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Credit Card Sign On Bonus

British Airways 100,000 Avios Points Offer Breakdown

UPDATE: OFFER HAS EXPIRED & IS NO LONGER VALID

 British Airways 100,000 Avios Points Offer

If you have been reading the blogosphere, you’ve undoubtedly heard about the new Chase British Airways 100,000 Avios (the name for their miles program) Credit Card offer.

If you did sign up for the Sapphire Preferred last month, and are interested in this new British Airways offer, I would wait at least 1 month to apply.

You wouldn’t want to give Chase the impression that you are only signing up for the miles ; )

While some other bloggers have complained that this offer isn’t technically as good as the original “100,000” Avios Points offer from 2010 and 2011, I personally think that this British Airways card is now the BEST current Credit Card offer available!

For those of you new to the hobby, back in 2010 and 2011, the offer for the British Airways card was 50,000 Avios Points after you signed up and another 50,000 Avios Points after $2,500 or so of minimum spend in 3 months.

The current offer for the British Airways card is 50,000 Avios Points after 1st purchase, an additional 25,000 Avios Points after you spend $10,000 in 1 year, and an additional 25,000 Avios Points if you spend more than $20,000 in 1 year.

From an initial analysis, it would look as if Chase is trying to pull a fast one on us, since to earn the full 100,000 Avios, you would have to spend $20,000 in 1 year.

Since that is not exactly feasible for everyone, it seems that many people have written off this offer and are sitting on the sidelines waiting for the next “big” deal.

I 100% understand because I personally don’t think I could spend $20,000 in a year without spending it on stuff that I don’t actually need.

However when you break down the offer and look at how valuable British Airway Avios are, this is actually a GREAT offer!

I did the original British Airways 100,000 mile offer back in March 2010, and I wish I could jump in on it again due to the amount of free trips that 1 sign up bonus got me!

The Benefits

In addition to the 100,000 Avios sign up offer, the British Airways Credit Card also offers the following benefits:

  • 1.25 Avios per $1 Spent
  • 2.5 Avios per $1 Spent on British Airways
  • Free Companion Ticket If You Spend $30,000 In 1 Year (Can be used in conjunction with miles!)
  • Chip & Pin Technology (Great for Europe)
  • No International Transaction Fees

What The 100,000 Avios Sign Up Offer Really Means

Tier 1

The easiest way to look at this offer is to break it up into 3 spending tiers.

If you signed up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred offer last month you know that Ultimate Rewards points are transferable to partners like United and British Airways.

Let says you really like British Airways and you got the Chase Sapphire Preferred last month solely because you wanted to convert the 50,000 UR points into 50,000 British Airway Avios.

In that case, to get the full 50,000 UR points needed to convert into 50,000 Avios,  you would have to spend $3,000 in 3 months to meet the minimum spend requirement on the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Not as bad as $10,000 in 3 month, but $3,000 is still $3,000.

When looking at the new British Airways offer, to get the first 50,000 Avios, all you have to do is sign up for the Card and use it once.

The end.

Although there is a $95 annual fee that is not waived, there also is no minimum spend requirement! In my eyes, those cross each other out.

I wish there was an annual fee for the first year on the Chase INK Bold, so I didn’t have to spend $5,000 in 3 months! It would make life a lot easier.

The best thing about this new British Airways offer is that even if you don’t think you can complete the $10,000 or $20,000 spend to get the full 100,000 Avios, just by signing up for this Card, you would get 50,000 Avios, no questions asked!

If you and your travel partner (spouse, friend, lover, child, etc.) both signed up for this Card, without doing any additional spending, you would have 100,000 Avios between the two of you. Not bad!

Tier 2

For the sake of this example, lets say you and your travel partner both signed up for the Card.

As you can see above, you both would already have 50,000 Avios each.

The next tier of this offer is an additional 25,000 Avios if you spend $10,000 in 1 year.

Now before you see the $10,000 and pass on the offer, remember that is $10,000 spent over 1 year.

This equates to only $833.33 a month per a person!

My rent alone is $750 a month!

Plus also remember that you can use Amazon Payments which allows you to transfer up to $1,000 a month for free!

