Review: British Airways Visa Signature Card

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The British Airways Visa Signature® Card is a pretty compelling credit card that a lot of people are eligible for. It has a generous sign-up bonus, Avios can be invaluable for shorthaul redemptions, and the card has some unique perks. So in this post I wanted to take a closer look at the benefits of this card. Here’s what you need to know about the card:

British Airways Visa Card sign-up bonus

The British Airways Visa Signature® Card offers a tiered sign-up bonus of up to 75,000 bonus Avios, as follows:

  • 50,000 bonus Avios after spending $3,000 within the first three months
  • An additional 25,000 bonus Avios after spending a total of $10,000 within the first year

At a minimum you can earn 50,000 bonus Avios after spending $3,000 within three months (which is a pretty achievable threshold for most), and beyond that you can earn a further 25,000 Avios for spending a total of $10,000 within the first year, which is also pretty achievable, given how much time you have to complete that spend.

After earning the first 50,000 bonus Avios, you’re earning 25,000 bonus Avios for an incremental $7,000 of spend, and since you usually earn one Avios per dollar spent, that means you’re earning 32,000 Avios for $7,000 of spend, which is ~4.6 Avios per dollar spent. To me that’s an excellent return, so if you can earn the full bonus I’d recommend doing so.

British Airways Visa Card eligbility

The sign-up bonus on the British Airways Visa Signature® Card is available to those who don’t currently have the card, and who haven’t received a new cardmember bonus on the card in the past 24 months. This card isn’t subjected to the 5/24 restriction, meaning that you can be approved even if you’ve opened more than five new card accounts in the past 24 months.

British Airways Visa Card sign-up bonus annual fee

The British Airways Visa Signature® Card has a $95 annual fee. There’s no additional fee to add authorized users.

Earning Avios with the British Airways Visa Card

The British Airways Visa Signature® Card offers one Avios per dollar spent, and two Avios per dollar spent on British Airways purchases. Unless you’re trying to earn a companion voucher (as I’ll be talking about below), personally I wouldn’t put too much spend on this card. Keep in mind that British Airways Executive Club is transfer partners with Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest, so it could make sense to put spend on one of those cards if you want to earn Avios. I’ll talk about that more below.


Redeem Avios for travel in Cathay Pacific business class

Redeeming Avios with the British Airways Visa Card

British Airways Avios are a unique points currency, given that they have a distance based award chart. This means that Avios are valuable for many types of award tickets where other programs wouldn’t be useful. Here’s British Airways’ award chart with the cost of one-way travel (all partner awards are booked at the “peak” level):

Zone // Flight DistanceEconomy
Off Peak // Peak
Premium Economy
Off Peak // Peak
Business
Off Peak // Peak
First
Off Peak // Peak
Zone 1
1-650 miles
4,000 // 4,5005,750 // 6,7507,750 // 9,00015,500 // 18,000
Zone 2
651-1150 miles
6,500 // 7,5009,500 // 11,25012,750 // 15,00025,500 // 30,000
Zone 3
1151-2000 miles
8,500 // 10,00012,750 // 15,00017,000 // 20,00034,000 // 40,000
Zone 4
2001-3000 miles
10,000 // 12,50020,000 // 25,00031,250 // 37,50042,500 // 50,000
Zone 5
3001-4000 miles
13,000 // 20,00026,000 // 40,00050,000 // 60,00068,000 // 80,000
Zone 6
4001-5500 miles
16,250 // 25,00032,500 // 50,00062,500 // 75,00085,000 // 100,000
Zone 7
5501-6500 miles
19,500 // 30,00039,000 // 60,00075,000 // 90,000102,000 // 120,000
Zone 8
6501-7000 miles
22,750 // 35,00045,500 // 70,00087,500 // 105,000119,000 // 140,000
Zone 9
7001+ miles
32,50 // 50,00065,000 // 100,000125,000 // 150,000170,000 // 200,000

There are so many great ways to redeem Avios, especially for flying shorter distances, where other programs have disproportionately high award costs. This includes shorthaul business class within Asia on Cathay Pacific, shorthaul flying within South America on LATAM, domestic travel within the lower 48 US on Alaska and American, travel between the US mainland and Hawaii on Alaska, shorthaul travel within Europe on British Airways, travel within Australia on Qantas, and much more. I find Avios to be invaluable as part of my overall miles & points strategy, as they’re useful in areas where other currencies aren’t.


Redeem Avios for travel on LATAM

British Airways Visa Card perks

The British Airways Visa Signature® Card offers some other potentially valuable perks, including:

10% off British Airways flights

Those with the British Airways Visa Card can save 10% off the cost of a roundtrip ticket originating in the US when they pay with their card and use promotion code CARDOFFERU at the time of booking. This is a fantastic way to save money on the cost of a British Airways ticket, especially as this perk can be combined with the AARP discount of up to $200 per ticket.


This perk can help save you on the cost of a British Airways ticket

Travel Together Ticket

You can receive a Travel Together Ticket valid for two years when you spend $30,000 on the card in a calendar year, which can cover the Avios component of a British Airways award ticket for a second passenger (you still have to pay taxes and carrier imposed surcharges for both passengers). While there are high fuel surcharges involved, this could represent a great deal for first & business class tickets, given how much those could cost if paying cash.


Redeeming a Travel Together Ticket for first class can be a great deal

No foreign transaction fees

The card has no foreign transaction fees, making this a great card for purchases abroad.

