Is The British Airways Card Worth It? (2019)

Filed Under: British Airways, Chase
In the interest of full disclosure, OMAAT earns a referral bonus for anyone that’s approved through some of the below links. These are the best publicly available offers (terms apply) that we have found for each card. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Please check out my advertiser policy for further details about our partners, and thanks for your support!

The British Airways Visa Signature® Card is one of Chase’s popular co-branded airline credit cards. British Airways Executive Club is a great frequent flyer program, so in this post I wanted to take a closer look at this card, especially in light of the recent improvements that were made to it. Who should be applying for this card, under what circumstances is it worth spending money on the card, and more.

British Airways Visa Card Basics

There is lots to love about the British Airways Visa Card. The card has a big bonus of up to 100K Avios, it has a reasonable annual fee, it offers statement credits when you pay carrier imposed surcharges, and it earns points that can be useful whether you’re looking to redeem for premium cabin international flights or domestic economy.

So let’s take a look at what you need to know about this card, and what the best alternatives are.

Welcome Bonus

The British Airways Visa offers a bonus of up to 100,000 Avios. That bonus is tiered, as follows:

  • Earn 50,000 bonus Avios after spending $3,000 within the first three months
  • Earn an additional 50,000 bonus Avios after spending a total of $20,000 within the first year of account opening.

Personally I value Avios at ~1.3 cents each, so to me 100,000 Avios are worth ~$1,300.

Those 100,000 Avios don’t include the points you usually earn for spending, so that means:

  • Spending $3,000 will earn you a total of 53,000 Avios, which is nearly 18 Avios per dollar spent
  • Spending $20,000 will earn you a total of 120,000 Avios, so incrementally you’re earning nearly four Avios per dollar spent (for $17,000 of spending you’re earning an incremental 67,000 Avios)

Assuming you spend enough on credit cards to reach the $20,000 of spending, I think it’s absolutely worth it. There could also be big value in spending $30,000, because that earns you a Travel Together Ticket, which I’ll talk more about below.

Redeem your Avios to fly British Airways’ new A350

Annual Fee

The BA Visa has a $95 annual fee. This is not waived for the first year, and there’s no additional fee to add authorized users.

Card Eligibility

The welcome bonus on the British Airways Visa isn’t available to those who currently have the card, or those who have received a new cardmember bonus on the card in the past 24 months.

All Chase cards are also subjected to the 5/24 rule, whereby you likely won’t be approved for a card if you’ve opened five or more new card accounts in the past 24 months.

Earning Avios With The British Airways Visa Card

The British Airways Visa Card has no foreign transaction fees and offers contactless payment, but does the rewards structure actually warrant putting spending on the card? It might, but only thanks to additional bonuses offered by the card.

Earn 1-3x Avios Per Dollar Spent

The card doesn’t have terribly exciting bonus categories. You earn:

  • 3 Avios per $1 spent on purchases with British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia, and LEVEL
  • 2 Avios per $1 spent on hotel accommodations
  • 1 Avios per $1 spent on all other purchases

This isn’t a card I would be putting much spending on unless you’re trying to earn a Travel Together Ticket, in which case it could definitely be worth it. More on that below.

British Airways Executive Club is transfer partners with Amex Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards, so it could make sense to put spending on one of those cards if you want to earn Avios at an accelerated rate.

Redeem Avios for travel in Cathay Pacific business class

No Foreign Transaction Fees

The BA Visa has no foreign transaction fees, so it’s potentially a great card to use for purchases abroad.

Contactless Payment

The BA Visa Card features contactless pay technology. This means you can pay using your card without even swiping it whenever you see the contactless pay symbol.

How To Redeem British Airways Avios

British Airways Avios are a unique points currency, given that they have a distance-based award chart. This means that Avios are valuable for many types of award tickets where other programs wouldn’t be useful (and conversely, aren’t useful when many other programs may be).

