|Rewards Rating:||3.9 / 5|
|Annual Percentage Rate:||1.8|
|Issuer Customer Experience||3.6|
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.
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.
New sign-up bonus
British Airways is currently offering a tiered bonus for cardholders who use the card heavily within the first year. To start, new cardholders can earn 50,000 Avios for spending $3,000 on the card in the first year. On top of that, you can earn a Travel Together Ticket if you spend $20,000 in your first year. This ticket, which is akin to Southwest’s Companion Pass, allows you to bring a companion along on flights booked with Avios and typically requires a $30,000 annual spend.
While this new offering could be very valuable if you frequently travel with a companion, it could be a downgrade if you more often fly solo and is lower than the card’s previous offering on a pure points basis. Previously, the card offered an additional 50,000 Avios after you met the $20,000 annual spending threshold – one of its highest bonuses to date.
That said, British Airways Avios are also more valuable than the average credit card point — worth around 1.4 cents per Avio, by our estimates — which means the bonus can net your around $700 in airfare with British Airways. The Travel Together Ticket could also be a terrific perk for frequent travelers. However, the $20,000 spending threshold required to earn the bonus is very high and may be beyond the means of the average cardholder.
Read on to learn more about how the Travel Together Ticket works.
Travel Together Ticket
Leaving aside the current bonus offer, the 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.
Great earning scheme
The British Airways Visa Signature Card earning scheme is above average as well. For your first 12 months, you’ll earn 5 Avios per dollar on all British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia, and Level bookings, as well as 3 Avios per dollar on direct bookings with hotels. After that, you earn 3 Avios per dollar on British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia and Level purchases and 2 Avios per dollar on direct hotel bookings. Throughout your time as a cardholder, you’ll earn 1 Avios per dollar on general 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:
- Spend $3,000 the first three months to earn the 50,000-point bonus and $20,000 in the first year to earn the Travel Together Ticket.
- 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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