Free round-trip tickets with British Airways Card (or, J.D. discovers travel hacking)

Yesterday, I met with a group of local Portland bloggers to plan for world domination. Over the past year, we've met regularly to organize an upcoming conference for readers of Chris Guillebeau's The Art of Non-Conformity. Usually our conversation is focused on gift bags and tour groups and the absolute racket that is event catering. ($15 cups of coffee? Give me that job, please. I could get rich quickly.)

Somehow last night, the discussion turned to credit cards. More specifically, it turned to a rewards card for British Airways. For most of the conversation, I wasn't paying attention. I don't play the credit-card game. Some people like that sort of fussy financial stuff when managing their money, but I don't. (I like the psychology of money, not the micro-management.)

But the rest of the group was so enthusiastic about this card that I started listening more carefully.

Note: Other people at this meeting included Chris Guillebeau (obviously), Jolie Guillebeau, Tsilli Pines, Tammy Strobel, Sean Ogle, and Tyler Tervooren. Each of these folks has been mentioned at GRS before, and several have shared guest posts. Fun note: During the World Domination Summit, Adam Baker (“the Babe Ruth of blogging”) will be parking his RV on my front lawn! I'm excited to see him again. Maybe we can get into some mischief together.

About the time I started paying attention, I started taking notes:

“This card is amazing,” Sean said. “I signed up and now I've got 100,000 miles.”

“I have no idea what that means,” I said. Because I don't. Frequent-flyer miles are a mystery to me. I have 25,080 United miles from our Africa trip, but I only know that because I looked it up for this article. And I don't know what to do with them.

“It means he can get a free business-class ticket to anywhere in western Europe,” Chris said.

“Oh,” I said. But I wasn't really impressed. “What if you don't want to fly business class? What if you want to fly coach?”

“That's two tickets,” Chris said.

“Oh,” I said. “Just one way?”

“No,” said Sean. “Round trip.”

“Oh,” I said. And then something clicked in my head. Free plane tickets to Europe? Suddenly, I was more interested. “How much does this cost?” I asked.

“Just $95 a year,” chimed in Tyler.

“And I think the APR is 14%,” said Sean.

I waved my hand dismissively (sorry, Sean). “APR doesn't matter to me,” I said. I wouldn't carry a balance, so the card's interest rate is irrelevant. “But $95? For two round-trip tickets to western Europe?”

YES!” my friends said in unison. “And probably other places, too.”

“Oh,” I said. “That sounds like a pretty good deal.”

“Yeah,” said Chris. “But you have to hurry.”

“Why?” I said.

“Because I think it's ending soon,” he said. “Like next week.”

“Here,” Sean said. “I'll send you a link. This page will let you see how many miles it takes to travel to different places.”

From there, the conversation moved back to more mundane matters, like where to find a venue to host a party for a few hundred bloggers on a Sunday night in June.

This morning, I did a bit more research on the British Airways card. Here's what I found:

  • The APR is c                                                                                                                                                                             That's $2500 a month. That's like twice my normal spending level. Not gonna happen.

I didn't find anything about this being a limited-time offer, but that's what Chris said last night. This offer is slated to expire on the sixth of May. Rather than risk missing out, I signed up just now. Because I'm not eager to pay the $95 annual fee, I plan to cancel the card before my one-year anniversary.

Since I returned to the world of credit four years ago, I've been adamant that I'm only going to have one personal credit card. I don't want to be one of those folks who has tons of cards, and I don't want to be worrying about all sorts of fees. But you know what? I'm willing to make an exception in this case. $95 for two round-trip trans-Atlantic tickets is too good to pass up. (Can you see the visions of another trip to Venice dancing in my eyes?)

So — gulp — I applied for this credit card. I'm confident that I'll use it wisely, just as I have with my current personal credit card. Meanwhile, I wonder what other travel deals I've been missing out on by being ignorant of rewards programs. Mr. Guillebeau just wrote more about travel hacking last week (and he mentioned this card!). Maybe I should be paying closer attention.

