It’s Back! The British Airways Visa From Chase With A 100,000 Mile Bonus

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Alright folks, the British Airways 100,000 sign up bonus is back. When the 100,000 deal came out last year, Mrs Credit Card and myself got into the act and we both got the card. The criteria to get the 100,000 miles is a little more strict than last year.

For the 2012 100,000 bonus miles deal, you will get 50,000 bonus Avios miles after you use the card for the first time. Then after you spend $10,000 within the first 12 months, you get 25,000 bonus miles. If you then spend another $10,000 (making it a total of $20,000) also within the first 12 months, you get another 25,000 miles. So in total, you have to spend $20,000 within the first year to get the 100,000 miles.

In contrast, we only had to spend $2,500 last year! So the criteria is definitely tougher. But it’s still 100,000 bonus miles. At present, this is the best sign up bonus deal in the market today (the Capital One Venture 100,000 points match just closed).

Recap: How It Worked In 2011

You get 50,000 miles when you make your first purchase.  You then earn the next 50,000 miles when you make $2,500 worth of purchases in the first 90 days. Beyond the generous sign up bonus, this is not a bad card.  You earn 1.25 miles per dollar spent, which is better than most cards that offer a mere 1 point/mile per dollar.  One of the key benefits of this card is a companion award certificate when you spend $30,000 in a calendar year.   This essentially doubles the value of your miles when you travel as a couple.

Chase recently announced that it would drop the foreign transaction fee for this card. The move made sense for a card clearly marketed to people who travel internationally.  While Chase is to be commended for the elimination of this fee, it absence further proves the lie that these fees, still charged on most of Chase’s other cards, are somehow necessary to offset the non-existent costs of currency exchange.

There is also a $95 annual fee that is NOT waived the first year.

Can You Really Call BA Mileage Redemptions Awards?

It may be exciting to imagine all the destinations that you and a partner could travel to with the 130,000 miles and the companion certificate that you will have once you spend $30,000 in a calendar year.  That great, but just don’t think for a moment that the travel will be free.

One of the things you have to be aware of BA Avios miles is the fuel surcharge they levy on you.  Unlike most airlines, British Airways charges hefty fuel charges for all of its awards.  The fuel charges go up with the length of the flight, the class of service, and the number of flights.  The even have the audacity to charge for fuel for carrying an infant on your lap!  Setting aside the obvious problem of imagining that an airline ticket should not include fuel, there is clearly no correlation with the amount of they charge and the fuel used.  The whole thing is a scam that forces you to incur tremendous costs to redeem awards.  It is certainly possible to pay over $1,000 in taxes, fees, and surcharges on an award ticket in a premium cabin.  In that sense, you can think of BA “awards” as merely discounts.  The coach “awards” are like 50% off whereas premium cabin awards can be closer to 80% off the normal ticket price. 

Partner Opportunities

Fortunately, there are other ways to use BA miles without paying outrageous fuel surcharges, but you won’t get to use your companion certificate.  BA is a member of the OneWorld alliance which includes carriers such as American Airlines, LAN, and Cathay Pacific.

Conclusions

This is a great signup bonus on a pretty good card. As long as you are aware of the crazy BA fuel surcharges, you can then decide if it will provide value to use as a vehicle towards a BA redemption. When it comes to accumulating miles for partner redemptions, it’s value is unsurpassed.

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