White architecture of Oia village on Santorini island, Greece

We’ve covered British Airways Avios and their tremendous value in prior features. It’s one of our favorite airline loyalty programs, not only for accruing free trips but also for the program’s flexibility.

Why Avios Are Valuable

Unlike many programs, Avios can usually be redeemed with ease for British Airways flights and most partner airlines. (And thanks to the recent merger between American Airlines and US Airways – and US Airways’ movement into the OneWorld Alliance – customers have yet another major airline from which to choose.)

More Purchasing Power. With most airlines, 12,500 miles are required to earn a free one way flight, regardless of distance.

But Avios is a distance-based redemption program. Long-haul flights usually cost about the same amount of miles as US airlines, but on flights of less than 1000 miles with US partner airlines, for example New York to Montreal or LA to San Fran, there is amazing value to be had – a one way flight only costs 4500 Avios.

Less Fees. In the US, there’s also the nice perk of not having to pay award redemption fees. Major airlines in the US charge an “award processing fee” (usually $75) if a flight is booked using miles less than 21 days prior to the date departure.

Thankfully, BA doesn’t do that for its flights or flights with US partner airlines. For example, suppose you’re flying one way from New York to Miami on American Airlines. If you had American Airlines miles in their AAdvantage program you wanted to use, you be charged a $75 processing fee if the flight was booked in that 21 day window.

However, you could use Avios to book that exact flight and you wouldn’t have to pay a penny, even if that flight were departing that very same day.

Avios are a must have for any spontaneous traveler, whether you’re flying first class or on a shoestring budget. And as usual for US residents, credit card signup bonuses are the fastest way to accumulate them. Here’s how you can get a quick 100k in your Avios account:

Avios Cards

The Chase British Airways Visa offers an excellent signup bonus of 50000 Avios after spending $2000 on the card within the first 3 months following approval, and no annual fee for the first year. You also get 2.5 Avios for every dollar spent on BA flights, and 1.25 Avios on all other purchases.

Apply for that card, spend $2000 in three months, and you have 50000 Avios. It’s that simple. But you shouldn’t stop there.

Chase offers another excellent card – The Sapphire Preferred, which offers 40000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $3000 within the first 3 months following approval, and no annual fee for the first year. You also get 5000 points just for adding an authorized user over that time period. The card offers 2 points for every dollar spent on dining and travel, and one point on all other purchases.

Note: Ultimate Rewards is an extremely popular awards program run by Chase which lets customers transfer their points (often at a 1:1 ratio) to a select group of airlines, hotels, and more including British Airways, United, Hyatt, Intercontinental, Marriott, and many more. With an impressive roster of significant awards programs, it’s easy to understand the program’s popularity.

In this example, we’d obviously be transferring the points to British Airways Avios to further pad the account. Again, the process is straightforward: Apply for this card, meet the $3000 spending requirement, transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to Avios, and you’ll have 45000 more Avios in your account.

Spending Requirements

That’s 95000 Avios total so far. You’d also receive an extra 5000 Avios (at minimum) for spending upwards of $5000 on the two cards. Remember, you’ll be receiving at least one Avios for every dollar spent, and sometimes more depending on what you’re using the cards for.

In sum, with little effort, just by applying for two credit cards, you’d be sitting on 100000 Avios. With that quantity, the world’s your playground!

Want to go all out and splash down on first class roundtrip from US to Europe? You’d have enough points. Perhaps you want to stretch out your points with two roundtrips in economy. You can do that too. You could even use them on short-distance flights in the US (under 1000 miles), discussed in our example above. That’s potentially 10 roundtrips – equivalent to thousands in value no matter what cities you’re flying to/from.

We’re often asked about spending requirements – i.e. – “What if I won’t be able to spend $5k in a 6 month period?”

The easiest solution here is to break up your credit card applications to suit your spending patterns. For instance, although our example calls for applying for both cards at once (the quickest way to 100k Avios), that’s not a hard and fast rule. This isn’t a race. Apply for one, meet the spending requirement, then apply for the other card. Accumulate points over time at your own pace. However, don’t be shy about signing up for great bonuses like these when you see them. Many people miss out on the best deals for the worst reasons.

If you’re not a huge credit card spender, you could apply for cards with lower spending requirements – Chase offers the Chase Freedom, a card which is also in the Ultimate Rewards program and occasionally offers a 20000 point bonus after just $500 in spending. This 20000 point offer is not available at time of publication, but like most bonuses we expect it to be back on the market soon.

Often, it’s just a matter of getting into the mindset of paying for EVERYTHING with your credit card and then quickly paying the card off. It’s amazing how much spending you can rack up when you’re buying your food, drinks, travel expenses, fuel, clothes etc all on your credit card.

Credit Score Myths

One of the greatest myths in the credit card world is your credit score will be harmed if you hold “too many” cards. There is zero evidence to support this, but the myth persists.

Applying for and holding many credit cards, even well over a dozen, is not a bad thing provided you always pay off your balance. (This could even help your score.) It’s more important to be aware of the timing of your applications. Rather than applying every few weeks for a new card, it’s best to space out your new applications every 90 days or more, so your credit score isn’t hit by a steady stream of inquiries.

Timing is key when it comes to the world of points programs. When you see a great signup bonus, make sure you’re prepared and ready to jump first chance you get. You’ll be making twice yearly trips to Europe before you know it.


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