Since I first published the news about the updated signup offer for the British Airways Signature Card, I’ve received a bunch of questions from readers.
The first thing to note is that this is a really good offer for a lot of people, but it will definitely help if you know a bit about how to best use British Airways points, also known as Avios.
A couple years ago this offer came around and lots of people took advantage of it. Many of them were able to use the points for some amazing trips, but others were frustrated with the fuel surcharges that British Airways charges for all its flights, even award tickets.
If you know what to do, fuel surcharges aren’t really a problem. You can either avoid them entirely or just make your peace with them as a small price to pay for an otherwise incredible value.
Here are a few questions and attempted answers about the offer.
What airlines can I use Avios points for?
You can use your Avios points for flights on any carrier in OneWorld. This includes British Airways, of course, but it also includes Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, Qatar Airways, Qantas, and many others.
Notably, it also includes American Airlines (AA) and Iberia. Why does that matter? Keep reading…
How can I avoid fuel surcharges?
If you want to use your Avios to travel transatlantic, you can book flights on AA (instead of BA) and pay no fuel surcharges, or you can book on Iberia and pay a small fuel surcharge (typically less than $100). This is in comparison to BA flights, where fuel surcharges can be quite expensive ($300-400).
Is this the single best credit card to get to earn miles?
Nope. As good as this offer is, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a better overall card. This card earns points in Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program, which transfers on a 1:1 basis to Avios and also many other travel partners. Maybe you don’t want to deal with Avios at all. With Ultimate Rewards points, you don’t have to. You can book free hotel nights through Hyatt or Marriott. Or you can just keep your points in the Ultimate Rewards program, free from worry about any devaluation since there are so many partners.
You’ll also earn double points on all travel and dining spend, in addition to other benefits. In other words, if you can only get one card, start with Chase Sapphire Preferred. If you already have that one, this is great for the additional bonus.
Is it ever okay to pay fuel surcharges?
Sure. When flying transatlantic and looking for space in premium cabins (First or Business Class), you’ll often find much better award availability on British Airways flights than on AA. Is it worth it to pay $300-400, in addition to your points, to fly up front? For lots of people, it is.
Keep in mind that tickets in premium cabins usually start at around $3,000 each, and can go up to $10,000 or more. Of course, that’s crazy—most of us would never pay that. But traveling with points gives you access to experiences that would otherwise be way too expensive. So if you can travel for nearly free with points, it may very well be worth it to accept the fuel surcharge in exchange for the great experience.
What if I can’t meet the minimum spend for the 100,000 bonus?
Last time this offer came around, earning the 100,000 points was pretty easy. This time, they’ve tightened up: you’ll earn the first 50,000 points after completing a $2,000 minimum spend, but you’ll only get the additional points (25,000 + 25,000, for a total of 100,000 points) after spending $10,000 and then $20,000 within a year.
There are some creative things you can do to meet higher spend requirements, and we cover them in more detail in the Travel Hacking Cartel. However, if you’re not able to meet those hefty spends or just don’t want to mess with it, I still think it’s a worthwhile offer. 50,000 points is a lot and can be used for multiple free flights.
I hope this is helpful to everyone who’s considering the offer. Oh, one more thing: the 100,000 points offer is only available for a limited time, and they haven’t said how long it will be. If it seems like a good fit for you, don’t wait to apply.