Editors Note: This offer is no longer available. It’s never completely safe to sign up for a credit card due only to its initial bonus. Many cards entice customers by offering a decent cash back bonus, then turn around and charge a high annual fee with a ridiculous interest rate. Before you know it, you’re saddled with thousands of dollars of debt, merchandise you never needed, and no way to pay it off. But every once in a while a credit card offers something too good to pass up, if you’re the intended audience. The British Airways Visa Signature® Card 100,000 bonus mile opportunity may be that offer.
Bonus miles are only as good as the rewards program that defines its redemption. In the grand scheme of things, 100,000 miles can mean absolutely nothing if an airline requires 20 million miles to qualify for a free flight. In the British Airways family, 100,000 miles is meaningful. This big bonus comes in two distributions: first, the airline awards 50,000 miles after making your first purchase with the British Airways Visa Signature® Card, and later, you’ll receive another 50,000 miles after spending $2,500 during the first three months.
Once you have your 100,000 miles, you have a few options.
- Option 1. Most consumers are more likely to use these miles for domestic flights. Although this is a British Airways credit card, cardholders can use the miles by flying with American Airlines, a partner airline. With 100,000 miles, you can fly for free more than once, depending on class and destination. I estimate that the value of this, in terms of estimated savings, is about $1,000.
- Option 2. The miles could be worth more if you use them for traveling abroad. British Airways allows you to redeem your 100,000 miles for two, round-trip transatlantic flights to Europe Zone 1. You will fly economy class and you will still need to pay the taxes for each ticket, which could be about $300. I estimate using miles for this travel could save about $2,500.
- Option 3. Rather than fly economy, why not fly in style? You can redeem 100,000 miles for one business class flight to any Europe Zone 1 location. Even with the expected expense for taxes, the potential savings are significant. For example, a business class flight from San Diego to most any United Kingdom location runs more than $5,000.
Europe Zone 1 includes Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
Not only does the British Airways Visa Signature® Card provide a monster sign-up bonus, but it also has a decent rewards program. Cardholders earn miles for every purchase, with a two-tier structure:
- 2.5 miles for every dollar spent on British Airways flights
- 1.25 miles for every dollar spent on all other purchases
There is no introductory offer associated with the British Airways Visa Signature® Card from Chase. The purchase APR is 14.24% variable, depending on the your credit history and quality. Unfortunately, Chase charges an annual fee of $95 to own this card. Considering the big up-front bonus and a free companion ticket every year you renew your membership, the annual fee doesn’t hurt the overall value of the credit card for anyone prepared to take advantage of this offer. In the best case scenario, it would take more than 70 years of being a member before the cost of annual fees surpass the value of the sign-up bonus. In the worst case scenario, anything’s possible, but with 100,000 miles to start with, the annual fee is nothing more than a nuisance.
Writing about credit cards for quite a while, I can honestly say the British Airways Visa Signature® Card offers potentially one of the biggest credit card bonuses ever. If you’re planning a trip abroad this year or next and are looking at ways to make the vacation a lot less expensive, consider the British Airways Visa Signature® Card. The 100,000 mile bonus is unbeatable.
This offer has expired as of May 6, 2011.
Updated June 17, 2016 and originally published April 14, 2011.