About British Airways Visa Signature Card

By J.R. Duren
HighYa Staff Published on: Apr 17, 2017

The British Airways Visa Signature Card is an airline rewards credit card offering new customers the chance to earn 100,000 frequent flyer points if they can spend $30,000 in the first year of owning the card.

What sets this card apart from other airlines reward cards is that no other card offers the number of frequent flyer miles this card does.

Of course, choosing an airline rewards card is more than just finding the most miles. What makes or breaks the decision for some potential cardholders is the list of extras they get. Are there free bag perks? What about priority boarding? Are there opportunities for extra miles on your cardmember anniversary?

So, to figure out if the British Airways Visa Signature is the right credit card for you, we’ll have to dig into the topics most important to consumers:

  • What are the card’s best benefits?
  • How valuable are the miles?
  • What are the rates and fees?
  • What are other consumers saying about this card?

Once we’ve worked through each of these questions, you’ll have a really good idea of this card’s strengths and weaknesses.

The British Airways Visa Signature Card’s Best Benefits

When you’re talking about airlines rewards cards like the British Airways card, most people are interested in two main benefits: earning miles and flight perks.

Earning Points With the British Airways Visa

British Airways frequent flier points are known as “Avios” and are deposited into the BA loyalty program known as the “Executive Club”.

Intro Bonus

If you can spend $3,000 in the first three months, you’ll get 50,000 Avios points deposited to your Executive Club account within six to eight weeks of hitting that spending mark.

On top of this spending bonus, British Airways gives two chances to earn more Avios points:

  • Earn 25,000 points if you spend $10,000 in the first year
  • Earn 50,000 points if you spend $30,000 in the first year

Simply put, if you can spend $3,000 in the first 90 days and $30,000 in the first year, you’ll get 100,000 miles.

In our opinion, $30,000 is an attainable goal for a family of three or bigger. Based on 2015 numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we estimate that the average American family can spend at least $24,000 on their credit card each year.

This number would certainly increase in metropolitan areas like Seattle, New York and San Francisco where the cost of living is higher than normal.

Now, for someone who is single, this spending goal is a little harder to reach.

Everyday Bonus

You also have the ability to earn points for every dollar you spend with your British Airways Visa Signature.

You’ll get three points for every dollar you spend on purchases with British Airways, Iberia or Open Skies airlines. This bonus includes airfare and in-flight purchases.

You’ll earn one point for every dollar you spend on everything else, not including money-based purchases like traveler’s checks.

Free Companion Ticket

If you can spend $30,000 in any year of owning the British Airways Visa, you’ll get another great perk in addition to the 50,000 bonus Avios: a “Travel Together Ticket.”

This ticket is what’s known as a companion pass, which means you can use it to book a seat for a traveling partner when you use your Avios to buy your own seat

There are a couple of restrictions, though. First, you can only use the Travel Together Ticket for flights starting and ending in the United States. Second, the companion pass is only good for two years.

Also, you can only use the ticket on British Airways flights and not on the flights from other carriers in the Oneworld network.

The final reminder: You’re on the hook for any taxes or fees for the flight. If you’re flying international, these taxes and fees can be between around $600 and $1,200.

How Can You Use Avios Miles and What Are They Worth?

Let’s get back to the bonus points you get with the British Airways Visa, because we think those points (and the companion ticket) are the strength of this card.

When you’re dealing with a big, international airline like British Airways, you have the advantage of using your frequent flyer miles to book flights with the airline’s partners. British Airways American partner is American Airlines.

Some of British Airways international partners include:

  • Finnair
  • Iberia
  • Qatar Airways
  • Qantas
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Royal Jordanian

According to rewards site Miles Card, you can book all these flights on British Airways’ website, BA.com. There is a loophole in this system: Alaska Airlines.

According to TravelMiles101.com, American Airlines’ website allows you to book Alaska Airlines flights. You’ll know the flight you want is operated by Alaska because the flight number begins with an “AS”.

Once you find the flight you want, you call the British Airways customer service center and book the flight you want using your Avios points.

There are some nuances to this method of booking, so we suggest reading through the post at TravelMiles101.com.

As for how much your miles are worth, we referred to TravelMiles101.com. Flight redemption values are based on the miles traveled during the flight:

Miles chartImage credit: TravelMiles101.com

The British Airways Visa Signature’s Rates and Fees

Anytime you pay late or you don’t pay off your entire balance on your bill’s due date, Chase, the company who issues your card, will charge you certain interest rates and fees:

  • APR: 16.49% to 23.49% on purchases and balance transfers
  • Annual fee: $95
  • Late fee: $37 on balances more than $250
  • Foreign transaction fee: None
  • Balance Transfer fee: 5% or $5, whichever is more

The APR on this card is an interest rate you’re charged on any remaining balance after you make a payment. On cards with no-interest offers for purchases and balance transfers, you don’t have to pay any interest for a certain amount of time.

However, the British Airways Visa is not one of those cards. From the moment you buy something with this card, you can be charged interest if you don’t pay off your balance in full.

Chase calculates your interest by dividing your APR by 365, then multiplying that number by your daily balance. The total amount of all the days in the month is your interest payment.

According to Credit Card Forum, just under 30% of credit card customers pay off their balance in full, but around 40% carry a balance.

Our advice is to pay off your balance in full every month. If you don’t the interest charges you pay eat away at the value of your Avios points. After all, what good is a free $500 flight if you pay $500 in interest over the course of the year?

What Other People Are Saying About the British Airways Visa Signature Credit Card

To give you a sense of perspective, we took a few minutes to see how other credit-card sites rated the British Airways Visa Signature. We also took a quick look at consumer reviews.

Expert Reviews

Here’s a short list of grades given to the British Airways card from the experts:

  • ValuePenguin: 85 out of 100
  • WalletHub: 3.3 out of 5
  • CreditCards.com: 4.2 out of 5
  • Upgraded Points: 4 out of 5

Some of the points brought up by these sites is that your Avios points don’t expire and you won’t be charged a fee for booking your ticket within a month of your departure.

WalletHub knocks the card for having a high APR, but we’d say the APR is average for chase credit cards and on par with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, hailed by many as the best travel rewards credit card.

CreditCards.com says the card’s companion ticket isn’t as great as it sounds because you have to spend so much money to get it. However, we’d argue that it’s a great perk for families because they spend more and are, by nature of the family size, the perfect fit for free companion travel.

Upgraded Points echoed our observation about the sizeable fees you could end up paying on a rewards flight, noting that these fees are “painfully more expensive” than other carriers.

Keep in mind: These reviews are dated because they don’t include the 100,000-mile offer. If they were up-to-date, we believe the ratings for this card would be significantly higher.

Consumer Reviews

There was a time when the British Airways Signature Visa gave you 1.25 Avios per dollar you spent with your card. That benefit was taken away and when it was, British Airways faithful were pretty frustrated.

Seven reviewers on Nerd Wallet gave the card a dismal average of 1.9 stars. One reviewer complained that it’s really hard to book rewards flights on British Airways partners like American Airlines. There were also several complaints about the high fees you pay for international flights.

One reviewer said it’s really hard to book a flight with Avios, as rewards seats were limited.

More than 300 reviewers on WalletHub gave the card considerably better scores: 3.7 stars out of 5.

However, judging by the fact that many of those reviews took place before British Airways reduced the Avios bonuses, we think the overall rating would be lower were the reviews more recent.

Our Final Thoughts About the British Airways Signature Visa Credit Card

After doing our own research on this card and consulting the research of other experts as well as consumers like you, we have mixed feelings about this card.

The Pros of the British Airways Signature Visa

If you’re a big spender or you naturally spend more than the average person because you have a family, then this card has some pretty incredible miles rewards the first year you own the British Airways Visa.

Plus, the prospect of getting a free companion ticket can bring tremendous value to people who own this card.

The Cons of the British Airways Signature Visa

You’ll find yourself in a bit of a jam when you want to use your Avios because, as consumers have pointed out, it can be difficult to find rewards flights with British Airways and American Airlines.

Should you find an international flight you’d like to take, multiple sites – including British Airways – have pointed out that you could pay as much as $1,200 for your “free” ticket.

Also, the card doesn’t get you any free baggage allowances or priority boarding like other cards do.

Good for British Airways Fans, But Not for Many Others

If you’re loyal to the British Airways brand, then you may enjoy this card because of the intro miles and companion ticket.

However, if you plan on taking domestic flights in the U.S., you may want to consider another credit card. Our Best Airline Rewards Credit Card of 2017 article includes some great suggestions for alternative cards.

Some of our top choices are the United MileagePlus Explorer card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card and, for budget travelers, the Frontier Airlines World Mastercard.

However, airline cards aren’t your only options. Travel rewards cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Capital One Venture card are popular choices for people who want flexibility with miles and/or points.

You can get a great overview of which travel credit cards are best by reading our Best Travel Rewards Card of 2017 article, in which we walk you through 10 different categories and rank five different cards.

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