Last week I wrote about how to spend the 100k sign-up bonus from the British Airways Visa. While there are still lots of great ways to redeem 100,000 Avios, unfortunately the bonus isn’t quite as good as it was before the devaluation of the British Airways award chart and standard credit card earning rate. But that’s in the past and as I said, you can still get great value out of the 100,000 Avios. In order to earn the full 100,000 Avios sign-up bonus, you’ll need to spend a total of $20,000 on the card. The question is, is the British Airways Visa the best place to channel $20,000 worth of spending? Especially with banks like Chase are cracking down on manufactured spending. Churning out $20,000 on one credit card could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
There are credit cards out there with lower spending requirements in return for annual bonuses in the form of miles, points, elite status, and free hotel nights. I’ve compiled a list of these bonuses as well as summarized whether I think they’re worth channeling $20,000 worth of credit card spending to:
Cash Back Credit Cards
Are 10,000 Avios worth more than $630? Absolutely. You can redeem 100,000 Avios fuel surcharge-free on partner flights like those operated by American Airlines between the West Coast and Hawaii. You can cover roundtrip airfare for four people to Hawaii with 100,000 Avios. Try doing that with $630 cash.
- Discover It Miles Card – Earn $600 Cash Back
- Barclay Arrival – Earn $420 worth of travel cash
- Fidelity 2% Cash Back Visa – Earn $400 cash back
Airline Elite Status
Whether you’re trying to get a jump start on airline elite status or you’re anticipating an EQM shortage, channeling $20,000 on your airline credit card can help you re-qualify for elite status.
- Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard – Earn 200 tier points towards elite status (25 tier points per $2,500, up to 50 per month).
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Card – Earn 3,000 Tier-Qualifying Points.
- Barclay AAdvantage Aviator Silver World Elite MasterCard – Earn 5,000 EQM’s.
Hotel Elite Status
$20,000 worth of credit card spending can go a long way towards helping you obtain hotel elite status without actually staying at hotels or mattress running. While the amount of required spending to earn status with the Marriott card is quite steep, $20,000 can take a large chunk out of it if you’re able to allocate additional spending to these cards
- Marriott Rewards Credit Card and Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card – Earn 6 elite night credits (1 elite night credit per $3,000 spent).
Annual Airline Miles Bonus
A few airline credit cards offer bonus miles annually after a certain amount of credit card spending is completed. The number of miles won’t measure up to 100,000 Avios, but some people prefer to have their accounts topped off for a specific award they’re saving up for. These people may prefer 50,000 Virgin Atlantic miles over 100,000 Avios. Add to this the minimum 20,000 miles earned from $20,000 worth of spending and it may make sense for some people to trade off 100,000 Avios for fewer miles from Hawaiian Airlines or Virgin Atlantic.
- Hawaiian Airlines World Elite MasterCard – Earn 5,000 bonus miles (after $10,000 in annual spend).
- Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard – Earn 7,500 bonus anniversary miles (after spending $15,000 per calendar year).
- Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard – Earn 7,500 bonus anniversary miles (after spending $25,000 per calendar year).
Annual Free Nights
Annual free nights offered by the Hilton credit card can actually be worth a lot if used for high-value redemptions. For example, if you put your free night from the Hilton credit cards to use at a top-tier hotel, it can be worth over $1,000. The annual free night from the Club Carlson card, on the other hand, is pathetic and not worth mentioning since there are hardly any good Club Carlson hotels left in the U.S. where the free night would be worth using.
- Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card – One free weekend night certificate (after spending $10,000 per year).
- Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card – Earn one free night certificate valid at U.S. hotels (after spending $10,000 per membership year).
- Club Carlson Rewards Visa Signature Card – Earn one free night certificate valid at U.S. hotels (after spending $10,000 per membership year).
Rewards For Over $20,000 Worth of Credit Card Spending
Many credit cards offer bonus miles, free nights, or elite status in exchange for higher spending requirements (over $20,000). I included them in this post because even though $20,000 doesn’t fulfill the spending requirement, it contributes substantially to earning a substantial reward. I’ve outlined these cards, along with how much more than $20,000 you’d have to spend in order to get the reward:
- Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express – $5,000 short of earning 10,000 MQM’s.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card or Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Card – 20,000 towards the 110,000 point requirements for the Southwest Companion Pass.
- Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard – $5,000 short of the Virgin Atlantic Companion Ticket (a ticket for half the miles when you redeem an economy award ticket).
- United MileagePlus Explorer Card – $5,000 short of earning 10,000 bonus miles.
- Barclay AAdvantage Aviator Silver World Elite MasterCard – $10,000 short of earning the $99 Companion Certificate.
- Barclay AAdvantage Aviator Red MasterCard – $10,000 short of earning a $100 flight discount coupon.
- Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express – $10,000 short of earning SPG Gold elite status.
- Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card and Hilton HHonors Surpass Card from American Express – $20,000 short of earning top-tier Hilton Diamond status.
- Hawaiian Airlines Business MasterCard – $30,000 short of earning 20,000 bonus miles.
- Ritz Carlton Rewards Card – $55,000 short of earning Ritz Carlton Platinum elite status, which can be matched to SPG and Marriott Platinum.
- Hawaiian Airlines Business MasterCard – $80,000 short of earning 40,000 bonus miles.
Should You Spend $20,000 on the British Airways Visa?
Assuming your capacity for manufactured spending is limited, should you spend $20,000 to earn the sign-up bonus on the British Airways card or channel it towards earning one or more of the above mentioned travel bonuses? It really depends on your travel needs. If you’re applying for the British Airways card without any kind of redemption plan, you may as well put your rewards account password on the internet and let strangers go to town on your miles.
If you have an actual redemption in mind and you’ve decided it will get you more value than, say, EQM’s towards AAdvantage elite status or a free Hilton weekend night certificate, then go for it. But don’t follow the herd and don’t spend $20,000 earning a sign-up bonus you don’t have any plans to redeem any time soon. As you can see, there are plenty of other ways you can get rewarded for that amount of spending.
Which credit card would you channel $20,000 worth of spending to?
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