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Towards the end of last month Chase made a small but noticeable improvement to its British Airways Visa card when it added “taxes and fees” statement credits to the list of benefits the card offers but, having attempted to reassess my negative view on this card, I still can’t escape the conclusion that this really isn’t a very good credit card at all.
Chase British Airways Visa Card
Current Sign-Up Bonus (at the time of writing)
- 50,000 Bonus Avios after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
- An additional 50,000 Bonus Avios after you spend $20,000 total on purchases within your first year of account opening.
- 3 Avios per dollar spent with British Airways, Aer Lingus & Iberia
- 2 Avios per dollar spent directly with hotels/hotel chains*
- 1 Avios per dollar on all other spending
*this is a recent addition to the card
- A Travel Together voucher that allows two people to travel for the Avios cost of one (taxes & fees have to be paid for both passengers) is awarded when you spend $30,000 on the card in a calendar year.
- Get a 10% rebate on British Airways flights originating in the US
- Receive up to $600 in statement credits when you use your British Airways Visa card to pay for carrier-imposed surcharges on British Airways award bookings for transatlantic travel originating in the US.
- No foreign transaction fees
Why I Haven’t Liked This Card For A While
The British Airways Earnings Aren’t Impressive
When you find yourself in a situation where a co-branded credit card offers a poorer return on spending with one of the brands linked to the card than a competitor card which has no primary link to the brand you know the co-branded card has a problem…and that’s exactly the situation with the Chase British Airways Visa card.
American Express Membership Rewards points can be converted to Avios in a ratio of 1:1 (and at a better ratio when AMEX offers a transfer bonus) and, since October 2016, the Platinum Card from American Express has offered 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent directly with ALL airlines.
When you can effectively earn 5+ Avios/dollar on spending with just about every commercial airline in the world it’s hard to think of the 3 Avios/dollar that the BA Visa offers (on BA/Iberia/Aer Lingus flights only) as a good deal.
Sure, some will probably argue that the Platinum Card costs considerably more than the Chase BA Visa ($550 vs $95) but that ignores the other benefits that the Platinum Card also offers that the BA Visa doesn’t (Global Entry credit, Priority Pass membership etc…).
If the annual fee on the Platinum Card scares you away (I can see why it may) there’s always the option of the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card.
This card, with a net annual fee of $150 (after the travel credit is applied), effectively offers 3 Avios per dollar spent directly with ALL airlines and includes benefits like primary rental car cover, Priority Pass membership, and Global Entry credit.
If earning Avios is your primary objective, why would you choose to hold the Chase British Airways Visa card over the Chase Sapphire Reserve?
The Travel Together Ticket Is Over-Hyped
If you spend $30,000 on the British Airways Visa card in a year you’ll earn yourself a “Travel Together Ticket” which allows you to…
Redeem your Avios for one reward seat for yourself and use your Travel Together Ticket to bring a companion in the same cabin even first class (taxes, fees and carrier charges apply)
This has to be one of the more over-hyped benefits out there.
- $30,000 is a ridiculous amount of spend for most people to put on a card…especially when most (possibly all) of the spending put on this card would have given the cardholder better value had they used a more appropriate card.
- You still have to pay the taxes and surcharges due on your companion’s ticket and they can easily add up to over $2,800 – there’s nothing free about this.
- All travel has to start from the US – if you find a good Avios redemption from elsewhere you can’t use your Travel Together Ticket.
Put simply, you’re being asked to put $30,000 on a credit card for the privilege of spending another $2,800+ on a 2-4-1 Avios redemption….a redemption which will have already probably cost you a LOT of Avios.
The New Stuff (Which Makes No Difference)
The two new additions to what the Chase British Airways Visa card offers are the ability to earn bonus Avios on hotel bookings and the statement credits issued for carrier-imposed surcharges and neither should be a reason for anyone to go from disliking this card to liking it.
