One thing I love about the British Airways Visa 100,000 point signup bonus offer is how it makes the program really focal and has folks figuring out how to make the most of the points.
The British Airways program was pretty much gutted back in November. They promised that 97% of routes would have the same points cost after they revamped the program but it turned out the part they didn’t say was that would apply only to non-stops from London.
Each flight is now priced as a separate award, with longer distances more expensive. And like most non-U.S. programs, fuel surcharges can be a killer.
My own take on maximizing the credit card signup bonus is to set up a family account and then have multiple people sign up for the card so that you effectively get a bunch of 50,000 point bonuses after first purchase on each card, and can pool the points towards a single award ticket. And for those in a position to hit $30,000 in spend on the card in a calendar year, they not only get the full 100,000 points (earned after $20,000 in spend within 12 months) but also a companion award ticket so that the full bonuses can be effectively used twice.
There are other strategies of course — flying short distances, since those awards are cheap, and finding routes and airlines where the fuel surcharges are lowest or non-existent. (Note that if using a companion ticket, all flights must be on British Airways on not on oneworld or other partners.)
Here are a few strategies to make the most of points while minimizing fuel surcharges:
- Aer Lingus: Fuel surcharges are very low, can be less than $30 roundtrip, and availability is excellent for US to Ireland. Lucky has done absolute yoeman’s work on this. Boston to Dublin or Shannon runs just 25,000 points roundtrip in coach, 50,000 points roundtrip in business. New York or Chicago non-stop to Ireland 40,000 points roundtrip in coach, 80,000 roundtrip in business. If the seats show available on the United MileagePlus award search engine, it should be available by phone from British Airways.
- US domestic: American and Alaska don’t add fuel surcharges to domestic tickets, so neither does British Airways. Short-haul tickets are a great value, with awards starting at 4500 points each way. West Coast US to Hawaii runs just 25,000 points roundtrip in coach.
- US to South America: American and LAN both offer service, and fuel surcharges don’t’ exist on these routes. Miami – Lima is just 50,000 points roundtrip. But non-stop awards to South America are generally a value, such as 100,000 points for New York JFK – Buenos Aires in business again with no fuel surcharges.
- Intra-Europe: Active members of the British Airways program have fees capped. Prior to that it was frequently the case that intra-Europe tickets could have fees that were higher than the cost of a paid ticket (since the deepest discount fares would often have discounted fuel surcharges as well, while the fuel surcharges on award tickets were higher). I find that one-way awards intra-Europe are often high, especially on roués without direct low cost competition, Europe is one of the strange places that still forces one-way tickets into full fare buckets. So I find I frequently buy roundtrips and throwaway the return.
- Intra-South America: There are plenty of expensive routes where LAN redemptions are a value and without fuel surcharges.
- Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong and for Intra-Asia: Fuel surcharges tend to be relative low on this route. Though long-haul travel is more points, you at least have fuel surcharges that aren’t mind blowing, less than half of a flight rom North America to London. Intra-Asia the fees tend to be quite low and short distances mean points values as well.
- Flying to Brazil to start your trip. Not my cup of tea, but Million Mile Secrets walks through how to go to Brazil first on your award (which doesn’t involve fuel surcharges) and then flying anywhere you wish on a ticket that originates there, since doing so avoids fuel surcharges as well.
What other ways have you found to limit fuel surcharges on British Airways awards?
(Note that the the British Airways Visa 100,000 point signup bonus offer provides a referral credit to me if you use my link, which I greatly appreciate.)