BA Visa card "experts" - newbie needs help!

Discussion in 'Newbies' started by Donnaz, Apr 27, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. Donnaz

    Donnaz New Member

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    Hi there BA Visa card "experts"! I'm a newbie at playing the points game & am hoping some of you seasoned players can help. I am looking to travel from the NY/NJ area to London this summer with my family (husband & 2 teens) & was thinking about getting the BA Visa card. It looks like the "deal" they are currently offering is $95 annual fee, 50,000 bonus Avios if you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days & a "travel together ticket" if you spend $30,000/year. My first question is...When do they post the 50,000 bonus miles to your account? Is it when you "hit" the $1,000 or after 3 months? I was thinking it might be possible to redeem the bonus miles towards upgrading the 4 of us from Premium Economy to Business. Second question... Do you cash in Avios for upgrades at the time of making your reservation or can this be gone at a later date? Any thoughts would be appreciated!!!
     
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  2. jeffrey930

    jeffrey930 Silver Member

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    I think for chase its when your statement closed once you meet the spend requirement.
     
  3. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

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    If they're like other Chase cards, the points will post once your statement generates adter you hit spend requirement.

    Not sure about the rest of your questions
     
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  4. alohastephen

    alohastephen Gold Member

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    Don't forget that both Chase UR and Amex MR points can also be transferred to BA Avios.
    This makes it relatively easy to accumulate a ton of BA points.
     
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  5. Donnaz

    Donnaz New Member

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    Thanks Jeffrey930 & edekda! It sounds like you both have experience with the Chase Sapphire card. Do you think this would be a better option. If I recall correctly, the Chase points can be redeemed on BA.
     
  6. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

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    Well CSP is 40k vs 50k.


    Personally I think everyone should have a CSP and all other chase cards (besides freedom/ink) is secondary. Either for sign up bonus or perks.
     
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  7. dhammer53
    Original Member

    dhammer53 Gold Member

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  8. NYBanker
    Original Member

    NYBanker Gold Member

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    Welcome to MP. You're in luck.

    The bonus miles post quickly, shortly after the statement close where you hit the spend threshold.

    Yes, you can book premium economy tickets then upgrade later. HOWEVER, you never know if upgrades will be available. If they are available at time of booking, it is more than conceivable that they won't be when you go to book. At the same time, even if there is not upgrade inventory when you book, they may make new inventory available at some point before the flight, too.

    In general, I think of August as a good time to upgrade, as paid business travel is lighter then.

    Further, I find BA to have amongst the best long haul premium inventory available for award tickets. I haven't looked at upgrade inventory (not sure if it is the same as straight up award booking inventory), but assuming it is the same or closely related, you'll be pleased. I have four F tickets on BA coming home from china to new york this year during Christmas. Incredible to find that kind of room.

    Flip side, of course, are the copays for award travel. Not trivial, but a small price to pay for this sort of availability.

    The 2-for-1 coupon at $30k spend is also very valuable. It must be used exclusively on BA metal...and of course, attracts copays for both tickets. ;)
     
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  9. Donnaz

    Donnaz New Member

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    Thanks for the info NYBanker! It's good to know that the miles post quickly. I understand that it would be "luck of the draw" if I book now & hope upgrades are available later. Worst case is that we would fly Premium Economy (which wouldn't be all that bad since it would take us to a great 2week vacation in London).

    Do you have any insite on the Chase Sapphire card? I think I read that their points are transferable to BA & this might be a way to avoid the high surcharge/copayment with the BA card.

    BTW... You mentioned looking at upgrade inventory. How do you do this?
     
  10. karlmitchell

    karlmitchell Silver Member

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    As an expat, I often fly from the US to the UK. Unfortunately, I have found avios (much like Virgin Atlantic miles) to be challenging to redeem in such a way as I get good value out of them. For me this is partly a result of availability, which is extremely limited in terms of direct flights (which I prefer) from where I live (near LAX). Even if the availability is there, however, there is the issues that British Airways is one of the carriers that adds very large fuel surcharges (a.k.a. YQ) to their award bookings, in contrast with US-based carriers, which do not.

    For instance, I just had a look at BA fares for an October 1st (purely random date), 11-day return trip from New York to London, and found the following figures:

    Economy: $975, of which $294 is fare, $458 is YQ and $223 is taxes/fees.
    40,000 avios return + $613 fees*; redemption value = 0.91c/avios.
    Travel together ticket: redemption value = 1.81 c/avios; savings = $724
    Premium E: $1601, of which $818 is fare, $458 is YQ and $325 is taxes/fees.
    60,000 avios return + $704 fees*; redemption value = 1.50c/avios
    Travel together ticket: redemption value = 2.99 c/avios; savings = $1793
    Business: $3664, of which $2511 is fare, $828 is YQ and $325 is taxes/fees.
    80,000 avios return + $1037 fees*; redemption value = 3.28 c/avios
    Travel together ticket: redemption value = 6.57 c/avios; savings = $5253
    First: $11705, of which $10552 is fare, $828 is YQ and $325 is taxes/fees.
    120,000 avios return + $1037 fees*; redemption value = 8.89 c/avios
    Travel together ticket: redemption value = 17.78 c/avios; savings = $21,335

    *Note that I've included the 10% Chase BA card ticket purchase discount into my calculations; I *think* this applies to award tickets as well, but might be wrong. If so, those redemptions values and savings are even less.

