We give the British Airways Visa Signature® Card four out of five stars because it’s a strong – but not perfect – option for frequent travelers who spend a lot of money with British Airways, Aer Lingus and/or Iberia.
Why we like it
- 3X Avios per dollar on purchases with British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus and LEVEL
- 2X Avios per dollar on hotel accommodations (when purchased directly from the hotel)
- BA’s oneworld Alliance membership, making it simple to use Avios with partner airlines
- Up to 100,00 bonus Avios
- No foreign transaction fees
- Contactless card enables quick and easy transactions
- 10% discount for BA flight bookings starting in the U.S.
Why it could be better
- $95 annual fee
- Limited bonus categories
- Lack of chip-and-PIN technology (potential turnoff for international travelers)
- Very basic benefits
British Airways Visa Signature® Card
The British Airways Visa Signature® card could be ideal for British Airways frequent flyers, offering 3X Avios per dollar after the first year on all British Airways, Aer Lingus and Iberia purchases. It also provides some nice travel benefits and no foreign transaction fees.
The British Airways Visa Signature® Card is popular amongst travelers who prefer to fly BA and its partner airlines. Issued by Chase Bank, it offers points for purchases – known as “Avios” – that can be redeemed for free flights.
This card is most valuable when it’s used for British Airways purchases, where you’ll earn 3X Avios per dollar after the first year. There are no foreign transaction fees and an annual fee of $95.
Insider Advice: Getting the Most Out of Your Card
- Book with your card and earn big: Use the card for all your British Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus purchases to rack up Avios at the 3X reward rate.
- Get a 10% discount on eligible flights: Book eligible outbound flights through ba.com/Chase10 and get 10% off with code CHASEBA10.
- Take advantage of the strong introductory bonuses: Earn 75,000 bonus Avios for spending $5,000 in the first 3 months and an extra 25,000 Avios for spending $20,000 within the first 12 months.
- Spend enough to offset the annual fee: Offset the BA card’s $95 annual fee by spending between $2,112 – $3,167 (assuming 1 – 1.5 cents per Avios) at the 3X reward rate.
- Travel with your card: Bring the card abroad to avoid transaction fees and enjoy the convenience of contactless payment (where available).
- Fly with BA’s partners: Explore redemption opportunities with partner airlines to maximize the value of your Avios.
- Choose your flights wisely: Thanks to BA’s distance-based award chart, short-haul flights with partner airlines will often provide a better return – when booked with Avios – than if you’d booked through those airlines’ loyalty programs. Last-minute flights are another great option, as British Airways won’t charge additional fees when you book at the eleventh hour.
- Use another card too: Pair this card with another rewards card to fill in gaps where this card only earns 1X Avios.
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The BA card’s reward structure is about as straightforward as can be.
Avios are generally worth 1 – 1.5 cents per point, which would give you a cash back equivalent of 1 – 4.5%, depending on the purchase and how your Avios are redeemed.
Redemption options are quite flexible thanks to British Airways’ oneworld Alliance membership. It allows you to redeem Avios with several airlines, in addition to those included in the 3X bonus categories.
The only way you’ll get a lot of value from this card is if you spend frequently with British Airways, Iberia or Aer Lingus. If that sounds like you, you’re in luck, because the 3X bonus rate should help you earn Avios fairly quickly. It’s worth noting that the 3X rate applies to both flights and flight-related services.
It should be especially easy to earn rewards during your first year as a cardholder thanks to the card’s valuable signup bonuses.
The first of these bonuses delivers a solid payoff for a relatively low spending requirement, and it should be enough to cover an international round-trip flight.
Your Avios will expire if you don’t collect, spend, purchase or share at least one Avios within a 36-month period. So you’ll want to use the card once in a while if you’re aiming to keep all of your unused rewards.
There are lots of ways to redeem Avios.
You can book reward flights with British Airways and its oneworld partners. Or you can spend Avios to upgrade eligible cash bookings with British Airways, Iberia and American Airlines.
You can also:
- Put a dent in the price of select regular British Airways cash bookings with part payment
- Pay for reserved seats and baggage
- Book hotel stays, car rentals and unique experiences
- Buy food on eligible Euro Traveler flights to and from London Heathrow and Gatwick
Redeeming your Avios for flights will generally provide the best value. So that’s what we’ll focus on here.
Flight prices vary, based primarily on distance and class, but the diversity of partner airlines where you can redeem your Avios means you’ll have plenty of opportunities to find something that suits your interests and provides good value.
