Update: The annual fee waiver for the BA card is now scheduled to end on 12/31/14:
Originally posted on 10/30/14:
-50,000 British Airways (BA) Avios for spending $2,000 within 3 months.
-With this limited time offer the annual fee is waived on this card for the first year. It is $95 thereafter. This is the first time this year that the fee has been waived for the first year on this card.
-You will earn 1.25 Avios per dollar spent everywhere and 2.5 Avios per dollar spent on BA tickets. There are no foreign transaction fees and the card includes a chip to use when abroad.
-Want to learn more about the BA Avios program? Be sure to read the British Airways knowledgebase and the 22 Things To Keep In Mind When Using Avios for everything you NEED to know about the BA program and how to best search for BA award availability with tips (always book one-way awards!). If you have a question about Avios it’s probably already been answered there!
-Get A 40% Bonus When You Transfer American Express Membership Rewards Points Into British Airways Avios!
-Click to view 94 Direct Avios Flights From Baltimore/Washington DC
-Click to view 29 Direct Avios Flights From Boston
-Click to view 126 Direct Avios Flights From Chicago
-Click to view 77 Direct Avios Flights From Los Angeles
-Click to view 120 Direct Avios Flights From Miami
-Click to view 102 Direct Avios Flights From NYC
-Click to view 123 Direct Avios Flights From Philadelphia
-BA Avios are awesome. They effectively fill the gap that is left by the major programs like American AAdvantage and United MileagePlus. The major programs provide a fantastic value for long-haul flights, especially for one-way flights, last-minute flights, stopover flights, or flights in business or first class. But most programs are not great for short flights.
In 2011 BA launched the Avios program and for the past 3 years it has continued to provide an incredible value for short-haul flights. I’ve booked dozens of short-haul tickets using Avios for travel on American. A Cleveland-NYC ticket can cost $1,200 round-trip if you don’t stay for at least 3 days or if you book last-minute. But BA allows me to use just 9,000 Avios for that same flight, a whopping value of over 13 cents per mile. I can hop over to Chicago or NYC on a whim without any kind of mileage regret like I used to have in the pre-Avios days.
-50,000 Avios has gotten me flights that would have otherwise cost over $6,500. Or those same exact flights would run some 140K American miles not even accounting for the $75 expedite fees and $150 cancellation fees that American would charge with their own miles compared to $0 expedite and $5.60 cancellation when booking an American flight with Avios!
And how many other programs can say that they offer a flight to the Caribbean in coach for just 4,500 miles or in first class with 3 free checked bags for 9,000 miles? A flight from the west coast to Hawaii on American, Alaska, or USAirways is just 12.5K Avios each way.
-Cardholders get 10% off paid BA tickets with promo code: CARDOFFERU
-You can earn a free companion award ticket every year that you spend $30K though it’s only valid for travel on BA or Open Skies. The companion travels in the same class of service, so if you redeem Avios for a first class ticket your companion flies in first as well for 0 Avios but taxes and fees will be owed.
-Avoiding fuel surcharges:
-There are no fuel surcharges for travel on American or USAirways within the Western Hemisphere. Flights start at 4,500 Avios plus $5.60.
-Air Berlin flights still have no fuel surcharges systemwide and remain the cheapest way to get to Israel. They have flights to Israel from Berlin, Dusseldorf, or Munich for 10K Avios. Flights to several US cities cost just 20K Avios.
-Niki flights have no fuel surcharges systemwide. They fly from Israel to Vienna for 10K Avios.
-Aer Lingus flights have no fuel surcharges systemwide. A flight from Boston to Dublin or Shannon is just 12,500 Avios. From there you can fly elsewhere within Europe without paying fuel surcharges. Plus you can fly to Boston from cities like Buffalo, NYC, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, or Washington DC for just 4.5K Avios. These flights can only be booked over the phone.
-Alaska flights have no fuel surcharges systemwide with flight starting at just 4,500 Avios. These flights can only be booked over the phone.
-LAN and TAM flights have no fuel surcharges systemwide. Some of their flights can only be booked over the phone.
-Flights within Australia, Europe, Japan, and many other countries and regions have little to no fuel surcharges.
-There are also no fuel surcharges for flying on Qantas within Australia.
-Fuel surcharges on award-winning carrier Cathay Pacific are also pretty low and you don’t even need to fly all the way to Hong Kong (though you should-great city with awesome kosher food, airport lounges with kosher food, and a business or first class flight you’ll never forget!) to get a taste of their awesome service, seat, pajamas, and amenities. They fly a daily 777 nonstop between JFK and Vancouver which I reviewed in this trip report.
