British Airways Visa Signature Card Review

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The British Airways Visa Signature Card, issued by Chase, offers exceptional rewards for heavy spenders who fly abroad regularly. The sign-up offer stands out from the competition, though after the first year, rewards diminish for anyone with a limited budget.

British Airways Visa Signature® Card

overall rating
4.2
British Airways Visa Signature® Card
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 17.99% - 24.99% variable
Annual Fee $95
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 3 points per $1 on purchases with British Airways and 1 point per $1 for all other purchases.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
Ratings Breakdown
for Interest
1.9
for Fees
3.0
for Rewards
4.7
for Credit
4.0

Earn 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening. Plus earn an additional 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $20,000 on your purchases within your first year of account opening.

Top Rated For

  • Best Airline Credit Cards

Who is This Credit Card Best For?

  • Avatar for Jet Setter Persona
    Flies regularly and likes finding ways to score even more travel—for free
    Jet Setter
  • Avatar for Brand Loyalist Persona
    Frequently shops with a particular merchant and wants to be rewarded for their loyalty
    Brand Loyalist
  • Avatar for Adventure Seeker Persona
    Loves to explore places and experience new things
    Adventure Seeker
  • Avatar for Deal Seeker Persona
    Diligently searches for the best products and delights in a good bargain
    Deal Seeker

If you tend to charge a lot and have excellent credit, the British Airways Visa Signature Card is a great way to amass a slew of points to finance your next international vacation. In your first year, you don’t need to fly British Airways or buy items in any particular spending category to earn a big bonus.

But after that, you’ll earn far fewer Avios points on non-flight purchases, so the card favors frequent British Airways flyers. Heavy spenders are the one exception: No matter how long you’ve had the card, you’ll snag a free companion ticket every time you charge $30,000 in a calendar year.

Pros

  • You can earn lots of points in your first year

  • Points are valuable

  • Heavy spenders get a free companion ticket every year

  • Plenty of airline choice

Cons

  • You have to wait to get the second half of the sign-up bonus

  • After the first year, you need to spend a lot to get the most value

  • You may get stuck with big carrier fees

  • Lackluster travel perks

Pros Explained

  • You can earn lots of points in your first year: Even if you don’t travel, the British Airways Visa Signature Card offers an exceptional first-year promotion. If you charge at least $1,700 a month on your card—on anything—you could get points worth as much as $2,950 in free travel your first year.
  • Points are valuable: Editors at The Balance value the points on this card at an average 2.95 cents each when redeemed for flights on British Airways or partner airlines. (Rewards chasers typically look for at least 1 cent per mile or point.)
  • Heavy spenders get a free companion ticket every year: If you charge at least $30,000 in a calendar year, you’ll get a free “travel together” ticket to be used with your own award ticket. 
  • Plenty of airline choice: Besides British Airways, your points can be used for flights on 14 partner airlines. 

Cons Explained

  • You have to wait to get the second half of the sign-up bonus: Beyond the initial three-month bonus, you have to wait until the end of the year and meet another spending threshold to get the rest of the sign-up bonus.
  • After the first year, you need to spend a lot to get the most value: Rewards diminish in the second year unless you’re purchasing British Airways tickets or spending $30,000 a year. The $30,000 threshold to earn a companion ticket means owning the British Airways Visa Signature Card could limit your ability to rack up points or miles on other cards. 
  • You may get stuck with big carrier fees: British Airways has earned a reputation for big carrier charges on international flights. Those can cost you hundreds of extra dollars in cash, even if you use Avios points to pay for the base fare. For example, British Airways may impose a carrier charge of $240 on a round-trip economy flight from New York to London. 
  • Lackluster travel perks: Unlike some competing cards, the British Airways Visa Signature Card doesn’t offer priority boarding, free checked luggage, or any travel credits (such as an application fee credit for TSA Precheck/Global Entry or an airline fee credit) beyond the free companion ticket.

British Airways Visa Signature Card Sign-Up Bonus

The British Airways Visa Signature Card offers one of the biggest sign-up bonuses, but only if you’re a heavy spender. If you spend $3,000 within the first three months, you’ll get 50,000 points—about what you’d get from other travel cards that may only require you to spend $2,000 (and may waive the annual fee for the first year.) This card stands out, though, if you have a big budget month in and month out; if you charge $20,000 in the first year, you’ll earn another 50,000 points for a total of 100,000.

If you don’t plan to spend at least $1,700 a month on your British Airways Visa Signature Card, then you may be better off with a different travel card that allows you to convert your miles to Avios points.

Earning Points & Rewards

Once cardholders have maxed out the card’s sign-up offer, the British Airways rewards program becomes less appealing—especially if you don’t plan to fly British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus, or LEVEL regularly. Cardholders are awarded 3 points per $1 spent on those four airlines (some competitors with similar fees only award 2 points per $1 spent on the co-branded airline), but there are no bonus points on other regular purchases such as groceries or gas. You’ll just earn the standard 1 point per $1 on every other purchase.

