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The British Airways Visa credit card comes with a hefty sign-up bonus but the surcharge fees on award flights can be expensive too. So, is it worth it?
There’s a lot of debate on whether getting the British Airways Visa Signature Card is a yay or nay. Most points hacking veterans would say yay because of the big sign-up bonuses while some would say nay because of the crazy surcharges on some award tickets.
The British Airways Visa is a complicated card. What we do know is that it’s made for a specific group of people who can benefit from it.
Don’t worry because we’ll discuss all of these issues below, but before that, let’s get down to the basics first.
British Airways Visa Basics
As we’ve mentioned before, the sign-bonus for the British Airways Visa is big. Cardholders can earn up to 100,000 welcome bonus points, however, you’ll need to earn these points separately.
You’ll get the first 50,000 Avios when you sign-up for the card and spend $3,000 within the first three months and the next 50,000 Avios when you spend $20,000 within your first year.
In addition, the card has a referral program where you can earn 10,000 Avios for every referral that gets approved for a British Airways Visa card (up to five referrals per year).
You can earn British Airways rewards points aka Avios in three ways:
- 3 Avios per $1 spent on British Airways, Iberia, and Aer Lingus
- 2 Avios per $1 spent on direct hotel bookings
- 1 Avios per $1 spent on other purchases
British Airways Visa Benefits
There’s a $95 annual fee but it’s a pretty reasonable price since there’s a lot of travel benefits that come with the card. In fact, the benefits can even cover the cost of the card’s annual fee.
Zero Foreign Transaction Fees
Most credit cards have a 3% foreign transaction fee for purchases made outside the U.S. However, the British Airways Visa doesn’t have one which makes it a good travel companion whenever you go on a vacation.
You can splurge all you want on gifts, restaurant purchases, or flight bookings made abroad without having to pay that extra fee.
You’re entitled to get statement credits every year whenever you redeem your points for a British Airways award flight. There are two ways to earn the credits and it depends on the kind booking that you have.
Get a $200 credit for every business or first class award flight or get a $100 credit for every economy or premium economy award flight.
Do take note that you’ll only get a total of three bookings per year. This means that you can earn up to $600 in statement credits if all three bookings were made towards business or first-class award flights.
Travel Together Ticket
Spend $30,000 on eligible purchases per calendar year and you’ll get one Travel Together Ticket per year. This voucher allows you to bring one traveling companion on any British Airways flight that’s flying to or from the U.S.
You and your companion can fly together in the same cabin class, even first class. All you need to pay for are just taxes and fees.
The voucher is valid for two years. All onward flights must be within the validity period but return flights can be plotted on dates even after the voucher’s expiry date.
Lost & Delayed Luggage Insurance
You’ll get a $100 insurance coverage per day for luggage that’s delayed for 6+ hours (up to 3 days).
You’ll also get a $3,000 insurance for checked or carry-on luggage that’s lost or damaged. The coverage also applies to each family member who was with you during the flight.
Buyer Protection & Extended Warranty
You’ll get up to $500 insurance claim for every eligible purchase within the first 120 days (up to $50,000 per account). There’s also an additional one-year warranty on top of eligible purchases with a 3-year (or less) warranty.
Rental Car Insurance
You have the option of charging your car rental transactions to your card to get collision damage and theft insurance. However, the card’s insurance is secondary, which means that your primary insurance will be used up first before the second one kicks in.
You can try other cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred which has primary insurance for car rentals.
Travel Accident Insurance
Get up to $500,000 insurance coverage for eligible travel accidents when you use your British Airways Visa Signature card for flight purchases.
Drawbacks: Why You May Want Another Card
Just like any other card out there in the market, the British Airways Visa comes with flaws and drawbacks. Let’s discuss each one in detail.
Costly Fees & Surcharges
Cardholders should really be aware of this one because British Airways has some crazy surcharges on certain award tickets and the Travel Together Ticket. The surcharges can cost hundreds of dollars depending on the flight route and fare class.
For example, if you redeemed a round-trip flight from San Francisco to London using 50,000 points, surcharges can reach up to $300 or more. In fact, there are times that it’s cheaper to book a flight with cash compared to redeeming it as an award ticket.
The surcharges are a big problem for frequent flyers since the $100 or $200 statement credits can only be used three times per year.
Limited Domestic Flight Options
The British Airways Visa Signature card is very flexible when it comes to international flights redemption. As a part of the Oneworld alliance, you can use your Avios towards other airlines like Qatar Airways, Qantas, Finnair, and Iberia.
However, when it comes to domestic flights, you can only redeem your Avios towards Alaska Airlines and American Airlines.
Points Can Expire
Your points can expire if there’s no movement in your account. The Avios expiry rules state that you should collect, spend, or purchase at least one Avios every three years.
Small purchases like a cup of coffee or souvenirs will keep your points from expiring as long as you use your British Airways Visa card.
Read More: How To Keep Points From Expiring
- No blackout dates
- Partial points payment for British Airways and American Airlines is allowed
- Avios can be used for airfare, upgrades, hotel stays, car rental and experiences
- No close-in booking fee
- No booking fees
- One-way tickets are allowed
- Excellent redemption value for international flights and British Airways upgrades
- Phone booking fee
- Points can expire
- Limited flight reward seats
- Huge spend required ($30,000) to earn Travel Together Ticket
- Expensive tax and fuel surcharges especially on long-haul flights
Who Is This Card For?
- Frequent flyers who always use British Airways or its airline partners
- People who can easily spend $30,000 within one year
- Travelers who always fly business or first class
Tips On Using The Card
Spend $3,000 within the first three months of getting the card and then $27,000 for the rest of the year to get the 100,000 Avios and the Travel Together Ticket. Just make sure to make your purchases count by spending all $30,000 on eligible purchases.
It’s also recommended to redeem your Travel Together Ticket for first-class or business class flights so you will fully maximize the voucher’s value. You’ll pay a lot less compared to buying those flights directly with cash even if there are surcharges.
However, try to avoid long-haul flights because the surcharges can be extremely expensive.
Thoughts From Points Panda
Some points experts might say that the British Airways Visa Signature card underperforms despite having a big welcome bonus. Well, you can’t blame them because the expensive surcharges devalue the award flights that you’ll redeem.
However, the card is a must-have for you if you’re a frequent flyer who flies internationally on business class or first class seats. The $600 and annual Travel Together Ticket will cut down the costs on these seats by a large fraction.
Plus, you can easily transfer Avios to multiple international airline partners. This helps you earn more points even if you don’t fly with British Airlines.
Chase Cards Get Temporary 3x Points On Groceries
With the COVID-19 suspending flights and other modes of travel at the moment, Chase released a new bonus category for select cards including the British Airways Visa.
The new category includes eligible in-store or home delivery grocery purchases. Cardholders will earn 3x Avios per $1 spent with a $1,500 spending limit per month.
The new bonus category is temporary and will run from May 1 through June 30, 2020.