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.
While I last mentioned the card in April when the increased sign-up offer was first introduced, I feel it’s worth mentioning that the 100,000 Avios sign-up bonus on the Chase British Airways Visa expires this Wednesday, July 18.
The card offers 50,000 Avios after the first purchase, another 25,000 Avios after spending $10,000 within the first year, and another 25,000 Avios for spending an additional $10,000 within the first year. So in other words if you spend $20,000 on the card within the first year you’ll get the 100,000 bonus Avios. The annual fee on the card is $95, which isn’t waived for the first year.
There’s no doubt Avios have been devalued since they changed their award chart late last year, all while British Airways’ fuel surcharges have continued to rise. Despite the devaluation, we’ve come across some hidden gems over the past few months that greatly increase the value of Avios for me.
British Airways presently uses a distance based award chart. While they don’t publish the award chart online, the closest thing to it is Iberia’s distance based Avios award chart, which is as follows:
One of my favorites, which is still alive and well, is 25,000 Avios for roundtrip coach or 50,000 Avios for roundtrip business class on Aer Lingus between Boston and Dublin or Shannon with no fuel surcharges. I took advantage of this recently, and I was actually quite impressed by Aer Lingus’ business class product. This is one case where British Airways’ distance based award chart works out in your favor, since Boston to Dublin is just under 3,000 flown miles each way. So in this case after your first purchase you’re earning a roundtrip business class ticket between Boston and Dublin (or two coach tickets), or after spending $20,000 you’re earning two roundtrip business class tickets (or four coach tickets) with no fuel surcharges. That’s a pretty amazing value.
I also recently posted about the possibility of transferring British Airways Avios to Iberia Avios in order to avoid fuel surcharges for transatlantic flights on Iberia. You can read more about that here, as it makes it possible to redeem just 40,000 Avios for roundtrip transatlantic coach or 80,000 Avios for roundtrip transatlantic business class while just paying the taxes. This is pretty awesome, since prior to these two opportunities there was no way to redeem miles for transatlantic travel without fuel surcharges.
Another great use of Avios is for travel to South America. LAN belongs to OneWorld, and they have by far the most extensive route network in South America. Since British Airways’ award chart is distance based you can get some pretty amazing values, especially if you’re traveling to Northern South America.
For example, Miami to Lima roundtrip will run you 25,000 Avios in coach or 50,000 Avios in business class on LAN’s flat bed product, without any fuel surcharges.
Lastly, you really can’t beat the value of British Airways Avios for shorthaul flights. Flights under 650 miles are 4,500 Avios each way in coach. For example, a roundtrip on American between New York and Toronto or Montreal would cost you 9,000 Avios (plus taxes), while paid tickets are often $350 roundtrip.
The above are all options that avoid travel on British Airways flights. You do get a British Airways companion certificate if you spend $30,000 on the card in a year, whereby the second passenger just pays the taxes, fees, and fuel surcharges on the ticket when traveling British Airways. That means first class between New York and London, for example, would run you 60,000 Avios plus $1,100 per person, which isn’t all that bad considering that with most other programs you’d pay 125,000-135,000 miles plus $300 in taxes/fees per person.
We’re seeing a downward trend with credit card sign-up bonuses recently, so I do think this is a very good bonus. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past year it’s that often the most unconventional points sources end up proving the most rewarding and practical. I love American and United miles and value them immensely, but there’s only one thing I do with them in an effort to “maximize value” — book first class to Asia. British Airways Avios have actually caused me to break my redemption habits, and have caused me to visit Ireland on Aer Lingus, and have also caused me to book a trip to Alaska and the Caribbean over the coming months, and in all three of those cases Avios proved to be the best value on points by far.
(In the interest of full disclosure, I do earn a referral bonus for anyone that signs up through the above links. It’s the best available offer, and of course I’m very appreciative of your support, regardless of whether or not you use my link)