British Airways Visa Signature Card Review [2021]: 100,000 Avios Points, Low Annual Fee

If you are looking to earn valuable Avios (that you can turn into flights on over a dozen airlines), consider applying for the British Airways Visa Signature Card.
Last updated Jul 1, 2021 | By Brett Holzhauer

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Traveling overseas from the United States can be incredibly expensive. From the airfare to the taxes and fuel surcharges to checked-bag fees, flying across the Atlantic may feel out of reach to you. The British Airways Visa Signature Card could be a great rewards credit card to help you knock down those costs.

With the British Airways Visa Signature Card, you’ll earn valuable points known as Avios that you can use to book reward flights on over a dozen different airlines. The flexibility of using Avios with different airlines makes them a great frequent-flyer program to invest in. That means your chances of flying for nearly free could be higher with this airline card in your wallet. And big spenders could even earn a free companion ticket on British Airway as well.

In this British Airways Visa Signature Card review, you’ll learn about the card’s benefits, as well as how to earn more Avios so you can take your next flight to Europe (or elsewhere around the globe) for much less expense than you anticipated.

Earn Avios & Fly the World

Intro Offer

100,000 Avios

Annual Fee

$95

Rewards Rate

up to 5X Avios

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • 100,000 bonus Avios sign-up offer
  • Opportunity to earn a Travel Together Ticket every year of card membership
  • No foreign transaction fee

Drawbacks

  • Has annual fee
  • Maximum value limited to those who fly British Airways or Oneworld partners
Card Details
  • Earn 100,000 Avios after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months
  • 5X Avios on purchases with British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia, and LEVEL in the first year (then 3X); 2X Avios on hotel accommodations; and 1X Avios on all other purchases

In this British Airways credit card review

Who should get the British Airways Visa Signature Card?

This British Airways Visa Signature Card is great for international travelers. With this card, you’ll earn rewards in the form of Avios. You can use your Avios on oneworld Alliance airlines such as Cathay Pacific, Iberia, and many others. You can also use Avios to book award flights with British Airways partner airlines such as Aer Lingus. 

You can also redeem your Avios for seat upgrades, hotel stays, car rentals, experiences, and more. So while earning may only seem useful for frequent flyers, it’s also advantageous for cardholders who may not fly as often but are looking to capitalize on their spending with valuable rewards.

Because of the wide variety of airlines you’ll be able to choose from to use your Avios, this card is clearly meant for people who like having options while flying. However, you don’t need to be a constant traveler to benefit from this card. With a low annual fee of $95, the bonus points you could earn from your purchases as well as other cardmember perks can easily justify this cost.

And if you’re indeed looking to do a bit of spending overseas, the British Airways Visa Signature Card is a credit card with no foreign transaction fees. So you can continue to earn more Avios without the stress of extra charges. 

Card basics

Card type Travel
Credit card issuer Chase
Annual fee $95
Intro bonus Earn 100,000 Avios after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months
Reward rate 5X Avios on purchases with British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia, and LEVEL in the first year (then 3X); 2X Avios on hotel accommodations; and 1X Avios on all other purchases
Recommended credit score Excellent, Good
Foreign transaction fee None

British Airways credit card benefits and perks

  • Generous welcome offer: Earn 100,000 Avios after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months.
  • Great earnings for your purchases: When you use this card, you’ll earn 5X Avios on purchases with British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia, and LEVEL in the first year (then 3X); 2X Avios on hotel accommodations; and 1X Avios on all other purchases.
  • Travel Together Ticket: If you make $30,000 in purchases in one calendar year, you’ll earn a Travel Together Ticket that’s good for two years. You can buy a seat in any class for yourself (even first class or business class), and the person traveling with you will receive a companion ticket and be able to join you on the flight for free (not counting any taxes, fees, or carrier charges that may apply). This only applies to round-trip flights with British Airways and you must be flying the same itinerary as your companion. This program is similar in nature to the Alaska Airlines Companion Pass and the Southwest Companion Pass.
  • Oneworld Alliance: If British Airways isn’t the particular airline you want to fly, you have plenty of flexibility due to British Airways being part of the oneworld Alliance. That means you can use your Avios to book with other airlines, such as American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, and more.
  • Insurance coverages: With the British Airways Visa Signature Card, you’ll have several different travel coverages, including car rental insurance, baggage delay insurance, and lost luggage reimbursement. Because this card is a Visa Signature, you'll also enjoy purchase protection and extended warranty protection.
  • No foreign transaction fees: When you’re traveling abroad, you can use your British Airways Visa Signature Card without any foreign transaction fees.

Drawbacks to this card

Earning & redeeming British Airways Avios

Potential earnings in years one and two

Here's a look how your Avios can add up with the British Airways Visa Signature Card. To calculate these values, we used a point valuation of 1.5 cent per point. The actual value of each point will vary depending on your chosen redemption.

Remember, this is an estimation. The actual value will be determined by how much you spend and in which categories you spend.

Year one earnings: $1,907.50

Year two earnings: $407.50

These values are based on the FinanceBuzz Credit Card Rewards Valuation Model which takes a look at points earned via spending, the welcome bonus, and the annual fee. We assumed you would meet the spending threshold to achieve the full 100,000 Avios welcome offer.

For this particular card, the assumption is that the "travel" spending did not include any British Airways purchases or spending with their partner airlines. Of course, with this card you are likely to book with British Airways and its hospitality partners. These numbers also do not include the accelerated earnings rates for new cardholders. So your earnings in your first year and second year would potentially be much higher than what is projected here.

