British Airways Visa Takes On Award Surcharges With New Statement Credit

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Chase has announced two major changes to the British Airways Visa Signature® Credit Card, without taking anything away: faster earning and taking on high taxes and fees on awards. The important takeaway is that the card will let you redeem British Airways Avios with less of a blow from the carrier’s surcharges. As a result, the card can add value even when you’re redeeming transferred Chase or American Express points.

Faster Earning for Spend

The card now offers 3 Avios per $1 spent with British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia, and LEVEL; 2 Avios per $1 spent on hotel purchases booked directly with the hotel; and 1 Avios per $1 spent on all other purchases.

New Statement Credit for Flight Taxes and Fees

The British Airways Visa will give you up to $600 in statement credits each year for flight taxes and fees (3 credits a year up to $200 each)

  • $200 for a reward flight in business or first
  • $100 for a reward flight in economy or premium economy


British Airways First Class

British Airways has reduced economy surcharges on some North America routes to as low as $65. Indeed, New York – London Heathrow one way now has a total of $93.70 in taxes and fees. This card’s statement credit would rebate it all.

Business and first class surcharges are much higher. Since the rebate is capped at $200, it may make sense to break up your award into two one ways and use it twice for the same trip.

No Cuts to Existing Benefits

The card’s inital bonus lets you earn 100,000 Avios: 50,000 Avios after $3,000 spent within the first three months and another 50,000 Avios after $20,000 spent in total purchases in the first year. It also gives you a promo code or 10% off British Airways tickets when you pay with the card.

And spending on the card can get you a companion award ticket for just the taxes and fees. The basic rules for the travel together ticket are:

  • Each calendar year that you spend $30,000 on your British Airways Visa Signature Card, you earn a Travel Together Ticket valid for two years. Travel must begin by the expiration date of the certificate.
  • Since the vouchers are valid for two years, if you earn one in each calendar year it is possible to have two vouchers in your account at the same time. You can use both on the same trip so that four passengers can travel for the mileage cost of two awards (plus taxes and fees).
  • You can earn only one companion award ticket per British Airways Visa primary account. Spending $60,000 on the card does not earn two.
  • All travel must originate in or return to the US.
  • The person who earns the voucher (the visa cardholder) must be one of the passengers on the award ticket.
  • Only flights on British Airways aircraft may be used on the award.
  • Regular award space must be available for all passengers.

It’s great to see changes to a card that make it more attractive. I still feel spend, beyond earning the initial bonus, makes sense on other cards. However getting up to $600 a year in statement credits when redeeming awards is a big increase in value.

British Airways Visa Signature® Credit Card

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Editorial note: any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. Comments made in response to this post are not provided or commissioned nor have they been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any bank. It is not the responsibility of any advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either. Terms and limitations apply to all offers.

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Comments

  1. @Gary

    If my wife has the BA credit card and uses it to pay for fees/taxes for my award flight, but only I fly, will she still get the statement credit?

  2. For convenience alone, BA has become our go to airline for flights to Europe from SAN. We always use the free companion for FC seats. These changes are awesome. How often do CC issuers Add value rather than take it away? Thanks for the head’s up.

  3. If the fuel credits do indeed work on one ways this might actually get me to keep this card. It was on the chopping block due to the increased fuel surcharges on J and especially F.

  4. I wonder how the statement credit for taxes will be applied for a travel together ticket in first. 2x $200 or just $200 as it is charged as one amount (even as the fees/taxes/surcharges/…. are charged twice)

  5. I’m starting to see cracks in BA’s bullheaded insistence on these outrageous “because we can, dummy” fees (which have nothing to do with “fuel”). First they reduced them somewhat on some tickets, now this. Keep up the pressure. From time to time they ask me to do a survey, and I always emphasize that I do not fly BA because of their fees.

  6. @DaveS

    Not so sure I see the same on the cracks. The raised round-trip fuel surcharges $200 in J and $600 in F last year ex-US. This brings us more or less back to where we were give or take. Still a nice development for sure. And of course there is the fee for selecting seats in J to account for as well which often hovers around $200 per person per leg long haul.

  7. I agree with philco.
    On a round trip in F using the companion pass the savings are only $200. The increase last year was $2400 on that same ticket. This better but not much of a reduction.

  8. This is a good development, but still doesn’t move the meter. Getting $400 off of the exorbitant “fees” charged for the redemption of two business class tickets on BA still leaves you with BA’s old business class, many more miles than AA, and a hefty outlay. Better to book another airline. BA would tip this equation if they’d just lower the fees down to $250 or so, then their antiquated business seats could be rationalized against the slightly higher outlay of cash to AA, et. al. even with their higher mileage requirement, since their availability is good.

    A single Club World ticket from SFO->LHR->SFO is 125,000 Avios plus $1586. Knocking that down to $1386 is appreciated, but essentially maintaining a ripoff. No thanks.

    I just had $30,000 worth of remodeling done, and before this development I consciously made the decision to place it on a cash back card rather than my BA Visa, even though I would have gotten the Fly Together certificate. $3000 is just too much to shell out for a “Free” trip, when the competition lets you do it for a couple hundred. $2600 is, too.

  9. I agree with this:

    On a round trip in F using the companion pass the savings are only $200. The increase last year was $2400 on that same ticket. This better but not much of a reduction.

    If not for the fuel surcharges, two-for-one in first class would be the best credit card offer of all. But around $3000 in surcharges to save maybe 160,000 Avios on the second ticket isn’t much of a deal at all. I wouldn’t spend two cents to buy one Avios, so why should I pay that much in fuel surcharges to save one Avios?

    The only good thing that I can say about this option is that you actually can find two first-class award seats JFK-LHR on many days, which is more than I can say for American or United. (And if Delta actually still had a first class, I’m sure that it would cost 100000000000000000000+ Skymiles per ticket.)

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