British Airways Visa Signature® Card Review: High Rewards and Travel Together Ticket

British Airways Visa Signature® Card Review: High Rewards and Travel Together Ticket

The British Airways Visa Signature® Card is a solid airline credit card that offers discounts on British Airways flights or rewards on partners like American Airlines or Alaska Airlines.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

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Quick facts

  • Earning rate: Earn 5 Avios for every $1 spent British Airways, Aer Lingus, and Iberia flight purchases within the first 12 months from account opening, thereafter earn 3 Avios. Earn 3 Avios for every $1 spent on hotel accommodations within the first 12 months from account opening, thereafter earn 2 Avios. Earn 1 Avios for every $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Sign-up bonus: 100,000 Bonus Avios after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
  • Annual fee: $95
  • Companion fare: Earn a companion ticket when spending $30,000 in a calendar year
  • Other airline perks: Up to $600 in flight statement credits on British Airways flights, 10% off British Airways flights starting in the U.S.

Pros

  • Outstanding sign-up bonus
  • You can earn up to $600 in flight statement credits on British Airways flights
  • 10% off British Airways flights starting in the U.S.
  • Earn a companion ticket when spending $30,000 in a calendar year

Cons

  • Only 1 Avios per $1 spent on most purchases
  • $95 annual fee
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Is the British Airways Visa Signature® Card worth it?

The British Airways Visa Signature® Card is worth it for frequent British Airways flyers, thanks to its outstanding welcome bonus as well as perks for earning and redeeming on British Airways flights.

However, it's not great for travelers who fly on other airlines. While the welcome bonus of 100,000 Avios is one of the largest offers available right now, it doesn't earn many Avios on most ongoing purchases.

Furthermore, those unfamiliar with the Avios program may find the rewards difficult to redeem. Cardholders considering the card for a trip to the UK may be in for a shock when they see the high fees required for transatlantic award flights.

Earn 100,000 Avios

One of the best reasons to apply for the British Airways Visa Signature® Card is its generous sign-up bonus: You can earn 100,000 Bonus Avios after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.

The card's current sign-up bonus is extremely valuable but can be difficult to redeem.

The 100,000 Avios offer is an outstanding one and is comparable (or maybe slightly better) than offers from similar airline credit cards. While 100,000 Avios sounds like an amazing amount, how valuable this bonus is will depend on how you use it.

Heads-up, though, before you jump on this generous offer: Avios can be difficult to redeem. The points are most useful for booking short domestic flights on British Airways alliance partners like American Airlines or Alaska Airlines.

  • A flight from New York to Charlotte, N.C., for example, costs 7,500 Avios + $5.60 in taxes.
  • While taxes and surcharges are low on domestic redemptions, Avios can come with very high surcharges, especially if you are flying on British Airways flights.

Learn more about redeeming Avios below.

Earn up to 5X Avios on British Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus

The British Airways Visa Signature® Card earns Avios points with each purchase, with a bonus awarded for purchases on British Airways and its partners:

Earn 5 Avios for every $1 spent British Airways, Aer Lingus, and Iberia flight purchases within the first 12 months from account opening, thereafter earn 3 Avios. Earn 3 Avios for every $1 spent on hotel accommodations within the first 12 months from account opening, thereafter earn 2 Avios. Earn 1 Avios for every $1 spent on all other purchases

The card is most rewarding for frequent British Airways flyers. Other travelers will be better off with a more flexible travel card.

The British Airways Visa Signature® Card is similar to many other airline credit cards like the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®, which incentivize cardholders to make purchases with the airline.

If you buy a lot of flights on British Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus, the British Airways Visa Signature® Card can make a lot of sense. If your travel is mostly on other airlines, you may earn more points on a generic travel card, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.

Redeeming Avios

Avios can be difficult to use, and often come with high surcharges. Counterintuitively, they're best used for short-haul U.S. domestic flights on partner airlines.

It can be tricky to redeem British Airways Avios for maximum value. Unlike many other airlines, British Airways has a distance-based award chart. That means the amount of Avios that are required for a free flight depends on the length of the flight. Also, flights on British Airways, Iberia or Aer Lingus have peak and off-peak dates for redemption, while partner flights have the same price regardless of the date.

