British Airways Visa Signature Card: Are the Rewards Worth the Limitations?

Marcy Bialeschki
June 1, 2020

The British Airways Visa Signature card has some of the best travel rewards available today. Unfortunately, these rewards have specific limitations, diminishing the card's popularity. However, avid travelers can enjoy ample perks, especially those tied to the new cardholder sign-up bonus. New cardholders will receive 50,000 bonus "arios" (points) after spending $3000 on purchases in the first three months of having the account and another 50,000 arios after spending $20,000 by the end of the first year.

Spending $20,000 on your card in one year is a lofty goal, especially if this is not your primary card. People who open a British Airways Visa Signature card must be confident they can earn the extra 50,000 arios, or the card may not be worth owning. This fact raises the concern of the card's value after the end of the first year when the bonuses have ended.

Beyond the First-Year Bonuses

Beyond the hefty sign-up bonus, the British Airways Visa Signature card has a competitive rewards program for travelers; however, the rewards earned on regular purchases are just so-so. Card owners receive 3x the arios on every dollar spent with British Airways, Aer Lingus, and Iberia airlines. Plus, they earn 2x the arios for every dollar on hotels booked directly and not through third-party organizations. Cardholders earn 1x the arios on everything else purchased with the card. The underwhelming rewards program obviously has some limitations. However, what makes this card more attractive to travelers is the extra statement credit and free travel opportunities attached.

Every calendar year cardholders charge $30,000 on their British Airways Signature Visa card, they earn a Travel Together airline ticket good for up to two years. Additionally, if they use their arios to book flights to London on British Airways, cardholders can receive up to $600 in statement credit with $100 credit for Economy and Premium Economy seats and $200 for Business and Business First class. The entire bonus maxes-out at $600 in statement credit per year. British Airways Visa Signature cardholders can use their arios to pay the taxes, fees, and other charges of their rewards flight by calling the number on the back of their card. These additional rewards make the British Airways Visa Signature card a good choice for people whose needs fit these unique rewards.

Travel Features

People who use the British Airways Visa Signature card as their primary card and achieve the $30,000 each year, might find this card to be a traveler's dream. In addition to the potential free tickets and generous statement credits, the British Airways Visa Signature card has the expected, essential features of other travel cards with a comparable annual fee.

Lost or Damaged Luggage Reimbursement: If your checked luggage is lost or damaged by the carrier, you are covered up to $3000 per person.

Baggage Delay Insurance: If your flight is delayed six or more hours, you will receive $100 a day for up to three days to cover necessities.

Auto Rental Insurance: If you decline the rental company insurance, you receive secondary coverage for theft and collision damage in the US and abroad.

Other features include the following:

Purchase Protection: New purchases made with the British Airways Visa Signature card are protected for 120 days against theft and damage, $500 per claim up to $50,000 per year.

Contactless Pay: The British Airways Visa Signature card makes paying faster and easier with tap-and-go payments.

No Foreign Transaction Fees

Extended Manufacturer’s Warranty: An additional one-year extended warranty covers eligible purchases made with your British Airways Signature Visa card.

The British Airways Visa Signature card is pretty standard when comparing basic details. Like most premium credit cards, this card has an annual fee. Depending on who you ask, paying $95 per year to have the card may or may not be a good deal. The British Airways Visa Signature card requires good credit with a 690+ credit score. The purchase APR is a reasonable 15.99% - 22.99% variable.

Limitations You Should Know

The British Airways Visa Signature card has a lot to offer. Still, it comes with some limitations that keep cardholders from reaping all of the card's rewards. These limitations can also be a bit confusing and hard to remember, making getting the most out of your card's perks difficult.

Travelers are limited to three airlines that earn maximum arios: British Airways, Aer Lingus, and Iberia.

The additional statement credit of up to $200 is only available when booking a rewards flight to London.

The 2x the arios earned when booking a hotel is only available when booking with the hotel directly and not with a third-party.

The additional 50,000 arios is only available if you spend $20,000 in the first year.

The Travel Together ticket must be on the same flight and in the same cabin as your purchased ticket.

The Travel Together ticket must be on a flight originating and ending in the US.

Alternatives

If you want a travel card and the British Airways Signature Visa is not quite right for you, consider one of these two cards instead.

Chase Sapphire Preferred: This card has the same $95 annual fee, but the travel points have much more flexibility. You may only earn 2x the points instead of 3x, but these points are on all travel and dining expenses. The British Airways Visa Signature card earns 3x the points on airfare from only three airlines. All other travel expenses and dining only earn 1x the points. Additionally, the points are easily transferred to numerous airlines and hotels, giving the Chase Sapphire Preferred card more flexibility as a primary card for travelers.

Capital One Venture Rewards: This card rivals the British Airways Visa Signature card as a travel card primarily because of its straightforward rewards program. Cardholders earn a constant 2x the miles on everyday purchases. The Capital One Venture Rewards card has a $0 annual fee for the first year and $95 after that, trumping the British Airways Visa Signature card. The Capital One Venture Rewards card also offers a generous 50,000 bonus miles after making $3000 in purchases in the first three months. Additionally, a $100 credit towards TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry makes the Capital One Venture Rewards card an attractive alternative.

The British Airways Visa Signature card has a targeted, maybe even limited, audience. Avid travelers and people who want to use their rewards for more travel are the most likely candidates to hit a bulls-eye with this card. Because the bonuses rely on a high level of spending, this card will need to be the primary card for most people. Finally, this card is for people who don't mind keeping track of the more complicated bonuses, rewards, and limitations attached.

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