British Airways Visa Signature® Card Review
Earn 100,000 bonus Avios after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening an account.
British Airways Visa Signature® Card
CardRatings Editor's Analysis: Pros & Cons
- Earn 100,000 after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening an account.
- Going forward, each calendar year you make $30,000 in purchases you will earn a Travel Together Ticket good for two years.
- British Airways Avios can be redeemed for flights with a wide range of partner airlines, so this card doesn't restrict you to only British Airways flights.
- The annual membership fee of $95 means card members need to spend enough to offset the cost of carrying the card, but, given the opportunity for a companion ticket each calendar year plus the solid bonus opportunity right now, the fee could turn out to be quite reasonable for regular British Airways guests.
British Airways Visa Signature® Card Essentials
Let your everyday spending take you closer to Great Britain. With every purchase made with your British Airways Visa Signature® Card, you're one step closer to a trip across the pond. Or by booking with one of British Airways' many airline partners, you can use some of your Avios (British Airways currency) to plan a trip a little closer to home.
New cardholders can earn 100,000 bonus Avios after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening. And, for still more, you'll receive 10% off British Airways flights that start in the U.S. Those Avios can be used toward British Airways flights or on flights with its oneworld® partners which include Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, AirBerlin, Finnair, Japan Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways and more. Your Avios can also be redeemed for hotels stays, car rentals and trip experiences.
As an added bonus, every calendar year that you spend at least $30,000 on your card you'll earn a Travel Together Ticket for a companion, good for two years. Simply redeem your Avios for a British Airways reward flight and use your voucher to take someone special with you in the same cabin. The seat is complimentary! All you pay are the taxes and airlines fees. That companion ticket alone more than offsets the $95 annual fee for this card.
Other notable features of the British Airways Visa Signature® Card:
- No foreign transaction fees
- Auto rental collision damage waiver
- Baggage delay insurance
- Purchase protection
- Lost luggage reimbursement
- Extended warranty protection
- Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
- Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent at gas stations and restaurants
- Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
- Earn a $125 American Airlines Flight Discount after you spend $20,000 or more in purchases during your cardmembership year and renew your card
- No Foreign Transaction Fees
- First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to four companions traveling with you on the same reservation
- Enjoy preferred boarding on American Airlines flights
- The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 15.99% - 24.99%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion
What Our Editors Like Most About the British Airways Visa Signature® Card
Our favorite feature of the British Airways Visa Signature® Card is easily the generosity with the miles and the rewards. Consider that a Travel Together Ticket good for any cabin on any flight could easily be worth $1,000 or more if you choose an international flight or first-class fare. Then there's that opportunity to earn up to 100,000 bonus Avios. That's a lot of reward potential.
Furthermore, we also like that Avios redemption isn't restricted to British Airways flights. Thanks to British Airways' oneworld® alliance network, travelers can fly to hundreds of destinations around the world on a plethora of airlines, both domestically and internationally, using Avios. If you can manage a little research, you'll be able to redeem your Avios wisely and really maximize the benefits and minimize the cost. For the first 12 months of card membership, cardholders earn five Avios per $1 spent on British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia and LEVEL purchases (thereafter, three Avios) as well as three Avios per $1 on hotel accommodations purchased directly from the hotel (thereafter, two Avios) and one Avios per $1 on everything else.
Even if you aren't headed overseas anytime soon, this card could still work for you. In fact, an argument could be made that Avios are even more valuable for short-haul flights in the U.S. on one of the partner airlines, as redemptions start at just 7,500 Avios.
Lastly, Avios can also be used on hotel stays, car rentals and trip experiences so you aren't just limited to one redemption category.
Potential Downsides of the British Airways Visa Signature® Card
Though you can use Avios to fly on British Airways from the U.S. to Great Britain, the high fees and fuel surcharges charged by British Airways can cancel out the savings of an award ticket. Because of this, to make the most of your Avios, your best bet for long-haul international flights would be to book a rewards flight with one of British Airways' many travel partners, like Aer Lingus for a flight from Boston to Dublin. Then, once you're abroad, you'll be better off on short-haul British Airways flights so you can avoid those high fuel surcharges associated with flying across the Atlantic. It's also possible to book a domestic flight with one of British Airways' partner airlines, with deals as low as 7,500 Avios for flights originating and terminating in the U.S.