Because of the distance-based award chart of British Airways, one of the best sweet spots for Avios is short flights on partner airlines. For travelers based in North America, those will usually be flights on American Airlines or Alaska Airlines. Flights that are under 650 flown miles in North America cost 7,500 Avios plus taxes and fees.

A flight award with British Airways can cost anywhere from a few thousand Avios to over 100,000 Avios. In addition to the cost in Avios, you may have to pay hundreds of dollars in taxes and fuel surcharges. This is especially true on flights from the United States to or from London. This can make the British Airways Avios rewards program particularly difficult to navigate.

  • For example, a Qantas flight from Sydney to Melbourne, Australia (439 miles) costs 6,000 Avios.
  • A British Airways flight from New York to London costs 20,000 Avios one-way in economy, and also requires you to pay $229 in surcharges.

British Airways charges miles based on distance for each leg of your itinerary. So you'll want to use your Avios for non-stop flights whenever possible. Otherwise, you'll be charged Avios for each connection that you make.

Oneworld alliance partners

In addition to using your Avios points on British Airways, you can use them on partners in the oneworld alliance. In fact, redeeming Avios on oneworld alliance partners can be one of the best uses of Avios points. There are 14 members in the alliance:

  • Alaska Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Finnair
  • Iberia
  • Japan Airlines
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qantas
  • Qatar Airways
  • Royal Air Maroc
  • Royal Jordanian
  • S7 Airlines
  • Sri Lankan Airlines

Companion pass

A major benefit of the British Airways Visa Signature® Card is the ability to earn a companion ticket. If you make $30,000 in purchases on your British Airways Visa Signature® Card during a calendar year, you'll get a British Airways Travel Together ticket. You can also get a second companion ticket by spending $30,000 during your first year of having the card.

A free companion ticket sounds like an amazing deal, but there are a few things to watch out for:

  • First of all, the Travel Together ticket is only available on an award booking. You cannot use it for a cash fare.
  • All travel must originate in and return to the United States.
  • You can redeem the companion pass on any class of travel, but you must pay the taxes and fees for both tickets, which can be extensive.

It can still be a good deal, but it takes some planning to truly maximize the deal.

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Other benefits

Here are a few other benefits of the British Airways Visa Signature® Card that you might be interested in:

The British Airways Visa Signature® Card offers different kinds of travel insurance:

  • Baggage delay insurance: You'll be reimbursed for essential purchases like toiletries and clothing for baggage delays over six hours, up to a total of $100 per day for three days.
  • Lost luggage reimbursement: If you pay for tickets with your British Airways Visa Signature® Card, you'll be covered up to $3,000 per passenger if you (or an immediate family member) have your luggage damaged or lost by the carrier.

The British Airways Visa Signature® Card does not charge any foreign transaction fees. This makes it an ideal credit card to use when traveling out of the country.

You can get a 10% discount on British Airways flights originating in the United States by using promotion code CHASEBA10. You must use this promotion code, which can't be combined with any other promotion codes or offers. The 10% discount only applies to the cost of the fare and not on bag fees or seat assignment fees.

You can get up to $600 in reward flight statement credits each calendar year when redeeming Avios for a reward flight to London on British Airways. You can get a $100 statement credit towards taxes, fees and other charges on a reward flight booking in either economy or premium economy, and a $200 statement credit for award flights booked in business or first class. You can get three credits per calendar year, for a maximum of $600 per calendar year.

If you make a new purchase with your British Airways Visa Signature® Card, you're covered for 120 days against damage or theft. You can be reimbursed up to $500 per claim and $50,000 total per account.

The British Airways Visa Signature® Card also comes with an extended warranty on purchases, which can increase the manufacturer's warranty by an additional year.

Drawbacks

  • Low rewards on regular spending: You'll only earn 1 Avios per $1 spent on most purchases, which is a below-average return on your spending.
  • $95 annual fee: While an annual fee is not uncommon on an airline credit card, you'll want to make sure you’re getting at least that much value each year to justify the annual fee.

