Score 100,000 British Airways Miles for $95

by  Molly Fergus | Apr 8, 2011
British Airways plane
British Airways plane / Leit_Wolf/iStock

British Airways is back with what it dubs “the most generous enrollment offer of the year” : New cardholders who sign up for its Chase Visa by May 6 earn a whopping 100,000 miles – enough for two round-trip transatlantic coach tickets, one business class flight to the Far East, or an economy jaunt to Central Africa.

Even without the lavish signing bonus, the British Airways Visa claims plenty of travel perks: Foreign transaction fees don’t apply to card purchases abroad, each dollar spent earns 1.25 miles (compared to one mile in most other programs), and points only expire if your account has had zero activity for three years. Anyone who charges $30,000 on the card within a calendar year also gets a free companion ticket, eligible for use with a reward ticket.

Still skeptical? Here’s what you need to know before swiping that plastic:

Plan for the Minimum Purchase: Your very first transaction on the card earns 50,000 miles – enough for one transatlantic flight – but you’ll need to charge at least $2,500 in the first three months to nab the second half of the reward. Wouldn’t normally put that much on a card? Consider prepaying monthly bills or stocking up on essentials to meet the deadline.

Fly on Partner Airlines: Airlines always tack on some fees, surcharges, and taxes to rewards trips, but on British Airways fuel costs can add up to several hundred dollars. The catch: Redeem through a Oneworld Alliance member like LAN or American Airlines, which typically charge fewer fees; mile redemption rates are roughly equal.

Consider Business Class: If you’re determined to fly British Airways – or it’s the best airline for your itinerary – opt for a front-of-the-plane fare instead of a cozy coach seat. On a round-trip, business class flight from the U.S. to Europe, expect to spend 100,000 miles and around $450 in various fees, according to USA Today. An economy seat requires half the miles but accrues similar fuel costs.

Beware the Annual Fee: There's no such thing as a free flight. The Visa costs $95 a year.

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