Note: it's been nine months since I asked you for your favorite credit cards. I'd meant to compile the data and share it last summer — but it still hasn't been done. I still hope to do this, but it's a low priority, I'm afraid. Though I do think credit cards are useful tools, I'm just not ready to be a cheerleader for them.
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Jeff
Jeff
9 years ago

I just signed up for this card last night! I’m a huge fan of air miles, but only if you spend them consciously just like you would money. For me that means using them in off-peak seasons to stretch their value and not letting too many store up (I don’t trust that they’ll be worth much in the future). Also, you sometimes have to work hard to get decent flights, but it can be done. I’ve used air miles for “free” flights to Costa Rica, USVI & Paris — plus I have a trip planned for Italy next year. I’ve… Read more »

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
9 years ago

Just make sure than canceling the card doesn’t go into your infamous “chore cloud” (ha ha) and you end up paying $95/ year for the foreseeable future.

Andrew Sherman
Andrew Sherman
9 years ago

Hey JD,

Just want to let you know that tickets to Western Europe will not just be the $95 fee. Unfortunately, BA charges steep fuel surcharges and taxes for flights to Europe. A “free” economy flight to London could cost you 50,000 miles and $400+ in taxes+fees. Unfortunately you can’t remedy this by booking AA or Iberia to Europe.

There are good uses for BA miles though. You can use 25k for domestic flights on AA. You can fly to Asia and South America on airlines that won’t charge you heavy fuel surcharges.

Good luck, whatever you choose!

Josh
Josh
9 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Sherman

I had this card the last time they made the offer and this is definitely the catch. The fees BA charge make it add up. The best thing about it is you can book on AA which has the lowest fees on mileage tickets. The article might need to be updated otherwise a lot of people will be disappointed like I was when I go to book a ticket.

Jen
Jen
7 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Sherman

You can remedy the taxes/fees situation associated with BA flights to Europe by flying to a smaller airport on one of BA’s European Partners.

You can get a round trip flight from Boston to Dublin for 25k miles (so a 100k point card would get you 4 RT tickets) and only $150ish in taxes per ticket on partner Aer Lingus.

I just booked two RT tickets from JFK to DUS (Germany) for 80k points and $206 total (40k and $103 each), on partner Air Berlin.

Claudia Lynn
Claudia Lynn
9 years ago

I’m really tempted to go for this as well. I did find the limited time part though, the deal’s only good until May 6. Look here:
http://www.britishairways.com/travel/creditcards/public/en_us

J.D. Roth
J.D. Roth
9 years ago
Reply to  Claudia Lynn

Thanks, Claudia! I’ll amend the article.

Tyler Karaszewski
Tyler Karaszewski
9 years ago

“That’s $2500 a month. That’s like twice my normal spending level.”

How much is your mortgage payment? I understand if that’s not a question you want to answer, but living on $1250/month seems ridiculously low to me.

I wish they’d not call these things “miles”. 100,000 miles should get you around the world four times. If they get you to Europe and back, they’re not miles, they’re just “points”.

J.D. Roth
J.D. Roth
9 years ago

Not counting a mortgage, Tyler. Can you pay a mortgage with a credit card? I’ve never seen one where that’s possible. I’m only counting regular monthly non-mortgage expenses. (Plus, to be honest, I haven’t looked at my actual monthly costs since maybe 2005. But I know that my costs back then were right at $1000 per month. I assume they’ve gone down since my overall spending has declined, but I could be wrong.)

Tyler Karaszewski
Tyler Karaszewski
9 years ago
Reply to  J.D. Roth

I have no idea if you can pay a mortgage with a credit card, since I don’t have either one. I should have a mortgage in 43 days, though. I have no idea if credit cards will be allowable for payments, though. So far for April though, my spending is $6,314.07. You can take out some big and uncommon things (real estate attorney, tax payment, doula) and rent, since that’s what you’re doing, and it’s still at $1,473.07, with over a week left in the month. I guess maybe you’re just a lot more frugal than I am. Or maybe… Read more »

J.D. Roth
J.D. Roth
9 years ago

Ah, for some reason I thought you’d already bought your home. No, you generally can’t pay a mortgage with a credit card. Maybe you never can. I’m not sure.

