The 100,000 point British Airways Visa Signature Card sign-up bonus is back and I for one am disappointed a 100k sign-up bonus is coming to us by way of this card. I also would have been happier trading a higher sign-up bonus for a less-devalued award chart, but beggars can’t be choosers, right? That being said, it’s a huge positive that the British Airways card isn’t subject to the 5/24 rule, meaning if you can’t get a card like the Sapphire Reserve because you’ve already applied for five cards in 24 months, you can qualify for the British Airways card assuming your credit is up to par. The sign-up bonus on the British Airways card is paid out in tiers:
- Earn 50,000 Avios after $3,000 spent in 3 months
- Earn 25,000 Avios after $10,000 spent in the first year of account opening
- OR earn 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $20,000 total on purchases within your first year from account opening
After all the spending is complete, you’ll end up with a minimum of 120,000 British Airways Avios. Plus, you’ll be $10,000 short of earning a British Airways Travel Together Ticket. Not bad. But what exactly can you do with 120,000 Avios? Here are some ideas, in no particular order:
1. West Coast to Hawaii (12,500 Avios each way)
Award tickets to Hawaii can be pricey: American Airlines and United require 22,500 miles each way for tickets to Hawaii. That’s pretty absurd, especially if you’re on the West Coast and don’t want to spend twice the miles for the same distance as a domestic flight. That’s where Avios come in. You can redeem 100,000 Avios from the British Airways card for four roundtrip economy class tickets between the West Coast and Hawaii. Since these awards cost just 12,500 Avios each way, you’ll even have 20,000 Avios left to spare.
You could also spend another $5,000 on the British Airways card and take an extra person along on the trip. Either way, West Coast to Hawaii flights are a great use of Avios. With the 100k British Airways card sign-up bonus, you can take the whole family along.
2. Go Crazy With Short-Haul Flights (4,000+ Avios)
Short-haul flights are a definite Avios sweet-spot. For just 4,500 Avios each way, you can fly a distance of 650 miles or less. Thanks to British Airways’ extensive partner airline network, there are countless travel possibilities. You can fly around Europe on Air Berlin or hop around the Middle East on Qatar Airways. I flew Qatar Airways during my recent trip to the Middle East and those short-haul segments in economy class were some of my best flying experiences ever. Seriously, I would actually consider flying Qatar Airways in long-haul economy class based on the spacious seats, terrific food, and great service.
But back to the point: 100,000 Avios can go a long way (literally and figuratively) when redeemed for short-haul flights. Some of these short-haul flights will be relatively inexpensive (likely $100 or less) but wouldn’t you rather pocket that cash and redeem 4,500 Avios instead? The best part is that off-peak awards drop to 4,000 Avios, allowing you to stretch the 100,000 Avios sign-up bonus from the British Airways card even further.
3. Fly British Airways Business Class with a Companion Ticket
Booking British Airways Business Class on points can set you back a ton of points. And about $1,000 in taxes and fuel surcharges. So why bother using your 100,000 Avios sign-up bonus from the British Airways card to fly business class? Because barring an amazing business class fare sale, redeeming Avios with a Travel Together Ticket can actually be reasonable.
Let’s consider a roundtrip business class ticket between New York and London, which requires 100,000 – 120,000 Avios and $958.58. With the British Airways Travel Together Ticket, you are essentially paying 50,000 – 60,000 Avios and $958.58 per person for a roundtrip business class ticket to London. Paying almost $1,000 and upwards of 60,000 Avios per person isn’t ideal, but it is a good option if you consider this a discounted business class ticket rather than an award redemption. If you happen to have some Barclay Arrival Miles lying around, you can off-set the $1,917.16 in taxes and fees with 182,130 Arrival Miles. Considering Arrival Miles are earned at a rate of 2 miles per $1 spent, that’s just ~$91,000 worth of manufactured spending to off-set the cost.
4. Fly West Coast to Tokyo on JAL
British Airways partners with Japan Airlines, which offers some terrific opportunities to put your Avios to good use. You can fly economy class between Los Angeles or San Francisco and Tokyo for just 25,000 Avios one way. That’s cheaper than Alaska Airlines, which requires 35,000 miles for the same flight. If you want to try out JAL’s snazzy new Sky Suites, you can redeem 50,000 Avios each way.
Redeeming 100,000 Avios for a roundtrip flight to Tokyo is a great use of the 120,000 British Airways card sign-up bonus. Once again, this works out cheaper than Alaska Airlines, which requires 60,000 miles each way for the same flight. Granted, Alaska offers free stopovers on one-way awards, but that’s irrelevant if you don’t plan on taking advantage of it.
5. Fly to Ireland for the cost of a domestic flight
While the 2015 British Airways devaluation brought some negative changes, redeeming Avios for Aerlingus flights to Ireland continues to be a great use of points, especially for off-peak travel. The great thing about these Avios sweet-spots is that they’re not restricted to Eastcoasters: West Coasters can also take advantage of some amazingly cheap award tickets to Ireland.
Between April 24 – June 16, September 11 – December 16, flights between San Francisco or Los Angeles and Dublin cost just 16,240 Avios each way. East coasters will be pleased to know that during those same dates, flights out of Boston or New York will cost just 13,000 Avios each way, The best part? Aerlingus doesn’t impose fuel surcharges, so the taxes will be reasonable. At this rate, you can cover roundtrip airfare for up to four people with the sign-up bonus from the British Airways Visa.
There are lots of great uses for British Airways Avios, despite the constant devaluations and massive fuel surcharges. Explore the Avios award chart a bit and you may be able to save a ton of miles and get tons of travel out of the 100k British Airways Visa credit card sign-up bonus.
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