British Airways and Chase Card Services just raised their bets in the bidding war over high-spending international travelers.
Sign up for the British Airways Visa Signature Card during April 2011, and you'll earn one of the biggest frequent flyer bonuses in banking history: 100,000 frequent flyer miles. You'll get half those miles upon acceptance into the program, with the second part of your bonus showing up in your new account after spending $2,500 on the card during your first three months.
The Most Miles in 2011
According to a Chase spokesperson, the offer represents the biggest frequent flyer mile offer among airline credit cards so far in 2011. The mileage bonus complements other benefits of the British Airways Visa Signature Card, including:
*1.25 British Airways frequent flyer miles for every dollar spent using the card
*Double miles earned for every British Airways purchase
*Free, online bill pay service enabling cardholders to earn BA miles on utility bills and car payments
*A free companion travel voucher when you spend more than $30,000 on the card in a single year
Redemption guidelines on the British Airways website indicate that you could redeem your 100,000 miles for two round trip tickets from the United States to London. Thanks to a partnership between BA and American Airlines, you can even use your bonus miles on domestic flights across AA's network. That's the equivalent to four round trips within the U.S.
The Disappearing Foreign Transaction Fee
When CardRatings.com reviewed foreign transaction fees in 2009 and 2010, only Capital One and Pentagon Federal Credit Union offered fee-free foreign transactions as a cardholder perk. Yet, in just the past few months, American Express and Chase have discovered that they can attract frequent business travelers to their platinum and signature cards by omitting currency conversion surcharges.
The British Airways Visa Signature Card eliminates foreign transaction fees altogether, saving cardholders 3% on every purchase when compared to most other Chase credit cards. Because credit card issuers enjoy access to exchange rates far better than those on offer at the corner Bureau de Change, many casual travelers tolerate foreign transaction fees as high as 5%.
Squeezing Extra Value from Frequent Flyer Credit Cards
Even with generous bonus offers, many airline credit cards still frustrate consumers with redemption snafus, fuel surcharges and mandatory airport facility fees. Still, sharply rising fuel costs could help inflate the value of frequent flyer bonuses like Chase's current British Airways offer.
Although most airline credit cards and premium credit cards geared for frequent travelers carry larger-than-average annual fees, the right mix of benefits and bonuses can save you significant cash over the course of a year. Credit card issuers aren't shy about chasing high-margin business from globetrotters, especially amid a domestic debate about credit card processing fees. If London's a frequent stop on your business itinerary, the British Airlines Credit Card from Chase could be your next go-to travel card.