Here’s the award chart for travel on British Airways, Iberia, and Aer Lingus:

Zone // Flight DistanceEconomy
Off Peak // Peak
Premium Economy
Off Peak // Peak
Off Peak // Peak
Off Peak // Peak
Zone 1
1-650 miles*
*Not available in North America
4,000 // 4,5005,750 // 6,7507,750 // 9,00015,500 // 18,000
Zone 2
651-1150 miles
6,500 // 7,5009,500 // 11,25012,750 // 15,00025,500 // 30,000
Zone 3
1151-2000 miles
8,500 // 10,00012,750 // 15,00017,000 // 20,00034,000 // 40,000
Zone 4
2001-3000 miles
10,000 // 12,50020,000 // 25,00031,250 // 37,50042,500 // 50,000
Zone 5
3001-4000 miles
13,000 // 20,00026,000 // 40,00050,000 // 60,00068,000 // 80,000
Zone 6
4001-5500 miles
16,250 // 25,00032,500 // 50,00062,500 // 75,00085,000 // 100,000
Zone 7
5501-6500 miles
19,500 // 30,00039,000 // 60,00075,000 // 90,000102,000 // 120,000
Zone 8
6501-7000 miles
22,750 // 35,00045,500 // 70,00087,500 // 105,000119,000 // 140,000
Zone 9
7001+ miles
32,50 // 50,00065,000 // 100,000125,000 // 150,000170,000 // 200,000

Then here’s British Airways’ award chart for travel on partner airlines, excluding Aer Lingus and Iberia:

Zone // Flight DistanceEconomyPremium EconomyBusinessFirst
Zone 1
1-650 miles*
*Not available in North America
Zone 2
651-1150 miles
Zone 3
1151-2000 miles
Zone 4
2001-3000 miles
Zone 5
3001-4000 miles
Zone 6
4001-5500 miles
Zone 7
5501-6500 miles
Zone 8
6501-7000 miles
Zone 9
7001+ miles

The basic things to be aware of include the following:

  • For the British Airways award chart, peak and off-peak pricing varies based on the day you’re flying
  • Pricing is per segment, so no matter what type of award you book, you’ll pay individually for each segment
  • Travel on British Airways and many partner airlines is subjected to carrier-imposed surcharges, which is the frustration that many people have with the program

There are so many great ways to redeem Avios, especially for flying shorter distances, where other programs have disproportionately high award costs.

This includes short-haul business class within Asia on Cathay Pacific, short-haul flying within South America on LATAM, domestic travel within the lower 48 US on Alaska and American, travel between the US mainland and Hawaii on Alaska, short-haul travel within Europe on British Airways, travel within Australia on Qantas, and much more.

I find Avios to be invaluable as part of my overall miles & points strategy, as they’re useful in areas where other currencies aren’t.

Redeem Avios for travel on LATAM

No Close-In Ticketing Fees

One of the things that I love about British Airways Avios is that there are no close-in ticketing fees. While American charges up to a $75 fee for making a booking within 21 days of departure, with British Airways you can make a booking until the day of departure without paying close-in ticketing fees.

This goes especially well with British Airways having a distance-based award chart, since it means you can book last-minute short-haul award tickets and pay just the Avios and taxes.

Avios are great for booking last-minute American award tickets

The Value Of Household Accounts

Often one of the big challenges people have with points is figuring out how to pool them, since you typically need enough points in a single account for a redemption. One of the cool features of the British Airways Executive Club program is that you can form household accounts. This allows you to pool the Avios you earn with up to six other people registered at the same address as you.

This is especially awesome in the context of a credit card sign-up bonus, since you can pool a ton of Avios in a single account if you have two people sign-up for the card in a household, etc.

British Airways Visa Card Benefits

There are some benefits to the British Airways Visa Card that could alone justify having this card. For some people, it will be worth spending money on the card to unlock some perks, while for others just having the card and not spending money on it offers sufficient benefits.

So let’s look at how those benefits work.

