How to Leverage the British Airways Visa 100,000 Point Signup Bonus for Huge Award Travel

Link: British Airways Visa with up to 100,000 point signup bonus

Last week I wrote about Chase bringing back the 100,000 point signup bonus offer on the British Airways Visa.

It requires more spending to get the full 100,000 points than last time — 50,000 points after first purchase, 25,000 additional points after $10,000 in spend within a year, and 25,000 more points after the next $10,000 in spend within a year (ie after $20,000 in spend on the card yields 100,000 points). There’s a $95 annual fee, not waived the first year.

It’s the best current credit card signup bonus out there, but the hefty spending requirements have led some commenters and some other blogs to downplay it, calling it ‘just’ a 50,000 point signup bonus.

I’m going to beg to differ, and hope to show you how you can turn this card hugely to your advantage.

In future posts I’ll write more about ways to help meet the minimum spending requirements on the card.

In this post I’ll focus on the huge value that many other folks have been missing.

  1. British Airways offers household accounts that let you pool your points, so more than one person can sign up for the card and then share the bonuses for a single award ticket.
  2. This card comes with a “free companion award ticket” after $30,000 in spend in a calendar year. That means the points you have in your account can be effectively used twice provided two passengers are traveling on the same award itinerary on British Airways.

With 50,000 – 100,000 points as a signup bonus, and two opportunities for leverage this is actually a really huge offer.

Household accounts let you pool points with up to 7 other people at the same residential mailing address. The only meaningful restriction here is that once you set up a family account, points have to be redeemed for one of the members of that family account. So if seven people join, awards must be issued for one of those seven people.

Two spouses could each sign up for the card and after first purchase there would be 100,000 points available to pool. That’s enough points for a business class ticket roundtrip from the US West Coast to London or roundtrip from New York to Buenos Aires.

Spouses and each of their two parents could sign up for the card, and if their British Airways accounts are at the same residential mailing address all six accounts could be pooled. That’s 300,000 bonus points.

But let’s just stick with the two-person example.

  • One person gets the card and makes a single purchase. That’s 50,000 points earned.

  • The second person gets the card and puts $30,000 of spend on it by the end of the year. They’ve earned the full 100,000 point bonus, and have earned 37,500 points from spending (since the card earns 1.25 points per dollar).

  • In total, they’ve earned 187,500 points and a free companion award ticket.

  • Both people could fly business class roundtrip from the U.S. to South Africa via London (with allowable stopover).

This is the only offer I’ve ever seen that would allow $30,000 in credit card spend to generate 2 business class award tickets to Africa.

I’m not a huge fan in general of the Avios program. And like most non-US frequent flyer programs they add fuel surcharges to award redemptions (including on a companion award ticket, though not when a paid ticket wouldn’t incur such charges such as on US domestic itineraries or US-South America itineraries). But even paying slightly less than the cost of a coach ticket and getting business class is a huge reward. And the leverage opportunities really make this offer unique.

(Using my link to sign up for the British Airways Visa will generate referral credit to me, which I certainly appreciate.)

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, 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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  1. Hi Gary,

    I think you might be over-valuing the BA card here. First things first, $30k is a lot of dough for me to charge on a card, and I make a pretty decent income. I have to imagine that for most of middle America, that kind of spend is simply out of the question. The only reason I could even think about it is because I can charge my rent (for a fee.)

    If I were to charge $30k, that would consist of *all* of my discretionary spend throughout the year, knocking me out of the running for any other offer with a minimum spend requirement.

    Don’t forget that you still have to pay the fuel surcharges for both pax, which amount to what, $1500/pp? Having to spend $30k *and* pay an extra $3000 for my “free” ticket hardly sounds like an outstanding value.