Redeeming Rewards  

You can use Avios points to pay for flights with British Airways and 14 partners, including American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Aer Lingus, and Cathay Pacific.

The rewards program doesn’t impose any blackout dates on travel, but it does limit the number of rewards seats that are available, which can have the same effect. Reward flights can require as few as 8,000 Avios points, depending on when and where you fly. If you don’t have enough Avios points to pay for an entire flight, you can pay the rest in cash, but only on British Airways flights. (And carrier charges, fees, and taxes must be paid in cash.)

British Airways may have higher carrier charges than its partners on transatlantic flights, so look for rewards flights with other airlines in the program first. Or, if you’re traveling in designated areas, you may be able to use the Rewards Flight Saver program, which charges just one fee plus the required Avios points.

Besides airfare and related expenses, you can redeem Avios points for select hotel stays, car rentals, tours, and alcohol purchases. You can’t redeem them for cash, statement credits, gift cards or merchandise, though.

How to Get the Most Out of This Card

Charge at least $30,000 every year in order to earn the free companion ticket. In the first year, that will also earn you the full 100,000-point sign-up bonus. 

Take advantage of other opportunities to earn lots of points, such as shopping through the British Airways eStore. When redeeming your rewards, book partner flights whenever possible to avoid steep carrier charges. 

The British Airways Visa Signature Card’s Excellent Perks

The British Airways Visa Signature Card doesn’t offer as many travel perks as some airline cards, but these are the ones we think are the best: 

  • Free companion pass: Every year you charge $30,000, you’ll receive a free ticket for a companion to accompany you on an award flight. It’s good for up to two years and can even be used for first class. This is an ongoing benefit, and is pretty generous, considering the annual fee is just $95. 
  • Baggage delay insurance: You’ll be reimbursed up to $100 a day for three days if your baggage is delayed by more than six hours. The benefit covers essential purchases you need to make while you wait for your luggage.
  • Lost luggage reimbursement: You’ll be reimbursed up to $3,000 per ticket if your or an immediate family member’s luggage is lost or damaged in transit. 

The British Airways Visa Signature Card’s Other Features

Other noteworthy benefits include: 

  • Car rental collision insurance (secondary to your own policy)
  • Extended warranties
  • Coverage for stolen or damaged purchases 

Customer Experience

Chase tied for third place out of 11 national issuers in J.D. Power’s 2019 credit card satisfaction study, getting an "about average" score of 807 out of 1,000 points.

One convenience feature that’s worth noting is the British Airways Visa Signature Card’s “tap and pay” technology. You can save time at the cash register by tapping your card at any payment terminal that accepts contactless payments.

Security Features 

The British Airways Visa Signature Card offers standard security features, such as zero liability for fraudulent purchases as long as your report suspected fraud immediately. 

Fees That Stand Out

The balance transfer fee on the British Airways Visa Signature Card is higher than some competitors, at 5% of the transaction (many cards charge 3%). On the positive side, the card doesn’t charge a penalty rate if you fall behind on payments, which is somewhat unusual. It also doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee.

For British Airways Visa Signature® Card

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CURRENT CARD
British Airways Visa Signature® Card
overall rating
4.2
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 17.99% - 24.99% variable
Annual Fee $95
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 3 points per $1 on purchases with British Airways and 1 point per $1 for all other purchases.

Our Methodology

  • At The Balance, we are dedicated to giving you unbiased, comprehensive credit card reviews. To do this, we collect data on hundreds of cards and score more than 55 features that affect your finances.
  • Our Reviews Are Always Impartial: No one can influence which cards we review, the way we present them to you, or the ratings they receive. The scores and reviews come directly from the data we collect and our editorial expertise, and we focus on three areas:
  • How Much Does It Cost? With credit card debt at an all-time high, we believe you should know the cost of carrying a balance. Because of that, we give regular purchase APRs significant weight in overall scores, and cards receive low marks if they have an array of pricey fees.
  • What Are the Rewards Worth? Cards accumulate rewards in different currencies—points, miles, cash back—and their values vary widely. To simplify the problem, we built a system that fairly compares rewards and gives them a dollar value. We do this by looking at the ways you can earn and use rewards, which includes evaluating Americans’ typical spending habits and analyzing common travel patterns.
  • Does It Make Your Life Easier? Our scoring system favors cards that accept a wide range of credit profiles and offer simple solutions for things like checking your credit score or contacting customer service. Finally, we give preference to credit cards that have several tools for dealing with fraudulent charges.
  • For every review on The Balance, we hold the credit cards to these standards, and we set the bar high. While we recognize the appeal of splashy features like six-digit sign-up bonuses, our approach ensures that credit cards with the best combination of value, affordability, and accessibility receive the highest scores. See our full methodology for more details.