Full Review of British Airways Visa Signature Credit Card
Potentially valuable rewards
Companion ticket good for any cabin
Discounts on flights
Costly flight surcharges
No airline-specific benefits
Maximizing rewards can be challenging
- Potentially Valuable Rewards: Because of its membership in the oneworld alliance, we value British Airways Avios at 2.1 cents apiece. That doesn't necessarily mean you’ll get that rate every time you redeem, but the potential is there. Also, the airline’s partnership with Alaska Airlines and American Airlines means that you can use your Avios to book flights within the U.S. So whether or not you have plans for a trip abroad, you don’t have to worry about leaving your rewards to collect dust.
- Companion Ticket Good for any Cabin: You can qualify for the Travel Together Ticket when you spend $30,000 in a calendar year. The certificate is good for two years, which is double what you can typically expect from a companion certificate with other airline credit cards. You can use your Travel Together Ticket to bring your plus-one on the same flight and in the same cabin—that includes first class. Keep in mind, though, that it’s only good for flights with British Airways that originate in and return to the U.S., and you need to book your ticket with Avios. Also, you’ll need to pay taxes, fees, and carrier charges on both tickets, which can be steep.
- Discounts on Flights: If you're booking a flight to London with Avios and use your British Airways Visa Signature credit card to pay for the taxes and fees, you’ll get a $100 statement credit for economy and premium economy fares or a $200 credit for business-class or first-class tickets. You can get up to three of these statement credits per calendar year.
- Costly Flight Surcharges: One of the appeals of an airline credit card is earning award flights from your card spending. You typically need to pay taxes and fees, but most airlines charge just a few bucks each way. With British Airways, though, the cost of redeeming Avios for a flight can be hundreds of dollars. If you book a flight from Seattle to London, for instance, the total cost between taxes, fees, and carrier charges range from $682 to $1,250 in economy and $1,250 in business class. Double that amount if you’re using a Travel Together Ticket. Depending on where you want to go and which airline you’re using, it may not even be worth redeeming your rewards for the fare.
- No Airline-Specific Benefits: Most airline credit cards offer select perks whenever you fly with the co-branded airline. For example, you can usually expect a free checked bag for you and others on your reservation, priority boarding, in-flight discounts when you use your card, and possibly even more. With the British Airways Visa Signature credit card, however, you won’t get any of that.
- Maximizing Rewards can Be Challenging: Because booking award travel with British Airways is so expensive, you may need to spend some extra time finding good ways to use your Avios. For example, booking flights in the U.S. with American Airlines and Alaska Airlines may produce extra value, as can international flights with other members of the oneworld alliance. Figuring out how to maximize British Airways Avios may not be a problem if you relish the process. But if you’re looking for a straightforward rewards program, this one isn't it.
This Card is Best For
Seeks the recognition and perks of branded travel partner status
Flies often for business or leisure
Dines out regularly while traveling or in home city
Travels outside of U.S. on occasion or frequently
The British Airways Visa Signature credit card is best for seasoned travelers who enjoy the challenge of maximizing their rewards. It’s especially worth considering if you're a big spender and can earn the Travel Together Ticket every year. Just remember that the costs associated with an award flight with British Airways limit the value you'll get.
Even if you don’t spend enough to get the card's companion certificate every year, it may still be worth applying to take advantage of the airline's oneworld alliance membership. Through the partnership, you may be able to achieve significant value when redeeming your rewards for an international trip.
British Airways Visa Signature Credit Card Bonus
As a new cardholder, you can earn up to 100,000 Avios—that’s 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $3,000 in the first three months and an additional 50,000 Avios when you spend $20,000 total during the first year.
Most airline credit cards stick with a three-month period for bonuses, but you could potentially earn a lot more with this card if you can meet the full-year spending requirement. Even if you only spend enough to get the first half of the bonus, though, it’s still worth considering. Based on our research, 50,000 Avios are worth $1,050 (at $.021 per Avios).
Rewards Earning Details
In addition to a big one-time offer, the card also offers 3 Avios per dollar spent with British Airways, Aer Lingus, and Iberia; 2 Avios per dollar on hotel stays booked directly with hotels; and 1 Avios per dollar on everything else.
Many airline credit cards offer just 2 miles per dollar on purchases made with the airline. So if you're spending a lot on flights with one of those airlines and on hotels, you could rack up a healthy rewards balance fast.
Even if most of your purchases net you only 1 Avios per dollar, getting 2.1 cents per Avios is still impressive.
Rewards Redemption Details
The best way to redeem your British Airways Avios is by booking flights with one of British Airways’ partner airlines. As you do so, make sure to watch out for high costs that British Airways and other airlines may charge.
And remember, airline rewards redemption rates can vary. So while we calculated an average value of 2.1 cents per Avios, you may get more or less than that based on your redemption strategy.
For example, let’s say you want to fly from New York City to Johannesburg, South Africa. We found a main-cabin fare through British Airways for $1,864, or 58,500 Avios, plus $562 in taxes and fees.