How does the British Airways Visa Signature® Card compare to other cards?

Here's a look at how the British Airways Visa Signature® Card compares to some similar credit cards:

British Airways Visa Signature® Card vs. Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®

Verdict: Easier, more flexible miles with no fuel surcharges

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® by American Airlines offers a smaller welcome bonus, but also waives the annual fee for the first year, making it a better deal in the first year. While you get a smaller bonus, the American Airlines AAdvantage program is much less complicated to use, which may be attractive to some travelers. You'll also see fewer fuel surcharges when redeeming AAdvantage miles, including no fuel surcharges when flying American.

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® only lets you Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent at gas stations, restaurants, and on eligible American Airlines purchases. The free checked bag and in-flight food and beverage discounts on American flights could also be useful if you regularly fly American.

Highlights

  • Annual fee: Intro annual fee of $99, waived for first 12 months
  • Welcome bonus: Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earning rate: Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent at gas stations, restaurants, and on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • Other benefits: First checked bag free on domestic American Airlines itineraries, a $125 American Airlines flight discount after spending $20,000 on the card in a year and a 25% savings on food and beverage purchases on American Airlines flights

British Airways Visa Signature® Card vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

On Chase's Secure Website

Verdict: More valuable, flexible rewards

Unless you plan to get extensive value from the perks of the British Airways Visa Signature® Card (such as the companion ticket, 10% discount on British Airways flights or $600 in statement credits), the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card will almost certainly be a better option for you. The card offers a similar sign-up bonus that can be used for a variety of travel, including transfer to British Airways.

Highlights

  • Annual fee: $95
  • Welcome bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Earning rate: 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X points on dining and 2X points on all other travel purchases
  • Other benefits: Up to $50 in statement credits each year for hotel stays and the ability to transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to hotel and airline travel partners

British Airways Visa Signature® Card vs. Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

On Capital One's Secure Website

Verdict: A great option for cardholders who prefer simplicity

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is another card that earns flexible miles, which are good for all sorts of travel. Aside from the large sign-up bonus, cardholders earn 2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day. If your travel is not exclusively on British Airways, you may be better off with a card like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card that earns transferable points.

Highlights

  • Annual fee: $95
  • Welcome bonus: Enjoy a one-time bonus of 60,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $600 in travel
  • Earning rate: 2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Other benefits: Up to a $100 statement credit towards Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®, unlimited double miles on all purchases and access to Capital One airline and hotel transfer partners

Should you apply for the British Airways Visa Signature® Card?

The British Airways Visa Signature® Card is a decent co-branded airline credit card, especially if you often fly on British Airways, Iberia or Aer Lingus and know the Avios program. It can be worth getting the credit card for its sign-up bonus as well as some of the benefits, like the 10% discount on British Airways flights or $600 in award redemption statement credits.

You'll be better off putting most of your non-British Airways spending on a different credit card that earns a better return. If you're looking for a different travel credit card, you can check out our list of the best airline credit cards or best travel credit cards.

British Airways Visa Signature® Card FAQs

Does the British Airways Visa companion voucher work for round trips?

To use the British Airways Travel Together ticket, the main cardmember must book a round trip ticket originating in and returning to the United States. You must book and fly the outbound leg of your journey before your companion voucher expires, but the return flight can be at any time (as long as you've booked it before your companion voucher expires).

What is a Visa Signature card?

Visa has three different levels of credit cards — Traditional, Signature and Infinite. Each of these types of Visa cards is accepted everywhere that Visa is, but generally comes with a different level of benefits. The British Airways Visa Signature® Card is a Visa Signature, which is the middle of Visa's three levels.

Which bank issues the British Airways Visa Signature® Card?

The British Airways Visa Signature® Card is issued by JP Morgan Chase bank.

What credit score do you need for the British Airways Visa Signature® Card?

The British Airways Visa Signature® Card requires an Excellent/Good credit score. That means that you'll generally need to have a credit score of 750 or higher to be approved.

The information related to British Airways Visa Signature® Card and Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® has been independently collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply to American Express credit card offers. See americanexpress.com for more information.

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). ValuePenguin does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).