Second, while the Travel Together Ticket for a companion can be a fabulous perk, it's not really "free" as you're still responsible for paying taxes and fees for the second ticket, which can range from $680 to $1,250 depending on your departure and arrival locations, as well as travel dates. There are other restrictions as well. With this ticket you have to fly round trip from the U.S., and it's only valid on British Airways; however, it can still be a terrific value depending on your dates and destination, especially if you're looking to fly business or first class.
Lastly, some might not like the $95 annual fee that comes with the card. However, we think this fee is easy to offset considering what you get with the card. In our opinion, the excellent rewards earning opportunity in the first year and the great ongoing earning scheme will likely make the fee worth it for regular British Airways customers.
How the British Airways Visa Signature® Card Compares to Other Travel Rewards Credit Cards
British Airways Visa Signature® Card vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
The 100,000 bonus points you can earn as a new Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card holder are nothing to scoff at, especially considering the fact that they are worth 25% more when redeemed for travel. When redeeming for airfare, hotels, car rentals, and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 100,000 points are worth $1,250.
With the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you aren't restricted on where/how you travel. If you plan to heavily use your card (especially within the first year), and are loyal to the British Airways brand, the British Airways Visa Signature® Card could be an excellent card to hold. However, if you're looking for more flexibility with how you travel, you might want to further consider the additional perks of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card earns users two points on travel and dining purchases and one point on every other purchase; has no foreign transaction fees; and comes with a number of travel protection benefits, such as auto rental collision damage waiver, baggage delay insurance, trip delay reimbursement, and travel and emergency assistance services. There is a $95 annual fee associated with the card, but the bonus offer alone far outweighs that cost.
British Airways Visa Signature® Card vs. Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®
Less than the 100,000 Avios you can earn in the first three months (after spending $5,000) like you can get with the British Airways Visa Signature® Card, Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® cardholders earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after they spend just $2,500 on the card in the first three months and that certainly isn't a bad offer for those loyal to the American Airlines brand (Citi is a CardRatings advertiser).
The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® cardholders earn two AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent at gas stations, restaurants and on eligible American Airlines purchases and can also earn a $125 American Airlines Flight Discount after spending $20,000 or more in purchases during your card membership year and renew your card. If you're exclusively making flight purchases with American Airlines and also want to earn some on your everyday purchases, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® is a fine choice, but if you often fly with British Airways, the British Airways Visa Signature® Card may be the way to go as you can still use Avios to fly American Airlines since it's a British Airways oneworld® airline partner and there's no opportunity for a companion ticket with the American Airlines card.
The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®'s annual fee is $99, waived for first 12 months.
British Airways Visa Signature® Card vs. Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
This is another general travel rewards card as compared to an airline-specific card, which means you can redeem your rewards for a wide range of travel opportunities. Plus, with the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, you earn two miles per $1 spent on all your purchases, making this an excellent card for people who don't want to worry about earning more rewards for purchases in certain categories or keeping track of a spending cap.
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card offers new cardholders a one-time bonus of 60,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within three months from account opening, equal to $600 in travel. Miles can be redeemed without worrying about a particular brand or blackout dates. So, for example, you can fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime and not have to worry about blackout dates. Plus, you can transfer your miles to numerous leading travel loyalty programs.
Lastly, as you would expect from a card with "venture" in the name, you won't be paying foreign transaction fees if you use the card abroad. The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card's annual fee is $95.
Bottom line is that you'll want to consider your loyalties and plans for your rewards; if you want flexibility, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is probably a better fit.
Who Should Get the British Airways Visa Signature® Card?
The British Airways Visa Signature® Card is a great choice for those who frequently travel on British Airways or even its partner airlines.