Looking at the numbers, the Chase British Airways Visa Signature card is one of the best travel rewards cards on the market today. First thing that might jump out at you is the rate at which spending earns rewards: you get 2.5 miles per $1 spent on British Airways and 1.25 miles per $1 spent on all other purchases. This is significantly higher than the standard rate that you see on virtually all other airlines cards, usually 2 miles per $1 of airline purchases and 1 mile per $1 spent everywhere else.
The second thing you’ll probably notice is that sweet sign-up bonus of 50,000 Avios miles after spending $2000 in the first 3 months. Unfortunately, the legendary 100,000 bonus miles sign-up offer hasn’t been seen for two years, so we don’t recommend holding your breath for it. Still, 50,000 miles is enough for a round-trip ticket to Europe, with some exceptions. For example, Spain, Portugal, and eastern Europe award flights cost slightly more, around 60,000 miles.
However, with British Airways there is a slight catch. Well, more like a massive bear trap. Charging taxes and fees on award flights is pretty standard practice, but British Airways is notorious for having some of the worst ones. The fees easily reach $500 and up. From their own fine print, you can expect a round-trip flight from Seattle to London to rack up $682-$1250 for a coach ticket. At that rate, the discount you’re getting from the full fare (typically around $1100) doesn’t amount to much.
Probably the best way to use Avios miles is to book with partner airlines to avoid these high fees. For instance, you can transfer to American Airlines for slightly better domestic rates than AA offers. Even going to Hawaii or Central/South America is a better deal with Avios miles. Just be aware that for flights going to the UK, you don’t have the option of flying with a partner.
Big spenders will also enjoy receiving a Travel Together Ticket after spending $30,000 in a calendar year. This voucher is good for two years from when you receive it and allows you to get a companion ticket in addition to your award flight for 0 additional miles. The companion flight has to share your itinerary and can only be used if you’ve redeemed the award flight on the main British Airways, not their partners. This isn’t exactly a free ticket, either. It’s still subject to those atrocious fees.
So, the British Airways Visa card is by no means perfect, but it’s still one of the best offers of the year. Although it doesn’t come with a long list of airline-specific perks, it does sport no foreign transaction fee, for the serious traveler. And right now, for the first time, the $95 annual fee is waived for the first year. This offer is only good until the end of this September, so if it titillates you, by all means jump on it. Check out our guide to the details below.
- Annual Fee: $95, waived for first year
- Foreign Transaction Fee: $0
- APR: var 15.24%
- APR for Balance Transfers: var 15.24%
- Balance Transfer Fee: 3%
- APR for Cash Advance: var 19.24%
- Cash Advance Fee: 5%
- Late Fee/Returned Payment Fee: up to $35
- Over Credit Limit Fee: $0
- Penalty APR: var 29.99%, applies with late/returned payment or exceeding credit limit
- Bonus: 50,000 miles after spending $2,000 in first 3 months
- 2.5 miles per $1 spent on British Airways purchases
- 1.25 miles per $1 spent on all other purchases
- Miles Worth: Varies
- Rewards Limit: None
- Rewards Expiration: None
- Redeem Rewards For: Award flights or partners
- $0 Fraud Liability Protection
- Purchase Protection: Yes
- Travel Insurance: Yes
- Rental Car Insurance: Yes
- Extended Warranty: Yes
- Customer Service: Yes
So, with this card you can easily get 50,000 bonus miles. Use them to pay for a round-trip ticket to Europe or simply transfer them to American Airlines or another partner to avoid high fees and get better award rates. Then enjoy earning a higher-than-average amount of miles for the spending you were going to do anyway!
Don’t forget to check out our list of the best travel credit cards and best rewards credit cards.