100,000 Point Offers Don’t Last So Grab This One

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The British Airways Visa Signature® Card was the very first card to offer a 100,000 point bonus back in November 2009. It was fantastic to see this offer return about two months ago. I don’t know how long it will last, but given that it’s been out there for two months it seems like a good idea to jump before it disappears.

Crucially as well this card has been reported not to be subject to Chase’s “5/24” limits meaning that customers who have had 5 or more new cards in the last 24 months are still eligible to get this one.

Here’s the offer.

    50,000 after $3,000 spend on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening

    25,000 after $10,000 total spend on purchases within your first year of account opening — for a total of 75,000 bonus Avios. (So this is $7000 additional spend on top of the first $3000 for 50,000 Avios.)

    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.

Don’t just put $20,000 of spend in your first year on the card, keep going and hit $30,000 because each calendar year you make $30,000 in purchases on the card you earn a Travel Together Ticket good for two years essentially doubling the usefulness of your miles for two passengers flying on the same eligible itinerary.

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.

You can still fly Los Angeles – Hawaii for just 12,500 Avios each way in economy (or Boston – Dublin, for that matter).

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.

British Airways First Class Upgrades

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


British Airways First Class

British Airways first class isn’t one of the world’s best, though it’s better than business class. The cabin is gorgeous. And I find the smaller cabin (relative to business) to be more restful.

The aircraft makes a difference as well, with the Airbus A380 better than the 777 better than the 747.

The Companion Award ‘Travel Together’ Ticket Doubles the Value of Your Points!

If you spend $30,000 in a calendar year on the card you earn a 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. And two award seats must be available in the ticketed cabin for both passengers as well.

The basic rules for the travel together ticket are:

  • Each calendar year that you spend $30,000 on your British Airways Visa Signature Card, you earn a Travel Together Ticket valid for two years. Travel must begin by the expiration date of the certificate.
  • Since the vouchers are valid for two years, if you earn one in each calendar year it is possible to have two vouchers in your account at the same time. You can use both on the same trip so that four passengers can travel for the mileage cost of two awards (plus taxes and fees).
  • You can earn only one companion award ticket per British Airways Visa primary account. Spending $60,000 on the card does not earn two.
  • All 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.
  • Only flights on British Airways aircraft may be used on the award.
  • Regular award space must be available for all 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.

Double Your Bonus With British Airways Family Accounts

British Airways offers family accounts — you can set up your account with family members so you can pool your miles towards a single award.

This means you and a spouse, for instance, 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.

Creating a family account — which can be undone — means you can only redeem awards for people that are linked in the family account.

And you can have up to 7 people in a family account, at the extreme if 7 people linked through a family account each got the card and earned the full bonus that would be 840,000 Avios to spend as though they were all in one account.


British Airways First Class

Fuel Surcharges

There aren’t any fuel surcharges if you redeem your points for US domestic flights, or between the US and South America.

But like most frequent flyer programs based outside North America, British Airways adds fuel surcharges onto the cost of an award ticket — whatever that charge would have been on a similar purchased ticket.

Here’s how to keep the cost down (or even eliminate fuel surcharges entirely) when redeeming awards through British Airways:

  • Fly US domestic economy, just 7500 points each way on flights 1150 miles or less including on Alaska Airlines.

  • US – South America flights have no fuel surcharges. Australia domestic is a great deal here, too. Japanese domestic flights can literally have $0 in taxes and fees.

  • The fees are cheap for many destinations in Asia like Hong Kong and Japan.


    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.

  • Open an Iberia Avios account as well. Transfer your British Airways points over to Iberia (one-to-one into an account that’s been open three months and has had some points activity). The fees are de minimis when using Iberia points to fly Iberia.

  • British Airways partner Aer Lingus has really low charges.

  • airberlin, a oneworld partner, does not add fuel surcharges onto their fares.

  • Remember to check whether two one-way awards are cheaper than a roundtrip.