Without the extra charges on the award ticket, you'd get an impressive 3.19 cents per Avios. But those extra costs drop your value per Avios to 2.23 cents apiece. That’s better than what other airlines average, but it can still be disappointing to lose value through surcharges.
Redeeming your Avios for flights will generally give you the most value. But if you want more flexibility, other options include:
- Flight upgrades
- Paying with Avios and cash
- Hotel stays
- Car rentals
- Travel experiences
As we researched redemption options through British Airways, we found several routes with limited award availability or none at all. So it may take some trial and error to find a solid redemption option.
British Airways, Aer Lingus, and Iberia have separate frequent flyer programs, but they all use the same currency: Avios. As a British Airways Executive Club member, you can transfer your rewards to either airline, giving you more flexibility with your redemptions.
You can’t transfer your Avios from British Airways to any of its oneworld alliance and other partners, but you can use your rewards to book flights with those airlines.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You’ll typically get more value out of redeeming your miles for award flights than any other option. However, it can take some work to find the best redemption value. This includes researching different itineraries and calculating how much value each one offers. You may need to try different dates and destinations.
To calculate how much your miles are worth, divide the retail cash price of the fare by how many Avios you'll need to book an award ticket. For example, divide $1,864 by 58,500 Avios to get 3.19 cents per Avios.
If you’re booking with British Airways, though, you’ll need to include the cost of the taxes, fees, and carrier charges in your calculation. If you have to pay $562 on top of your Avios for that $1,864 ticket, you’re essentially using your rewards to cover the remaining $1,302 of the cash price. If you then divide that amount by 58,500 Avios, you'll get 2.23 cents apiece.
Strategic redemptions can take time, but it can be worth it if maximizing your rewards is a top priority.
The average cardholder may be able to earn the first half of the card's bonus, spending $3,000 in the first three months for 50,000 bonus Avios, but possibly not the $20,000 total required to earn the additional 50,000 Avios.
You may also have a tough time spending $30,000 in a calendar year to qualify for the Travel Together ticket.
In this case, the bonus will be worth $1,050 based on our research, which is still impressive but not as valuable as what you could gain if you’re a big spender.
If you can spend enough to qualify for the full first year bonus, you’ll get $1,470 worth of award flights, based on our valuation of Avios. That might mean putting all of your regular spending on this card until you reach the $20,000 threshold or even using the card for purchases you might not normally pay for by credit card.
Either way, you could have enough for one or two international flights, or possibly even more if you’re flying domestic.
If you're ambitious, you may even manage to spend enough to earn a British Airways Travel Together Ticket. When you use the companion ticket on a flight, you essentially get double the value on your redemption because you’re receiving two award tickets for the price of one.
Remember that you’ll get a $100 or $200 statement credit if you use your British Airways Visa Signature credit card to pay for the taxes and fees on an award ticket to London. This will help boost the value of your redemption, and you’ll earn 3 Avios per dollar on the transaction.
British Airways Visa Signature Credit Card's Outstanding Benefits
- Baggage delay insurance: If your baggage is delayed by more than six hours, you can get up to $100 per day in reimbursements for essential purchases like clothing and toiletries, up to three days total.
- Lost luggage reimbursement: Covers you and immediate family members if your checked or carry-on luggage is damaged or lost. You can get up to $3,000 per passenger to recoup the loss.
- Above & Beyond events: As a cardholder, you’ll have access to special events, such as private tours, stays at luxury hotels, and more.
- Secondary rental car insurance
- Purchase protection
- Extended warranty
- No foreign transaction fees
In J.D. Power’s 2019 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study, Chase ranked fourth among national credit card issuers. However, its overall rating was just one point higher than the average.
Chase provides free access to your VantageScore credit score through its Credit Journey program. Unfortunately, more lenders use the FICO credit score, so having access to your VantageScore doesn’t provide as much value. Many card issuers offer free FICO score access.
If you need assistance, you can send a secure message through your online account or call the 24/7 customer service line, which is a standard service. You can manage your credit card account online or through the Chase mobile app.
With the Chase mobile app, you can lock and unlock your card, a feature that can come in handy if you lose the card and want to prevent someone from using it without your permission. This option isn't available with all credit card issuers.
The British Airways Visa Signature credit card is also a contactless credit card. This means that if you’re using a contactless card reader, you can tap your card instead of swiping or inserting it. This security feature is becoming more popular but isn’t available from all credit card issuers. It can make for a faster checkout experience and provides the same level of security as your card's chip.
The British Airways Visa Signature credit card has a lot of potential, but it can be tricky trying to get the most out of your rewards.
Consider the card if you expect to spend enough to earn the maximum first year bonus plus the Travel Together Ticket every year. Just keep in mind that if you use your rewards to fly with British Airways, you may get slapped with costly taxes and fees. If you’re looking to maximize the value you get from the card, use your rewards on flights with partner airlines that don’t assess steep carrier charges.
Also, if you want more flexibility with your rewards or fewer hassles with redemptions, consider a general travel credit card or another airline's card.