|3.7 / 5
|Annual Percentage Rate:
|Issuer Customer Experience
In a Nutshell:
One of the best airline cards on the market, this super charged premium card offers frequent transatlantic flyers an accessible sign-up bonus that amply rewards heavy spenders, a plentiful point bonus on airfare, valuable travel perks and generously priced rewards points that are worth more than twice the average credit card rewards point.
75,000 Avios after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.
Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
Chase Customer Service Ratings
Other Notable Features: No foreign-transaction fee, travel and emergency assistance, lost luggage insurance, concierge service, hotel discounts and upgrades, purchase security, travel accident insurance
You might not like the $95 annual fee, but if you love saving money on travel, the British Airways Visa Signature Card from Chase is worth the price of admission. The annual fee is a small investment, considering what you get out of this product. Such perks include an excellent sign-up bonus and great earning scheme. Plus, you get one of the best frequent flyer programs in the world, with a global reach that goes beyond flying on one airline. No matter where you go in the world, Avios – the British Airways Executive Club currency – will help you get airborne even if British Airways doesn’t fly there.
Not everything about the British Airways Visa Signature Card –and the airline itself –is peachy, but savvy globetrotters know how to thrive on the “good” and steer clear of the “bad.” You can use Avios on other airlines around the world, including American Airlines in the U.S. and Canada, Alaska Airlines to fly to Hawaii, LAN Airlines in Latin America; British Airways or Aer Lingus in Europe, Cathay Pacific in Southeast Asia, Japan Airlines in Japan, and Qantas Airways in Australia.
If you don’t mind doing some research, you can learn how to redeem Avios wisely. This helps you maximize the benefits and minimize the cost. Redemption begins with just 4,500 Avios, or 7,500 Avios for flights originating or terminating in the U.S.
Simplified sign-up bonus
The latest British Airways sign-up bonus is a stripped-down version of the card’s previous offer.
You can now earn 75,000 Avios after you spend $5,000 in your first three months — a drop from the up to 100,000 Avios you could earn with the card’s previous offer. It’s worth noting, however, that the last bonus required you to spend $20,000 with the card in your first 12 months to earn the full bonus. But like the current bonus, the previous offer gave you a chance at 75,000 Avios after a $5,000 spend in the first three months.
This means that while the new bonus offers the same return on spend at the $5,000 level, it has lower total potential value. Still, the current bonus could offer solid value. Based on Bankrate’s latest airline mile valuations, which give British Airways Avios an average redemption value of around 0.7 cents per point, this bonus could be worth around $525.
If you used your Avios to book travel with a partner airline, you might get even more value out of them. Bankrate lists a higher redemption value for Avios when redeemed with some other Oneworld alliance partners, including a 1.2-cent-per-point Avios redemption value with Aer Lingus and a 1.8-cent-per-point value with Qatar Airways.
Travel Together Ticket
The British Airways Travel Together Ticket is a companion pass you earn each year after spending $30,000 on the card. This is a high spend requirement that cardholders may not be able to reach, but it’s a valuable perk if you can meet the threshold. It entitles you to a complimentary ticket for your companion when you book a flight with Avios. Of course, it’s not really “free,” because British Airways is known to add huge so-called “carrier surcharges” to your award ticket, equaling up to $1,250 per ticket.
There are other restrictions as well. You have to fly round trip from the U.S., and the companion pass is only valid on British Airways. Still, the Travel Together Ticket can be a terrific value, especially for flying business or first class on a special occasion.
Decent earning scheme
The British Airways Visa Signature Card’s earning scheme is not bad either. While many airline cards only earn bonus rewards on purchases with the airline itself, the British Airways card covers several other airlines as well as hotel bookings. You’ll earn 3 Avios per dollar on purchases with British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia, and LEVEL as well as 2 Avios per dollar on hotel rooms when purchased directly with the hotel. You’ll also earn a standard 1 Avio per dollar on all other purchases. If you frequently buy tickets on British Airways and its partner airlines, you should rack up a substantial number of Avios in no time.
High APR for a rewards card
The card comes with a variable annual percentage rate that is on the high side, even for an airline rewards card. As is the case with most rewards cards, the British Airways card is not designed for cardholders with revolving balances. If you do not intend to pay off your balance each month, you would be better served by a card with a low APR.
Other travel benefits
Aside from the generous bonus and companion ticket, the card doesn’t come with any special airline perks, such as free baggage or priority boarding. Still, it does include some useful benefits, such as car rental insurance and concierge services. You’ll also get 10% off British Airways flights starting in the US. Notably, the card doesn’t charge a foreign-transaction fee. You can use the card abroad without having to pay an extra 2 to 3 percent for the convenience, and earn some extra Avios along the way.
Why get the British Airways card?
- You frequently fly British Airways, or one of its partners.
- You want to take advantage of the British Airways Visa Signature Card’s sign-up and spending bonuses.
- You are planning a special trip in a business or first class and want to earn a companion pass.
How to use the British Airways card:
- Since British Airways Executive Club is a distance-based program, try to redeem Avios on short- and medium-haul nonstop flights for the best value.
- Avoid redeeming Avios on British Airways for long-haul flights due to the excessively high “carrier surcharges.” For flights to Europe, redeem Avios on Aer Lingus or Air Berlin.
- Use the Travel Together Ticket for flying in first or business class, where you will get a better value due to the high “carrier surcharges.”
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