And you’re right — I’m just counting regular monthly expenses, not unusual expenses. Plus, I’m only counting the expenses I pay, not the ones that Kris pays.

Mike
Mike
9 years ago

mortgage payments via a credit card would be the holy grail for mileage junkies. there are certain 3rd party services available to pay things like a mortgage or taxes (you can search on flyertalk.com for a multitude of threads on the topic), but all charge a fee of 3% or more that eliminates any value that you would receive for the miles.

jldugger
jldugger
9 years ago
Reply to  J.D. Roth

I’m sure some of the biggest might do it, but this would probably be a bad idea, since it should trigger the balance transfer clause on your card and immediately rack up finance charges.

imelda
imelda
9 years ago

I had to laugh at how surprised you are! When I lived in NYC (a year ago), I spent around $1k per month, plus rent ($800 with roommate). Yes, people have different levels of spending!!

Bouyancy
Bouyancy
9 years ago

Here is the link that shows more details of the deal http://www.britishairways.com/travel/creditcards/public/en_us?. It shows that the deal expires on May 6, so about two weeks from now.

Niek
Niek
9 years ago

I just wish miles weren’t such a mess. Harder to book, fuel surcharges on some flights, the first to be bumped, etc. But this looks so great, 100,000 miles.

I do enjoy my Costco Amex for the cashback. But it seems like miles can be a more valuable thing. Especially since Mile rewards are TAX free income. No 1099 to be expected. 🙂

christof
christof
9 years ago
Reply to  Niek

BA does not treat you differently depending on the type of payment. Bumping is done purely on the basis of status and check in time. You do have to pay taxes and fuel surcharges, though, which make economy redemptions hardly attractive.

Vanessa
Vanessa
9 years ago

The page you linked to that shows how many miles different flights would cost does not show the US as a departure point. So, you may end up having to buy your own airfare to Europe, and then the miles would be good on flights within Europe?

J.D. Roth
J.D. Roth
9 years ago
Reply to  Vanessa

Vanessa, there’s a drop-down menu that lets you choose the U.S. as a departure point. You can also choose to look at things in U.S. Dollars instead of U.K. Pounds.

christof
christof
9 years ago
Reply to  Vanessa

A BA redemption flight from the USA includes a flight on American Airlines to a BA airport, a flight from the US to London and a connecting flight to a city in Western Europe. That’s part of the 50,000 miles in economy or 100,000 miles in business. The only exception is when you use the companion voucher. In this case you have to depart from one of the BA airports.

Samantha
Samantha
9 years ago

I’d love to have more information about this! Steve at NerdFitness.com is going all over the world on airline miles, and I would LOVE to be able to rack up miles for my frequent trips (student living in a different state from family). But I’m curious about all kinds of aspect of it – is it bad to have so many cards open? Is it more of an identity theft risk? How does it impact my credit score to open and keep open, or open and then close multiple cards? (I know there’s an argument that your credit score isn’t… Read more »

Jaime B
Jaime B
9 years ago
Reply to  Samantha

Some damage is done to your credit report when the credit card company checks your credit to see if they want to extend you credit. According to Liz Pulliam Weston, it is better (once you’ve done the damage of applying for a card) to simply leave it open, for several reasons. 1) when you close an account, it can affect the “age” of your credit. The shorter histories tend to have lower scores. I’m not entirely clear on how this works when you close a newer credit card but have older ones open – but it happened to me. I… Read more »

Steve
Steve
9 years ago

I am tempted by this offer, but as with all frequent flyer miles, I wonder if I’ll ever be able to redeem them. Especially when a particular airline starts throwing around a hundred thousand miles at a time.

