Last Chance for 100,000 British Airways Miles for Credit Card Signup, and Is It Time to Burn Those Miles Fast?

There are 5 days left to apply for the Chase British Airways Visa and receive a 100,000 mile signup bonus, an offer which expires on May 6th.

It’s a phenomenal offer. For instance, 100,000 British Airways miles can be used for a business class ticket on Cathay Pacific from New York to Bali via Hong Kong (with an allowable stopover). 80,000 British Airways miles can be used for, say, New York or Miami in business class on LAN all the way to Easter Island, with a stopover in South America in each direction (perhaps in Santiago and Buenos Aires). What’s more, those awards minimize the fuel surcharges that British Airways does charge on award tickets.

But how long will these great value British Airways awards last? I don’t have any definitive information. There are some really good value awards like US to Asia on Cathay Pacific or Japan Airlines, or LAN or American to South America (and Easter Island is included in that region!). There are also some crazy expensive awards. British Airways double the coach price for business and triples the coach price for first class. US to Africa is thus 90,000 miles in coach, 180,000 in business, and 270,000 in first. Australia is over 400,000 per person in first class. Could those awards ever get more expensive? (That’s a rhetorical question…)

Still, British Airways has been printing an increasing number of miles, given away inexpensively, in the recent months. And it’s been quite awhile since they’ve significantly adjusted their award chart. When it’s been awhile, I tend to think it won’t be awhile until it happens again. When an airline prints cheap miles, I assume that they will want to balance things out on the cost (redemption) side.

So I’m sort of expecting some of the better value awards to go away.

British Airways now gives full miles credit on discount fares, something that they won a Frequent Traveler Award for doing, the concept of “one miles equals one mile” is a foreign one to European and Asian programs generally. And British Airways has been offering big bonuses, though these are examples in the US and that’s not the major market for their mileage sales, it makes for good and familiar examples — lucrative bonuses such as the 40% transfer bonus from American Express Membership Rewards that ran in February and March, and this 100,000 mile British Airways Visa bonus.

Now, I still think the 100,000 mile signup bonus is a great offer. And it’s a good card, $30,000 in spend earns a companion award ticket and the card has no foreign currency transaction fees, it’s a Visa earning 1.25 miles per dollar spent. It comes with a $7595 annual fee, though the fuel surcharges are unpopular and they can’t really be minimized when using the companion award ticket since it can only be ued on British Airways metal.

But my suggestion is to use the British Airways miles you accumulate sooner rather than later for some of these great awards, because while I don’t know when the price of awards may go up I am confident it will go up at some point. The future will see higher award prices than the present. (And when the BA chart goes up, it might be a similar timeframe in which the American AAdvantage chart gets adjusted, might, and I don’t really anticipate American Airliens devaluation this year in their 30th year so my best guess for that program is next year, they haven’t done an adjustment in awhile either…).

Bring in those miles, use ’em, and earn more later. Always the best advice, and especially so when an airline is printing lots of cheap miles after not having adjusted their award chart in awhile, and I’m certainly hearing plenty of unconfirmed buss about the possibility..

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. Thanks for this and great tips yesterday at FT University! In your title, did you mean to put chance instead of change? Also, just got my card yesterday and annual fee is $95, not $75–is there another version of the card that’s only $75/year?

  2. @Hilary yes sorry about the title, that’s been fixed. Sorry for the typo on the fee, I noted $95 in an earlier post it’s an increase over the old fee that I internalized in my mind…

  3. I applied and was “pended”. Does anyone know who I can call to try to convince them to approve me?

    Thank you

  4. Just tried to apply for BA card, didn’t get instant approval, first time that has happened in my nearly 2 years of playing this game. Within last year have successfully gotten two other chase cards (continental, Priority Club Rewards), so maybe Chase will turn me down for too many applications. I also just applied and got last week a new Starwood AmEx biz card, so maybe recent activity on the credit report looks bad (though I have perfect credit history). Will call Chase, figure I should emphasize my great credit, desire for the card, willingness to lower credit limits on my other chase cards. Any other advice?

  5. I applied,didn’t get instant approval (“pended”), but the card showed up unexpectantly after 2 weeks and was followed by an email confirmation that “my cc application was approved” 3 days later!!! Kind of backwards and slow, but hey…finally got it!Check you online Chase account if you have other chase ccs as it will show in there before the card arrives in the mail. good luck!

  6. Hey, now link today (May 6) is showing only 50K miles (25K on first spend, 25K after $2500). Did I just miss the window?

  7. I got this award the last time it was offered. Cost me $75 but then when I booked my flight, the taxes and fees came to over $400! So, beware. An offer that seems too good to be true often is.

  8. I just got the 100K miles from my new BA credit card. They even posted the last 50K bonus miles before the agreement said they would. 🙂

    I am currently looking to book a rewards flight to Australia from LAX (80K miles on their partner Qantas according to BA’s website), but have found that when I get to the stage when I have found a flight that works with my schedule and am ready to book, British Airways adds their $500 fuel surcharge. I thought that I would avoid this surcharge by booking on a partner airline as many of your other readers have noted. Is this still the case? If so, is there a special way to get around the BA charge? (e.g. going directly through qantas’ website?)

    Also, do you know if Qantas/BA releases awards flights very far in advance or waits until the last minute? (i am looking for March 2012 and am having some trouble finding available flights)

    Thank you!

  9. @Hilary Qantas releases seats both far in advance and last minute, try all routes including the new DFW/SYD flight. But it’s one of the toughest awards to get. Partners don’t avoid fuel surcharges, but some partners are lower than others, for instance roundtrip first class Cathay Pacific cost me about $300 all-in for taxes and fees, South America fees are quite low. Europe is high too.

  10. Good advice ! Just yesterday I drained
    the last 150K BA miles (well, balance is 25)
    from our family account for AUS-PEK-AUS in AA F.

    OK, OK, I coulda shoulda done CX from West Coast,
    but I did that last year (incredible suite, of course),
    but originating from home is good.

    The $550 in taxes bummed me out
    until I remembered to charge them to my Cap1 card. 🙂

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