and activated. You never know when an incredible offer might come along, such as 18,700 Avios for a three-day car rental with Avis (via Iberia Plus, now finished) or 1,000 Avios for a simple partner transaction via ba.com or avios.com (I earned 1,000 Avios in both accounts!)

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Comments

  1. Tom Sumner says

    Great article Craig. Funny you mention the Avios “points, miles or nothing?” debate. I recently dealt indirectly with Avios for one of our Advent Calendar prizes, and the official line is very definitely that it’s “Avios” alone (and no, one Avios is not an Avio :))

  2. Adam says

    From personal experience, do not have a HH account. I thought it would it be a great idea to have access to both our accounts points in one account then found out you couldn’t move points around from iberia and Avios. I will get round to one day separating our accounts…

  3. Joe Deeney says

    Yep, really useful article!

    Interesting data point – the combine my Avios function on Iberia Plus was broken for a while on my account, but when it started working again a couple of weeks ago I was able to transfer directly from BAEC to IP despite the fact my BA account is part of a Household one.

    That certainly wasn’t the case previously, and I have no idea if it’s a deliberate improvement or I just got lucky for once with IAG’s wonky IT.

      • Joe Deeney says

        Haha, this was one of the very rare (perhaps unique?) times when dodgy IT may have worked in my favour. I don’t think I’ve ever seen my Avios disappear actually, but I’ve often had painful cause to wonder why travel industry IT seems to mess up so often. It’s something that genuinely perplexes me, given how vital reliable, secure, easy to use websites/apps should be for travel businesses – and we’re talking multi-billion corporations, not small businesses.

        • Craig Sowerby says

          Unfortunately “the IT Crowd” and “Silicon Valley” could be documentaries rather than comedies! 🙂

          And the reference number for failed transfers seems to be made up gibberish that nobody at IAG recognises. Luckily I only lost 400 or so Avios from the BMI credit card a few years back.

      • Tom Sumner says

        Yep, I had this problem with a “Combine My Avios” recently. Happily disappeared from BAEC but never reappeared in Avios.com. Took various calls and emails to sort. The most frustrating thing was no one in customer services seemed to comprehend the fairly simple issue.

        • Dominic says

          Hey Tom,

          How did you actually get your Avios back? I tried to do a transfer from iberia to avios and they seem to have vanished into thin air!

          • Tom Sumner says

            I emailed them, called them, tweeted them, facebooked them, sent a carrier pigeon etc etc. We got there in the end.

          • Alain Belleville says

            Wow good to know! I have the same problem. I lost 13,000 avios points when I tried to use their tool and I’m trying to get back my points. So far I called them and emailed them so next step it is going to be Twitter and Facebook!

    • Craig Sowerby says

      Not as far as I know.

      Unfortunately many people only think about Iberia Plus when they have an imminent need for an Iberia reward, but it requires some advance planning…

  4. Rkp says

    Hi, can I have different address in my avios household ac to the one in my ba exec? I am planning to be change my address in avios.com ac to be part of my friends household ac, to be able to get 30k avios and then get him to remove me (and give be me that 30k avios). Will be this be a problem and raise any concern with avios.com ?

    • Craig Sowerby says

      I have different postal addresses for each of my BA, IB+ and Avios accounts and Combine Your Avios works fine for me. No household accounts though.

      I have been meaning to try the Avios household account trick myself. I think it should work fine as long as you aren’t blatantly setting up a household then dissolving it within days or weeks.

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