10% Discount On British Airways Flights

One of the benefits of the best benefits of the British Airways Signature Visa is that it offers a 10% discount on British Airways flights starting in the US when you book by March 31, 2020 (that could very well be extended, and has been extended in the past).

To take advantage of this, just book through, and use your card to pay while using promotion code CHASEBA10.

Save on British Airways business class tickets with this benefit

British Airways Travel Together Ticket

One of the potentially great perks of the British Airways Visa is that you can earn a Travel Together Ticket when you spend $30,000 on the card in a calendar year.

This companion ticket will be deposited in your Executive Club account 4-6 weeks after you’ve completed the required spend.

With this certificate, you can book a British Airways award ticket at the full cost of Avios and carrier-imposed surcharges, and then for the second person, you just have to pay the surcharges. While British Airways has hefty surcharges for travel on their own flights, this can still represent a great deal for first & business class travel, given how much those tickets would otherwise cost.

This isn’t for everyone, though it has the potential to represent a good value, and I know it’s a feature that many value.

It could be especially worthwhile to go for this the first year. In order to unlock the full sign-up bonus you need to spend $20,000, so at that point, it’s just an incremental $10,000 worth of spending to get the companion ticket.

The Travel Together Ticket can be worth it for first-class travel

Reward Flight Statement Credit

This is a new perk of the card, and it’s potentially awesome. One frustration many people have with British Airways Executive Club is the high carrier imposed surcharges that apply to many award tickets. Having the British Airways Visa can take some of the pain out of that.

If you have this card and redeem Avios for a reward flight, you can receive up to $600 in statement credits annually. You can earn up to three statement credits, as follows:

  • Earn a $100 statement credit for an economy or premium economy booking
  • Earn a $200 statement credit for a business class or first class booking

There are some basic terms to be aware of:

  • You have to pay for the taxes, fees, and carrier-imposed surcharges with the British Airways Visa in order to get the statement credits
  • The booking must be for a transatlantic itinerary originating in the United States with the transatlantic portion of the ticket on British Airways (though it’s fine if a connecting flight is on a partner airline)
  • One-way or roundtrip travel seems to be eligible
  • The reservation must be made out of the primary cardmember’s Executive Club account, though it’s fine if someone else is traveling
  • The statement credit will post within 45 days of the eligible reservation being made, and will be reversed if the ticket is canceled

The statement credit can take some of the sting out of award redemptions

Is The British Airways Visa Card Worth It?

The British Airways Visa Card is offering an excellent sign-up bonus. This can be worth it regardless of if you’re a big spender who can easily knock out the $20,000+ worth of spending, or if you just plan on qualifying for the 50,000 Avios after spending $3,000.

Personally, this isn’t a card I would use for everyday spending, though, since you can earn British Airways Avios at a better rate with other American Express or Chase cards.

Beyond that:

  • The card could be worth having if you fly British Airways with any frequency, since the value of the 10% discount will add up quickly
  • If you redeem Avios on British Airways, the Travel Together Ticket could be well worth it, especially the first year, when you’re spending $20,000 anyway to unlock the full sign-up bonus
  • The up to $600 in credits for carrier imposed surcharges can cover the annual fee on this card over and over, if you redeem Avios for travel on British Airways that originates in the US with any frequency

Best Alternatives For Earning Avios

If you want to earn British Airways Avios, I’d recommend getting a card that earns either Amex Membership Rewards or Chase Ultimate Rewards points:

With that in mind, which cards should you consider? Here are some of my favorites:

British Airways Visa Card Summary

The British Airways Visa is one of the better co-branded airline credit cards out there, in my opinion. The card offers an excellent sign-up bonus, and it can be worth spending money on the card to earn a companion ticket. Beyond that, the card can be worth having for the discounts offered on both paid tickets (up to 10% off) or award tickets (up to $200 in statement credits).

However, when it comes to earning British Airways Avios long term, personally I’d much rather earn Amex or Chase points, and transfer them to British Airways. Not only does this allow you to earn points at a much faster rate, but it also gives you a lot more flexibility with your points.