The Chase British Airways Visa card now offers 2 Avios per dollar spent directly with hotels…but so what? There are countless better options out there.
If you stay in hotels with any great frequency you almost certainly already have co-branded credit cards for specific hotel chains which will give you far better returns than the Chase BA Visa card and, even if you don’t, a credit card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred (which has the same annual fee as the Chase BA Visa) will let you earn as many Avios as the BA Visa (on hotel bookings) and will offer considerably more benefits.
The Chase British Airways Visa card also now offers up to $600 in statement credits to help offset the ridiculous surcharges BA adds to its awards…but there’s a lot you need to know about these credits [HT: Frequent Miler]
- You can only earn statement credits up to a maximum of 3 times/year.
- You can get a $200 credit when booking a First Class or Business Class award and a $100 credit when booking a Premium Economy or Economy Class award.
- The credit is applied per booking and not per ticket (in the booking) so cardholders will only be able to get a maximum of $200 back on a 2-4-1 award booking.
- Award bookings must originate in the US (where BA’s surcharges are higher than anywhere else in its system)
- These statement credits can be used on one-way award bookings
- Credits will only be triggered by awards booked on British Airways transatlantic flights (this really goes hand in hand with point 4)
- A statement credit will only be triggered if the Chase British Airways Visa card is used to pay the award surcharges.
- The Avios for the award must come from the primary cardholder’s Executive Club account – you cannot get a statement credit by paying for someone else’s surcharges.
The really isn’t very much good news here.
British Airways charges more in surcharges than just about any other airline for departures out of the US (they recently put them up!) so a $200 credit isn’t really much of a benefit.
If you’re absolutely determined to fly with BA then the statement credit will be a bonus (of sorts) but you still have to take into account what other options were available to you – options which probably would have cost you a lot less than the British Airways award you just paid for.
Also, considering the way these statement credit work I’d be surprised if most British Airways Visa cardholders maxed out the $600 credit available to them each calendar year – as soon as you book an Economy Class award your maximum annual rebate drops to $500 so the $600 figure may look good but it’s not really what most people will probably earn back.
Bottom line – These statement credits sound good right up until the point you take a closer look…and then you get to see them for what they really are – a discount on an already overpriced product.
Lastly…The Sign-Up Bonus Isn’t As Good As It May Seem
Note: this section does not apply to those who manufacture spend
As things stand the card has a headline 100,000 Avios signup bonus and, while that sounds great, it’s actually slightly deceiving to portray it that way.
In reality, the 100,000 bonus is broken down into two milestones:
- Spend $3,000 within 3 months of opening the account and get 50,000 Avios
- Spend $20,000 within the first year of holding the card and get another 50,000 Avios
So you actually have to spend $20,000 to get the full 100,000 Avios.
That’s $20,000 you’ll have to spend on a card that isn’t even the best card to use for British Airways bookings let alone anything else!
You could put that $20,000 spend on any number of other credit cards and earn more miles/points in currencies that are considerably more useful….some of which could be converted to Avios if that’s what you ultimately need.
I can just about see the point of putting $3,000 on this card to earn the first part of the sign-up bonus (50,000 Avios) but, when you can earn 2-3 Ultimate Rewards points, 2-5 Amex Membership Rewards points or 2-3 Citi ThankYou points for every dollar you’re spending, why would you put an additional $17,000 of spend on to this card just to earn 50,000 more Avios (which I value at no more than $500)?
I know there will be readers who disagree with me (we can’t all have the same opinion or life would be dull) but I genuinely still don’t see the attraction of this card.
It’s terrible for everyday spending, it’s not even close to being good enough to use when it comes to hotel spending, and it’s not even the best card to use when booking British Airways fares (let alone fares with any other airline).
The sign-up bonus and the statement credits are nowhere near as good or as useful as they may first appear, the two-together voucher is overhyped and, most importantly, there are many more credit cards out there that offer a far better value proposition than the Chase Britsh Airways Visa card so why would you waste a credit card application on it?