This is post #1 of a series regarding the British Airways Avios program.
- Earn Avios Points for British Airways Credit Card
- Earning and Redeeming a British Airways Companion Ticket
- Creating a Household Account with British Airways
- Top 10 Redemption Opportunities for British Airways Avios Points
- Get a $50 Statement Credit with British Airways Credit Card (this offer is no longer available)
The British Airways credit card is now at a steady 50,000 points for new applicants, after spending $2,000 in the first three months. While this is a good promotion, we have seen better in the past with a 100,000 point offer. Although, 50,000 points has been the norm recently and there is no saying when a higher offer might come available.
So you might be saying to yourself (if you live in the US) – “British Airways is an international airline and does not fly domestically.” While that is true, since British Airways is part of the OneWorld Alliance you are able to redeem your points for partner airlines (i.e., American Airlines, LAN, etc), making these points extremely lucrative and available for flights not just to Europe!
Quick Recap of the Credit Card Features:
- You will get 50,000 bonus Avios after you make $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
- $0 Intro Annual Fee The First Year, Then $95.
- Every calendar year you make $30,000 in purchases on your British Airways Visa Card, you’ll earn a Travel Together Ticket good for two years.
- In addition to the bonus Avios, you will also get 3 Avios for every $1 spent onBritish Airways purchases and 1 Avios for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
- Pay no foreign transaction fees when you travel abroad.
- Smart Chip Technology allows you to use your card for chip based purchases in Europe & beyond, while still giving you the ability to use your card as you do today at home.
British Airways Avios Program Overview:
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 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, allowing you to redeem for one-way trips. If you use your points strategically, the points earned could result in a lot of free travel! I personally value 50,000 points at a minimum of $1,000.
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 50,000 points can be valued at over $2,000 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 when booking your reservation to see the points required. Also, you redeem per segment, so if you need to go from Houston to Miami and it requires a layover in Atlanta (just as an example), you will need to pay for the Houston to Miami segment and then the Miami to Atlanta segment. This means flights with a layover typically cost more than non-stop flights.
- Short-haul: Only requires 4,500 points one-way! Typically, these are for flights less than 650 miles. As previously mentioned, 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.
- Medium-haul: Only requires 7,500 points one-way. The 50,000 points will allow you to fly from Boston to Miami 3 times round-trip. Typically this flight averages $300, so a savings of $900 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 25,000 points for a domestic flight, but it really depends on your needs. These 50,000 points from the bonus will give you 2coast to coast flights (plus $2.50 in fees per one-way).
- 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 BAs or AA operating flights. However, you can actually use your points to fly to Dublin, Madrid, and Barcelona and the fees are very minimal. These cities provide some of the best value when redeeming points!
- Japan: Similar to Europe, fees are over $650!
You can check out my Top 10 routes to maximize your British Airways points here.