Bella
Bella
9 years ago

That post was hilarious!
We have a miles card with Alaskan. We pay $65 a year and get a $50 companion ticket. We used it every year (saving us about $150 – after paying the annual fee and the companion price) till they changed their routes and we can’t fly direct to Portland anymore. Now I’m not sure if we cancel it if our miles go away. We’re still saving for a couple first class tickets to Alaska though, that will be a fun trip.

Irene
Irene
9 years ago
Reply to  Bella

I have an Alaska Airlines card through BoA too, and have recently considered cancelling the card because of the recent changes to the mileage program (lowest “cost” for a flight is now 25k instead of 20k miles, and the companion ticket costs $90 instead of $50). The miles that I do have are now worth less, and booking a flight with the cheapest number of miles equates to a flight with multiple connections and usually an overnight. So, needless to say, the idea of flying free is not as great in reality as it sounds in theory. However, I have… Read more »

Adrian
Adrian
9 years ago

I’m in the “miles game” and got this deal last time it was offered. My wife and I booked a trip to Peru, Buenos Aires and Easter Island for 80K miles in Business Class on LAN. You can do it for 40K in Economy with minimal taxes. As mentioned before booking to Europe is not the best use. Here is more info on the taxes: http://thepointsguy.com/2011/04/how-to-use-british-airways-miles-post-4-spotlight-on-taxes-and-fees/

This blog also has a few posts on how to use BA miles. Enjoy your travels!

Aaron
Aaron
9 years ago
Reply to  Adrian

Hey Adrian –

Thanks for that link. The BA website pretty clearly shows that you can fly from the US to Europe Zone 1 for 50,000 miles.

Here’s the calculator:

http://www.britishairways.com/travel/ecredeemcalculator/public/en_us#CalculatePod

I haven’t done it, so I don’t know who is right, but it would be pretty shady to advertise free flights and then charge hundreds of dollars on top of the taxes and airport fees.

Aaron
Aaron
9 years ago
Reply to  Aaron

Oh, I get it… the issue is that BA charges an extremely high fuel surcharge. It works out to be more like a half price ticket to Europe. Still not bad.

I guess you can always use it on AA. Even if you’re traveling to Europe. American’s fees are less, but I don’t know if BA would still try to charge you something even for that.

Vik
Vik
9 years ago

Will they keep doing this program after the cut-off date?

kailey
kailey
9 years ago
Reply to  Vik

I didn’t see it at first either, but it is listed as “USA”. Hope this helps!

anna
anna
9 years ago

this card is great! i have it since 2009, and already went to hawaii last year using the miles, the only caveat is fees, here is a summary of 100,000 miles gets you:
– 3 tickets to Hawaii + $5 fees/each, regular price ~$800/each, or
– 2 tickets to Europe + $400 fees/each, regular price ~$800/each, or
– 4 tickets to continental US + $5 fees/each, regular price ~$300/each, or
– any other place British Airways, AA and other One World partners fly

Kelsey
Kelsey
9 years ago
Reply to  anna

Great summary! Thanks Anna.

Charlotte
Charlotte
9 years ago

My husband is signed up on Chris’ travelhacking.org and so far I have earned 125,000 miles plus coming up with another 100,000 if I apply for the BA card. It could be very profitable if you are careful and willing to spend some time researching.

-Charlotte

Niek
Niek
9 years ago
Reply to  Charlotte

I’m interested to hear how you got that far. I signed up as well, but unless I apply for a new credit card every month I’m stuck with the 1,000 points here and 500 for a survey there. Nowhere near enough to make the 15 dollars per month worth it.

Troy
Troy
9 years ago

This sounds amazing. How can BA stay in business getting only $95 for round trip tickets that normally cost thousands.

Hmmmm?

There has to be a catch, but I just can’t figure it out.

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
9 years ago
Reply to  Troy

The catch is that some people will be clever enough to take the bait alone but a majority will take the bait with a hook of a lifetime interest payments that will more than pay for the tickets many times over. From a different angle (I just googled), BA recently merged with Iberia and allied with AA so this might be part of a larger marketing strategy– basically, giveaways to generate buzz and attract new customers. Also, recently, there’s been a threat of strikes: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/04/15/uk-ba-strikes-idUKLNE73E03720110415?type=companyNews http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/travelnews/8411772/BA-vote-for-strike-Easter-flights-could-be-disrupted.html So likely a marketing move. It’s not like they are going to give up… Read more »

Troy
Troy
9 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

So let me make sure I understand.

a few will take the bait and maybe come out ahead, but a majority will take the bait and get slaughtered with fees and interest.

