9 Things I Now Love About the British Airways Visa

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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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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).

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

British Airways Visa Signature® 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.

Comments

  1. do you think you could utilise the companion ticket beyond transatlantic?

    understood it has to originate in or return to the US.

    so would say EWR-SIN-EWR work?

    if so that would present good value, especially if i opened a card in my wife’s name, and she took one child as a companion, and i travelled with a child, ie it would be four adult pax for the points req for two, and pretty close to ultimate destination Aust.

  2. While the Avios upgrade from Business to first just uses a few Avios, as mentioned, the upgrade from PE to Business also adds a premium cabin fare component. This varies from almost nothing to several hundred bucks, IME.

    Now a question: Is the CHASEBA10 also applicable to BA Holidays flights?

    Cheers.

  3. Avios upgrade from Business to First requires an additional Airline Fee of $400.00 r/t plus the additional Avios points.

  4. Having done two of these Business-to-First upgrades (one ex-US, one ex-UK) in the past few months, that was not my experience. It was like 22,000 Avoid and $0. These were the transcons. aybe flights within the UK have fees?

    As I mentioned PE->J did have fees, but not J->F.

    Cheers.

  5. Three or four years ago, the Canadian version of this card (from RBC) allowed me to book two Business Class tickets from Toronto to Beijing (returning from Hong Kong) with layovers in London both ways. Next: Japan! I’ve been telling everyone what a bargain this is. (We flew back HK-LHR on an A380 too!)

  6. So how much is the carrier imposed surcharge LAX-LHR in F?

    $2100? $4200 for two, minus $200 savings from the card?
    Even if you book them separately, to get the discriminatory higher costs for US origins vs UK origins (and get the extra $200), too rich for my blood for a subpar F.

  7. I thought about getting this card for the 30k spend bonus, which effectively adds 4 points to every dollar you spend for business class 2 for 1 redemptions. But then you can only use those tickets on BA, and frankly, I have absolutely no desire to ever fly BA biz class in its present form.

  8. Yeah, but as I sit in Glasgow waiting to find out if my effin’ BA flight will actually take off tomorrow (1 day post-strike), I care less about the benefits of my BA Visa and more about the ineptitude of British Airways

    Sigh

  9. Chase Companion cert surcharges, PHL to MUC business return, over $2700. Booked one way for two passengers, surcharges $569 ech way.

  10. Thanks Gary. IMHO unfortunately BA and chase fell quite a bit short with this update. The new rebates are not nearly meaningful enough for me to justify getting the card and start redeeming Avios for BA transatlantic flights given the exorbitant surcharges. Also, I may be mixing things up, but I was under the impression that reasons 3, 4, 5, and 7 are not actually features of the card, but rather, of the Executive Club program.

  11. Gary, I would love to know your secret for redeeming the companion reward. I have had the card for 10 years and have NEVER able to use the award. I keep the card for other reasons, but certainly not for the companion award. After trying to book at the website countless times I actually called and spoke to a CSR for two hours randomly picking destinations and various dates to no avail….have done this twice. Would love to see how you have you have made this “perk” work…just not buying it unless you are flying to an unpopular destination on a unpopular dates.

  12. It’s quite the brass neck: increasing the YQ surcharges ex-USA before introducing a much less valuable rebate. Enrich the blog with referrals if you like because that’s the only good that will come of it.

  13. That kind of mammoth spend, if I was doing it, would not go to a niche, insane carrier surcharge program. Yes Avios have some uses, and I keep some around, but until BA ends the surcharges, my interest remains limited to short haul partner flights.

  14. Don’t forget if you do a London stopover (and you have to pass thru london if you use the 241 certificate) then you want your return flight to originate somewhere outside London. Because the government taxes are massive on C/F flights that depart from London, but not so bad for connection. Do your stopover in London as part of your outbound flights.

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