Flights with British Airways start at 4,000 Avios for off-peak economy flights up to 650 miles. They range in price to 200,000 Avios for peak first class flights over 7,001 miles.
Partner flights cost a touch more, starting at 6,000 Avios (economy flights up to 650 miles) and topping out at 206,000 Avios (first class flights over 7,000 miles).
Since these award charts are based on distance, you may find that short-haul flights with partner airlines provide particularly good value when booked with Avios, compared to how much they’d cost if they were booked through those airlines. For example, take American Airlines – certain flights might cost you several thousand more points with the AAdvantage program than they would through the Executive Club.
Of coure, this will vary depending on when and how you’re booking. So make sure to check pricing with the partner first.
Another tip to keep in mind is that when redeeming your Avios with British Airways, the airline won’t charge last-minute travel fees. With certain partners, these fees add up quickly (American Airlines charges $75 extra for last-minute bookings). So you may be able to save a great deal by sticking with BA.
One of the more notable drawbacks of the British Airways credit card is that, despite requiring a $95 annual fee, its selection of benefits is somewhat unimpressive.
Unlike many of its competitors, the card offers no free checked bags or in-flight discounts. Other cards at this price tier go even further – like offering a TSA Pre✓®/Global Entry statement credit or providing an annual 5,000-point bonus for cardholders in good standing.
Next to these, the BA card looks a bit limp.
- Automatic Executive Club membership: Automatic enrollment in the British Airways Executive Club program makes it simple to accumulate and manage your points (though you can already sign up for free anytime).
- 10% flight discount: Get 10% off eligible outbound flights booked through ba.com/Chase10 with code CHASEBA10.
- Travel Together Ticket: Spend $30,000 in one calendar year, and you’ll get a Travel Together Ticket. It’s good for one free companion ticket on a reward flight. Like most companion tickets offered through other airlines, you’ll still have to pay taxes, fees and carrier charges.
- Above & Beyond experiences: You can access cardholder-only events and invitations.
- Network-provided protections: This includes helpful travel perks, like travel and emergency assistance, trip cancellation/interruption insurance, lost luggage reimbursement and an auto rental collision damage waiver, plus purchase protection and extended warranty protection.
The British Airways Visa Signature® Card’s fees don’t warrant much discussion.
There are no foreign transaction fees, which is a nice benefit adding to the card’s travel-oriented appeal.
Otherwise, you’re looking at relatively standard fees for balance transfers, cash advances, returned payments and late payments.
Like several other airline credit cards, the BA Visa charges a $95 annual fee. Assuming Avios are worth 1 – 1.5 cents each, you’ll have to spend between $2,112 and $3,167 at the 3X reward rate to get at least $95 back.
Of course, you’ll want to spend more than that to get some sort of value out of the card beyond simply mitigating the fee. That’s why we recommend this card only for British Airways enthusiasts.
The Bottom Line
The British Airways Visa Signature® Card can provide a lot of value for anyone who’s already spending a lot of money with British Airways, Aer Lingus or Iberia – especially when you take its dual introductory offers into consideration.
BA’s oneworld Alliance membership offers a welcome dose of flexibility, especially considering the high surcharges many consumers have noted while booking with British Airways itself.
The card’s benefits aren’t too remarkable, though big spenders may also find the Travel Together Ticket helpful.
All told, if you’re not spending a lot with British Airways, Aer Lingus or Iberia, you might want to look for another airline credit card. But if you are, the BA card could provide a lot of value. Just be sure to use it alongside other credit cards with more diverse bonus categories.
How Do I Apply for the British Airways Visa Signature® Card?
Applying for the British Airways Visa Signature® Card online is simple.
After supplying the necessary information, Chase may provide an instant decision, but it could take longer. Chase might also request that you provide additional information.
What Credit Scores Do I Need To Qualify for the British Airways Visa Signature® Card?
It’s recommended for you to have good credit before applying.
To be considered to have good credit, your FICO scores need to be at least 670, or your VantageScore needs to be at least 700.
It’s important to note that credit card issuers consider other information – such as income and monthly rent or mortgage payments – in addition to credit scores. The extra info could lead to your approval, even if your credit scores aren’t where they should be. However, that means you could still be denied, even if your scores are high enough.
Alternatives to the British Airways Visa Signature® Card
- Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card
- United℠ Explorer Card