The Most Bizarre Mileage Purchase Deal I’ve Ever Seen

I’ve done some ridiculous things for cheap miles over the years (not as ridiculous as Ben going to a hair-replacement consultation at 16; that one still wins), but when it comes to buying miles the process is typically pretty straightforward.

We often see bonuses on buying miles, or targeted promos for elites — in those cases either the miles themselves are discounted, or you receive more miles for the same base cost. It’s pretty simple.

But have you ever heard of buying a coupon to then buy discounted miles?

Iberia and Groupon.es are doing just that, with a deal that’s more than a little odd, but could potentially be pretty lucrative.

The first thing you should know is that Groupon.es and Iberia ran a similar promotion in December, and it was pretty messy. Everyone here was traveling at that time, so we somehow missed it completely, but it seems there was more than a slight amount of hassle.

So keep that in mind — you may have to chase down the miles on this one.

The deal

Essentially, you can buy Iberia Avios for about $.013 each through this offer.

That’s not a rate at which I’d speculatively buy miles, but there are certainly cases where Avios can be extremely valuable. You can also transfer Avios between Iberia and British Airways freely, which gives you quite a bit of flexibility.

Groupon.es is selling five different “coupons” for Avios:

  • 2,000 Avios – 19 € (65%)
  • 4,000 Avios – 49 € (46% off)
  • 8,000 Avios – € 99 (40% off)
  • 12,000 Avios – 149 € (37% off)
  • 20,000 Avios – € 259 (33% off)

You can buy five coupons per person, in nearly any combination, with two restrictions:

  • The 2,000 Avios package is limited to one per person
  • You cannot purchase more than 100,000 Avios total

You can also earn bonus Avios by leveraging a shopping portal (and I’ll go through all the steps here shortly), but let’s look at the pricing first:

Purchase PricePurchased AviosAvios From PortalCost Per Point
19€ / ~$212,00095~1.00¢
49€ / ~$554,000245~1.29¢
99€ / ~$1138,000495~1.33¢
149€ / ~$16812,000745~1.32¢
259€ / ~$29220,0001,295~1.37¢

Again, not rates at which I’d stock up on miles for no purpose, but depending on your circumstances it could certainly make sense.

As I’ve mentioned before, I primarily use Avios for flights between San Diego and LAX, which seem to be ~$350 round-trip nowadays. In comparison, 11,000 Iberia Avios is a great deal (heck, even 15,000 through British Airways is still better than paying retail), so these are good prices for me.

The cheapest package could also make sense if you just need to “activate” an Iberia account and can’t transfer points from Amex.

The process

Iberia isn’t the easiest airline to work with, and by all accounts Groupon.es isn’t the most delightful either. But anything worthwhile takes some effort, right? I’ll try to go through the steps as clearly as possible though.

1) Sign up for Iberia

Hopefully you’ve all done this already, but just in case: sign up for an IberiaPlus account.

2) Register for Groupon.es

This is not the same as your normal Groupon, you’ll have to create a new profile for Spain.

Pay special attention to the email address you use to register, as you’ll need that about a dozen times later on.

3) Go to the IB Plus Store

In order to get those extra 5 Avios/Euro, we have to click through to Groupon from Iberia’s online shopping portal.

When you’re logged into your Iberia account, select “Iberia Plus” in the upper right, then “Iberia PluStore.”

Iberia-Groupon-01

From there, just click through the screens until you’re at the main page of the shopping portal.

Iberia-Groupon-02

Iberia-Groupon-03

You should see Groupon under the “Most Popular” offers:

Iberia-Groupon-04

Click through, and you’ll see the 5 Avios per Euro offer confirmed. Iberia-Groupon-05

You should then be on the Groupon.es homepage.

4) Choose your Groupon

You may see the Avios offer right away, but if not you can search for Avios in the box at the top of the screen, and it should come up immediately.

Apologies in advance for the hillarible translations — I enabled translate in Chrome before taking screenshots so they’d match what most of y’all would be seeing, but…things are poorly translated.

Iberia-Groupon-06

When you select “Options” you’ll have a choice of the following packages:

Iberia-Groupon-07

Add one to your cart, and then go to checkout.

5) Pick a payment method

By which I actually mean “link a credit card that doesn’t levy foreign transaction fees to your PayPal account, and choose to check out with PayPal.”

