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With Chase having just unveiled big changes to the British Airways Visa Signature® Card I like it much more than before, in large measure because it can be $600 a year more rewarding than it used to be. That, combined with other big benefits like a rich initial bonus and a companion award ticket you can earn make it worth considering.
I just booked British Airways award travel myself, the Austin – London Heathrow flight frequently has great award availability and I love getting off an international flight and heading straight home. Now that I have a young daughter being able to book an infant on an award without paying 10% of the fare (BA requires just 10% of the miles and fees) is great too.
Here are 9 things that I love about the card — you may be surprised to learn that it goes beyond just the signup offer, although of course that’s number one.
- Earn up to 100,000 Avios: The card’s offer is set up to encourage you to get the card, earn points, spend more on it and earn a lot more bonus points. New cardmembers can 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.
That sounds like a lot of spending to earn the full bonus and frankly it’s a great card to get even if you were going to stop at 50,000. However most people don’t realize how much they spend on credit cards each month, or do the math to multiply that out across a year.
It’s also much easier to put a lot of spend on a credit card than you may realize – put all your spending on credit cards (even rent, car payments using Plastiq), prepay your bills, quarterly taxes, reimbursable business expenses for instance. And the reason it’s worth it to focus here is because of the ways to leverage the offer.
- Up to $600 Back Each Year When You Redeem Awards. The card now offers a statement credit for taxes and fees when redeeming British Airways Avios for BA transatlantic flights originating in the U.S. You can get up to $600 a year rebated (3 credits a year up to $200 each).
- Use for Short-Distance Flights Short distance flying in Europe, Asia, and domestically in Australia is super cheap – starting at just 6000 Avios each way. American Airlines domestic first class starts at 16,500 Avios each way, much cheaper than American for medium-distance flights.
- First Class Upgrades on British Airways Upgrades from business class to first class cost just the miles of a coach award ticket with no cash co-pay. I’ve even upgraded British Airways sale fares booked using the AARP discount.
British Airways First Class
- Easy Upgrades from Premium Economy to Business Class One of the unique things about British Airways is that they have really good award availability. They even tend to make sure premium cabin awards are loaded with each flight as their schedule loads, something they promised would last for a short period of time years ago but has largely continued.
Upgrades are made available from the same inventory as awards. You can upgrade from premium economy to business class with really good availability and no cash co-pay and for the difference in miles between a premium economy award and business which is often a very modest premium.
- Spend $30,000 in a Year on the Card, Double the Effectiveness of Your Points: $30,000 in spend each year earns a ‘Travel Together’ companion award ticket which allows you to book two passengers on an award ticket for the mileage price of one award. (You still pay taxes and fees for both passengers, but you stretch your points because you only pay miles for one.)
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. And only flights on British Airways aircraft may be used on the award with regular award space available for both passengers.
Earn the card’s full bonus and spend $30,000 in your first year on the card and you’ll have both 130,000 British Airways Avios and a Travel Together ticket. That’s more than enough for two passengers to fly roundtrip business class between New York, DC, or Chicago and London for instance.
There aren’t many card offers that can be leveraged into two roundtrip business class transatlantic tickets with a single bonus.
- Family Pooling of Points: British Airways offers family accounts, you can combine points from up to 7 different accounts and spend them all together towards a single award (which can then be leveraged further with a Travel Together companion award).
You and a partner could each get the card. After meeting the minimum spend for to earn the full bonus on each card, you’d have a total of 240,000 Avios. Even though these are split between two different accounts, you can spend them on one award ticket as though they were in a single account if you link the accounts together.
British Airways First Class
- Earn more while you’re spending. That big up front bonus and companion award ticket require spend which has just become more lucrative than it used to be. 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.
- 10% discount on British Airways flights Cardmembers fly for less on paid tickets using promo code CHASEBA10. Currently this is available for flights booked through March 31, 2011 and travel through March 31, 2022. All flights have to be on British Airways flights (not partners or codeshares). Readers have reported success paying with another Chase card in conjunction with this discount code, but it’s supposed to require paying with the BA card.
British Airways like most frequent flyer programs outside the US does add fuel surcharges to awards,
though they’re cheaper to some destinations (like Asia, South America) than others (Europe) and the new tax and surcharge credit from the card helps. They don’t add close-in booking fees to awards so using their points can be cheaper than using American AAdvantage miles, even leaving the number of points required aside.
If you don’t have enough points from this card alone, you can transfer points to top off a British Airways account at one-to-one from a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card which is offering 60,000 points after $4000 spend within 3 months. These points can be transferred instantly once earned. American Express Membership Rewards transfers instantly to BA as well.