Just by using Amazon Payments, you both should be able to spend the minimum $10,000 spend in 1 year, at no cost to you!

Another cool thing is that these offers fail to incorporate the points you earn from completing the minimum spend.

Unlike most Credit Cards, the British Airway Card earns 1.25 Avios per $1 spent.

This means if you completed the $10,000 spend in 1 year, you would earn $10,000 x 1.25 Avios = 12,500 Avios.

This 12,500 Avios is on top of the 25,000 Avios you will get for meeting the $10,000 spend.

So if you complete the $10,000 spend in 1 year, you will get:

50,000 Sign Up Bonus (Tier 1) + 12,500 In Actual Spend (Tier 2) + 25,000 Spend Bonus (Tier 2) = 87,500 Avios

If your travel partner also signs up and also completes the $10,000 spend, then that is 87,500 Avios for them too!

So between the 2 of you, that is 175,000 Avios!

Wow!

Tier 3

If you can spend an additional $10,000, on top of the first $10,000, in the span of 1 year, then you will get an additional 25,000 Avios.

This would bring the entire yearly spend to $20,000 per a person.

Now I will be honest and say that completing the required spend for Tier 3 is a bit much unless you condense all of your family’s spending onto 1 British Airways card.

So to get the entire 100,000 Avios offer, you would need to spend $20,000 in 1 year, which is $1,666 a month.

If you and your travel partner sign up, then between the 2 of you, that means spending $3,222 a month to complete the Tier 3 spend.

In the event that you can complete the minimum spend for Tier 3, you will earn:

50,000 Sign Up Bonus (Tier 1)  + 12,500 Actual Spend (Tier 2) + 25,000 Spend Bonus (Tier 2) + 12,500 Spend Bonus (Tier 3) + 25,000 Actual Spend (Tier 3)  = 125,000 Avios.

If you and your travel partner both spend $20,000 in 1 year and complete Tier 3, you will have 250,000 Avios between the both of you!

What To Spend All Those Avios On

As you can see instead of simply calling their frequent flyer miles, “miles”, British Airways decided to name their “miles” and the mileage program, Avios.

In my old posts, I refused to call them Avios and continued to use “miles”, but then British Airway’s PR team emailed me to correct me on my “mistake”, so now I call them Avios.

I am not sure why British Airways came up with such a dumb name for their program but the name change came when, to the dismay of many frequent flyers, British Airways “gutted” their award chart by switching to a distance based format.

This switch got rid of ridiculously generous partner redemptions like using 80,000 BA miles for Business Class award ticket from U.S to Asia on Cathay Pacific.

European Vacation

The ironic thing about British Airway Avios is that they are worthless if you want to travel to Europe.

This is because when flying to Europe, British Airways forces you to fly only on British Airways and you have to stop in London.

It doesn’t matter if you can find a direct award flight on American Airlines (which is a OneWorld Alliance Partner), you still have to fly British Airways.

Why is this bad?

Because British Airways imposes STEEP fuel surcharges on British Airway award tickets, and London Heathrow also has some expensive airport duties.

For example, say you wanted to go to Paris in September and use your Avios for an award ticket.

You might think that since it is an award ticket, you will only have to pay the menial $100 in taxes on the ticket .

Think again!

Not only would you not be able to fly direct to Paris even if there was an available flight on American Airlines, but it would also cost you 49,000 Avios and $668.24 in “Taxes, Fees, Charges, and Surcharges”!

Yes, $668.24 ON AN AWARD TICKET!

However looking on Kayak.com for the same travel dates for a flight to Paris, you could pay only $794 on Finnair.

Before you laugh at flying on Finnair, when you read the fine print, you can see the flight is actually run by American Airlines!

So for only $126 more, you could save 49,000 Avios and actually earn some miles on your flight to Paris!

Domestic Flights

Before you get all depressed thinking Avios are worthless, there is one good thing about British Airways!

In switching to a distance based award system, they made their domestic redemption options amazing!

Even though British Airways doesn’t fly domestically in the United States, you can redeem Avios on their OneWorld partner, American Airlines.

This means that there aren’t any ridiculous fuel surcharges since you aren’t flying British Airways.

