For those who missed out on last year’s amazing, incredible, 100,000-mile signup bonus for the British Airways Visa (the first true megabonus offer, pre-dating the 100k bonus from Citibank and American), they’ve come out with a new 50,000-mile signup bonus for the card. Well worth doing in its own right. 50,000 miles for a $75 annual fee is a pretty good deal.
And what’s more, they’ve actually improved the card.
Chase introduced the elimination of foreign currency transaction fees with their Priority Club Visa. That was a really interesting innovation, but earning 1 Priority Club point per dollar is just not an attractive reward proposition. Then they rolled out the benefit with the new Hyatt Visa, and that became a really worthwhile card as a result — a valuable reward currency in Hyatt Gold Passport points and the ability to spend abroad without taking it on the chin with the foreign currency fees. That made the Hyatt card one of the 2-3 best Visas, and a good second card for the wallet.
Now Chase has rolled out no foreign currency transaction fees with the British Airways card. Last night at the Frequent Traveler Awards the Hyatt folks were telling me about the customer surveys, that this benefit really was off the charts with potential cardmembers. And it’s certainly understandable. So by adding it to the British Airways card, Chase has come up with the first airline co-branded card without any foreign currency transaction fees.
It’s also a perfectly good card for everyday spend for travelers looking for some very specific rewards – the free companion award ticket (redeem one award on British Airways metal, get a second award for no additional points) after $30,000 in spend, earning 1.25 miles per dollar instead of the standard one. And though the British Airways award chart can be exceptionally expensive for some destinations (especially in premium cabins, and flying British Airways metal to destinations beyond Europe, or flying multi-partner awards) it can also be quite reasonable such as Cathay Pacific business class to much of Asia for 100,000 miles roundtrip or LAN business class to South America for 80,000 miles roundtrip.
Ultimately, this has just become a much better card and it’s one worth considering as your second card (for times that merchants don’t take Amex) but it isn’t the best card out there… you can still get 1.25 British Airways miles per dollar with the Starwood Amex because transferring 20,000 miles will yield 25,000 miles, plus there are sometimes transfer bonuses that yield more, and of course you have all the flexibility to choose which mileage program you want to transfer points to later and not earn just British Airways miles.
And of course while BA miles can be exceptionally useful, they do charge some pretty extortionate fuel surcharges — flying US to Africa in a premium cabin on BA metal can yield taxes and fees upwards of $1000 on a ‘free’ ticket because of those fuel fees plus the U.K. luxury tax on premium cabin departures. Hubbing in London is not an advantage in this regard.
But I’m thrilled to see the improvements here, this has really become a competitive card, and I’m also excited by the big signup bonus!