By: Revanche

The Chase British Airways Card, Avios Points and flying British Airways

October 16, 2012

When I started traveling and doing business overseas, I knew right away that  I would have a hernia over paying stupid fees like foreign transaction fees. No sirree, traveling and traveling for work may appear to be a fun “perk” to some but no way am I paying what I consider stupid tax for the privilege – nope.

Preparing for the trip to Thailand had me thinking on the BA card, ruing having  missed the better bonus offer, then had the premium offer offfered when I needed to book another ticket so I figured that it’d be worth the exchange of an annual fee ($75) for the cost of a ticket. I kept that card for a year longer than I had originally planned, racked up another ticket’s worth of point so we’re now at about 120K points, paid another $75, and I’m thinking about canceling the card once I confirm I have another Chase card in the wings that serves the no-foreign-transaction-fee purpose.

Having flown BA a couple of times, I’d call the service is middling-fair. I’ve always been economy class and don’t expect much from the cattle-prod section. The food’s been nearly edible, the seats are sittable and you can generally get some rest even despite the lights-on-lights-off acts.

The thing that infuriates me, however, is the discovery that my points may well be worthless for the very reason I earned them.  The point of earning mileage points and paying the fersnicken annual fees was to redeem for two free flights with a modest fee attached.

Would you believe that a search for two seats on a reward flight to London out of a local international airport costs 100K points and nearly $1400 each?!

For the same itinerary, the same cash would buy 70% of the seats. It’ll cost another $675 to buy the rest of the two tickets.

It seems I might as well save my reward points and upgrade, because why waste that many reward points and pay the majority of the price to get exactly the same seats? If I’m going to burn points and cash, I had better be getting something of value, hadn’t I?

Needless to say, this had made me incredibly cranky and though I was willing to be persuaded into keeping this card long-term as a secondary card, carrying an annual fee though it does, this ridiculous scheme firmly set my mind against keeping it. Though the service provided by some of the major domestic carriers is subpar, I will say that redeeming rewards from them has always been reasonable as long as the flights were available. Most times, if it wasn’t at the last minute, they were available.

Of the domestic carriers I use most frequently, only United has implemented a tiered fee schedule that charges higher fees for late bookings or changes to the itinerary, close in to the departure date.  The highest fee is $150 per ticket to change a booked flight, which is fairly high but doesn’t touch the egregious fees of British Airways just to book.

Eventually, I’ll get around to making a decision on these points: either we’ll use the points to book some domestic flights at much lower fees or I’ll save them for a really nice upgrade when we have the time and money to travel for a little while.

What would you do? 

10 Responses to “The Chase British Airways Card, Avios Points and flying British Airways”

  1. c_vandoorn says:

    Save it for an upgrade, although their Business Class isn’t that great either. Really outdated, food is still terrible. I believe Avios points are transferrable to Asia Miles as they are both part of the One World alliance. Have you checked on that?

    • Revanche says:

      Ah! Thanks for the reminder! I spent some time researching this. Not transferable but still, there might be some kind of possibility there. It’ll take more research to figure out how to use the One World alliance angle.

  2. I just use cash back cards as I don’t travel very much at this point in my life, and I have never had good luck squeezing more value out of miles than cash, even when I did travel.

    • Revanche says:

      I do use cash back cards too, I split across miles and points depending on highest values back. But will be looking to simplify soon.

  3. Sense says:

    I have a cc bonus coming with BA for 100K Avios. Like you, I figured $150 for 100K points wasn’t a bad trade. A little research revealed that the fuel surcharges for flying to London from the US are INSANE, just as you found.

    More research told me that those egregious taxes or fees weren’t charged if you flew to, say, Buenos Aires, or used them for intra-Europe travel.

    So that is my plan for the points now…another cc bonus will just provide my flight over and back. Muahahaha. 🙂

    • Revanche says:

      Oh yes, in chatting with a friend, she pointed out that it was good for intra-Europe travel. So that’s another possible option if the One World alliance doesn’t pan out.

  4. Ms.S says:

    For me, there are no perks to work travel. I’d rather not travel for work and buy my own plane tickets. If you have an international trip coming up that you could use the points for I would do that, otherwise I’d just use them for national travel. But if your points expire, that’s something else to keep in mind.

    • Revanche says:

      There aren’t LOTS of perks but I enjoy what I can: seeing people I like on someone else’s dime (even if I buy the ticket, I get reimbursed and I get the points/whatever from the purchase), eating yummy food when I can. It’s not great if you have to do it all the time but not bad on occasion.

  5. Karen says:

    Even when I flew for free, taxes and entry fees for certain countries were really high. I would use those miles at a different airport if you’ve got someplace else you’d like to travel. If you are going back to London for business and can’t use the miles elsewhere, timely then I would upgrade to first/business (which also probably includes a fee!).

    • Revanche says:

      Ew, another fee for upgrading? JERKS! Yeah, I’m going to look where else we’ve been really wanting to go and see if there are lower fees overall. Wouldn’t waste my freebies on business travel though. I’ve been saving this for fun, if I can 🙂

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