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British Airways Card Rolls Out Underwhelming New Offer

May 2, 2019
Airline Credit Cards, Credit Cards, Promos, Rewards Credit Cards, Travel Credit Cards
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The British Airways Visa Signature® Card has introduced a new offer, effectively reducing the number of points (or “Avios”) most new cardholders would earn in the first year. Depending on how much or how little they spend, the change could be drastic, or relatively minor.

As of Jan. 30, 2019, the card offers:

  • Earn 4 Avios for every $1 spent on all purchases within your first year up to $30,000. That's up to 120,000 bonus Avios. Every calendar year you make $30,000 in purchases on your British Airways Visa card, you'll earn a Travel Together Ticket good for two years.

After your first year, you’ll drop back to earning the card’s current regular rewards rates:

  • 3 Avios for every $1 spent on British Airways purchases.
  • 1 Avios for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

(Avios can be used to fly British Airways, or to book tickets at any of the airlines in the Oneworld alliance, including domestic carrier American Airlines.)

The previous offer

Prior to Jan. 30, 2019, the British Airways Visa Signature® Card offered a tiered sign-up bonus that allowed you to earn up to 100,000 in bonus Avios in your first year, structured this way:

  • 50,000 bonus Avios after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.
  • 25,000 additional bonus Avios after spending $10,000 total on purchases within your first year from account opening (for a possible total of 75,000 bonus Avios.)
  • 25,000 more bonus Avios after spending $20,000 total on purchases within your first year from account opening (for a possible total of 100,000 bonus Avios.)

Terms for earning and using a Travel Together Ticket did not change.

(As of Jan. 31, 2019, this older offer is still available via Chase’s website.)

A key difference is that under the old formula, the bonus Avios you received came on top of the Avios you earned through spending. Under the new system, you simply get 4 Avios per dollar up to the $30,000 spending limit. You don’t unlock a big bonus by hitting a spending tier.

» MORE: Full review of the British Airways Visa Signature® Card

Not an improvement for lower spenders

At first glance, the new offer seems better overall: 120,000 potential bonus Avios vs. 100,000. But it’s a worse deal for most spenders, and much worse for smaller spenders:

  • Under the old offer, $3,000 in spending in three months was enough to get you a minimum of 53,000 Avios: at least 3,000 earned through spending (at 1 Avios per point) plus 50,000 as a bonus. Now, that same amount of spending nets you only 12,000 Avios.
  • Previously, $10,000 in spending in a year earned you at least 85,000 Avios — a minimum of 10,000 from your spending plus 75,000 bonus Avios. Now, the same amount of spending gets you a mere 40,000 Avios.

When cardholders start pushing the limits of the offer, they start making up ground compared with the previous offer:

  • Someone spending $20,000 in a year goes from at least 120,000 Avios under the old system to 80,000 under the new one.
  • A cardholder spending $30,000 in the first year (again, at 1 Avios per point) would have earned a minimum of 130,000 Avios previously. Now, that person would earn 120,000 Avios, the max possible under the 4X rewards rate.

Above $30,000 in the first year, some cardholders might come out ahead compared with the previous system if a lot of their additional spending is with British Airways. But in most cases, people who spend enough to have hit the old tiers will get a smaller haul of Avios now than they would have before.

What hasn’t changed

Other key attributes of the British Airways Visa Signature® Card remain the same:

  • Annual fee: $95.
  • Foreign transaction fees: None.
  • Travel Together Ticket: Earn a Travel Together Ticket every calendar year you make $30,000 in purchases on the card. It’s good for two years and can be a valuable perk, even despite British Airways’ notoriously high carrier surcharges. (See here for more information.)

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