A few days ago an updated offer for the Chase British Airways Visa was released. It’s being marketed as a 100,000 mile offer, but the second 50,000 miles is a bit difficult to achieve. You receive 50,000 miles after first use, 25,000 more miles after spending $10,000 in 1 year and an additional 25,000 miles after spending another $10,000 in year 2. This card comes with an annual fee of $95 that is NOT waived for the first year.
At first glance, I pinned this card as being about average to cards that we’re seeing these days, but the major devaluation that British Airways did of their Avios program last year made me conclude that this wasn’t a card to recommend. I won’t go into the details of the devaluation here, but essentially the new program now makes you calculate the miles required per leg of your journey instead of based on the origin and destination like most frequent flyer programs do. And, British Airways charges exorbitant taxes and fees on most of their award redemptions (almost as much as a coach ticket itself!).
However, last night I read something that made me change my mind. Most flights to Europe using British Airways miles incur expensive taxes and fees which almost make the award redemption not worthwhile. Aer Lingus (Irish Airline, we flew them to Ireland and thought they were great), however, does not charge the huge taxes and fees that British Airways does AND they are a British Airways partner. And because they have direct flights from New York City and Boston to Dublin/Shannon non-stop, the number of miles required are ridiculously low compared to the miles required by ALL other airlines from the US to Europe. In short, it takes 25,000 British Airways miles and a total of $146 in fees to fly from Boston or New York to Dublin or Shannon, Ireland round trip in coach anytime of year. To put this in perspective, the best options to Europe in terms of miles required have been US Airways for 35,000 miles only during the months of January and February (who wants to go to Europe in the dead of winter!) and American Airlines at 40,000 from Mid-October to Mid-May.
If Ireland is not the destination of your choice, there are several low cost carrier options from Dublin, connecting to many other cities in Europe for a relatively low cost. And I would argue that one of the best uses for this redemption would be to fly to Europe at anytime during the summer where fares can easily start at $1,500 per ticket!
I also think it’s worth noting that there are other great uses of these British Airways miles, but they are pretty specific in nature. Often non-stop flights on American Airlines (a British Airways partner) to Canada can be quite expensive, but they can be very cheap using British Airways miles. Also, there are non-stop flights from the Northeast to the Caribbean on American which can be much cheaper using British Airways miles.
So, to put this in perspective, for a family of four, both parents can apply for the card, use it once, pay the $95 annual fee on each card and then redeem their miles for 4 roundtrip tickets to Dublin/Shannon for $146 per ticket in taxes/fees. If you include the annual fee in the calculation of the cost per ticket, it comes out to about $194 per ticket. Getting to Europe for under $700 anytime of the year is next to impossible, especially in the summertime.
My family would be all over this offer had we not already travelled to Ireland in 2010 and had we not already signed up for the British Airways card last year (we used our miles before the devaluation on business class tickets to Bali, Indonesia). If you are interested in this card, please keep in mind that Chase only approves 1 credit card per person per month. I apply for credit cards about every three months to minimize the credit inquiries on my credit report at any one time. So, if you’ve recently applied for a Chase card, I would wait a few weeks at a minimum before applying.
For those of you who are new to redeeming miles and want my help in doing so, please let me know and I’d be happy to help with redeeming these miles if you go ahead with this deal. I’ve included a couple of pictures from our 2010 trip to Ireland as inspiration below. I’ll be doing an upcoming post on our itinerary in Ireland for those who might be interested.
And as always, please let me know if you have any questions!