Best British Airways Visa Card substitutes

Typically I suggest that the best substitutes for a card are ones with similar perks, though in this case I actually think transferable points cards would be better substitutes for the British Airways Visa Signature® Card. British Airways Executive Club is transfer partners with Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest, so you could maximize your British Airways Avios by taking advantage of some of the bonus categories offered on these cards:

Bottom line

The British Airways Visa Signature® Card is relatively easy to be approved for (if you have excellent credit), has a generous sign-up bonus, and comes with some perks that more than justify the annual fee. It could be worth putting spend on the card to earn the companion ticket, but otherwise I’d generally recommend using a card like the  Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card in order to earn Avios, given the generous bonus categories.

But a lot of people should be eligible for the British Airways Visa Signature® Card, and it really does have an excellent sign-up bonus and some useful perks.

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Comments

  1. The best thing about Avios is their extended booking window, so you can actually get award flights during christmas/new-year etc, before the AAdvantage/Alaska window opens up. Even if its at a higher miles cost, atleast you get the flight you want before its snapped up.

  2. @Gene, 100% agree, I’m not paying $2,000+ in fuel surcharges plus miles in F for what’s just an OK, fairly short transatlantic flight.

  3. I would add that for short haul flights within the US lower 48, BA has eliminated the zone 1 pricing, making it less worthwhile than say intra-Asia (CX), intra-Japan (JL) or intra-Australia (QF). Minimum cost of one-way US lower 48 flights on AA is 7,500 Avios.

    A way to get around that is to transfer BAEC Avios to IberiaPlus Avios (yes BAEC and IberiaPlus is interchangeable). With IberiaPlus you can book round trip short haul travel for 11,000 Avios.

  4. @Gene @Lukas I guess this is a YMMV scenario, but I got the card when it had the 100,000 Avios bonus, earned the Travel Together ticket and now my wife and I are going from Boston to Singapore. The BOS – LHR leg is in business class (with a 3 day stopover in London) and the LHR to SIN leg is in first class. Paid <$1900 in taxes and fees.

    Hard to see how the Travel Together ticket is worth very little.

    BTW, The Avios I had left over were enough to fly to Hawaii on Alaska from PDX.

  5. Sorry Lucky, this reads like an unabashed promotional piece for this card. I’ve had this card since it first came out in the 1990s. I only keep it because it has a huge credit line on it and it’s my oldest credit card (two points which are relevant to my credit score). That being said, if I spend a few hundred dollars a year on it, that would be a lot. I have 190,000 Avios which I’ve been almost UNABLE to use (if I can use them, it isn’t more than 25,000 Avios a year at most) — although I login regularly to check to see if I can use them. The idea of adding to this total is incomprehensible. I am primarily interested in using them for American Airlines travel in North America since there are no surcharges but the interface with the AA system is terrible and time consuming. What I did learn recently is that I can transfer some of these Avios to the Iberia program (after the account has activity and has been open for at least 90 days) and that Iberia’s program allegedly has more flexibility with AA. I hope this is true. But I would NEVER recommend this card to anyone. As we say in French, “Ca ne vaut pas la peine.”

  6. I just got all my miles posted on this card and already put it to use and booked my first flights using avios. (just went for the 75k bonus) It was a lil stressful though planning a trip from CUZ-LIM-GYE-GPS. i had some other connecting legs on the front end and back end that i was still waiting for other miles to post. On the day i was doing my final booking my BA flights were there and i took screenshots, and then literally an hour later after booking my other flights they disappeared. i waited 24 hours without checking and they still werent there. I then decided to wait 72 hours without checking, which seemed like 72 days, and today they were there and I booked! For my family of 4 we got $2900 of flights on Latam for 78k avios and $230. I will take a 3.4 cents redemption.

  7. I closed my Chase BA card account about 18 months ago, after having it for many years. Do I need to wait 24 months before reapplying for the card again to get the bonus? Thanks, Nate

  8. @ Nate Gass — It’s fine if you closed the card 18 months ago, what matters is that you haven’t received the bonus in the past 24 months. So if you haven’t then you should be eligible.

  9. Greg, I agree 100%. I’ve had this card since it came out; it used a be a great product and allowed me to fly 1st Class & Concord for $100 in taxes/trip many times…Now it’s pretty much worthless. I have over 800K miles and have not flown and BA since the 2010 London blizzard debacle. My travel together vouchers keep expiring ’cause I’m not about to fork $2K in taxes for an “award” ticket. It’s really sad to have witnessed the decline of what used to be a great airline over the last 25 years.

  10. Hi, I have a question about this rule:
    “The sign-up bonus on the British Airways Visa Signature® Card is available to those who don’t currently have the card, and who haven’t received a new cardmember bonus on the card in the past 24 months.”

    The new cardmember bonus refers to the initial 50,000 miles after spending $3K in first three months? or does it refer to any part of the incremental bonus you could have received as part of their 75K, 100K tier bonus system?

    I opened the card in March 2015 (since closed), and I would be out of 24 months since receiving the first 50,000 miles, but still within 24 months if you are counting when the 75K, 100K tier bonus was paid out.

    Thank you.

  11. I find flying from west coast to London on first class with travel together voucher at about 170k miles a great deal for two people even if I have to fork over $2200 in “tax”. Now if I can find the same deal with one of those Middle East 3, sign me up! Unfortunately it doesn’t exist…. or does it? Enquiring mind wants to know!

  12. I so want to dump this card, but I have two Travel Together vouchers that I haven’t used yet, one in 2/19 and the other in 2/20. Will I lose these vouchers if I cancel the card?

  13. @meegabroad I believe the Travel Together ticket is tied to your Executive Club account and has no bearing on the card being open or closed, Just as you still would have all your Avios if you closed your credit card account.

    BTW, my wife and I are leaving on a trip to Singapore one week from today traveling in business class to LHR and then 1st class from LHR to SIN using the Travel Together ticket. Cost me less than $1800 in taxes and fees to to fly half way around the world world. I think it was a pretty good deal despite what some of these posters say.

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