Review of the British Airways Visa Signature® Card

Sean Messier

Sean Messier | Reviews

Jul 05, 2019

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The British Airways Visa Signature® Card is a popular card among 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 3 Avios per dollar. There are no foreign transaction fees and an annual fee of $95.

Chase and Avios Group Limited recently announced the multi-year continuation of their relationship, meaning that this card or another co-branded card should be available for years to come.

Our Rating: 4 Out of 5 Stars

We give the British Airways Visa Signature Credit Card 4 out of 5 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

  • Good card rewards for spending with British Airways, Iberia, and Aer Lingus
  • BA’s oneworld alliance membership makes it simple to use Avios with partner airlines
  • Introductory bonuses offer up to 100,000 bonus Avios
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Contactless card enables quick and easy transactions
  • 10% discount for BA flight bookings until March 31, 2020

Why It Could Be Better

  • $95 annual fee
  • Limited bonus categories
  • Lack of chip-and-PIN technology could be a turnoff for international travelers
  • Very basic benefits

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 until March 31, 2020.
  • Take advantage of the strong introductory bonuses: Spend just $3,000 to earn 50,000 bonus Avios in the first 3 months, then get another 50,000 bonus Avios if you spend $20,000 in the first year.
  • Spend enough to offset the annual fee: Offset the BA card’s $95 annual fee by spending between $2,112 and $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 on spend when booked with Avios than if you’d booked through those airlines’ own 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.

The Rewards

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, which allows you to redeem Avios with several airlines in addition to those included in the 3X bonus categories.

Earning

Spending Rewards
  • 3X Avios per dollar spent on British Airways, Iberia, and Aer Lingus purchases
  • 1X Avios per dollar on all other purchases
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • 50,000 bonus Avios for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
    • Value: $500–$750 (assuming 1–1.5 cents per point)
    • Return on spend: 16.66–25%
  • 50,000 bonus Avios for spending $20,000 in the first year
    • Value: $500–$750 (assuming 1–1.5 cents per point)
    • Return on spend: 2.5–3.75%

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 does sound 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, which offer a total of 100,000 available bonus Avios.

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 at least once in a while if you’re aiming to keep all of your unused rewards.

For more information on the BA card’s reward system, check out our in-depth guide to the ways you can earn and redeem Avios. You’ll also find more information about the BA Executive Club and its member tiers, plus full price charts for both British Airways award flights and award flights with its partners.

Redeeming

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 Traveller 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 with which 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, and 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 have cost if they were actually booked through those airlines. Take American Airlines for example — certain flights might cost you several thousand more points with the AAdvantage program than they would through the Executive Club.

But this will vary depending on when and how you’re booking, of course, 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.

British Airways flyers frequently cite the carrier’s high surcharges among their premier frustrations. In fact, British Airways was sued by U.S. flyers in 2013 over its fuel surcharges, which led to a 2.2-billion Avios settlement. Its charges remain high in many cases, and you might find a better deal with a partner airline, so don’t be afraid to shop around.

The Benefits

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 — the United℠ Explorer Card (Review), for example, offers a TSA PreCheck/Global Entry statement credit, while the JetBlue Plus Card provides 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 already can sign up for free anytime).
  • 10% flight discount (until March 31, 2020)Get 10% off eligible outbound flights booked through ba.com/Chase10 with code CHASEBA10 until March 31, 2020.
  • 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: Access cardholder-only events and invitations.
  • Network-provided protections: Including 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 Terms & Fees

Purchase APR Balance Transfer APR Cash Advance APR
17.99% - 24.99% Variable 17.99% - 24.99% Variable 26.99% Variable
Annual Fee Foreign Transaction Fee Balance Transfer Fee Cash Advance Fee
$95  $0 Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater. Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.
Penalty APR Late Fee Returned Payment Fee
See Terms None Up to $38

The British Airways Visa Card’s fees don’t warrant much discussion.

There are no foreign transaction fees, which is a nice benefit that adds 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 in order to actually get some sort of value out of the card beyond simply mitigating the fee. But that’s why we recommend this card only for British Airways enthusiasts.

Check the official British Airways Visa Signature terms and conditions for more information.

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 to Apply for the British Airways Visa Signature Card

Applying for the British Airways Visa Signature Card is simple — just click the “How to Apply” button below.

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.

Qualifications and Requirements

  • Must be 18 (19 in Alabama and Nebraska, 21 in Puerto Rico)
  • Personal identifying information, including birth date, Social Security number, email address, and phone number
  • Total income and source of income
  • Executive Club account number, if already enrolled

Alternatives to the British Airways Visa Signature Card

If you’re not a dyed-in-the-wool British Airways enthusiast, then the British Airways Visa Signature probably isn’t the card for you. The good news? You should have no trouble finding other options, whether you’re after a general travel card or a co-branded airline card. Here are a few of our go-to options.

  • Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card (Review): 2X points on travel and dining, 1.5X points on all other purchases, 50,000 bonus points for spending $3,000 in the first 90 days
  • Citi Premier Card (Review): 3X points on travel including gas, 2X points on dining and entertainment, 50,000 bonus points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (Review): 2X points on travel and dining, 60,000 bonus points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve® (Review): 3X points on travel (after the full travel credit is used) and dining, 50,000 bonus points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months, $300 annually in travel statement credits plus premium travel benefits
The alternatives we picked here are all general travel cards, but if you’re not committed to flying with British Airways, you’ll also find airline cards from Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, DeltaHawaiian Airlines, JetBlue, Southwest, United, and more.

 

The Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card (Review) offers a 2X reward rate on dining and travel purchases. The card also includes several helpful benefits that elevate it above most other travel cards at this price, including a statement credit to cover the application fee for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. You’ll have to pay a $95 annual fee, but that’s pretty easy to offset thanks to the card’s $100 annual airline incidental statement credit.

Spending Rewards
  • 2X points per dollar spent on:
    • Travel
    • Dining
  • 1.5X points per dollar for all other purchases
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • 50,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 within the first 90 days
    • Value: $500
    • Return on spend: 16.67%

Key Features

  • Travel Perks: $100 airline incidental statement credit, airport security statement credit toward TSA PreCheck ($85) or Global Entry ($100) application fee every four years
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Annual fee: $95

Read more in our Review of the Bank of America Premium Rewards Credit Card.

 

If you’d like a travel credit card that’s both solid and straightforward, it’s hard to go wrong with the Citi Premier Card (Review). You earn rewards on travel (including gas!), dining, and entertainment, which is a great selection of categories if you’re always abroad. Its benefits are quite basic, but it does provide a handful of helpful travel protections.

Spending Rewards
  • 3X ThankYou points per dollar for Travel, including gas
  • 2X ThankYou points per dollar for:
    • Dining
    • Entertainment
  • 1X ThankYou point per dollar for every other purchase
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • 60,000 bonus ThankYou points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months after account opening
    • Value: $600–$1,200 (assuming 1–2 cents per point)
    • Return on spend: 15–30%

Key Features

  • Point transfer: To a variety of airline loyalty programs, including JetBlue, Virgin Atlantic, and Singapore Airlines
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Annual fee: $95

Read more in our Review of the Citi Premier℠ Card.

 

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (Review) has earned a reputation as one of the premier mid-tier travel credit cards. Cardholders accumulate points on travel and dining purchases, and Chase provides two ways to increase the value of your points: travel redemptions through Chase Ultimate Rewards, and point transfers to partner airlines and hotels.

Spending Rewards
  • 2X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on:
    • Travel
    • Dining
  • 1X Ultimate Rewards point per dollar on all other purchases
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • 60,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 within the first 3 months
    • Value: $600–$1,200 (assuming 1–2 cents per point)
    • Return on spend: 22.5–30%

Key Features

  • Travel Perks: 25% point bonus when redeeming through Chase Ultimate Rewards for travel, point transfer to popular airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Annual fee: $95

Read more in our Review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

 

Because it’s a premium travel card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® (Review) carries a much higher fee than the British Airways Visa or any of the cards mentioned above. But with this additional cost comes a strong rewards program and some of the best benefits on the market, including complimentary Priority Pass Select airport lounge access.

Spending Rewards
  • 3X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on:
    • Travel (after the full travel credit is used)
    • Dining
  • 1X Ultimate Rewards point per dollar on all other purchases
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 within the first 3 months
    • Value: $500–$1,000 (assuming 1–2 cents per point)
    • Return on spend: 18.75–25%

Key Features

  • Travel Perks: Unlimited Priority Pass Select lounge access for the cardholder and up to two guests, $300 annual travel credit, Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit, Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection, elite hotel benefits at Relais and Châteaux properties, primary auto rental insurance
  • 50% point bonus: When you redeem points through Chase Ultimate Rewards for travel
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Annual fee: $450

Read more in our Review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card.

 

If you found this review helpful, don’t hesitate to share it with a friend! And if we missed anything, let us know in a comment below. Already a British Airways Visa Signature cardholder? Leave a review of your own and tell us about your experience.

Don’t think you’ll benefit from an airline credit card? See our picks for the best credit cards in every category.
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