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5 Ways to Spend the 100,000 British Airways Visa Signature Card Sign-Up Bonus

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 75,000 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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Ariana Arghandewal

21 Comments

  1. Not relevant to everyone but I’ve used some for short trips within Australia… You can save a lot of money and the Qantas domestic business lounges are nice! But you’d need to get some Alaska miles (and fly Qantas or Cathay) to get to Australia…..

    • Yeah Avios are great for short-haul flights in general. Qantas is a great airline, so if I make it back to Australia I would definitely use my Avios to get between Sydney and Melbourne.

  2. Thanks for the heads up, but sorry to say my 2 year wait’s not up yet! You have to really research the best flights to use these miles on. Great for some puddle jumps from LCY especially, like AMS, 4,K and low fees. But I tried to go BHX to DUB with the fam this summer and it was over $80 in fees each… and that’s a short hop. (3 of us on ryanair just $47) Instead (because of the UK’s pandora’s box of fees/taxes) we’re using the same miles to go EDI – LCY, six days layover, then onto FRA for just $50 in fees each. But that’s the fun part, eh?!? Thanks again Ariana, keep up the great work !!!

  3. I booked Aer Lingus last summer for July 1 – 5 travel and I didn’t get a reduced price for off peak. Is that something new?

  4. For AerLingus flights SFO->DUB, should I be looking on BA.com to use my Avios?

  5. With this card, (Chase BA) Be VERY careful about knowing just the date by when you need to have your spend completed. Chase/BA cheated (sic) me out of the last 25k last time around. GET IN WRITING. (better yet of course, get all your spending done long, long before the 12th months is up) I had multiple lower level chase reps seeing the problem, and appealing to higher ups to make it right. I had presumed my one year began the day I activated the card. (the day I received it, the day I began spending. And I finished up my 20K spend within that window — or so I thought.) But nope, Chase started counting on the exact day their computers had me registered as having been approved for the card. (even though I had utterly no way of knowing when that day was) And yes, this IS different from how Chase handles their 3 month promo cards…. (for example, with my new Sapphire card, I was recently informed in writing — that I had almost 4 billing periods to get the spend requirement in….I nearly took them to small claims court over this, but figured lamely I didn’t want to ruin my other future business with Chase….. tale of

    • Always a good idea to get your spending requirements done early. It sucks they didn’t rectify this – it would have been to their benefit to make an exception or grant you some courtesy points.

  6. I’ve gotten a ton of use out of Avios. I’ve flown in first class from Hong Kong to Tokyo, Tokyo to Hong Kong and Hong Kong to Seoul for 10-20K Avios per flight on both JAL and Cathay Pacific. I’ve used them in economy from LA to Hawaii and from MIA to several Caribbean islands. I just used them to book an upcoming trip from Buenos Aires to Iguazu Falls. These are my favorite miles when traveling outside the US.

      • The Avios devaluation was only for domestic US flights. It’s still as low as 4500 internationally. I’m looking at Casablanca to Madrid next spring and that’s still 4500.

  7. For the JAL option, which class of service is the 50k? Do you know what the taxes & fees are?

      • Wandering Aramean’s Avios calculator says that the flight should cost 75k in business each way. Is he wrong on this?

  8. I find BA Avios utilize more miles or points when flying from USA to GB. Also, if one wants to use Avios in the US, flights are infrequent or badly timed. The high taxes imposed in GB when flying to London or through London is a put-off. I recently used (finally) all my Avios points to fly to Italy business class by avoiding London. I booked a flight on AerLingus to Dublin and a connecting flight to Italy. Although I used a lot of Avios points, the taxes were in the single digits rather than hundreds of dollars if I flew to Italy on BA because I would have had to take a flight that goes to London and then connect for a flight to Italy.

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