British Airways and Chase have come up with a new deal for their cobranded Visa card, a deal giving it significant added value if you travel on British Airways and spend reasonable sums internationally.
The first feature is the abolition of foreign transaction fees on all international purchases made using their Visa card. Apparently this is the first co-branded airline card that has abolished these fees (these are more commonly 3% on many cards – Capital One is the only large scale card issuer I know of with no FTFs).
The second feature is getting 2.5 BA frequent flier miles for each $1 spent buying things from BA (primarily flights but presumably anything else at all, even duty free items in flight). All other purchases earn 1.25 BA miles per dollar. This is good but not uniquely great (I get 3 miles per dollar on my Alaska Airlines Visa card when buying AS tickets, but only 1 mile per dollar when making all other purchases).
Now for the more distinctive parts of the offering.
For new card members, you'll get 25,000 extra miles as soon as you use your card for the first time, and an additional 25,000 miles if you spend $2500 or more in your first three months of membership.
With BA only requiring 50,000 miles for a roundtrip ticket from anywhere it serves in the US to eight different European countries, or even fewer miles plus a cash adjustment to reflect the lower number of miles used, this means you'll get a free roundtrip to Europe after spending $2500 on the credit card. That's a great deal, and appreciably better than the need to redeem 65,000 of my AS miles for a free BA ticket.
But wait, there's more. Each year you spend $30,000 or more on the card, you'll get a voucher that can be used to bring a companion with you on a future flight that you take using BA miles. In other words, if you are cashing in BA miles for a free flight, you can use the voucher to bring a second person with you for free in the same class of service. The vouchers are good for two years before expiring.
That's becoming a very compelling value proposition. So 50,000 miles (which you could earn by spending $40,000 on general items or $20,000 on BA travel) becomes enough to get two free roundtrip tickets to Europe.
The Visa card has a $75 annual membership fee. If you're currently spending as little as $2500 a year internationally and paying a 3% foreign transaction fee, you'll recoup the $75 on that saving alone.
So if you travel internationally (or would like to), and if you can spend over $30,000 on your Visa card in some years, this might be a good solution for you.
As for the spending $30,000 a year, I urge you to be like me. I pay for everything with my Visa card. Groceries, gas, utilities, anything and everything. Of course, I also make sure to settle the balance each month so as not to get trapped into high interest fees, but by putting all my spending through the Visa card, it is amazing how the miles add up and how regrettably easy it is to spend more than $30,000 a year.