-You can significantly cut the fuel surcharges when flying on Iberia by transferring your BA Avios into Iberia Avios
-British Airways 5th Freedom Flights (flights that don’t depart from or arrive to the UK) have significantly lower fees. For example even though Singapore-Sydney is a longer flight than NYC-London the fees in first class on Singapore-Sydney are less than half of those from NYC-London.
Advantages of BA Avios over most traditional mileage programs:
-There are no expedite or close-in fees for last minute award ticket bookings with BA Avios.
-You can book one-way tickets for half of the miles of a round-trip!
-You can cancel tickets and redeposit miles for the lessor of $40 or the taxes you paid. That means you pay just $5.60 for cancel a one-way domestic itinerary (and it’s part of the reason why I always book domestic flights as one-ways).
-British Airways only charges 10% extra miles for a lap child flying internationally, even when traveling on AA. AA and other domestic carriers charge a whopping 10% of the full fare, which can add up to be a small fortune. When flying domestic you should just add the infant at the airport for free.
-It’s easy to top-off your BA Avios account thanks to their partnerships with all of the transferable points programs. You can transfer Starpoints to BA at a 20K:25K ratio with the built-in 25% transfer bonus or American Express Membership Rewards or Chase Ultimate Rewards to BA at a 1:1 ratio:
-With short-haul flights starting at just 4,500 Avios you can get a lot of free travel from your Avios.
Award bands include:
Band 1: Flights that are 1-650 miles cost 4,500 Avios.
Sample routes: LGA-Cleveland, LGA-Detroit, LGA-Montreal, LGA-Toronto, Miami-Cancun, Miami-Key West, Miami-Nassau, London-Paris, Melbourne-Sydney, Los Angeles-Las Vegas
Band 2: Flights that are 651-1,151 miles cost 7,500 Avios.
Sample routes: JFK-Bermuda, Los Angeles-Cabo San Lucas, LGA-Chicago, LGA-Miami, LGA-West Palm Beach, Philadelphia-Miami.
Band 3: Flights that are 1,151-2,000 miles cost 10,000 Avios.
Sample routes: JFK-S. Maarten, JFK-Cancun, JFK-S. Juan, Los Angeles-Chicago, Berlin-Tel Aviv, Hong Kong-Singapore
Band 4: Flights that are 2,001-3,000 miles cost 12,500 Avios.
Sample routes: Boston-Dublin, JFK-Los Angeles, JFK-Vancouver, Los Angeles-Maui, JFK-Costa Rica, Pittsburgh-Los Angeles
Band 5: Flights that are 3,001-4,000 miles cost 20,000 Avios.
Sample routes: NYC-London, NYC-Berlin, Chicago-Dublin, Dallas-Maui
Band 6: Flights that are 4,001-5,500 miles cost 25,000 Avios.
Sample routes: NYC-Buenos Aires, NYC-Rio de Janeiro, London-Johannesburg
Band 7: Flights that are 5,501-6,500 miles cost 30,000 Avios.
Sample route: NYC-Amman
Band 8: Flights that are 6,501-7,000 miles cost 35,000 Avios.
Sample route: S. Francisco-Hong Kong, JFK-Hong Kong
Band 9: Flights that are 7,001 miles or more cost 50,000 Avios.
Sample route: Los Angeles-Sydney, JFK-Sydney
Be sure to read the BA knowledgebase for tips and tricks to make some flights cheaper.
Other Chase cards you can apply for at the same time include the Chase Freedom (which today only is offering 20K points for spending $500 plus 2.5K points for adding an additional user, has no annual fee, gives 5 points per dollar in rotating categories, and 10% bonus points through 2015 if you have a Chase checking account), the Chase United Explorer (30K signup points plus another 5K points for adding a free additional user, and it gives free luggage, free primary car rental insurance including in the US and Israel, expanded saver and standard award ticket availability, priority boarding, and more), the Chase Sapphire Preferred (40K signup points plus another 5K points for adding a free additional user, no fee the first year, free primary car rental insurance including in the US and Israel, plus 2-2.14 points per dollar on travel and dining with no Foreign Exchange fees), the Chase Marriott (with 50K signup points plus a free night upon signup and a free night every subsequent year upon renewal),the Chase Ink Plus (50K signup points, 5 points per dollar on telecom/office supplies, 2 points per dollar on hotels and gas) and the Chase Ink Cash (which has no annual fee and gives 5 points per dollar on telecom/office supplies and 2 points per dollar on dining and gas).