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Update: This offer for the British Airways Visa Signature® Card is expired. Please check out the current list of the best current travel credit cards.
The British Airways Visa Signature® Card now offers 50,000 bonus Avios after spending $2000 in the first two months, plus 2.5x Avios for every dollar spent on British Airways and 1.25x Avios per dollar spent on everything else. You can also earn a British Airways companion certificate valid for second passenger on British Airways award reservation after spending $30,000 on the card annually
All that being said, this can be an excellent deal, as I’ll outline below.
How to Earn Points:
The British Airways Visa offers 1.25 Avios points per dollar spent, regardless of the category.
While it’s not bonus points per se, Chase offers a British Airways award companion certificate for any year in which you spend $30,000 on the card. I make an effort to try and earn the certificate each year.
It’s only valid for travel on British Airways and ultimately you still have to pay the high taxes and fuel surcharges which British Airways imposes for the second passenger, but when you break it down I’d say it’s still a good value. Say you spend $30,000 on the card this year. You’d earn the 50,000 Avios points sign-up bonus, 37,500 Avios points for completing the spend (since you earn 1.25 Avios points per dollar), meaning you’d have 87,500 British Airways Avios points to blow, along with a companion certificate. That basically equates to 175,000 Avios points of “buying power” for travel on British Airways when factoring in the companion certificate. This puts you well on your way to two First class tickets from many points in the US, especially given how many transfer partners British Airways has should you need to top off your account.
Transfers from Membership Rewards, Ultimate Rewards, and Starwood
British Airways Executive Club is the only airline program which partners with American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest. As a result it’s pretty easy to top off an account, and at times there are even lucrative transfer bonuses. For example, Membership Rewards is offering a 50% transfer bonus to British Airways through May 31, which is a great deal.
How to Redeem Points:
As I mentioned earlier, British Airways really devalued their award chart for North American flyers last November. Unfortunately they don’t publish an official award chart, though they do have a mileage calculator on their website.
While it doesn’t match in 100% of cases, here’s Iberia’s Avios award chart, which is similar to British Airways’ in most instances:
So while a lot of value was lost compared to the old award charts, there are still some fantastic values to be had. Paying only 4,500 Avios points for a flight of under 650 miles is an amazingly good deal. For example, New York to Montreal is available for 4,500 Avios points each way, when the fare is usually about $200 per direction:
Along the same lines, keep in mind that British Airways doesn’t charge close-in ticketing fees, so there’s no additional fee for booking close to departure.
Another great redemption is traveling from the west coast of the US to Hawaii, which is only 12,500 Avios points one-way in coach.
You can get some real bargains with British Airways for travel to Northern South America. For example, Miami to Lima roundtrip in LAN business class (which is a fully flat product) is only 50,000 Avios points roundtrip.
Now, British Airways does impose fuel surcharges for many of their award redemptions, though there are a few ways to avoid them:
- Fly LAN
- Fly Alaska Airlines
- Fly American to destinations other than Europe and Asia
Other Cool Features:
No foreign transaction fees
While it’s becoming fairly common among Chase cards, this card comes with no foreign transaction fees.
Smart Chip Technology
This is a chip card, making it more widely accepted in Europe and beyond. If you don’t have a chip card you might have issues using your credit cards in parts of Europe.