Travel Rewards Credit Cards

Apr 25

100,000 British Airways Avios From Chase (But Mind The Value Gap)

Six-figure bonuses are the new five-figure bonuses. At one point, a great sign-up bonus for a credit card was 25,000 miles. Now, you need to be pushing 100,000 before I get excited. Such is the case with Chase’s British Airways card, which is offering up to 100,000 miles as a sign-up bonus.*

Even if you don’t live in the UK, BA points are quite useful. They’re a member of the oneworld alliance, allowing you to use those points on any alliance carrier.

100,000 Avios from The Chase BA Visa Signature Card

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Please don’t use your miles to buy a bicycle, though.

The British Airways card from Chase is one of the standard high-value cards. It always has a good bonus, the question is, how good the bonus is at any given time. They used to have an offer for 100,000 Avios (the BA term for a mile) right at sign-up. Now, they make it a bit more difficult. In particular:

  • You’ll get 50,000 Avios after you spend $3,000 in the first three months.
  • After you spend $10,000 total in the first year, you’ll get another 25,000 Avios.
  • They’ll round you up to 100,000 Avios after you spend $20,000 in a year. That number sounds like a lot, but it’s under $2,000 in credit card spending per month.

The Award Chart

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Using Avios to fly on British Airways flights; Chart care of Flyertalk

BA has an unusual award chart. Their awards are based on the absolute number of miles that the flight is. The longer the flight, the more points it costs. BA does not publicize its award chart, but you can see all of your options at this Flyertalk post.

But Mind The Fees…

avios

It costs how much?!

Oddly, the last place that I want to use BA Avios is on British Airways. The reason is the obscene fees that they charge on premium class award tickets. The airline charges fees based on the underlying value of the ticket, meaning that a First or Business class award will still cost you some serious out of pocket cash. The flight above represents a one-way, business class ticket from Boston to London. So your “free” ticket costs you $506.10. Think those are all fees going to the airport and government? Think again. Here is the full chart:

avios

Ouch. Just, ouch.

Yup, the majority of those fees go back to BA, in the form of fuel surcharges.

Truthfully, the best use of BA miles used to be on partner airlines. In particular, you could fly on AA (or other oneworld members) for 4,500 Avios on a flight up to 650 miles. That provided great value in the northeast corridor. Those flights are now 7,500 Avios, although you can still use BA miles on Aer Lingus to fly from Boston to Ireland for as cheap as 13,000 miles each way.** Not a bad deal.

 


*Beginner’s Hint: 100,000 points is not the same everywhere. 100,000 miles will frequently get you a one-way international business class ticket, whereas 100,000 hotel points may only get you a few nights. Even within categories, you have to be careful of value. 100,000 Starwood points are worth far more than 100,000 Marriott points, since it costs far fewer miles for a room at Starwood than it does at Marriott. Of course, you earn fewer points per dollar spent at the latter than you do at the former.

**Last year at this time, Boston to Shannon or Dublin was Zone 4. Now, the flight is Zone 5. Did one of the cities move?

 

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