7 Ways to Minimize Fuel Surcharges When Redeeming British Airways Avios

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The British Airways Visa Signature® Card lets you earn a total of 100,000 British Airways Avios.

Here’s the card’s signup bonus:

    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.

I’d say an opportunity to earn a total of 100,000 Avios from the British Airways Visa Signature® Card with a $95 annual fee is one of the best deals out there right now, especially if you’re strategic with them.

One downside though is that like most non-U.S. frequent flyer programs, British Airways award redemptions incur fuel surcharges — generally the same amount that you would pay as part of purchasing a ticket. That’s why it often isn’t useful using miles for coach tickets, since fuel surcharges can be such a large part of a paid fare.

For premium cabin awards, especially first class awards, I’d argue that the fuel surcharges are worth it, I think of a first class award as a deep discount coach ticket that doesn’t earn miles, with a confirmed triple upgrade.

But there are things you can do to minimize fuel surcharges. And since that can save hundreds or even a thousand dollars on some award tickets it’s worth reviewing those.

  • Fly US domestic economy. Just 7500 points each way on flights 1150 miles or less on American Airlines (when you find availability) and 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 North Asia generally).


    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. So fly airberlin, which has an excellent transatlantic business class product.

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.

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