    So as you'll see, those fuel surcharges really add a LOT to the cost of the ticket. US carriers, on the other hands, such as United and AA, don't charge the fuel surcharge, and so, for transatlantic routings, are worth considerably more (although often require more miles for redemptions). Most frequent flyers hope to get at the very least 2 c/mile, if not 3+,

    This is not to say that the Chase BA credit card is a bad one. This card often offers up to 100k avios as a sign-up bonus (after $20k spend), and I certainly jumped on that. However, the best award values tend to be with BA's partners that do NOT charge YQ and, unfortunately, BA adds YQ to transatlantic code share bookings on AA even though AA doesn't! Redemptions from New York to most of the Caribbean comes in at 20k-25k avios with almost no YQ. Even though you can't use your travel together ticket, I think you're till getting a lot of value out of it.

    If you do want to get to the UK on avios, the best use for the travel together ticket is on business or first class redemptions transatlantic; You'll still end up with >$1000 in fees per person, but a much nicer experience. Personally I do not think Premium Economy adds very much to the experience, but on the red-eye the lay flat bed makes a huge difference is Business or First. Unfortunately, business and first class tickets require a fair bit of planning, or booking something like 11 months in advance, as the award tickets are limited in number and tend to be swiped quickly. That being said, on paper at least, using the travel together ticket, the Premium Economy award isn't bad, but it just isn't a big financial saving over just paying for economy.

    If it were me, I'd consider waiting until the next 100k sign-up bonus (possibly Nov/Dec again), and starting your spend cycle then; if you're going for the $30k spend you might as well earn the extra 50k avios for $20k spend, as per the normal $100k offer. In the meantime, consider getting a more general card that allows transfers to multiple airlines (Chase Sapphire Preferred or Amex Premier Rewards Gold), thus boosting your reserves so that, when the time comes, you can have enough to get into Business or First. These are better starter cards with much greater flexibility. It will take a lot longer, but you'd earn enough that you could probably add flights for the aforementioned Caribbean vacation on top of that.
     
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  11. karlmitchell

    karlmitchell Silver Member

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    Create an account at ba.com. Log in, go to http://www.britishairways.com/travel/spend-avios/public/en_gb and follow the link to Spending Avios -> Book Flights with avios. Type in the cities and dates you ideally want into the box. If you don't find the dates you want, which is very likely for Business/First redemptions, there will be a button near the top for "View calendar of British Airways availability". You should hopefully be able to follow it from there.
     
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  12. Donnaz

    Donnaz New Member

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    Thanks karlmitchell for the info. There is so much to learn about the "points game" & I'm glad to be getting some tips from experienced "players".

    Looking at the example you provided the YQ's are crazy! Definitely something to keep in mind for future redemptions.

    Having researched a bit more I am leaning towards the Chase Sapphire as my first starter card. Who knows, by the time the next big BA sign up bonus rolls around I may be confident to give it a try!
     
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  13. karlmitchell

    karlmitchell Silver Member

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    Yes, the YQ situation is a shame. I have to say that I tend to prefer BA First/Business and VS Upper Class to any of the US products for LAX-LHR (my most flown route), and would always fly them if possible, were it not for these fees. The only real competition in terms of service on this route is Air New Zealand, but availability with them is almost zero. However, I'm hoping that UA and AA will improve when they upgrade their routes. We'll see.

    I also expect to get a companion pass of my own before the end of the year, having already exceeded the $20k spend for 100,000 avios, and am hoping I will be able to use it for a First Class return redemption on one of the new BA A380s in 2014. This will involve sucking up the YQ, but I tend to think of the fees as like paying for an economy ticket, and so the 150,000 easily-earned avios are like upgrading 2 people from Economy to First. It really is hard to beat the cash value. In effect, I'm getting over $21,000 of ticket savings for ~$35,000 credit card spend. Not that I'd ever dream of spending more than 1/10th of that in reality, but for me it's about the experience, and being able to minimise jet-lag.

    As far as leaning towards the Chase Sapphire Preferred (way better than the regular Chase Sapphire) is concerned, I'd go for it. It's a great card, especially if used in combination with the Chase Freedom (no annual fee, and lots of opportunities to earn many more miles).
     
  14. JerryIMM

    JerryIMM New Member

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    I've found that what you're considering is the best use of Avios. For trips from JFK to London, I'll always spend the little bit extra for Premium Economy and burn miles for an upgrade for the experience. Here's what I do:

    Book round-trip Premium Economy, leaving JFK 9pm or later (thus arriving LHR 9am or later the next day). This timing ensures that I can fall asleep once the plane takes off. On the other end, once I'm settled and out of LHR, I have a reasonable length day that will allow me to stay up until 9pm (or later, depending on how lively the pub is) and get over the jet lag in the first day.

    I spend 12,500 miles to upgrade from PE to Club World (business class) on the outbound (i.e. overnight flight). BA's upgrade prompter recently offered the same upgrade for $1,894, translating to a value of 15 cents per mile.

    The outbound upgrade gives me access to the Club World "Sleeper Service" which is also available out of EWR and other US airports (see the BA website for all airports with Sleeper Service), one of the most luxurious flying experiences I ever have. Arrive at least 3 hours before your flight to take full advantage of the experience which includes access to the BA lounge with self-serve, top-shelf bar. When you're relaxed and hungry, enjoy a spectacular, multi-course, multi-ethnic meal prior to boarding. After dinner and a few glasses of wine, I change into sweats, brush my teeth, and board the plane. Once airborne, I lay the bed fully flat, and sleep for the next 5 hours, not waking until just before landing. They serve breakfast on the plane, but I sleep straight through because...

    After passport control and collecting luggage, I head straight for the BA Arrivals Lounge where I enjoy a full English breakfast, followed by a shower and change of clothes, leaving me clean, well-fed, and ready for a day of sightseeing.

    The return flight is during the daytime, so I find that Premium Economy is sufficiently comfortable, but you can spend another 12,500 for an upgrade on the inbound side as well. I recommend getting the upgrade as soon as possible, preferably at the time of booking, in order to have the best chance of getting it. Have a great time in London.
     

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