6 Things I Love About the British Airways Visa

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British Airways Visa Signature® Card

The 100,000 Avios signup bonus offer is back, and I have a real soft spot for it because this was the very first card ever to offer such a big bonus.

Here are 5 things that I love about the card — you may be surprised to learn that it goes beyond just the signup offer, although of course that’s number one.

  1. Earn up to 100,000 Avios: The card’s offer is set up to encourage you to get the card, earn points, spend more on it and earn a lot more bonus points.

    You get 50,000 Avios after $3,000 spend on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening. Then you get another 25,000 after $10,000 total spend on purchases within your first year of account opening — for a total of 75,000 bonus Avios. (This is $7000 additional spend on top of the first $3000 for 50,000 Avios.)

    Finally there’s an additional 25,000 after a total of $20,000 spend within your first year from account opening — for a total of 100,000 bonus Avios.

    That sounds like a lot of spending to earn the full bonus and frankly it’s a great card to get even if you were going to stop at 50,000. However most people don’t realize how much they spend on credit cards each month, or do the math to multiply that out across a year.

    It’s also much easier to put a lot of spend on a credit card than you may realize. And the reason it’s worth it to focus here is because of the ways to leverage the offer.

  2. Use for Short-Distance Flights Flights up to 1150 miles each way cost 7500 Avios in economy, or 15,000 Avios in business class. Premium cabin awards on American Airlines, where available, are now considered business class. And you can still fly Los Angeles – Hawaii for just 12,500 Avios each way in economy.

    I love booking intra-Asia business class awards on Japan Airlines and Cathay Pacific that are short distance, and indeed flights up to 650 miles outside North America cost just 4500 points each way in economy and 9000 in business.

    Cathay Pacific Business Class. Short distance business class awards can be a value at twice the Avios cost as coach, and Hong Kong flights have very low surcharges.

  3. First Class Upgrades on British Airways Upgrades from business class to first class cost just the miles of a coach award ticket with no cash co-pay. I’ve even upgraded British Airways sale fares booked using the AARP discount.

    British Airways First Class

  4. Spend $30,000 in a Year on the Card, Double the Effectiveness of Your Points: $30,000 in spend each year earns a ‘Travel Together’ companion award ticket which allows you to book two passengers on an award ticket for the mileage price of one award. (You still pay taxes and fees for both passengers, but you stretch your points because you only pay miles for one.)

    Travel must originate in or return to the US. The person who earns the voucher (the visa cardholder) must be one of the passengers on the award ticket. And only flights on British Airways aircraft may be used on the award with regular award space available for both passengers.

    Earn the card’s full bonus and spend $30,000 in your first year on the card and you’ll have both 130,000 British Airways Avios and a Travel Together ticket. That’s more than enough for two passengers to fly roundtrip business class between New York, DC, or Chicago and London for instance.

    There aren’t many card offers that can be leveraged into two roundtrip business class transatlantic tickets with a single bonus.

  5. Family Pooling of Points: British Airways offers family accounts, you can combine points from up to 7 different accounts and spend them all together towards a single award (which can then be leveraged further with a Travel Together companion award).

    You and a partner could each get the card. After meeting the minimum spend for to earn the full bonus on each card, you’d have a total of 240,000 Avios. Even though these are split between two different accounts, you can spend them on one award ticket as though they were in a single account if you link the accounts together.

    British Airways First Class

  6. Relatively Easy Card to Get Approved For: Chase doesn’t appear to exclude customers who have had 5 or more new card applications within the past 24 months from being approved for the British Airways Visa Signature® Card.

    So it’s a Chase card that you can get, and it makes it one of the easiest Chase cards to get approved for.

British Airways like most frequent flyer programs outside the US does add fuel surcharges to awards,
though they’re cheaper to some destinations (like Asia, South America) than others (Europe) and don’t apply to all partners you might spend points on (like airberlin).

If you don’t have enough points from this card alone, you can transfer points to top off a British Airways account at one-to-one from a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card which is offering 50,000 points after $4000 spend within 3 months plus 5000 points for adding a (no fee) authorized user to the account and making a purchase within that same timeframe. These points can be transferred instantly once earned.

