Chase British Airways Avios Sign-up Bonus: Is it Good for Your Family?

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Update – the offer has ended.  Congrats to all who were approved!

I posted a little last week about the limited time Chase British Airways 100,000 Avios sign-up bonus that came out, but now want to dig a bit deeper into the details of that deal to see if it is a good fit for your family.  First, it goes without saying that 100,000 Avios is a huge sign-up bonus.  It isn’t unheard of as there have been a few offers of that size in the last year or so, but it is still not very common, and is enough to get most anyone’s attention.  However, those huge sign-up bonuses seem to be coming with more strings attached this year than they did last year.  That was true of the Capital One 100,000 point offer that has already ended, and it is true with this British Airways offer.

 

To get the 100,000 Avios associated with this offer, you are awarded the first 50,000 Avios after using the first purchase on the card, then you have to spend $10,000 within the first year to get an additional 25,000 Avios, and an additional $10,000 to get the final 25,000 Avios.  To put it another way, the first 50,000 Avios are awarded by spending as little as a few pennies on the card, but the last 50,000 Avios require $20,000 in spending on the card within the first year.  You do have to pay the $95 annual fee on the card, as it is not waived the first year.

Application Link: British Airways Visa Signature Card 100,000 Avios Offer

Clearly the first 50,000 Avios are a very solid offer.  Until recently, the standard offer for this card only awarded 50,000 Avios total, and to get that 50,000, you had to spend a couple thousand dollars within the first 90 days to get it.  So, even if you only ever get the initial 50,000 Avios, it is still worth considering.  You could just pretend the second 50,000 didn’t exist if you wanted to.  The second 50,000 Avios are a harder call for many families, as it will require some financial commitment to hit the spending threshold for those Avios.  Keep in mind that since this card awards 1.25 Avios per dollar for each dollar charged on the card, the true offer is 125,000 Avios for $20,000 in spending (that is 100,000 in bonus Avios, plus 25,000 earned via spending $20,000 on the card).  Depending on how you look at it, it comes to 6.25 points per dollar for the first $20,000 spent on the card for all purchases to get the full bonus – which is amazing.

If you took the full 12 months in the year to spend $20,000 on the card, that would come to about $1667 dollars per month on this card.  If your family is putting their gas, groceries, cell phones, cable, etc. on this bill that is probably doable for many families, but you have to also factor in the opportunity costs of not putting that spending on other cards to utilize their bonus spending categories and/or meeting other minimum spends on other rewards credit cards.  The highest minimum spending requirement I have personally had for a sign-up bonus was $10,000.  It took several months for my family to hit it, but that was okay with me as I am not applying for a very high number of cards each year, so I didn’t mind devoting a few months of spending to one sign-up bonus.  Obviously $20K is twice as high as $10K, but 100,000 miles from one card and one credit inquiry is worth considering none the less for some families.

Of course, the “new” British Airways Avios points are a very good fit for my family, so devoting several months of spending to one card in order to get the points would make more sense to my family than to a family that doesn’t place a very high value on Avios.  I plan to do a separate post about my favorite ways to use Avios points, but in a nutshell the real strength of Avios for many families is short-haul trips on airlines other than British Airways.  I know it sounds crazy at first to get a British Airways card without intending to fly on British Airways, but it works very well.  Domestically, many of the flights you will be using your Avios on are American Airlines or Alaska Airlines flights.  However, you will be using the British Airways Avios system to price and pay for your reward tickets.

The new Avios system is distance based, which is a big change for those used to many of the traditional US frequent flyer programs.  For example, with United, flying from the New York City area to Miami would cost 25,000 miles roundtrip on a saver level award ticket for a flight that is a little over 2,000 miles roundtrip, but flying from Miami to Los Angeles on United is also 25,000 miles for a roundtrip saver award ticket, even though that flight is over twice as long as the flight from the NYC area to Miami.  However, with the Avios system, an award ticket from the NYC area to Miami would be 15,000 Avios roundtrip while a roundtrip direct ticket from Miami to LAX would be 25,000 Avios due to the longer distance.  This can be very advantageous if your travel plans are more often on shorter routes than long routes.  However, to make matters slightly more complicated, Avios charges based on each segment.  So, Miami to Los Angeles can be flown on a direct American Airlines flight for 25,000 Avios roundtrip, but if the trip had connections, then the price in Avios would likely increase as each segment is charged individually, and at a minimum of 4,500 Avios per segment.  My favorite way to quickly get an idea of how many Avios will be required for a trip is to use The Wandering Aramean’s Avios Calculator.

I’ll post more on those details in a separate post, but for now know that the real strength domestically for Avios is often when flying into or out of an American Airlines hub (Dallas, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Miami) or on any other direct domestic routing using one of British Airways’ partners.  In addition to domestic flights, since Avios is a distance-based program, there are also very good deals on routes such as JFK to some of the closer cities in Canada, from Dallas, Miami, or JFK to some of the spots in the Caribbean, from Miami to South America, and from JFK to Dublin (most of the other European cities have very high taxes and fees that make them not as good of a deal for many families – at least in economy).  Anyway, more on that later, but hopefully that gave you a taste of what Avios can be used for.

Personally, my family has so far used 15,000 Avios to fly roundtrip from Houston to Chicago and 18,000 Avios to fly roundtrip from Houston to Wichita.  (If we were willing to drive to Dallas and then fly from there it would only be 9,000 Avios roundtrip to Wichita, but it is twice as much from Houston due to the connection in Dallas, with each segment pricing at 4,500 Avios).  Those are certainly not the kind of redemptions that get your heart racing, but both made good sense given the redemption rate and how much paid tickets were going for.  I plan to use Avios in some other ways in the future, but right now they are a solid option for us getting to AA hubs and staying connected with family within the US.

