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I’ve written about the British Airways Visa Signature Card from Chase before and I’ve made no secret of the fact that it’s a card I have very little time for…..and now it has just got even easier for me to dislike the card.
American Express Membership Rewards Points and Chase Ultimate Rewards Points both convert across to Avios in a ratio of 1:1 so, ever since the Platinum Card from American Express started offering 5 points/dollar spent on airfare and Chase introduced the Sapphire Reserve Card (which earns 3 points/dollar on almost all travel and 3 points/dollar on dining worldwide) the British Airways Visa Card (which earns 3 Avios/dollar spend with British Airways only and 1 Avios/dollar spent everywhere else) has seemed more than a little redundant.
In the past some have argued that the frequently offered 100,000 Avios signup bonus is a good reason to get the BA Visa card (that bonus happens to be on offer right now) while others have suggested that the “travel together ticket” (which I prefer to call a companion voucher) which is triggered after $30,000 spend is another reason to burn a hard pull on your credit score for this card…..but I now disagree more than ever.
Firstly (and I know there will be those that disagree with me here) I don’t like the way the 100,000 Avios signup bonus works – it requires a lot of spend to earn the full bonus and it’s spend that would probably be put to better use elsewhere.
Secondly, I never thought the companion pass was a good reason to get the British Airways Visa card ($30,000 is simply too much spend) but now the offering is worse than it has ever been before.
The way the companion pass works is that it allows you to book a two-person Avios redemption for half the number of Avios it normally requires. Essentially the second person’s booking costs zero Avios….but there are three big catches.
- The reward flights being booked have to originate in the US
- The flights have to be booked through British Airways and be taken on British Airways aircraft
- You still have to pay BA’s surcharges for both passengers.
That last one is a killer – you may not have to part with any Avios for the second traveler’s booking but you definitely have to part with cash.
Now here’s the thing…..
British Airways surcharges have long been considered to be extortionate and something to be avoided where at all possible but, just recently, these surcharges got worse – they were increased significantly for all departures out of the US.
If you want to use Avios to book a roundtrip Business Class award flight between LA and London (for example) it will now set you back at least 125,000 Avios (off-peak) and over $1,400 in surcharges.
With two people using a companion voucher you’d still only need 125,000 Avios (off-peak) for both Business Class awards but you’d have to part with over $2,850 in surcharges as well.
How is that a good deal? You can find cash fares for only a few hundred dollars more at certain times of the year!
More importantly, how is this a selling point for the British Airways Signature Visa card?
Put simply: You have to spend $30,000 on a very unrewarding credit card to earn the companion voucher and then you’re expected to pay thousands of dollars in surcharges if you want to use it.
Note: You would pay less in surcharges of you booked long-haul Economy Class awards but they’re almost always a terrible use of Avios in their own right so they don’t help the argument in favour of the Chase BA Visa.
Avios can be a very useful currency to use on short-haul flights so it’s unsurprising that a lot of frequent flyers like to collect them when they can but the British Airways Visa card isn’t the way to do that. Using card that earn Amex Membership Rewards Points and Chase Ultimate Rewards Points will get you to your goals far quicker.
With American Express frequently offering bonuses of up to 40% on transfers of Membership Rewards to British Airways Avios and with various Chase Ultimate Rewards credit cards offering 3 or 5 points per dollar on a range of spending categories I don’t see why anyone would choose to use the BA Visa card from Chase to build up their Avios balance.
Big spenders or those who manufacture spend may be attracted to the BA Visa card because they can earn the 100,000 Avios signup bonus without much effort but those are two categories of people who form only a small percentage of the frequent flyer community.
I got rid of my BA Visa Signature Card some time ago (I downgraded to the less well-known no-fee version of the card) and, now more than ever, I simply can’t see why most readers should consider this card for their wallet – it’s a lame duck.