So what use to be a flat 25,000 miles between cities in the USA is now variable, based on distance.

The Avios calculator can be found here, but below are some examples of how useful Avios can be for short domestic flights.

For example, while on United, Delta, and American, a free flight from Chicago to New York would cost you 25,000 miles, using your British Airway Avios to fly on American Airlines, it would only cost you 15,000 Avios round-trip. That is a difference of 10,000 miles!

Similarly for a flight from New York to Washington D.C, which would typically cost 25,000 miles on any other airline, is now only 9,000 Avios round-trip.

Although saving 5,000 or 10,000 miles per a ticket is great, the benefits become readily apparent when you look at how much you save on family travel.

If you have a family of 4 and wanted to take your 2 kids to Disney in August, redeeming miles for 4 award tickets on any other airline at a minimum would cost 25,000 miles a person, so 100,000 miles total.

Using British Airways Avios to fly on American Airlines, it would only cost you only 7,500 Avios each way per a person, so 15,000 each round trip.

In other words, ONLY 60,000 Avios for 4 people!

You would save 40,000 miles compared to if you had redeemed miles on United, Delta, or even on American!

That is insane!

What makes this an even better deal is when you look at how much the cheapest flight to Orlando costs in August, a cool $265 a person, or $1,060 for 4 people!

So if you signed up for this British Airways card, and completed the Tier 2 $10,000 spend, you would have enough miles for at least 4 tickets to pretty much anywhere in the U.S. As you can see below, at a minimum you would save $1,060!

If your travel partner signed up, then you would have enough Avios for at least 8 trips in the U.S.

I’ve had the Card in the past, and even I am still amazed at how valuable these Avios are!

 Final Review

While at first this new British Airways “100,000” Avios offer may look unattainable, as you can see you don’t need to spend the full $20,000 to reap the full benefits of this sign up bonus!

If you are your travel partner both were to sign up for the card and only make 1 transaction each, you would have a total of 100,000 Avios at your disposal!

While British Airway Avios are not useful for traveling to Europe, they can be EXTREMELY valuable for short flights in the Continental United States. This is exactly what I use them for!

I have already had this Card in 2010 so I am not eligible for the sign up bonus, but if I was I would jump on this in a heart beat!

If you have any questions about British Airways, Chase, How To Use Avios, etc, you can always email me at FrequentFlyerUniversity@gmail.com.

I always have my iPhone on me, so I typically respond ASAP!

-Parag

 

Chase Sapphire Preferred – The “Ultimate” Overview

Background

In the last 3 years, Chase has really been beefing up the portfolio of Credit Cards they offer. For those of you that have been doing this for a couple of years,  know that Chase is really the go to Credit Card company for large credit card bonuses. Last years British Airways 100,000 mile sign on bonus being the most obvious example of this.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred was introduced in 2009, and laid low for a year until Chase beefed up the benefits and really started marketing the hell out of it. While Chase has many cash back, points, hotel, and airline credit cards, there never offered a Credit Card that allowed you to earn in all of those programs until the Sapphire.

From a strategic perspective and from a marketing perspective, the Sapphire Preferred is really a 100% attempt to chip away at American Express’s market share of affluent customers. The reason for this is because AMEX’s customers have a higher percentage of paying their bills on time and they spend more money on their cards, which in the Credit Card industry is the holy grail!

That being said, when Chase designed this card, they really pulled out all the stops to compete with the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express and the Membership Rewards credit cards like the Platinum and Gold  American Express cards.

Rewards Breakdown of The Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred earn in points called Ultimate Rewards (UR).

For every $1 you spend on the card, you will get 1 UR point.

While I typically shun “points” because they often result in terrible transfer ratios like 100 points = 1 mile, Ultimate Rewards transfer at a 1:1 ratio.

Airline Miles

With Ultimate Rewards, you can transfer to the following airlines at a 1 UR point = 1 mile.

  • United
  • British Airway
  • Korean Air
  • Southwest Airlines

Like American Express’s Starwood Preferred Guest and Membership Rewards loyalty programs, what is cool about Ultimate Rewards Program is that you can let your points accumulate without having to commit to a single program.