All the while EVERYONE, not just the master “bait” getters are encouraged to spend more than they likely usually spend to get these magic rewards.

This sounds like an absolute gem of a find. These CC really are the keys to wealth

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
9 years ago
Reply to  Troy

Ha ha ha

RC
RC
9 years ago
Reply to  Troy

Mileage cards and cards with more rewards charge more in their merchant fees up to 2-3% vs basic credit cards and debit cards which are usually 1% or less (debit cards being the lowest). Those little charges add up too.

christof
christof
9 years ago
Reply to  Troy

That’s easy… Chase is buying miles from BA hoping to attract cutomers for their credit cards. The details are kept secret, but in the end it’s somewhere between $100 and $1000 that Chase has to pay for 100,000 miles. The second part is that price and cost of flights differ a lot. BA is not paying thousands for a flight. For the same economy ticket you can pay between $500 and $5000. It’s cheap when you book months in advance with no flexibility and expensive booking same day with full flexibility. The actual cost is fixed, though, and likely to… Read more »

Kyle
Kyle
9 years ago

I enjoy my Fidelity Investment Rewards AMEX card. 2% cash back on everything. I don’t have to hassle with what is “on special” this particular month.

Jen
Jen
9 years ago

I just did this recently with a Chase / Southwest credit card. Sign up, pay a $59 annual fee (they charge it up front), and after the first purchase (no dollar amount specified) we get 2 free roundtrip tickets on Southwest. Probably not gonna get us to Europe, but we’re going to use them to fly to Florida for our upcoming honeymoon. After I cancel the card, I’ll have gotten 2 roundtrip flights for $60! I also bought a flight recently and paid $16 out of pocket, because I was able to apply my points as a dollar amount toward… Read more »

Aryn
Aryn
9 years ago

I love my AmEx Delta card. So far, I’ve used miles for a honeymoon in Ireland (coach on Virgin via Delta partnership), Belize (coach on Continental via Delta partnership), New York (coach there, first class back, on Continental via Delta partnership), and Orlando (coach using up old United miles I slowly accrued.) I have enough miles from business travel on American to get a free coach ticket and am hoarding Delta miles for a trip to Australia.

That card also gets me one free bag for up to 9 people on my flight.

Pat S.
Pat S.
9 years ago

Sweet!

Tyler Karaszewski
Tyler Karaszewski
9 years ago

Is there a diary somewhere from someone who’s done a lot of this that shows total outlay for various ‘travel hacks’ along with ticket prices for a variety of travel? I’d like to see how much this actually saves someone who travels a lot, and how much work ends up going into the whole thing. I’d imagine this has been done, but I don’t know where to log for the info.

Samantha
Samantha
9 years ago

This is the only article I’ve read on it: http://nerdfitness.com/blog/2010/12/09/how-to-fly-35000-miles-visit-4-continents-9-countries-and-15-cities-for-418/ although I’m sure there’s tons out there.

Charlotte
Charlotte
9 years ago

In Q4 2010, Alaska Air had a promo that if you buy/fly during that time, you get 25K miles. I bought a ticket PDX-LAS for $275 September 2010. Got the 25,000 miles. I will be using the miles in July 2011 for PDX-LAS, cost $10 in taxes. February 2011 – Applied for Continental Chase credit card, earned 50K miles after the first purchase of any amount. March 2011 – Applied for AA card. Earned 50K after sign up then another 25K with purchase of $2500 within 6 months. Will be using AA miles this summer with my husband who also… Read more »