Other Ways to Get British Airways Avios

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 transfer as well.

Finding Award Space and Booking Your Award

The easiest place to search for availability of all (3) partner airlines for those short haul domestic non-stop flights is the American Airlines (AA.com) website. That site isn’t great for most of its partners, but it does cover American and Alaska. Of course you have to make your booking directly with British Airways.

For most other awards in the oneworld alliance the British Airways website is quite good for searching space and making initial bookings.

Making changes to awards though has to be done over the phone, by a special department, and then tickets get queued for re-issue and if travel is in the future it can take a week or more for the re-issue to happen. Book one-way awards, cancel them online (it’s cheaper, forfeit the taxes on a domestic award instead of paying a fee), and rebook instead of changing.

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.

Comments

  1. I get excited each time I see this 100k mile offer advertised. I then continue reading and am brought back to earth when I see that the spending for that 100k is 20 grand. I don’t really see the comparison to the 2009 offer. With that offer, you had to spend 3 grand at most.

  2. Useful post, Gary, but I’m afraid I’ll have to differ on some aspects on how worthwhile this offer is:

    1. You provide some useful ways of avoiding those awful British Airways surcharges, but readers should be aware that for many redemptions on BA itself the charges can run into thousand of dollars for first class and considerable sums for other cabins (assuming you can bag the awards to begin with).
    2. Aside from BA first class (which itself isn’t great to compared to many other airlines), BA is in a pretty overt cast-saving race to the bottom with Ryan Air and other competitors, resulting in pretty lousy business, economy plus and economy hard products and flight attendant service. Compared to other airlines, cramped seats even in business (with less legroom in intra-Europe flights in business than USA carriers offer in economy), for example. Another example: charging even for water in economy (unless you default to the secondary tap water option if you don’t want to pay).
    3. Several BA policies are simply inferior to those of most competitors. For instance, if you don’t have sufficient status you have to pay extra for simply getting seat assignments in business class.
    4. More generally, the airline’s customer service is often poor and the website is often downright glitchy.
    5. Award and upgrade availability can be very limited, though of course that is not unique to BA.
    6. Finally, the tens of thousands of $$ one has to spend on a BA credit card to get extra miles and the companion ticket beyond the initial 50K could well be better spent on other credit cards for better bonuses or perks.

  3. Yeah, I’m a fan of the Avios program for certain redemptions (alas, the great AA short haul redemption deal is gone), but I’ve never bothered with this promo. It’s obviously nothing like the original 100,000 mile offer. Spending $30,000 on a credit card is no picnic, unless you’re a denizen of a very compliant Walmart money center. How many other credit card sign up bonuses could you get by dividing that $30,000 spend among, say, 7 new credit cards? I always feel that I read too much about this card due to lucrative referral bonuses. Maybe I’m cynical, but that’s always what it seems like.

  4. I used to think that the Travel Together ticket was the best credit card offer in existence, since by spending $30,000 you could save an award ticket that might cost 200,000 Avios. (By the way, if you use two Travel Together awards at once, I think that three travel for the mileage of a single award, not four for two as the article says.) However, the problem is that Travel Together is good only for BA flights from the United States, and the surcharges on those flights are huge. I just booked two daughters from New York to London and back in first class for 140,000 miles (good!) and $2500 (BAD!!). Did I save 140,000 miles, or did I waste $2500? I admit that the same route in the same class of service would have cost them 320,000 miles on United and 340,000 on American — but virtually nothing in fees. On balance, I still consider it worthwhile, but so much less so because of the high fees.

  5. I have never understood why people dislike Avios.,when used correctly (AA redemptions,Iberia etc)
    they represent good value.I am currently in Madrid on a trip booked in a new business class seat for 68k miles roundtrip with decent availability to boot.I had cancelled my original Chase BA to get the Sapphire reserve last year.I just reordered the Chase BA and will get the 100 k bonus again.

