You’ve always wanted to tip toe around the Tower of London and peruse the purses of Paris.
There’s only one problem.
It’s at least a 7 hour flight from your current location. An expensive flight crammed into the back of the plane on the cheapest seat possible isn’t exactly my idea of the best way to start off an international vacation. So you put it off because the cost of just getting there is so high — not to mention actually staying long enough to get something out of it!
Thankfully you now have the opportunity to earn up to 100,000 airline miles with British
Airways. Those miles can be converted into either five one-way flights between New York City and London or one round-trip flight with 20,000 points leftover (which could then buy you an economy seat one-way between the two cities).
In other words, it’s a heck of a lot of miles.
Want 100,000 British Airways miles? (Actually, a few more than that…)
How to Earn 100,000 Airline Miles with the British Airways Visa Signature Card
There are three ways to earn airline miles with British Airways (they call them Avios points).
Sign Up Bonus
To start, you’ll receive 50,000 Avios points just by being approved for the credit card and using it once. With an economy seat rewards flight costing just 20,000 points one way,
that’s enough Avios to fly to London from JFK Airport in New York and still have points left over.
Two Spending Bonuses
On top of the bonus you get for simply using the British Airways Visa Signature card, you also can earn bonus points for hitting certain spending limits:
- 25,000 bonus Avios for spending $10,000 on the card in the first year
- 25,000 bonus Avios for spending an additional $10,000 on the card in the first year
As with most other airline or travel rewards credit cards, the British Airways Visa Signature credit card also generates Avios points for the spending you put on the card. For any British Airways specific spending you earn 2.5 Avios points per dollar spent. For all other spending you earn 1.25 points per dollar. (This is equivalent to 2.5% and 1.25%
That means you could actually end up with 125,000 Avios reward points if you received both spending bonuses and only used the card for non-British Airways purchases. That’s 50,000 points for signing up and using the card once, 50,000 points for spending $20,000 on the card in the first year, and 25,000 points for that $20,000 in spending to earn the bonuses.
If you can meet all of those requirements you’ll have points coming out your ears! And 125,000 points can be redeemed for a round-trip ticket sitting in first class. Now that’s the way to get to Europe in style!
Want to fly in first class from New York to London and not pay for the ticket?
Can I Really Get a Free Round Trip Ticket on British Airways?
You will see all kinds of advertisements for this card touting the benefit of “a free round trip business class ticket” on British Airways. However, even with 100,000 to 125,000 worth of Avios points, you won’t have a 100% absolutely free flight. Even if you downgrade to an economy ticket the flight still won’t be free.
How can this be possible? I thought you said I could redeem my points for 5 one-way economy flights or a round-trip business flight? What’s the catch?
Where the card isn’t 100% clear is that the points can be used to buy tickets, but those tickets also have taxes, fees, charges, and surcharges added onto them. You’ll pay airport tax, a fuel surcharge, and other items that add to the airline’s bottom line. This can make your “free” trip to Europe actually cost several hundred dollars. That can come as quite a shock when you signed up for the card with the understanding that you could fly for free.
How Much Will I Pay in Taxes and
This is a partial mystery because to completely book a rewards trip flight you must be a member of the British Airways Executive Club that uses the Avios point system. If you are considering getting the British Airways Visa Signature Card and want to see what the bottom line cost might be to get you to Europe, you can’t simply log on to the website and do a complete analysis.
You can, however, make some educated guesses as to the overall cost. The Avios points calculator will show you what the point cost is to get you a one-way ticket. I did some analysis from JFK in New York City to London’s Heathrow Airport:
- Economy one-way ticket: 20,000 points
- Premium economy one-way ticket: 30,000 points
- Business/Club one-way ticket: 40,000 points
- First class one-way ticket: 60,000 points
The points are the same coming back from London, too.
Where it gets confusing is using the calculator it says all of these point totals “+ $0.00 in taxes, fees, charges, and surcharges”. In other words, you don’t have to pay anything else, just use the points. (There are also options to use less points and pay part of the difference. For example, you could book an economy ticket for 16,000 points and pay $55 to make up the difference in the points.)
However, angry travelers are discovering this isn’t the case when they actually go to book the flight. How much are the taxes and surcharges? There’s no way to know until you book, but we can still compare to what you would pay out of pocket if you didn’t use the reward points to book the flight.
two dates well into the future (thanks to the 2012 Olympics being in London) and said I would depart New York City on September 3 and return on September 16th. The total one-way cost of the ticket calculated to be $1,821. So I would pay $3,642 for a round-trip flight. At the bottom of the page it lists out estimates for the taxes and surcharges you would have to pay:
So for one person, the out of pocket costs (if your ticket was free due to airline miles) is $318.30 round-trip. If the total cost is $1,821 and the included surcharge is $318, that means the actual fare is $1,503 for the Business/Club seat. If you used miles instead of paying for it, you’re still getting a $1,500 discount on the trip and having
to pay $318.30 in costs to the airline.
Can you Find a Seat?
The only other problem I can foresee for Americans trying to use their British Airway flight miles is with the 2012 Olympics coming up it may be impossible to find a rewards seat on any flight to London for quite some time. Those routes are going to be packed full of teams, coaches, and fans trying to get to the Olympics which will squeeze out the availability of reward seats on the flights. You might be able to pay to upgrade your seat, but if everything is sold out that might not even be an option.
However, your points aren’t going to expire and the Olympics air traffic will slow down in the fall. You could take a nice fall vacation to England using all of the free miles you earned with this credit card.
Interested in a free flight to start your European vacation?
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