With the British Airways Visa, you can earn 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months. Plus, you can earn an additional 25,000 bonus Avios after you spend $10,000 in total purchases within your first year of account opening. Avios do not have a fixed value so it’s up to you to find the best redemption possible. Luckily, there are a variety of ways to redeem your bonus Avios. My favorite is redeeming them for short haul flights on British Airways partners. If your focus is travel between the West Coast and Hawaii, this might be a good card for you. At the very least, you should join the British Airways Executive Club. If you have different goals, there is probably a better card for you.
I signed up for the British Airways Visa in November 2013. It was my very first points & miles credit card. Today, I’m going to tell you how I used my sign-up bonus, how much value I got out of the sign-up bonus, and why I cancelled it in 2017.
Evaluating Value Ground Rules
When evaluating value, I only include the sign-up bonus, the amount of points earned from the minimum spending requirement, and any additional benefits or bonus points earned through perks exclusive to the British Airways Executive Club program. Everyone’s spending habits are different so I don’t want to confuse the issue with all Avios I’ve ever earned.
I signed up when the bonus for this card was 100,000 Avios. I’m not sure what the spending requirement was. I spent enough in 2014 (on our new house and wedding) to qualify for a Travel Together Ticket which requires $30,000 in spending in a calendar year. However, for purposes of this evaluation, let’s just say I had 100,000 bonus Avios.
How I Used My Bonus Avios
I used my bonus Avios in combination with the Travel Together Ticket to purchase two round-trip, lay-flat, business class seats from San Francisco to London. Back then, one ticket was just 100,000 Avios. My sign-up bonus covered both when used with the Travel Together Ticket. Today, the same ticket is 125,000 Avios during off-peak and 150,000 Avios during peak season. You can still use the Travel Together Ticket to get two tickets for the Avios cost of one.
How Much Value I Got From My Bonus Avios
Flights from San Francisco to London on British Airways in March were about $5,000 per person in business class. Plus, they cost an outrageous $1,200 per person in taxes and fees that you have to pay in cash. For my ticket alone, I saved $5,000 on the redemption giving those 100,000 bonus Avios a value of 5 cents! When you add in Reese’s ticket, we saved $10,000 and redeemed the 100,000 bonus Avios for 10 cents! On paper, the savings was $10,000, but I would never actually pay that for two tickets anywhere. And we paid $2,400 in taxes in fees out of pocket.
A more realistic example of the value of Avios is redemptions from the West Coast to Hawaii with travel partners like Alaska Airlines (my favorite) and American Airlines. These flights only cost 25,000 Avios per person. Most recently, I bought tickets on American Airlines from Los Angeles to Maui using British Airways Avios. The cash price of those tickets is around $500 per person. In that scenario, 25,000 Avios would have a value of 2 cents which is still pretty good for points & miles. Read Redeeming British Airways Avios for more details about how you can use your bonus points.
I paid the $95 annual fee four times before I cancelled this year.
Why I Cancelled the British Airways Visa
The real question is why I didn’t cancel sooner. As with the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card, I just wasn’t paying attention. I had to keep the card open until I used the Travel Together Ticket, but after that I should have cancelled. Other than getting the huge sign-up bonus, you don’t actually need this card to increase your Avios balance.
British Airways Executive Club is a transfer partner with Chase Ultimate Rewards. The transfer ratio is 1:1. Instead of using the British Airways Visa for everyday purchases, you should be using a Chase Ultimate Rewards card. You only earn one Avios per dollar spent on the British Airways Visa. The only bonus spending category is British Airways purchases. Whereas, the Chase trifecta allows you to earn 1.5 to 5 bonus points per dollar spent depending on the card and spending category. When you want to redeem, transfer what you need to British Airways.
British Airways Executive Club is also a transfer partner with the powerful American Express Membership Rewards. I’ll go into detail about that program in a later post. But, for purposes of this discussion, Membership Rewards sometimes offers an increased transfer ratio to British Airways. Most recently, it was 1 Membership Rewards to 1.4 Avios. I took advantage of that increased transfer ratio to get enough Avios for another ticket to Maui.
I managed to net an incredible value from my bonus Avios, but this card is not a great fit for everyone. While the frequent elevated sign-up bonus is a nice way to earn tons of Avios, you’re probably better off using a Chase Ultimate Rewards card for everyday spending. That being said, there are reports that the British Airways Visa does not fall under Chase’s 5/24 rule. If you’ve exhausted all other Chase applications and you can use Avios, you might want to apply anyway when the sign-up bonus is elevated.