    That said, I used your link to grab 50k UR points from the Ink Bold offer that may soon expire. That will put me at 135,000 UR points soley from business card products from Chase (including required spend) 🙂

  2. @hobo13 Skypesos are useful for Air France business class, V Australia as the best award partner to Australia of any carrier, and for flying to Tahiti (since they partner with Air France and Air Tahiti Nui both of which fly Los Angeles – Papeete). I do not recommend Delta as a rewards program under most circumstances. However if their co-branded credit card offered 350,000 mile signup bonuses I probably would 🙂

  3. @Dan I do flag fuel surcharges in my post. And remember you and a spouse can sign up and not make more than 1 purchase, link your accounts through a household account, and you have 100,000 points. Do that with 4 people and it’s 200,000 points. Again without spending. The $30k spend is only to get the full 100k bonus AND a free companion ticket. And we’ll have to see if we can’t put together a post on ways to meet those minimum spend requirements… 🙂 But agreed in general that’s for folks with reimbursable business spend (not necessarily high incomes).

  4. Must have been Chase BA bonus day! 3 bloggers slightly over zealous about the recent ( and overall worse) offer from Chase within the hour. More blog posts to come.

  5. @Chris I have written that the past 100,000 point offers were more generous because of lower spend requirements. Folks that got in on those, great! But for anyone who did not get the 100,000 point deal when it was offered before, I suggest ways of making the absolute most of this one — it’s got real potential to be a huge opportunity for folks by leveraging household accounts (and for those who can meet the spend requirements, such as via reimbursable business expenses, by leveraging the companion award ticket that comes with the card).

  6. I know Gary. I’m just giving you a hard time.

    I agree there is still value in Avios, you just have to pick your spots.

    So how about an interpretation of that BMI email today? Star Alliance benefits will be unaffected? Seems odd.

  7. Can these BA miles be transferred to American Airlines to avoid fuel surcharges on redeemed air awards?

  8. Yes, I too agree with the ridiculous fuel surcharges. Paying $1500 for 2 tickets & 100K BA points seems to defeat the purpose of using miles. However… When paying for a long-haul biz class experience with lay-flat seats, excellent food, & great in-terminal benefits (especially at LHR), I happily pay the fee for the comfort & experience of space & relaxation on a 10+hr flight. I can meet the spend, so I find the miles in a mid-tier value in the grand spectrum of mile-collecting. I did the 100k offers. Too bad it’s not churnable

  9. I really value this blog, above all other travel blogs. That said, reasonable people can disagree and in general I find the author to be far more tolerant than myself of the hefty surcharges levied by several foreign carriers on their award tickets. For many folks, including Gary, those awards are still valuable. For me, it’s not worth the time and effort to collect the cc bonuses and then find award inventory, if we then still have to pay a couple thousand $ for two tickets.

    I’ve got a couple million miles with American carriers (stupid, need to burn them, but can’t get time off), and I’m afraid that they will follow suit and add surcharges, if it appears the non-US carriers are still able to get people to chase their miles despite their surcharges. So out of self-interest, I’d be happy to see more people ignore AC, AF, KLM, BA, Virgin and the other programs whose points essentially offer you a discount on a business class seat, far from free.

    P.S. Gary is right big-time about skypesos– they could blow it up at any time, but using the techniques described by Gary and other to find inventory, skypesos are very useful for AF business class worldwide. So many gateways from the US to Paris, and so many destinations beyond. I think the total charges for my AF business class SFO to JNB, using skypesos, was about $150, though I could be off by a bit as it was 2010.

  10. I had amassed a lot of old BA points with a trip to South Africa in mind. However the fuel surcharges are now over $1000 per person, even more if you add a stopover in London. And as noted in TravellingBetter forum, availability has all but disappeared on the route. So I really think this is not that well informed a post. One could get two of the cards, allocate a huge amount of spending to them (that could have gone elsewhere) and end up with points worthless for the purpose intended

    I do still make very good use of the avios points. I regularly travel rdu-nyc and each round trip costs $250-450 (and going up) and am almost always able to use a small amount of avios points to cover this. I am getting true 3-5cpm value and I say “real” in that these are essential cash flights I’d pay for unlike international F where nobody redeeming miles would actually be paying the prices required. So I still see value in the miles but not for the kind of trip reported here

  11. Gary, I understand this card is not easily churnable, but how about after a year or two. Like many, I got the 100,000 bonus 2 years ago, with the original offer. I canceled the card 1 year ago to avoid the fee. Any chance of getting the card and bonus again?