Best ways to earn

When it comes to earning Avios by making purchases with the British Airways Visa Signature Card, here are the earning categories you’ll have:

Categories Rewards rate
Purchases with British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia, and LEVEL (5X for the first 12 months) 3X
Hotel accommodations (after the first 12 months)
2X
All other purchases 1X

There are additional ways to earn Avios as well. For example, you can earn one Avios per $1 spent — with a minimum earning of 500 British Airways Avios — when you rent a car from Avis. If you rent four or more times in one year, you can collect an extra 1,000 Avios. These rewards can all be earned without the British Airways Visa Signature Card — but if you use the British Airways Visa Signature Card, you can earn an extra 250 Avios. You can do all this by booking through the British Airways portal.

If you’re staying at an Airbnb on your travels, British Airways has a portal link where you can instantly earn one Avios per $1 spent on Airbnb. So if you spend $200 on an Airbnb, you can earn 200 Avios simply by using its link.

There’s also the British Airways Avios eStore online shopping portal. Next time you’re looking to buy from retailers such as Apple, Bloomingdale’s, or Macy’s, be sure to go through this portal. You may be able to earn extra Avios for the same purchase you were going to make anyway.

Maximizing your redemptions

While British Airways is a fantastic airline, there’s one large sore spot for many travelers: surcharges. When you book using your Avios on British Airways, you may be thinking you’re on your way to a nearly free flight. Unfortunately, there are surcharges that come along with that booking. 

For example, on a recent British Airways flight I looked into booking from New York City to London, the surcharges totaled $347, in addition to the 33000 Avios I would have used to cover the cost of the ticket. In comparison, a similar flight with Delta Air Lines would only cost roughly $178 in surcharges (as of Sep. 24, 2019).

So when it comes to maximizing your redemptions with the British Airways Visa Signature Card, be wary that British Airways does have some pretty hefty surcharges that may appear during your booking. Take advantage of British Airways’ participation in the oneworld Alliance to shop around for airlines with lower surcharges to make the best use of your Avios.

British Airways transfer partners

British Airways is a member of the oneworld Alliance. Other airline partners in this alliance include:

  • American Airlines
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Finnair
  • Iberia
  • Japan Airlines
  • Malaysa Airlines
  • Qantas
  • Qatar Airways
  • Royal Air Maroc
  • Royal Jordanian
  • S7 Airlines
  • SriLankan Airlines

Fiji Airways is also part of the network, as a member of oneworld Connect.

British Airways Visa Signature Card FAQs

Does the British Airways Visa Signature Card have a foreign transaction fee?

No, the British Airways Visa Signature Card does not charge a foreign transaction fee. You can feel free to spend outside of the United States without any fear of incurring unnecessary costs.

Is the British Airways Visa Card worth it?

This is a great card for someone looking to fly using Avios on British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus, or any of the oneworld Alliance airlines. With a low annual fee and high potential for earning points, this card is an excellent option.

Can I earn British Airways Avios with other cards?

In a roundabout way, yes, you can earn British Airways Avios with other credit cards. For example, with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, you’ll earn Chase Ultimate Rewards, but these points can then be transferred to British Airways Avios at a 1:1 ratio.

How do I keep BA Avios from expiring?

As long as you earn, spend, purchase, or share one Avios point every 36 months, your British Airways Avios account will stay active.


Other cards to consider

If the British Airways Visa Signature Card isn’t what you’re looking for, there are other rewards cards that can earn you Avios. In fact, you can earn Avios without the help of an airline credit card at all.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is known as one of the best travel credit cards. With this card, you can earn 60,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. These points can be transferred to Chase Ultimate Rewards travel partners — and British Airways is one of them. This means all the travel rewards you earn with this card can be moved to your British Airways Executive Club account at a 1:1 ratio. With broad spending categories to earn bonus points, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card can get you in the air with British Airways using reward miles in no time.

If you’re a foodie, the American Express® Gold Card is an absolute must-have. With this rewards card, you can score Amex Membership Rewards points that can also be transferred to British Airways. While this card does come with a $250 (See rates and fees) annual fee, cardmembers earn 4X Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year, after that 1X) and at restaurants, 3X on flights booked directly with airlines or on Amextravel.com, and 1X on all other eligible purchases. You’ll also have a great list of perks, including a $10-per-month statement credit toward participating restaurants and services and no foreign transaction fees. Enrollment is required for select benefits.

Earn Avios & Fly the World

See how these cards compare:

Chase Sapphire Preferred
Chase Sapphire Preferred
  • 60,000 point sign-up bonus
  • 5X points on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 25% more value when redeeming rewards for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 10% anniversary point bonus each year
  • $50 annual credit on hotel stays booked through Ultimate Rewards
  • Premium travel protection benefits
American Express® Gold Card
American Express® Gold Card
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in the first 6 months
  • Rose gold is back! Choose your color.
  • $120 in dining credits
  • $120 in Uber Cash
  • Select benefits require enrollment.
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • $250 annual fee. Terms apply.
  • See rates and fees

Author Details

Brett Holzhauer Brett Holzhauer is a graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University. He writes about using points & miles for travel, travel industry news, utilizing credit cards as financial leverage, and investing for the future. He has been featured in publications such as The Points Guy, Million Mile Secrets, The Money Manual, Recruiter, Travel Pulse, and Bald Thoughts. He is a full-time digital nomad with his wife, Kiersten.