You may have noticed a phenomenon this week when, all of a sudden, pretty much every blogger started writing about the British Airways credit card. Hm, why might that be? Oh, I think I know: because we were just told that we’re getting an affiliate referral fee for the card.
In fairness, the offer for the card did recently change. It had been 50k miles after $2500 in spend. It’s now 50k miles after first purchase, 25k miles after $10k in spend, and 25k additional miles after $20k in total spend.
If you’re like most people, you’re thinking this: $20k is a crapload of spend. Sure, some people are not thinking that. And I’m happy for those people. But many of the people I speak with for (shameless plug) my free credit card planning service are putting $1500-$2k/month on their cards. That would have to be one helluva deal to put your entire year’s spend on one card.
But, you may be thinking, 100,000 miles is a lot of miles. That’s true. But if you’re someone who puts that kinda money on your card each month there is a better way to earn British Airways (aka Avios) points. How?
Let’s start with why you’d want the BA card. I wouldn’t bother if you’re looking for long-haul flights. The fuel surcharges are absurd (I don’t consider $900 in fees – as they charge for flights to Africa – to be reasonable). However, if you’re looking to use these points for nonstop American (or LAN) flights within the US, Caribbean or Central America, this can be a great deal. Wandering Armenian’s awesome Avios calculator will show you where the bargains are.
BA lets people at the same address create a household account (see this post on household accounts), so you and your spouse can each get this card and combine the miles into one account. Nice.
So we’ll assume you’re using these miles for those short-to-medium nonstop flights mentioned above, and that you’re interested in getting as many BA Avios points as possible. I’d get the BA credit card and not put additional spend on it. You’ll get your 50k miles. Fantastic.
Remember that the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Business Ink Bold® Charge Card both earn Ultimate Rewards points, which can be transfered into BA. And the Starwood Amex (and Business Amex) allow you to transfer those points into British Airways as well. Sapphire gets you 40k points after $3k in spend; with Bold you’ll earn 25,000 points after first purchase, then an additional 25k points after $10,000 in spend in 3 months; each SPG gets you 25k points after $5k in spend. Remember that you get points for the spend you put on those cards and that the SPG points give you a 5k bonus when you transfer 20k.
So after $18k in spend for the year, you’ll have a total of 215,000 Avios points. That’s much better than putting that spend on the BA card to get 100,000 points.
If you’ve got lots of spend, then you can afford to hit the BA bonus and spread spend around to different cards. But if you’re like most people out there, you can get a much better payout by ignoring that 100k bonus on the one card.
A final note: Some blogs have noted that the Business Ink Bold® Charge Card is changing their offer, as it’s now a 25k bonus after the first purchase, then 25k after $10k in spend when you apply through the Chase website. The affiliate offer is 50k bonus after $5k in spend. I wouldn’t say that one is empirically better than the other. For some, that 25k bonus with no min spend is a great deal. For those who have lots of spend, the 50k after $5k spend is a better deal. We all seem to think that the 50k after $5k bonus will disappear, so if that’s the more appealing offer keep that in mind. I wouldn’t change my churn schedule for this, but you might want to apply for this in your next churn rather than waiting until later in the year. But if you don’t – it’s not the end of the world. Remember, there is NO ONE BEST STRATEGY for credit cards.
If you’re interested in applying for the cards mentioned above, these are affiliate links:
Sapphire Preferred 40k points after $3k spend
Chase Business Ink Bold® Charge Card 25k points after first purchase, 25k additional after $10k spend
Chase Business Ink Bold® Charge Card 25k points on signup, 25k points after $10k spend
Amex SPG 25k points after $5k spend
Amex SPG Business 25k points after $5k spend
British Airways Visa Signature 50k points after first purchase, 25k additional points after $10k, 25k more points after another $10k ($20k total)