  12. I had this Chase BA card with 100k offer in the mid-2009. Can I get this card with bonus again?

  13. @Phil I actually disagree on availability. Now, I should have said Africa and BA serves several destinations in Africa, they even have a subsidiary operating there. There’s also not just Johannesburg but also Capetown. Separately fuel surcharges are not higher with a stopover in London, a stopover in London triggers the Airline Passenger Duty (APD) also sometimes referred to as the premium cabin departure tax.

    I believe the leverage strategy is huge, it applies of course to any destination that BA serves, and 187k would thus work for two passengers in first class West Coast US to Europe, etc.

  14. The fees do it for me, I feel like we are encouraging this behavior by the airlines if we use their cards to get miles. I would rather get a card from an airline that doesn’t charge the crazy fuel surcharges.

  15. I got into the 100K deal back last year and enjoyed redeeming them on AA flights within US. 20k miles/ticket from MSP to MIA was great and I paid no fees whatsoever for cancelling 4 tickets that I had bought when they had the 25k redemption rule (before switching to miles base)within 2 days of the trip and was able to rebook same flights within 3 minutes for the low miles – lost just the $5/tx tax but saved 20k miles for a future ticket. Would not use them for Int’l travel though due to the sky-high fuel surcharges… Great deal if you want to fly AA planes shorthaul within US last minute. Thanks Gary.

  16. Folks should always map out how they will use miles before getting a card or seeking a bonus. Especially true for Chase BA Visa. Do a dry run, looks for flights going where you want to go, find the fees and see if availability is an issue.

    Gary’s post isn’t meant to be all-inclusive but one really needs to understand the limitations on those 2-4-1 vouchers. BA metal only means every trip to Europe goes through London, and severely limits useable flight to some markets.

    I took a BA business class flight from SFO to LHR last month. Lounges on both ends were spectacular. 747 did not have lie flat bed and I found the pods not that great. Dinner was way overcooked and service was ok at best. Better than any US carrier in total but worth another $300 per ticket each way? Not even close.

  17. @Gasry have you checked availability recently? It used to be very easy to get 4 seats in F on this route pretty much year round other than around Christmas and January. Now I cannot find 2 seats at any time of the year. I have not tried J, but J used to be tighter than F (given, presumably, they actually are able to sell more J than F). I recall a lengthy thread on TravellingBetter AA Forum with JonNYC complaining about vaporizing availability. IB also removed their flight to JNB reducing further OW award options. Well aware of both JNB and CPT as options but I don’t see them very open these days

    Last time I priced it out the surcharges were coming to over $6k for a family of four. Too rich for me. You are right that the stopover in London is additional taxes, but the point is still valid that if you use this for a trip to Africa with a stopover in London, you are going to be paying a LOT of cold hard cash for the pleasure of doing so. Caveat emptor.

    @Sam – are you sure that was BA??? BA has had a flat bed in all business class cabins for more years than I can remember.

  18. Phil-

    Maybe I’m confused on terms. The pod I had in business on a 747 may have had a bed that went flat, but when it did so, it pushed my feet forward into the wall of the pod in front of me. I’m 5′ 10″, and to have the bed as flat as it went, I had to bend my legs a fair amount. I walked around the cabin, upstairs and down, and most of the other Club World passengers were also sleeping with bent legs.

    So maybe those are “flat bed” by definition but I just don’t like to sleep scrunched up like that.

  19. I had two BA cards (wfie and I) last year and for 200K. We found th BA fuel charges to be to high ($750 per ticket). We ended up suing them for a Cathay flight to Bali which was a great use of miles. The offer is a good one but as another commentor stated have a clear plan on how to use the miles and if on BA be prepared for thos fuel surcharges

  20. @Phil I had not read the traveling- better thread. I did just book someone on the route this week. Business is harder than first to be sure and harder than a year ago also. But there’s still plenty of premium cabin availability in the searches I’ve done. I have NOT been looking for 4 passengers on a given flight, however, I rarely saw that in the same cabin before on LHR-JNB or CPT (could often do 2 first, 2 business in the past). I would frequently see 4 first class award seats LHR-NBO on a given flight. Haven’t searched 4 passengers recently but that also was not my claim in the post.