Which brings us back to the 100,000 Avios British Airways credit card offer.  Let’s just take the relatively unexciting Houston to Chicago trip.  Taking just the sign-up bonus, with 100,000 Avios, I could get six free roundtrip tickets on that route with some points left over.  Let’s say I would otherwise be paying $250 for that route (which would be a very conservative average), then six free tickets would be worth $1500 to me.  I would also still have 10,000 points left, and could do a Dallas to Wichita roundtrip to visit family. So, for me that could be seven free trips worth over $1500 for one credit card sign-up.  Your value will certainly be different than mine, but that should give you an idea of how valuable this deal can be.

Here are the rest of the details of the 100,000 Avios Chase British Airways Visa Signature deal:

  • Up to 100,000 Avios awarded (see above for more details regarding spending requirements)
  • $95 annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1.25 Avios earned per dollar spent
  • 2.5 Avios earned per dollar spent on British Airways
  • “Travel Together” ticket annually if you spend $30,000 on the card in a calendar year.  This is basically a “buy one, get one free” reward ticket, but the flight does have to be on a British Airways-operated flight, so the taxes and fees can be very high.  More on this in a separate post as it can be very useful in some circumstances – especially if you are already going to be putting $20,000 on the card to get the sign-up bonus.
  • Smart chip technology
  • This deal is for first-time British Airways cardholders only.

While I wish this deal was 100,000 Avios awarded on first purchase, that is just not the reality of these mega-offers right now.  I personally find 50,000 Avios on first purchase to be a very solid deal, and I certainly understand why Chase would want to see a hefty amount of spending on the card in order to get the second half of the sign-up bonus.

What are your thoughts on this offer?  Do you plan to apply, or is the high spending requirement for the second half of the bonus too much to make this deal valuable for your family?

 

Disclaimer:  I do receive a commission if you are approved for the British Airways card using my link.  As always, your support is most appreciated.  😉

 

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Comments

  1. This is ridiculous. Rather than putting spend on groceries/gas and office supplies on the Chase Sapphire Pref or Ink Bold respectively, generating valuable Chase points at 2x or 5x the rate, you recommend putting then on this piece of junk to get worthless Avios points?

  2. I think it’s worth pointing out that the award tix on Alaska Airlines are as valuable for West Coast flyers as on AA (except the $30 phone fee since you have to phone to book award tix on AS) and AS has more West Coast- Hawaii flights!

  3. @MPer – basically same principle as AA, still distance based, still segment based, so if you can find a direct flight on AS – say SEA to PDX would be 4500 miles one way, or SEA to HNL is 12500, but as SteveA points out, you have to phone it in. Even though Alaska isn’t in OneWorld, they are still a BA partner, therefore you can redeem under the same rules as AA.

  4. I wish I could apply for the card again! The Avios points have saved our family $$$ in last minute award fees as well as miles in the past few months. You can redeem those Avios points on a last minute AA flights and not pay any extra fees. (I have noticed that American releases extra award seats just after the 21 day window passes.) You can also make changes or cancel your award seats and get back your miles (small fee) until 24 hours before your flight. We have booked DFW-BOS (20K Avios RT)for New Year’s and DTW-DFW (15K RT)…both considered short-haul, but longer than a day’s drive. An added benefit was that these flights were non-stop, and if I had paid for the trip in dollars, most likely the cheapest way would have been with one or 2 stops…not good in the winter months. Needless to say, we have no status in either airline, and we fly economy since it is all on our dime.

  5. Anyone with success getting this (again) after canceling their previous BA Chase card? I got last year’s 100K card then cancelled early fall.

  6. The Avios don’t work for me due to location, and I collected a sweet 100,000 points from BA last time around anyway — those points are taking our family of 5 to Aruba this summer 🙂 But my BA card is unused now due to the Avios switch. Will probably trade it for some other card at some point…

  7. Since the 50% AMEX Membership Rewards bonus to BA, I’ve been doing a fair amount of research to see if acquiring Avios are worthwhile for my family. I’m in STL (not a hub, but smack in the middle of the country). Very much worth it for my family to get to LAX, SEA, CHI, MIA, DFW, NY on direct flights for reduced miles. Even bouncing through a hub and then to another destination comes out better than the standard 25k mile roundtrip flights. Avios seem like a good complement to using Southwest points (which I’ve been burning through quickly). I plan on transferring my 80k Membership Rewards points into 120k Avios, plus getting the Avios card and likely spending the $10k in a year for a total of 75k miles plus spend miles of 12,500.

  8. Pass. Spending $20,000 in a year to receive 50,000 Avios is one of the poorest “deals” out there. IMHO, I think Sky Pesos have more value than Avios miles. Can’t see why all the bloggers are pushing this card. It must pay big commissions —–

  9. Great article.

    I think I may pass this time, although only 25,000 Avios can take me from LAX to HNL round-trip, which is a very good deal.

    I like to use miles for long-haul flights (trans-pacific or trans-atlantic), but with BA’s hefty taxes, fees and surcharges and distance-based redemption, I don’t think Avios worth much.

  10. $1100 in fees, taxes and surcharges for a “free” business class ticket from NYC to London plus the card’s annual fee…seems less than “Sterling” to me. I realize a purchased biz class ticket can be 6X’s that but still…am I missing something?

    • @maxx, I would not personally redeem for that. I use mine primarily for shorter hops within the US or from the US to Canada or the Caribbean. No big fees. 😉

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