Ultimate Review: British Airways Visa Signature Card

The British Airways Visa Signature® Card issued by Chase is a great choice of credit card if you want to earn Avios and if you fly regularly with British Airways. This article looks at the huge Avios rewards on offer, and the benefits with British Airways and elsewhere.

British Airways Visa Signature Card
The British Airways Visa Signature Card. Image: Simple Flying

Card Basics and annual fee

The British Airways Visa Signature® Card is a mid range travel card with an annual fee of $95. There are no fee waivers or APR discount offers in the first year, as seen with some cards. Ongoing APR is 18.24 per cent to 25.24 per cent.

No foreign exchange fees on purchases

There are no fees for purchases on foreign currency, overseas or online. For a travel focused travel credit card this is an essential benefit, and it’s good to see the British Airways Visa Signature® Card offering it. This applies to purchases, but not to ATM cash withdrawals.

London Westminster view
Save with commission free use of the card when you travel. Photo: User:Colin / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA-4.0

A massive sign up bonus – up to 100,000 Avios

The British Airways Visa Signature® Card offers an excellent tiered sign up bonus of up 100,000 Avios for new cardholders. This is one of the best bonuses on the market, but you have to spend significantly in the first year to get it! If switching from other Chase cards make sure first you are eligible for the bonus.

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You will receive a bonus of 50,000 Avios after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months. A further 50,000 Avios are awarded after spending a total of $20,000 over the first year of card ownership.

The value of this bonus varies of course depending how you use it. But we would expect you can get at least $1,000 of value using Avios for flight awards, and potentially much more.

British Airways Visa Signature sign up bonus
British Airways Visa Signature and its great sign up bonus for high spending. Image: Chase

Ongoing earning with British Airways Executive Club

The card rewards all spending with Avios points in the British Airways Executive Club. Avios are the rewards currency shared with British Airways and Iberia.

The British Airways Visa Signature® Card awards Avios at the following rates:

  • Three Avios per dollar for all spend with British Airways, Iberia and Open Skies
  • One Avios per dollar for all other spending
Avios logo
Image: British Airways

The earnings with British Airways and Iberia here are excellent, but elsewhere are not as high as with some other cards unfortunately. For example the excellent Chase Sapphire Preferred card offer two Ultimate Rewards points per dollar for all travel and dining spend, and three points per dollar are on offer with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. Ultimate Rewards points convert 1:1 to Avios.

Spending Avios points – plenty of flight options

It’s great to be earning plenty of Avios, but you want to be able to spend them for good value too! We really like Avios as a rewards currency. There are many options for spending with some great airlines. One thing to bear in mind however is that you won’t get the same flexibility and ability to transfer to multiple reward schemes as you do with Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

For a full discussion of Avios and spending options see our guide to the Executive Club. We discuss here just a couple of our favorite options.

Flights booked through the British Airways Executive Club are priced not by region but by flight distance. This can work out great value for short and medium haul flights with British Airways or any OneWorld partner airline. The shortest flights (up to 650 miles ) are just 4,500 Avios in economy with British Airways and 6,000 Avios with partners. In the US, all flights up to 1,150 miles with partner American Airlines are just 9,000 Avios each way. Taxes and surcharges are also lower with most partners!

American Airlines 737
Use Avios to fly with OneWorld partner American Airlines – particularly good value for otherwise expensive shorter flights. Photo: American Airlines

Off peak flights with British Airways. Flights are priced lower at off peak dates (defined by the Executive Club but generally peak dates align with UK school holidays), and is a nice way to save something! London to Los Angeles for example in Club World (business class) is 62,500 Avios each way on off peak dates and 75,000 on peak dates.

British Airways A321
Fly British Airways for a little less by choosing off peak dates. Photo: British Airways

Card perks – Earn a companion ticket with $30,000 annual spend

One of the top benefits of the British Airways Visa Signature® Card is the offer of a ‘Travel Together Ticket’ for each calendar year that you spend $30,000. This is a valuable offer that offers one free companion ticket when you redeem Avios on any British Airways flight. This can be worth thousands of dollars compared to premium cash tickets! You do need to pay taxes and charges for the second ticket and these unfortunately can be very high with British Airways. You should certainly take this into account, but you can still get good value!

The Travel Together Ticket can be used in any cabin with availability – the best value of course is when you use for long haul business or first class rewards. The Travel Together Ticket is valid for two years, on British Airways flights originating in the US. For more details see the BA website.

BA first class
Two can travel for the price of one in first class when you spend $30,000 in a year. Photo: British Airways

Enjoy a 10% discount on all British Airways fares

Another great benefit of the British Airways Visa Signature® Card is a 10% discount off all British Airways fares. Especially for premium tickets, this can be worth a lot and can easily offset the annual fee each year.

This is a very flexible offer. It can be used for one-way or return tickets for up to seven extra passengers, in any cabin. In addition, note that the discount applies to the total price (including the taxes and charges), not just to the base fare. See more details on the booking site.

One drawback though is that the discount must be used for flights originating in the US, and cannot include connections on other airlines. But if can work around this you can save a lot here!

Benefits of BA Visa Signature
Some of the benefits of the BA Visa Signature card. Image: Chase

Visa Signature benefits – travel and purchase security

As the card is a Visa Signature, there are a range of great extra benefits offering protection and insurance when you travel, and on purchases with the card. For full details see the card application terms or the Visa Signature details. These include:

  • Free Collision Damage Waiver when you rent cars. This is secondary cover, and will protect against theft or damage.
  • Insurance for delayed and lost baggage, with your main carrier.
  • Extended warranty protection, up to one year on original US manufacturers warranty for products purchased with the card
  • Purchase protection which will cover new card purchases for loss or damage for the first 90 days
  • Access to special deals and benefits with the Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection.
British Airways Visa Signature Card
Plenty of extra benefits with the British Airways Visa Signature Card. Image: Simple Flying

Final Thoughts

The British Airways Visa Signature® Card is a good choice for a mid-range card for the frequent traveler. If you will spend upwards of $30,000 a year, and travel with British Airways, then the rewards are well worth the annual fee. In the first year, you would receive a bonus of 100,000 Avios and one free companion travel certificate.

Whether the card represents good value for you beyond the first year depends mainly on how much you will spend with British Airways and Iberia (where you will earn triple Avios, and also receive a great discount on fares), and how much you value the companion certificate. If this doesn’t work for you, then you might do better with another card.

Avios is a great reward currency to earn, but the British Airways Visa Signature® Card of course is not the only way to earn Avios! Any card that earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points will allow 1:1 transfer of these to the British Airways Executive Club. These other cards obviously have their own offers and benefits – check out some of our favorite Chase cards here.

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