    Booking an award like this through a non-US frequent flyer program (or trough AA if booking on BA metal) incurs lots of expensive charges. I point that out in this post and in every post I make on this and similar programs, it’s a frequent area that I complain about. But I still consider this an amazing value for what you get.

    I do not, however, think it’s fair to complain about the UK taxes on a LHR stopvoer as though that’s somehow related to the British Airways Executive Club. That’s something that applies regardless of airline or frequent flyer program. It’s even something that AA has collected on upgrades, and United has started recently collecting on upgrades. A LHR stopover bumps the cash cost, but that has nothing to do with the frequent flyer program or this offer.

  21. @Sam BA long haul business class seats ARE lie flat. Much better than the current business class offerings of Lufthansa or Air France. The food and service are mediocre, however.

  22. @Gary, no but LHR and BA are inextricably linked, I go out of my way to avoid LHR because of its fees. Would rather take SA to JNB or LH via FRA and spend the savings on hotels.

  23. @Nick connecting (rather than doing a stopover) at LHR does NOT incur the departure tax/passenger duty though.

  24. Let me get this straight…

    BA gives us hundreds of thousands of monkey points in return for tens of thousands of dollars in spending just so we can pay thousands more for “free” tickets that pass through one of the world’s most expensive and congested hubs?

    Oh, but if we look closely enough there might be a way to carefully fish a few tiny gems out of this massive cow patty of a club. We just have to be willing to devote almost everything we spend for the next year on this one card and/or rope in several other people to join us along the way.

    This post has all the hallmarks of a dare by another blog author to see just how many traps and pitfalls you can get frequent travelers to willingly navigate for nothing more than a discount on a premium cabin.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m not upset with Gary. I just wish he had let us in on the joke from the start.

  25. Nick said: The fees do it for me, I feel like we are encouraging this behavior by the airlines if we use their cards to get miles. I would rather get a card from an airline that doesn’t charge the crazy fuel surcharges.

    Couldn’t agree more, Nick. If we all want to pay surcharges on AA, United, US, etc., the best way to bring that about is for them to see BA get away with doing it. If we don’t want this to end up everywhere, the best way to prevent that is to boycott the airlines doing it. And yes, I’m also calling on those extremely experienced, knowledgeable, and flexible people like Gary, who can find ways to jump thru the hoops to find worthwhile awards, to join the rest of us in this. Don’t like surcharges? Then don’t reward the airlines that charge them by flying with them.

    Gary, if I’m not your biggest fan/most grateful reader, then I’m at least in the top five. But in this case, I most humbly request that you not encourage people to patronise BA, or any other airline that charges these absurd fees.

  26. For those who disparage the BA card offer and BA generally, I have 2 questions:

    1. What card churning strategy would you suggest instead for 2 people wanting to go from the USA to S. Africa in business or first class on another airline?

    2. For someone currently holding approx. 180,000 avios points and a companion voucher, what destinations from the US on BA metal would you suggest instead of CPT or JNB?

  27. It’s probably more accurate to look at the pay-off from this card (as outlined above) as two free upgrades from economy to business class, rather than two free business class tickets. That’s because you still have to pay more-or-less the economy class fare.

    Considered as two system wide upgrades instead of two free business class tickets, the offer doesn’t look quite as rewarding.

    Is that a reasonable way of looking at things?

  28. LarryInNYC: I think you really hit the nail on the head. You’re receiving a few SWU’s for something like thirty grand in spending. Still sound like a good deal? Not to me it doesn’t. Then again, if enough people buy into this heavily devalued joke, maybe offers like this will eventually become the best sort of deal we’re all stuck with. Won’t that just be grand?

  29. Gary,
    We just got our 50k points each from Chase Saphire, which we can transfer to British. Can we open this British Airways Chase for each of us, get 50k each again and combine the points together?
    THank you!

  30. Gary,
    We got the cards in January, and points in April. two months from what point?

  31. @Like from approvals. You should be good. You may get declined but can presumbly call the Chase reconsideration line and get them to re-allocate credit lines to approve the card.

