I receive compensation for many links on this blog. You don’t have to use these links, but I am grateful to you if you do. American Express, Citibank, Chase, and other banks are advertising partners of this site. Any opinions expressed in this post are my own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by my advertising partners. I do not write about all credit cards that are available -- instead focusing on miles, points, and cash back (and currencies that can be converted into the same).
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 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
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.