If you want to learn more about the British Airways Visa Signature Card or apply, follow this link.

Apply Now

Regarding Comments: The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.
  1. You forgot to mention fly together voucher is only good if you originate from US on a BA metal. The fuel surcharge must be paid via your BA chase card instead of a card that gives you more points on airline spends like Citi Prestige. The surcharge for F is easily $1800 per person from US to UK round trip. It’s somewhat cheaper if your final destination is not UK. With that said, you can fly from lax to London to Johannesburg round trip on F for about 360k-400k plus fuel surcharge for two people. Not too bad considering it sometimes cost that much one way on Air France in J for such an itinerary!

  2. Agreed this is not worth it on all fronts.

    We ended up with 3 of these tickets between my wife and I. We have struggled to use them on our usual route SFO/SJC LHR.
    If its always 2 of you travelling, you are golden…. if you can find availability! (just looking for July next year and the majority of dates blocked out)

    We are generally 3 of us travelling, so it ends up my wife and daughter travelling together on the FlyTogether often on sub-optimal dates. I then try and get either an award or paid ticket on the same flight, but thats often hard to do. So I generally end up on another flight, maybe on another day, other carrier.

    FlyTogether also expires within about 20 months, so make sure you have a trip in mind to use them on. We will definitely waste 1 of these, not sure if they are transferrable to anyone else.

    Overall, thumbs down based on the limited award availability for 2 seats, short expiry date and the spend needed to get there.

  3. You said “Personally, this isn’t a card I would use for everyday spending, though, since you can earn British Airways Avios at a better rate with other American Express or Chase cards”

    But isn’t this a Chase card?

  4. I have been looking at this card as well as the Iberia and Aer Lingus cards, which have similar features and bonuses. Over the next several years, I will have estimated tax payments of ~20k per year. I am thinking of putting that expense on these cards serially, assuming the bonus structure remains intact. I have not seen anything that disqualifies you from receiving a bonus on the other two cards if you have received the bonus on one. To your knowledge , is this correct? My understanding is these Avios are fungible and can be moved from one airline account to another somewhat easily if the accounts are in the same name PRECISELY. Is this also correct? Thanks.

  5. I wonder when a consensus will develop that a truly hefty spend requirement for a tiered bonus is not truly a welcome bonus at all. It is a time-limited bonus for massive spend, activated only if reaching a certain target amount by a target date. My own thought would be that the ratio of bonus miles to spend should be significantly greater than 2.94x (50k for $17k additional spend beyond the actual welcome bonus trigger) for it legitimately to fall in the category of a “welcome bonus.”

    That ratio is well under some ongoing category spend bonuses that a number of cards offer. This card offers a welcome bonus of 50,000 miles for $3k spend, and an opportunity to gain further bonus miles through massive spend for a limited time. (But since it is now under 5/24, why did take my time to read this, anyway?)

  6. I have had the British Air VISA for a long time.

    I did multiple golf trips to Ireland for a number of years. Most credit cards do not extend rental car insurance to rentals in Ireland or Northern Ireland. The British Air VISA did. In renting cars in Ireland for six to seven weeks, the cost of insurance is very high, even more than the rental cost itself.

  7. Ben,

    This is a very informative and well written article on the British Airways card. However callling the”British Airways Executive Club is a great frequent flyer program” is stretching it almost beyond breaking point for the sake of earning commission. I seem to recall in your previous articles you mention the very high surchages & taxes imposed on Executive Club members for BA operated flights. I have been an Executive Club member for many years and have found it quite difficult to get value out of this scheme particularly on UK/Europe-US flights, where in the majority of cases the only redemption options available are BA operated flights along with the prohibitive taxes, fees & charges. For those people travelling in Economy its generally cheaper to purchase a BA flight through an OTA rather than use the points and pay the substantial fees & charges. There numerous airline loyalty schemes out there which value their members far more than the Executive Club, calling it great, come on really!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *