British Airways Credit Card Review: Get 50,000 Bonus Miles!

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On the hunt for free airfare – say, a roundtrip business class ticket? Right now, the British Airways credit card is offering a massive signup bonus redeemable for both domestic and international flights. You’ll get 50,000 miles when you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months, and you can redeem your bonus miles for flights on American Airlines. In fact, the British Airways card is one of the better options for flying on American, especially if you’re doing mostly short or last-minute trips. Whichever airline you choose, you have $500 right off the bat. This is one of the biggest signup bonuses you’ll find today.

Rewards: not just your average airline card

Most airline cards tend to offer 2% back on airline purchases and 1% back on everything else. The British Airways card does it a little better. You earn 2.5 Avios per dollar spent at British Airways, and the base rate is 1.25 Avios per dollar spent on purchases across the board. Not a bad little bump. You actually earn 25% more American Airlines rewards with the BA Visa than with an American Airlines AAdvantage card.

Big spenders will also appreciate the opportunity to earn an annual “Travel Together Ticket.” Every year you charge $30k to your British Airways card, you will receive a voucher good for one companion ticket on a flight booked using rewards miles. The voucher is good for up to two years and is worth at least $200 (or 20,000 bonus points). If you use the companion ticket for a first-class or overseas voyage, your savings could potentially be in the thousands of dollars. For those who charge $30k annually, this is the most valuable recurring perk the British Airways Visa offers.

Foreign transaction fees? What foreign transaction fees?

Like any worthwhile international travel card, the British Airways charges no foreign transaction fees. The standard F/X rate is 3% on every out-of-country purchase (2.7% if you’re lucky). That means with most cards spending just $3,000 abroad incurs $90 in fees–nearly the cost of the British Airways Visa’s annual fee. Fortunately  the BA Visa waives the F/X fee altogether, saving you a substantial chunk of money on every international purchase.

Don’t be deterred by the annual fee

At $95, the annual fee may seem a little steep. If you do a decent amount of traveling, this should be of little concern to you. The signup bonus alone is worth about $500, and the ongoing rewards are well worth the cost if you use your card enough. Plus, the savings from free foreign transactions help to balance out the price.

Can I book flights on American Airlines with British Airways miles?

Being a cardholder makes you an ”Executive Club” member. As such, you will be able to redeem British Airways miles for flights on any of the OneWorld airlines. This includes American Airlines and its subsidiaries, giving you access to both domestic and international flights.

British Airways Executive Club members can now earn and redeem miles and earn Tier Points on all American Airlines flights. This includes transatlantic flights and British Airways codeshare services operated by American Airlines booked under the BA code.

There is one small caveat. When booking flights between the US and UK, you’re required to fly with British Airways if possible (instead of booking cheaper tickets with another airline). Still, you can redeem Avios miles with partner airlines to any other destination. For a thorough breakdown of how many miles are needed to fly with BA or its partner airlines to various worldwide destinations, check out this table.

Not ready to commit to BA?

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Apply Now

on Capital One's
secure website

Rather than dedicating yourself to a single airline, you can use a card like the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card for a wider variety of travel rewards. This is actually our favorite travel card, as it offers 2 miles for every dollar spent anywhere. You can redeem miles for flights on any airline, stays at any hotel or car rentals with any agency. The Venture does not charge a foreign transaction fee. Its annual fee is lower than the BA’s at $0 intro for first year; $59 after that. We adore the Venture for its simplicity and versatility. The BA does have a larger signup bonus, and the companion ticket is a great deal, but the Venture’s bonus is nothing to scoff at: Enjoy a one-time bonus of 40,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months, equal to $400 in travel

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card
Apply Now

on Chase's
secure website

Another top-of-the-line travel card is the Chase Sapphire Preferred. The has a signup bonus of 40,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards when you spend $3,000 . Rewards accumulate at 2 points per dollar spent on travel and dining and 1 point per dollar everywhere else. Your points are worth 25% more when redeemed for travel booked through Chase. The Sapphire has the same $95 annual fee as the British Airways card but is waived the first year. As you might expect, the Sapphire also has no foreign transaction fee.

The OneWorld Alliance

  • American Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Finnair
  • Iberia
  • Japan Airlines
  • LAN
  • Malev
  • Mexicana
  • Qantas
  • Royal Jordanian
  • S7 Airlines
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  • Loras Freihoefer

    I signed up last year for the 100,000 bonus program which was similar. One thing I found out to my surprise is that when you go through the BA website to book flights for American Airlines, you use less miles than you would on the exact same flights on the American Web site. So for my 100,000 miles I was able to book 5 round trip tickets from Dallas to New York. So that makes the miles worth even more in my book.

  • George

    I’m torn between the Chase Sapphire Preferred and this BA card. Though Chase points are worth 25% more when booking through them and booking through BA increases the value of their points, that doesn’t always get the best price for a trip, no? Am I being persnickety or is that a real consideration? If it is a consideration, does one hold an advantage over the other? Do you know what bank the BA card is through? Thanks for this wonderful site.

  • Reg

    Does BA charge a lot in taxes and fees? I couldn’t try to book a flight using Avios without being an exec club member, but on the credit card’s website, it said:

    Reward Flights
    At time of this publication all British Airways reward flights and travel together tickets are subject to fuel surcharges, taxes and fees of approximately $650 per person based on travel from New York to London in economy class or $1100 per person in business class.

    I just booked a one way to London on United and it was onlye $2.50 in taxes and fees, and other cities were only between $30-40 in taxes and fees. $650 seemed really high – is that how they make up giving such a big mile bonus?

  • Ashoksaluja

    BA’s reward flights are ripoff–taxes and fees are outrageous..should be illegal

  • Andrew

    Got a “Free” flight from Los Angeles to London for only $598. Cost me about 69,000 of the 100,000 miles I was given. Yes, I had to pay almost $600 in taxes and fees, but it still saved me about $500 so well worth it IMO not to mention I used it all over Europe and didn’t have to pay the extra 3%.

  • Osilenceoo

    I transferred my AMEX points( 50,000 that I got from an amex promotion) to BA Executive club account when they did a 50% match promotion. Then CHASE/ BA last year did a 100,000 bonus points for spending $2500 on the card in 2 months. Before I knew it I had banked up around 200,000 points by utilizing both promotions. I have traveled to China ( $450 in taxes each trip) twice and booked two tickets to cabo ( $123 in taxes for each ticket) and two tickets to hawaii ( $70 taxes total for both) for weddings this coming year. It has saved me now nearly $5,000 on airfare. I have now given my girlfriend a chase BA card of here own to help rack up more points. The reality is British airways charges less points to fly than any other airline I can find. I looked at using my AMEX points to get to cabo and they wanted 3x the point that BA did. This card is a no brainer! Oh ya not paying the 3% international credit card fees when you use the card out of the U.S. adds up super fast too if you travel a ton like I do.

  • Doug_NYC

    BA should mean BAit and switch!! I currently spend around $10,000.00 per month on my Mastercard with Chase. So this looked good and I switched to the BA Visa. When my bonus came in it was 25,000 not the advertised 50,000. The customer service gentleman told me that I did not qualify so they were giving me a lower bonus. He could not tell me why I did not qualify. The online promotion is quite clear. Is this really BRITISH?? What a bunch of crooks. I just can’t tell if it’s BA or Chase who are the slimeballs.

  • http://www.facebook.com/carl.axness Carl Axness

    Got the card in Aug 2012. The points are not as generous as described here. 25,000 on first purchase and another 25,000 if you spend $2500 in the first 90 days, I believe. Costs $95. The xchange rate is adjusted so they make one percent on each transaction. I compared with x-rates on three purchases. My credit union also charges 1% on my debit card. Just the same if the 1-1 transfer to AA miles holds it will be worth it for me. If they change tha, I will probably go with another card. If anyone knows of a card that REALLY transfers with no fee please post it here.