  32. While this offer sucks compared to previous BA cards, I think you just have to evaluate its value proposition for your individual circumstances. We all read these blogs in order to figure out how to best game the system, and this is no different. So whether it’s for shorthaul AA trips, West Coast trips to Hawaii, or flying Aer Lingus to Ireland, you just hafta find a way to use their rules against them.

  33. Gary-

    BA Club World seats may be “lie flat”, but most bodies will not, for the reasons I detailed in post #23 above.

    And I respect your opinion that BA business class is better than LH or AF but I’m keeping mine that the difference is not worth $600 or more of extra cost, cssh out-of-pocket to go rt TATL.

  34. Gary…

    Thanks for the update. We use our credit cards for brewery purchases and are always able to hit the spend requirements quickly. My Dad was able to book two first class flights to SA!

    Love your blog and all your travel advice!


  35. Btw, there is a better offer (for most people) that has a $75 annual fee and gives 50,000 miles each year, no spend. It’s discussed on FT. I figure you’re the one that promotes the “better offers” in the blogger world and might want to know.

  36. @TravelisFree – link please? I very much appreciate being told when there are better offers, and if this is available with a lower fee I want to know about it, but it’s no much use to me if the note doesn’t include the link 🙂 Thanks!

    (Are you referring to the offer that some people can get when buying a British Airways ticket, that gives you points beyond the initial 50,000 after a year and when you pay a second annual fee? That offer will be accessible for some and better for some but I have not successfully recreated it myself. So net $55 higher fee since you’ll pay the fee twice, you don’t have to spend $20k to get the full 100k but you do have to wait a year.)

  37. Yea. That’s what I’m referring to. But you don’t actually need to buy the ticket. There’s a FT thread on it. I think it shows based on personal info. Just put in my name and age and it will show. :-p
    But for sure, its not for everyone. If you’re going after the companion pass and spending $30k anyways, its no difference and you’d take the higher fee for one year instead of two.
    But on the flip side (for those who don’t have their own mint) paying $55 more is not a big deal if you wouldn’t be able to meet the $20,000 spend.
    YMMV right?

  38. I see that BA awards are bookable on now. I tested finding a trip for 2 LHR-JNB and could not find anything for the entire bookable window. ONE outbound available one day in Feb, with no return available. F is more open but not good at all either. Award availability on this route IS POOR. Seems you got a lucky one if you just did it. BTW doing JFK-JNB in F for two is $3080 in YQ – LO-freakin-l!

  39. Gary what dates are you seeing? Plugging in LHR-JNB one way for two adults in J starting tomorrow and going out as far as the calendar goes shows:

    Availability for the next 5 days. Interestingly suggests the route may open up last minute
    May 2nd, 16th, 18th
    then nothing until March 2nd, 7th, 8th, 9th, 12th, 15th, 16th, 19th. That’s as far out as it goes

    SO basically good availability right at the tail ends of the award calendar, and pretty much nothing in between.

    I mean it may not be as bad as say looking for LAX-SYD but this is not what I would call good availability.

    F is certainly better but I can’t afford to pay $6k for family of four, even though I recognize that coach would likely be $4k at least for four of us (we’d just never do it)

  40. @Phil I didn’t do it today, rather after your query earlier, I plugged in a random date – I looked at mid-February, and at the time there were premium seats about half the days when looking out a month. Then looked at other routes like NBO which had decent avalability. Now, things could have changed since then, I didn’t re-verify today. And I wasn’t drawing a distinction between business and first, as I say just looking for premium seats which were available half the dates I looked for a month. Also haven’t verified that is showing everything that was available to BA miles either, the AA site is still new and I haven’t played with it a ton yet…

  41. @Gary – fair enough. I just think that availability has genuinely dried up on this route other than as pointed out at the ends of the calendar. Maybe when you checked the end of the calendar was Feb. And as mentioned some respected posters such as JonNYC are reporting that availability has evaporated. I recall it used to be wide open.

  42. @Phil I checked February when you posted, was it last week or the week before? Availability isn’t what it once was, and first is sure easier to score than business. Some of that specifically on the JNB route may be due to Iberia pulling its flight. It may be cyclical. But there’s still availability to Africa, just not wide open for tons of people every day 🙂

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