Since the dawn of reward credit cards, there have been countless offers of a free flight just for receiving a new card. But as this market has become more competitive, discriminating cardholders have begun to expect even more valuable sign-up bonuses. Chase is now offering its British Airways Visa with the potential to earn 100,000 miles as a sign-up bonus. And if you understand how this credit card and the British Airways frequent flier programs work, these miles are even more valuable than they appear.
About this offer
New cardholders receive 50,000 miles in British Airway’s Avios program after spending $1,000 within the first three months of opening a new account. An additional 25,000 miles are earned after making $10,000 in purchases within a year of opening an account, and a final 25,000 miles is received once the cardholder reaches $20,000 in spending during that first year.
But beyond the sign-up bonus, this card has some other attractive features. 2.5 miles are earned from each dollar spent on purchases from British Airways, while 1.25 miles per dollar are earned from spending on other purchases. This card is equipped with an EMV smart chip that is necessary for use at kiosks in Europe, and there are no foreign transaction fees. Finally, those who spend $30,000 with this card in a calendar year earn a “Travel Together” ticket that allows you to redeem two flight awards for the price of one, but only on award flights operated by British Airways. There is a $95 annual fee for this card, and this offer is expected to be available until February 27th.
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100,000 miles is enough for a business class award ticket to Europe, which normally sells for $4,000 or more. But to earn all of those 100,000 miles, you will have to spend $20,000. By the time you do that, you will have also earned at least another 25,000 miles for a total of 125,000 miles.
The great thing about the British Airways program is that mileage required for an award is based on the distance flown, so you need fewer miles for shorter trips. And thankfully, British Airways points can be redeemed for award flights on their partner, American Airlines.
This creates some incredible opportunities. For example, flights fewer than 650 miles, such as Chicago to Washington D.C., or Atlanta to Miami, are just 9,000 miles round trip. Therefore, cardholders can earn more than enough miles an astonishing 13 round trip flights!
Even longer flights between 651 and 1,151 miles require a mere 15,000 miles. So 125,000 miles would be enough for eight flights from New York to Miami or from Dallas to Cancun.
The downside of the British Airways system
As incredible as this deal can be, there are some serious flaws with the British Airways program. For example, award flights on flights operated by British Airways require the payment of massive taxes, fees and fuel surcharges. Fuel surcharges are so great on British Airways that it is often possible to purchase economy class tickets for about the price of their fuel surcharges alone. While those traveling in business and first class will find that their award ticket may cost over $1,000, many find this a small price to pay for the luxury of business or first class. In addition, the use of the Travel Together ticket requires
flights on British Airways and all taxes and surcharges must be paid twice. Fortunately, frequent flier experts have discovered that fuel surcharges are not imposed on award flights operated by partners such as American and Aer Lingus of Ireland.
This is one of the most valuable sign-up bonuses ever offered by any credit card issuer. At the same time, maximizing this offer requires that the cardholder spends $20,000 within a year. If you would normally spend this much, and can do so without carrying a balance, this is an incredible deal.
By utilizing six figures worth of miles for domestic short haul flights, or a business class international ticket, cardholders can earn thousands of dollars worth of airfare from this sign-up bonus.
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Image: Sean MacEntee, via Flickr