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British Airways has enhanced their credit card offer to give you up to
100,000 points! UPDATE: This offer is expired. The new offer is 50,000 points. We typically see this offer once or twice a year and I personally applied for this card the last time it was offered back in July. I love seeing new offers to help build points and miles balances, especially when it is a great offer! If you’ve been keeping up with this blog or other points/miles blogs you probably by now fully understand the potential value of British Airways Avios miles. They are definitely an interesting currency as the best usage are for flights that are not actually BA operated. There are some amazing hidden gems with these miles as you can redeem on other OneWorld partners, i.e, American Airlines, Iberia Airlines, Aer Lingus, etc.
Quick Recap of the Credit Card Features:
- 50,000 points after spending $2,000 in the first three months
- $95 annual fee (not waived the first year)
- Free companion pass valid for 2 years after spending $30,000 annually on your card (this must be within a calendar year, not a rolling 12-month time period) – it is also only good for a British Airways operated flight and you are responsible for the companion’s taxes and fees (which can be quite hefty)
- Earn 1.25 miles per $1 spent on all purchases and 2.25 miles per $1 on all British Airways purchases
- No foreign transaction fees!
British Airways Avios Program Overview:
While I am really glad to see this offer again, it is important to fully understand the program, now called “Avios”. There are many pros and cons with using these points and it is extremely important to fully understand the program before applying. Unlike many other programs, you redeem your Avios points based on distance and segments, not zones. Depending on your travel desire, this can be a huge advantage or disadvantage. Ultimately, the best redemption of your points will most likely be for US domestic short and medium-haul flights and those from the US to South America. One of the great perks with British Airways is that round-trip redemption is not required (unlike Delta), allowing you to redeem for one-way trips. If you use your points strategically, these 100,000 points could result in many thousands of dollars of free travel! I plan on getting about $3,500+ in free travel with these 100k points.
For a real life application, last April I booked Mr. Deals a flight from JFK to Montreal for 4,5000 Avios points + $2.50. This flight would have been $190, giving me a value of 4.2 cents per point. If I were to utilize the bonus points for this high redemption always, these 100k points can be valued at $4,222 worth of free travel!
Unlike other airlines, there is no standard chart outlining the points needed for an award redemption. In my opinion, this is one of the more frustrating aspects to the program. You will need to enter the two city pairs on this online calculator to see the points required. However, if there are no direct flights you will need to enter the individual segments and add up the points for segment to find the total points needed. For example, to check Houston to Atlanta which has no direct flights on American Airlines, you will need to enter Houston to Dallas (which is 4,500 points) and then Dallas to Atlanta (another 4,500 points). This means the total points needed for the entire Houston to Atlanta route will be 9,000 points one-way. For non-direct routes, you will need to do some prior research to check the connecting city. I personally use Kayak.com when searching for various routes.
US Domestic Redemption: As mentioned before, British Airways Avios miles can be used on American Airline operated flights. For US domestic flights, there are some great opportunities where it is cheaper to redeem Avios miles than American Airline miles.
- Short-haul: Only requires 4,500 points one-way! Typically, these are for flights less than 650 miles. I was actually able to redeem just 9,000 points for a round-trip ticket from NYC to Montreal (plus $53 in taxes/fees). This is for a ticket that would have cost $450! This was a redemption rate of 5 cents per point, which is amazing! Another great redemption would be from NYC to Toronto, another extremely expensive flight, but again only 4,500 points each way. The 100,000 points earned can get you 11 free round-trip flights, and if used on a $450 RT ticket, worth close to $5,000! This value is on the high end and will depend on your redemption.
- Medium-haul: Only requires 7,500 points one-way. The 100,000 points will allow you to fly from Boston to Miami 6 times round-trip. Typically this flight averages $300, so a savings of $1,800 and this is more on the conservative side.
- Long-haul: Requires 12,500 points one-way. This ends up being the same 25,000 points needed for a round-trip domestic flight that other carriers offer. Normally, I would not recommend redeeming 25k points for a domestic flight, but it really depends on your needs. These 100,000 points from the bonus will give you 4 coast to coast flights (plus $2.50 in fees per one-way). On the extreme conservative side, this will be worth about $1,000.
- South America: A great use of your Avios points as there are no fuel charges! The number of miles required will be based on your departing and arrival city. If you are able to swing a direct flight (typically JFK, LAX, MIA, DFW) you could redeem anywhere between 20,000 to 60,000. For those without direct flights, you will need to redeem additional points for the first segment. For flights to South America fees will only run around $100, which is not bad once you think about the cost of purchasing the ticket right out – over $1,000!
- Europe: Typically, not a great redemption as there are hefty taxes/fuel charges. Although a round-trip ticket from JFK to London is only 40,000 miles, the fees will run you $653.34! Dissimilar to American Airline miles, with Avios points you will get hit with these high fees regardless if redeeming on BA or AA operating flights. While the fees going to the UK is probably the highest of all of Europe, other European cities will still cost at least $500 – and this is just for coach! Business class will be at least $750 in fees. However, there are a few hidden gems: 1) Aer Lingus from Boston to Dublin or Shannon direct is 25,000 miles roundtrip; 2) American or Iberia from JFK to Barcelona or Madrid direct is 40,000 miles roundtrip!
- Japan: Similar to Europe, fees are over $650!
If you are looking to redeem for business class, you might find the value in flying to Europe as $750 in fees is far less than the $5,000 ticket it would cost – but I’d recommend using American Airline miles or a totally different alliance for these flights. Again, I am a coach kind of girl, so economy tickets would NEVER be worth it to Europe!
More information to come on best redemption opportunities, maximizing the companion ticket, and pooling all families points together.
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