The British Airways Visa Signature® Card is a pretty compelling credit card that a lot of people are eligible for. It has a generous welcome bonus, Avios can be invaluable for shorthaul redemptions, the card has some unique perks, and it’s easy to complement this card with another one that earns Membership Rewards or Ultimate Rewards points.
So in this post I wanted to take a closer look at the benefits of this card. Here’s what you need to know about the card:
British Airways Visa Card welcome bonus
The British Airways Visa Signature® Card offers a tiered welcome bonus of up to 100,000 bonus Avios, as follows:
- 50,000 bonus Avios after spending $3,000 within the first three months
- An additional 25,000 bonus Avios after spending a total of $10,000 within the first year
- An additional 25,000 bonus Avios after spending a total of $20,000 within the first year
The great thing about this welcome bonus is that it’s pretty lucrative regardless of whether you just plan on spending $3,000 within the first few months, or if you’re a big spender, and plan to spend $20,000 on the card within the first year.
Assuming you spend a lot on credit cards, the incremental spend math on this card works out very nicely:
- If you spend $3,000, you’re earning ~17.7 Avios per dollar spent (53,000 Avios for $3,000 of spend)
- If you spend $10,000, you’re earning an incremental ~4.6 Avios per dollar spent (32,000 Avios for $7,000 of spend)
- If you spend $20,000, you’re earning an incremental 3.5 Avios per dollar spent (35,000 Avios for $10,000 of spend)
This is as good as the welcome bonus on the card gets, as we haven’t seen a better bonus in years. The spend thresholds for earning the full 100,000 Avios also don’t get lower.
British Airways Visa Card eligibility
The welcome bonus on the British Airways Visa Signature® Card is available to those who don’t currently have the card, and who haven’t received a new cardmember bonus on the card in the past 24 months.
This card isn’t subjected to the 5/24 restriction, meaning that you can be approved even if you’ve opened five or more new card accounts in the past 24 months.
British Airways Visa Card annual fee
The British Airways Visa Signature® Card has a $95 annual fee. There’s no additional fee to add authorized users.
Earning Avios with the British Airways Visa Card
The British Airways Visa Signature® Card offers one Avios per dollar spent, and two Avios per dollar spent on British Airways purchases. Unless you’re trying to earn a companion voucher (as I’ll be talking about below), personally I wouldn’t put too much spend on this card.
Keep in mind that British Airways Executive Club is transfer partners with Amex Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards, so it could make sense to put spend on one of those cards if you want to earn Avios. I’ll talk about that more below.
Redeem Avios for travel in Cathay Pacific business class
Redeeming Avios with the British Airways Visa Card
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. Here’s British Airways’ award chart with the cost of one-way travel (partner awards are booked at the “peak” level):
|Zone // Flight Distance||Economy|
Off Peak // Peak
Off Peak // Peak
Off Peak // Peak
Off Peak // Peak
*Not available in North America
|4,000 // 4,500||5,750 // 6,750||7,750 // 9,000||15,500 // 18,000|
|6,500 // 7,500||9,500 // 11,250||12,750 // 15,000||25,500 // 30,000|
|8,500 // 10,000||12,750 // 15,000||17,000 // 20,000||34,000 // 40,000|
|10,000 // 12,500||20,000 // 25,000||31,250 // 37,500||42,500 // 50,000|
|13,000 // 20,000||26,000 // 40,000||50,000 // 60,000||68,000 // 80,000|
|16,250 // 25,000||32,500 // 50,000||62,500 // 75,000||85,000 // 100,000|
|19,500 // 30,000||39,000 // 60,000||75,000 // 90,000||102,000 // 120,000|
|22,750 // 35,000||45,500 // 70,000||87,500 // 105,000||119,000 // 140,000|
|32,50 // 50,000||65,000 // 100,000||125,000 // 150,000||170,000 // 200,000|
There are so many great ways to redeem Avios, especially for flying shorter distances, where other programs have disproportionately high award costs.
This includes shorthaul business class within Asia on Cathay Pacific, shorthaul 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, shorthaul 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
Also keep in mind that British Airways doesn’t charge close-in ticketing fees, so Avios can be ideal for booking last minute domestic travel on Alaska and American, when you’ll sometimes otherwise be charged up to $75 for last minute bookings.
British Airways Visa Card perks
The British Airways Visa Signature® Card offers some other potentially valuable perks, including:
10% off British Airways flights
Those with the British Airways Visa Card can save 10% off the cost of a roundtrip ticket originating in the US when they pay with their card and use promotion code CARDOFFERU at the time of booking. This is a fantastic way to save money on the cost of a British Airways ticket, especially as this perk can be combined with the AARP discount of up to $200 per ticket.
This perk can help save you on the cost of a British Airways ticket
Travel Together Ticket
You can receive a Travel Together Ticket valid for two years when you spend $30,000 on the card in a calendar year, which can cover the Avios component of a British Airways award ticket for a second passenger (you still have to pay taxes and carrier imposed surcharges for both passengers). While there are high surcharges involved, this could represent a great deal for first & business class tickets, given how much those could cost if paying cash.
Also keep in mind that if you earn the full welcome bonus on the card you’ll have already spent $20,000, so you’d just need to spend $10,000 more to get a companion certificate, which isn’t that much incremental spend.
Redeeming a Travel Together Ticket for first class can be a great deal
No foreign transaction fees
The card has no foreign transaction fees, making this a great card for purchases abroad.
Best British Airways Visa Card substitutes
Typically I suggest that the best substitutes for a card are ones with similar perks, though in this case I actually think transferable points cards would be better substitutes for the British Airways Visa Signature® Card.
British Airways Executive Club is transfer partners with Amex Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards, so you could maximize your British Airways Avios by taking advantage of some of the bonus categories offered on these cards:
- The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers 2x points on dining and travel, and the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card offers 3x points on dining and travel, and those points can be converted 1:1 to British Airways
- The Chase Freedom Unlimited® offers 1.5x points per dollar spent on everyday purchases, and in conjunction with select other cards, those points can be converted into Ultimate Rewards points, and then British Airways Avios
- The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express offers 3x points at US supermarkets (on up to $6,000 of spend per year) and 2x points at US gas stations, plus a 50% points bonus when you make at least 30 transactions per billing cycle, and those points can be converted 1:1 to British Airways
- The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express offers 2x points on the first $50,000 spent per calendar year, and those points can be converted 1:1 to British Airways
Through November 15, 2018, Amex Membership Rewards is even offering a 40% bonus when you convert points into Avios, which can make your Amex points stretch even further.
The British Airways Visa Signature® Card is relatively easy to be approved for (if you have excellent credit), has a generous welcome bonus, and comes with some perks that more than justify the annual fee. It could be worth putting spend on the card to earn the companion ticket, but otherwise I’d generally recommend using a card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card in order to earn Avios, given the generous bonus categories.
But a lot of people should be eligible for the British Airways Visa Signature® Card, and it really does have an excellent welcome bonus and some useful perks.