Trust me.

One, getting the address in your profile to match what Groupon’s payment processor wants to accept for your credit card is a pain. Two, there’s a more than slight chance you’ll be wanting to pressure Groupon later on in this process, so being able to start a PayPal Review and/or a credit card chargeback gives you more control.

I did warn you this was going to be a fun one. 😉

6) Wait for your Groupon to process

Once I finally made a successful payment, I got this message:

Iberia-Groupon-09

Sure enough, the Groupon showed as pending in my account:

Iberia-Groupon-10

And a few minutes later the Groupon was available:

Iberia-Groupon-11

Now, you might think you’re done, but really you’ve just started.

See where it says “Valid until 11 May”? That’s how long you have to redeem your Groupon, but you want to redeem this right away! Once the miles are safely in your account you can relax, but it could be a process to get them there, and you’ll want to start right away.

7) Pour a glass of wine

This is optional, but I really regret not doing so before the next phase. A nice Tempranillo would be appropriate, but anything will help.

8) Attempt to validate your Groupon

So the idea here is that you take the codes from your voucher, link them to your Iberia account, and voila — the mileage purchase happens.

I can’t tell if these people are sketchy, or if the websites are just buggy AF, but it’s certainly not that straightforward.

When you open your Groupon voucher, you’ll see two codes in the upper left:

Iberia-Groupon-12

In a new tab/window, open this page, which will let you validate the Groupon. Enter the security code, the coupon code, and the email you used to register for Groupon:

Iberia-Groupon-13

Because this is where the fun starts, you’ll most likely receive an error message:

Iberia-Groupon-14

Obviously your coupon hasn’t been used yet, and there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason as to why this fails.

Just keep entering your information until it actually works (for me this was 15 times, by which point I thought I was going completely crazy, because it’s not like this is a complicated form).

Eventually you’ll either empty your bottle of wine, or see that your voucher info has populated on the right-hand side of the screen:

Iberia-Groupon-15

Yay!!!

Press the blue button to continue, at which point you’ll be able to enter your IberiaPlus number:

Iberia-Groupon-16

If you enter a valid number, you’ll receive a confirmation:

Iberia-Groupon-17

Yep, that’s right, Groupon.es is estimating 30 days before the miles post to your Iberia account. I’d like to say that this is because they’re under-promising, and are actually batch-processing these in a timely fashion, but…

9) Set a calendar reminder for 30 days out

I’m sure y’all check AwardWallet pretty obsessively, so you’ll likely notice when the miles post, but in this case you need to notice if the miles don’t post.

Obviously, you’ll want to follow up on any miles purchase you make, but in this case you may have to be aggressive with Groupon.es. If they’re not responsive, you’ll want to have PayPal and/or your credit card dispute the transaction, and you don’t want to lose your window of opportunity there.

The Avios from the shopping portal will post separately from the Groupon transaction — make sure to check for both!

So pay close attention, and hopefully you’ll see some shiny new Avios in your account next month.

Bottom line

I’m not entirely sure what Iberia is hoping to get out of this — surely they’d be better off selling Avios directly — and the whole process is more than a bit bizarre.

This is a good deal, but it is also has potential to be a tremendous cluster.

If you are willing to play the game of letting it ride and seeing what happens, go for it. If you are someone who is frustrated by incompetence or bad at chasing down loose ends, you should sit this one out.

Did anyone buy Avios through the last Groupon? How did that go for you?

Comments

  1. I’m not going to go through this hassle either but I just wanted to thank you for breaking it down for all your readers in such an easy, fun format.

  2. Why take a flight between LAX and SAN Diego? Isn’t cheaper and faster to rent a car and drive up the 5 freeway?

  3. OK, now that I see that I can get my avios for 1225 euros. I want to to know if they can be used on AA and how much an award ticket from the US to Europe costs

  4. @ Bryan Long — Well, it’s certainly not faster, at least not from my part of town. It takes about 2hr 45min to drive if there’s no traffic, plus time to pick up a rental car, and drop it off, plus shuttles on both ends, plus a gas station stop.

    If I fly, I can leave my apartment an hour before my flight (at most), walk straight through PreCheck and then to the gate, and be at LAX maybe 90 minutes after leaving my house, and already be airside. There’s also only about 20 minutes of dead time if I fly, whereas if I drive I lose at least three hours of work time.

  5. Will transfers of Avios between BA and Iberia “reset” the expiration clock? I have about 60,000 BA avios from a sign-up bonus, with no immediate plans to use them. I also have an Iberia account, but it hasn’t been “activated.” If I buy some miles to activate, can I then transfer avios between the two and keep them from expiring until I get around to using them?

  6. Be careful! They had the same offer back in December, I purchased 5 coupons and they haven’t posted to my Iberia account yet. I have been through numerous calls and emails with groupon and Iberia and they keep blaming each other and saying that the avios will post soon! Anyone had a similar experience?

  7. @ Hepworth — I don’t think the transfers as such would count as qualifying activity, but the purchase certainly would. So I think you’d be okay in transferring to Iberia and parking the miles there for a bit. I’m not 100% certain though. If you can transfer a few points from Amex/Chase/SPG that would be best.

  8. I purchased 5 x 12,000 Avios through the December promotion. While 4 x 12,000 + the 16x EUR spent was credited to my Iberia account with relatively limited hassle (I did get the error message mentioned above), the final 12,000 was posted only this Thursday, i.e. nearly four months after I redeemed the vouchers! If you don’t speak Spanish like me, I recommend contacting Iberia through Facebook if / when you run into any problems. I think that was what sorted our my issue in the end.

  9. I bought 40k worth in December via PayPal. after harassing them on Facebook Twitter and the email for 3 1/2 months, I just contacted PayPal fland reported them for fraud. PP credited me back.IF YOU MUST TRY THIS, YOU MUST USE PAYPAL!

    They are so inept and unhelpful, you’ll be throwing money away otherwise

  10. This is an awesome price as I like to book WTP and use avios to upgrade to Club World. ~300 Euros is a steal for this… And on step 8 I had zero issues validating all codes purchased. Thanks for the walk-through!

  11. Good post but the Iberia Plus Store seems to be down?
    I get an error message which says “We’re sorry The page you have requested is not available”

  12. Tiffany most people who purchased in Dec didn’t have all their mlies credited. It was an absolute mess and I don’t think it’s responsible of you to recommend this to people.

  13. Not interested in this deal at this price point… tried to apply a Groupon gift card (purchased in USD) to the order, but kept getting an invalid code error. Looks like USD gift cards cannot be used on the Spain site. Would have been a nice stack since you can typically get Groupon GC at a significant discount, or at a minimum buy them with Chase Ink for 5x UR.

  14. Also, are you able to contact Iberia about why AA flights are no longer searchable on their website?
    BA’s website shows AA flights but Iberia does not anymore.

  15. Your last screenshot of the PluStore shows that the third bullet point under terms and conditions specifically excludes the sale of Avios on Groupon through this specific offer from accumulating Avios through the PluStore. So you’re not going to get the additional 5 Avios per Euro.

  16. Would NOT Recommend! I did this in December and it was a nightmare. Tried to deal with Groupon / Iberia customer service in Spanish for 4 months to first get the codes to work and for the miles to post. Finally had to file a claim with PayPal to get my money back.

  17. Well, I got the coupon to work the first trial!!
    In Spanish, it actually says “30 working days”… so I would expect to receive my avios in around 6 weeks. as the experiences from last December reported here are not repeated!

  18. Had no problem with the process using the site in Spanish back in January but never got the points either. Even got a confirmation email from Groupon telling me the avios would post in 2 weeks. Glad I only bought 2000 avios.

  19. I’ve bought Avios for both my partner and myself in the last promo and again today – the whole process from start to finish was quick and easy. I checked on Iberia Plus Store and can see my click to Groupon today has tracked ok – you can see this in the ‘transaction & clicks history’.

    Last time this offer was running I clicked the ‘Invite your friend to Groupon’ link, and setup my partner’s account. When buying Avios today I had a very pleasant surprise of seeing the purchase being discounted by €6 which is the ‘refer a friend’ bonus.

  20. Just an update…Bought April 16th, All 5 packages bought posted to my Iberia account on April 30th. Thanks for the tips!

  21. Hi, I bought 5 groupons in June and activation worked without issues. But instead of posting to my Iberia account, I got the money back on my credit card last week. Did anybody experience a similar issue?

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