  6. I have all these Avios points that I can’t use. I got the BA cc card to use on AA. But, there are NEVER any seats available. Flights to NY or LA are totally booked for the next year, yet when I book with my Citi visa points, it is available
    What is going on????

  7. Gary, what is the rationale for the high fuel surcharges on one airline (like BA) vs other international carriers? Maybe you have a prior post that explains this.

  8. Warning, the BA to Iberia Avios is a great deal. But the day availability opened up and I wanted to transfer points, the transfer wouldn’t work and both the BA and Iberia support people were zero help. Ended up having to buy Iberia Avios, thankfully at a discount rate, when I had 250K BA Avios sitting unused in my account. Later got a transfer to work by logging into my Iberia account and pulling them in rather than going to BA account and pushing them out. Punch line, do a small trial transfer before you need to use them.

    Agree with Gary and the posters on best uses. BA miles worthless on transatlantic BA metal. Worthless on AA

  9. @VG most non-US frequent flyer programs add fuel surcharges equal to those that are part of an equivalent paid ticket. Fuel surcharges tend to be higher for US-Europe flights than many markets (like US-North Asia). However the justification or rationale? “because you have nowhere else you can spend their proprietary currency so they can extract a tax from you to do so”

  10. IBERIA customer service people are the most incompetent on earth. Their lack of details of the award booking amazes me and their communication skills (both on phone and emails) in English are lower than a 3th grader in a 3rd world country.
    Never booked Avios to London due to their ridiculous fuel/luxury surcharge and never will until BA or British Govt lowers the taxes..
    The so called BA “award” ticket that you thought will be almost free will actually cost you “thousands” of dollar let alone the travel together certificate which requires BA metal only from US (very restrictive).
    Get the 100K by spending $20K and spend the rest 10K on AMEX Blue plus for 2x.

  11. Useless on AA is a bit strong as I use them for short hop AA from time time.The transfer to Iberia is tricky but once your account is 90 says old at Iberia and has some activity the transfer is seamless.I used a car rental credit to get activity. BA use is only valuable for intra European and useless for transatlantic.

  12. I don’t get people slamming the deal. I’ve got two other cards that have priority, so it may be gone by the time I can get to it, but if still available, I will certainly take advantage of it.

    It should be very doable to put $3,000 dollars in 3 months, and then next year an additional $7,000 by June of 2018. That’s 75,000 miles for a total of $10,000 of spend, actually 85,000 miles, because there’s the one mile per dollar in addition to the bonus a very good return. That additional 25,000 miles (again really 35,000) to put another $10,000 on the card is more iffy. I’d have to look at when I finished putting the first $10,000 on the card and what other opportunities there were, I wouldn’t give up triple points from Chase or Alaska, or even double points from Starwood but if I figured I could get there with non bonus point spend, I’d go for it.

  13. I signed up for the BA Visa a year-and-a-half ago (and cancelled before paying the 2nd-year annual fee). Spent a hair over $20k to rack up the 100k-Avios bonus. My thoughts re this card:
    1. The first-year annual fee is $95, there is no reason on earth to pay this fee for the second year.
    2. As @Kay said above, it can be VERY DIFFICULT to find AA award flights to redeem BA Avios for.
    3. Unless you have a companion pass, never redeem your Avios for BA award flights (how ironic).
    4. There is a very high opportunity cost to spending $30k on the BA Visa to get the companion pass.

    If I ever do the BA Visa again, I’d probably go for the initial 50k Avios bonus and maybe the next 25k bonus, and call it quits after that. Too many other cards with better bonuses available for the spend.

  14. Yeah, I gotta agree with the other posts. I am an avid airline mile traveler, and have found creative ways to spend the required $ on the card, but anything over $10k is just crazy. Many other cards oud there to split the cost instead. I envie the folks who can spend it though!!

  15. Hi Gary.

    Do you know who to call if you get the – “we’re reviewing your application” – message.

    I’m not sure if I should go into a branch or call. Thank you for your help.

    KeninDFW

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