If you are going on a trip, you can first look for your award flight on the various Ultimate Reward Partner airlines, and then once you find the flight you want, then you can transfer your miles to that program.

So for example if you looking for a flight on United and it is blacked out, instead of getting frustrated and having to pay out of pocket for a real ticket, you could instead go to BritishAirways.com (since they are a Ultimate Rewards Partner) and search for flights on American Airlines (which is a British Airways partner)! If you just had a traditional airline credit card like United Explorer from Chase, you would not be able to do this because all your miles would be stuck in a single program.

Hotel

Ultimate Rewards also allows you to convert UR points into hotel points at a 1:1 ratio with the following programs:

  • The Ritz-Carlton Rewards
  • Marriott Rewards
  • Hyatt Gold Passport
  • Priority Club

Similar to airline miles, the benefit of Ultimate Rewards is that you are not tied down to a specific loyalty program. If you need a hotel room and Marriott is blacked out, you can always check Priority Club or Hyatt. You could not do this with a traditional hotel credit card!

I personally have never redeemed Ultimate Rewards for hotels because I have so many SPG points. In my opinion, it is more valuable to transfer points into airline miles because you can typically get a higher value from the miles by redeeming for business and first class flights. However if you have a lot of airline miles already, then it might make sense to transfer some of your Ultimate Rewards into hotel points!

Bottom line is that it is good to have the option to redeem for hotel points, even if you never do!

Reimbursement

While many serious mile collectors will scoff at the idea of getting reimbursed with points, there are times where I think it makes sense.

Basically with reimbursement, you can book a revenue ticket on any airline or book a paid stay at any hotel, and pay with your credit card. After your flight or stay is complete, Chase will reimburse you with a statement credit at a 1 point = 1 cent ratio.

If you book through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal, 1 point = 1.25 cents, so 40,000 points from this sign up are worth $500!

When was the last time someone gave you $500 for free to spend on travel?

While typically I don’t recommend using the reimbursement feature on credit card, the times it does make sense are during peak holiday travel when prices are high and airlines black out dates for award tickets, or when prices are exceptionally low such as mistake fares.

For example, my family was going to visit my cousin in Paris for Thanksgiving last year, I had to work so I couldn’t fly out until the Wednesday before Thanksgiving when prices were high. I looked at mile options on United but everything was blacked out. It looked like I’d have to pay $800 for the ticket so I could go visit Paris for 3 days, until I remembered the reimbursement feature of the Sapphire Preferred.

I booked a paid ticket on United and charged the $800 to my Sapphire Preferred (for which I got 2X points on travel so 1,600 UR points). When I took the flight to Paris on United because it was a paid ticket, I earned 8,280 United miles, plus 25% elite bonus of 2080 United miles. Once I got back to the States, I submitted my claim to Chase and they took my 60,000 UR points and credited me with $600 towards my $800 flight. Although it did cost me 60,000 points and $200, it ended up saving me $600 and allowed me to earn about 11,960 United miles. So for $200, I got a flight to Europe and 12,000 free miles!!! Not a bad deal. If there was availability on United for an award ticket, I would have spent the normal 60,000 miles for an economy ticket, however I would not have earned any miles.

Benefits Breakdown Of The Chase Sapphire Preferred

The benefits of the Chase Sapphire Preferred is where Chase really stepped up its game and overtook most of the American Express cards!

2X Points On Travel and Dining

I don’t know about most people but from using Mint.com, I know that 90% of the money I spend on my credit card is food related. Either restaurants, bars, or groceries. While you don’t get 2X points on groceries, you do get 2X points at restaurants or “cafes” where they predominantly only sell alcohol.

Additionally, you also get 2X points on travel. Chase has been very generous in what they consider travel, and it isn’t just hotels and airplanes which of course are both included. They really consider anything that moves worthy of the travel designation. That includes public transit (to my surprise my $86 monthly Chicago Transit Authority pass netted me 172 UR points!), taxis, trains, and cruises all earn 2X POINTS!

There aren’t many other cards that offer such a great benefit of 2X points on either any type of travel or dining! In my personal opinion, to play catch up I think AMEX will introduce this feature to their Platinum and SPG card in the near future.

