Aw, nerds! Looks like this offer’s expired and the bonus is back down to 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. It’s still a good offer, but you might want to check out the best sign-up bonuses out there.
That’s right, the British Airways Visa Signature® Card‘s 100,000-mile sign-up promo is back! The best part is that even though the bonus pays out in Avios (British Airways’ point system), you can redeem them for AAdvantage miles, giving you $1,000 of travel on American Airlines. Since BA is part of the OneWorld Alliance, you can apply the 100k Avios in the sign-up bonus to any partner airline. Whether you’re flying American or traveling internationally, this sign-up bonus can net you $1,000 of travel. Here’s how the bonus works: You get 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. If you spend $10,000 in the first year, you’ll get 25,000 more points, and if you spend $10k more ($20,000 cumulatively in the first year), you get an additional 25,000 points for a cool one hundred thousand.
The card earns a higher base rewards rate than most airline cards, giving 2.5 Avios per $1 spent on British Airways and 1.25 per $1 spent elsewhere. As mentioned before, you can redeem your miles on American Airlines, Cathay Pacific and its other partner airlines.* This means that the British Airways Visa Signature® Card earns 25% more miles for American Airlines than does the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®. Elite status earned on BA carries over to the other airlines as well.
*Caveat: you have to book flights between the US and UK on British Airways, if possible. So you can’t use your Avios to get a flight on American Airlines to London, but you can fly pretty much anywhere else, domestically or internationally.
Everything has a price
There are two major downsides of the British Airways Visa Signature® Card. The first is the annual fee of $95, which isn’t waived the first year, but which is more than mitigated by the sign-up bonus worth $1,000 of travel. The second is that if you do redeem your rewards for transatlantic airline flights, you have to pay taxes and fees in addition to forking over your miles. According to Chase’s website, you’re on the hook for about $650 in economy and $1,100 in business class from New York to London. That’s a pretty significant chunk of change. Still, the British Airways Visa Signature® Card has a lot to recommend it, not least because you can redeem your miles on airlines (like AA) that don’t have such heavy fees. Plus, it offers some great features for international travelers, including:
- EMV chip-and-signature technology, so you can actually use your card in Europe;
- A free companion ticket that you can use in any cabin, every year that you make $30k in purchases or more; and
- Waived foreign transaction fees, key for any self-respecting international credit card.
The British Airways Visa Signature® Card is one of the best options out there, offering you a good deal on domestic as well as international travel. If you’re a big spender, the companion ticket alone can be worth $500+ a year. You earn 25% more rewards than the standard airline card rewards rate of 2 miles per $1 spent on the airline/1 mile per $1 spent elsewhere. And it’s one of very few American credit cards that has EMV technology, which the rest of the world mocks us for not having and which is so widespread in Europe that many places don’t even accept clunky magnetic stripe cards anymore. If you’re leery of the annual fee but tempted by the bonus, an alternative is the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. It comes with a pretty decent sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. It does have an annual fee, however: $0 for the first year, then $95. Fortunately, the rewards more than make up for the annual fee. It has no foreign transaction fee, but unlike the British Airways Visa Signature® Card, it doesn’t have fancy perks like a companion ticket, EMV technology or a higher rewards rate.