Points from the Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve Card transfer as well.

British Airways Visa Signature® Card

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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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Editorial note: any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. Comments made in response to this post are not provided or commissioned nor have they been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any bank. It is not the responsibility of any advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either. Terms and limitations apply to all offers.


  1. I’ve read that availability for those short-haul flights is next to impossible. How accurate is that?

  2. @JJ it’s quite good on Alaska Airlines. It’s quite good around the world, on Cathay Pacific and JAL and short flights on Qantas etc etc. American Airlines availability in the US is quite poor.

  3. We fell for this one a few years back. It is close to impossible to use the Avios miles in a profitable way. The entire family is now stuck with oodles of wasted miles that have to then be spent on bad exchanges as there is NEVER availability on any BA partner flights we have tried. In 2011-12 we were able to use them well but ever since – NADA!

  4. @JimBob, where do you live? I use my BA miles all the time here on the West Coast. I get phenomenal value. I have “earned” around 2 million BA miles over the years and I used to think they were useless – but not anymore.

  5. Thanks Frank. Would LOVE to hear how ya’ll do that!

    Our family travels the Israel-East Coast routes for the most part.

    We also travel domestic US often but the tax levied for using those points negates there value.

    We even tried moving the points to Iberia which took over a year to accomplish because of internal Avios technical issues but that too has not raised their value.

    Sticking to United and Premium Chase products for now…

  6. @ JimBob, West Coast to Seattle is the cheapest way you can go = 25K return in economy. Anywhere else Alaskan flies is generally very good.

    I have also had great success transferring to IB and I am returning from Madrid to NYC at the end of May in Business Class, 34,000 Avios +$116.23 for the one-way. That’s very cheap for a lovely lie-flat seat and not much considering leaving Europe is often much more in fees.

  7. @JimBob, I go a few times a year! And 3 or 4 times to Europe and/or South Africa. And Central America a couple of times, New York at least twice, Texas 3 times, Seattle twice, …. that’s about the minimum – all from the so-called Sanctuary State of California.

    All leisure travel. Easier when you’re over 70 … and if you work in an IT job that can be done from almost anywhere. I have 3 businesses which I run from my house – that’s how I amass my miles and points.

    Also, I fly business class only when going outside the US, but economy within US or Central America.

  8. Avios can be useful to some in limited situations, but most people be better off focusing on cash back or a flexible reward program like Chase UR or AMEX MR.

    Either way, putting 20k spend on the British Airways card seems ludicrous when there are so many other cards / signup bonuses out there.

  9. THE British Airways 100,000 offer – which was one of the first to offer that level of bonus – was a straight up 100,000 (at the time, miles, not Avios) after the initial spend (of $5,000 IIRC). This multi-part offer is but a faint glimmer of the original. Please stop saying “it’s back” when it isn’t!

  10. Do people really go around switching credit cards for a few miles that they may or may not be able to use (see other comments). Starting and stopping credit cards can play havoc on your credit rating. Is it worth it?

  11. This used to be better a few years ago when you earned 1.5 Avios per $ and when availability on AA for domestic flights was better. I’ve gotten OK value out of this card for a few years but found the companion pass near useless due to the YQ charges. I’ve let two of them expire after trying hard to find a use.
    I haven’t tried using Avios on Alaska so I might look into that.
    I do like the BA shopping portal as it offers more points per $ many times.

  12. Boston-Dublin hasn’t been 12,500 miles one-way since last December; it’s now 13,000 miles off-peak/20,000 miles peak. Not to mention the value-destroying tack-on fees have increased from the original $5.60 to a whopping $218.56. Just another example of mileage value erosion.

  13. Here’s what I did:

    1. Open British Airways Visa Credit Card. Earn 100,000 miles.

    2. Open Iberia Plus account. Wait 90 days.

    3. Transfer BA Avios to Iberia Plus account.

    4. Use Avios on a pleasant airline, with award availability, and no fuel surcharges.

    That was easy.

  14. AA is becoming worse than Delta for saver award from DFW. Why does AA calls DFW a “hub” when there are NO saver awards from there? Such a misuse of the term by AA

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