7% Annual Dividend

This benefit is really awesome but at the same time quite hilarious for 2 reasons.

First, the dividend also pertains to the sign up bonus! So in addition to the 40,000 point sign up bonus you receive, you will also get 7% back at the end of the year on that 40,000 point bonus plus on any spending you do. If you do the math, at a minimum that is 3,500 free points!

Second, what is even better is that when they specify “the end of the year”, they actually mean the end of the calendar year and not the end of your card membership year. So as you can imagine, many people signed up for the card this past November, and come Jan 1, 2012 they got a 7% dividend on their 40,000 point sign up bonus and most likely will never have to pay the annual fee if they chose to close it before November. Even if you applied today, you would still get your 7% dividend on Jan 1, 2013 and possibly not have to pay the annual fee!

I spent about $10,000 dollars on my Sapphire Preferred in 2011, so my 7% dividend in 2012 was based on the 40,000 point sign up bonus + $10,000 in 2011 spend = about 4,000 UR points. Not bad!

Real Customer Service

This feature Chase really didn’t have to include and the card would still be awesome, but it shows you how much effort Chase has invested in this card.

When you call the telephone number on the back of your credit card, instead of a robo-operator asking you to push numbers, a real person based in the U.S picks up right away. No waiting or anything. Prior to my Sapphire Preferred, I would use my Capital One card when I traveled abroad to avoid international transaction fees. I always hated having to call Capital One to tell them I was going abroad because it would take 20+ minutes. With Sapphire Preferred, it takes about 2 minutes which includes time to pick up the phone, dialing, and hang up. Amazing!

No Foreign Transaction Fees

Most people don’t know that if you use your card abroad, your credit card company that is always looking out for your best interest, will charge you a nice 3% foreign transaction fee for no real reason. Now here and there, it may not sound like a big deal, but if you are on vacation, saving money probably isn’t the first thing on your mind. Therefore you may spend a little tooooo much. When I went to Australia with my girlfriend and her family, her dad charged $17,000 in 1 week on his State Farm 1% Cash Back Credit Card. Unknown to him, this ended up costing him over $510 in foreign transaction fees! He has since learned his lesson and now has the Sapphire Preferred.

Being Mistaken For Someone Cool

I don’t know if this is really a benefit, however because the card is made of some weighted alloy, when handled by employees at restaurants and coffee shops, people who are unaware of the Sapphire Preferred seem to think it is some exclusive “black card”. I only point this out because of the irony of the situation, in which most of us have the card solely to earn miles for free travel!

Sign Up Bonus

Link To The Chase Sapphire Preferred 40,000 Point Offer

The current sign up bonus is for 40,000 points after you spend $3,000 in 3 months.

There is an annual fee of $95 for the card, however it is waived for the 1st year making the card essentially FREE. You can choose after the 1st year if you would like to keep the card, downgrade the card, or cancel the card.

As explained above, Ultimate Reward points can be transferred to numerous hotel and airline partners at a 1:1 ratio!

If you are not familiar with airline miles, with 45,710 UR points (40,000 sign up + 2,000 for minimum spend + 7% dividend), if you transferred those points to United at a 1:1 ratio, you would only be 3,290 miles short of a free economy trip to Europe on United. That economy ticket if purchased on Kayak.com would cost at a minimum $700+!

For domestic travel, you could transfer those 46,710 points to British Airways at a 1:1 ratio. British Airways is a partner of American, which would allow you to book 2 round trips economy from New York to Los Angeles on American Airlines.

My advice to families is that both spouses sign up for the Sapphire Preferred. This would net 113,420 UR points which would be more than enough to fly a family of 4 from anywhere in the United States to Disneyland for free on either United or British Airways (American Airlines). At a minimum, that would save you $1,000!

Questions

If anyone has any questions about anything in this post or about the Chase Sapphire Preferred, please feel 100% free to email me at FrequentFlyerUniversity@gmail.com! I love answering questions and helping beginners learn the ropes! There is no such thing as a dumb question!

Also if you are a beginner, feel free to check out The Beginners Guide I have put together to help you learn the ropes!

-Parag