Jordan
Jordan
9 years ago

As hinted at above, this deal is actually pretty terrible. I regularly participate in similar credit card bonuses, and this is probably the worst one I’ve ever done. British Airways miles are nearly impossible to use for anywhere desirable, unless you want to play ridiculous fees. I took advantage of this offer last time they had it, in Nov. 2009. I had been unable to use my miles for anything up until recently, when I was able to get award seats to the high-demand destination of Oklahoma City. Aside from that, I have been unable to find any domestic tickets… Read more »

Anne
Anne
9 years ago
Reply to  Jordan

I signed up for this card the last time it was offered. The trick is to use it for American flights. My boyfriend and I flew roundtrip from Chicago to Hawaii for only 70,000 miles (meaning we have enough left over for a domestic round-trip) plus $10. Or maybe it was $20. Either way, not what I would call terrible!

Vik
Vik
9 years ago
Reply to  Jordan

$400 round trip from LA to London sounds like a really good deal, IF it wasn’t during “off” times of the year.

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
9 years ago
J.D. Roth
J.D. Roth
9 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

Er, it’s true. It’s not anything new, though. If I write about something and there’s an affiliate offer available, I usually include an affiliate link. If not, I use a regular link. This is pretty much standard operation procedure for financial blogs and websites. Heck, Bankrate has built its entire business model around this! And it’s basically the same thing I’ve been doing for five years, so I didn’t think it would be a surprise for anyone. Now that I think about it, though, it’s probably been a while since I mentioned this practice. There’s a disclaimer in the sidebar,… Read more »

skeptic
skeptic
9 years ago
Reply to  J.D. Roth

it’s nice that you are up front about it. can you share how this works… do you get a flat fee if someone transacts something, or a percentage of the sale, or a pay-per-click regardless of outcome?

If someone clicks through and signs up, how much money do you make?

thanks for sharing.

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
9 years ago
Reply to  J.D. Roth

Oh, I get that, and I’ve bought things from your affiliate links before, but in this case when the quality of the product is still in doubt (it’s an underresearched impulse purchase if you think about it), and after saying you don’t want to be a cheerleader for credit cards, I think it’s playing it a bit close to the foul line to make money from those who sign up. It’s different to see an add on the sidebar than to get a recommendation from you, e.g., back in 2007 it was one thing to see Countrywide commercials on TV… Read more »

J.D. Roth
J.D. Roth
9 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

Got it. Legitimate concern. It’s different than mentioning ING Direct. Let me think about how to handle this in the future…

imelda
imelda
9 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

JD, how do you accept criticism with so much grace? That’s something I’d love to read a post on.

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
9 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

Hi JD I was thinking about a suggestion; and as a reader, a disclaimer in posts that review or recommend products (not in every post) would probably work for me. A disclaimer would have a double benefit: it would create transparency and trust, but it would also encourage grateful readers to show their support by making a point to click your affiliate links (something I’ve done). The note could be a standard one, like the ones you use for reader stories where you ask commenters not to be complete jerks when criticizing. It’s not a matter of the type of… Read more »

Stacy
Stacy
9 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

I’ve seen bloggers who do what elnerdo suggests. Moneysavingmom puts a note at the bottom of some posts that says, “Note: The links in this post are my referral links. Read our disclosure policy here.” Something like that would be fast and easy.

Jeremiah
Jeremiah
9 years ago
Reply to  J.D. Roth

I gotta say, I just did the same double-take. It also seemed strange that it was routed through an “offers/…php” script before heading to the affiliate link. I have no problem with affiliate links. But it is not “up front” (another commenter’s words) when you do not note your financial ties to a product you are strongly encouraging readers to buy on a blog that is about not spending money foolishly when you also do not know a lot about the offer you’re talking about. These are waters you’d really be better off not treading — disclosing the affiliate relationship… Read more »

J.D. Roth
J.D. Roth
9 years ago
Reply to  Jeremiah

No, Jeremiah. It doesn’t sound harsh. I understand the concern. I’ve tried a variety of different ways to disclose affiliate relationships in the past — an [aff] note next to every link, a footer at the end of every post, and so on — and each one has had its own problems. Currently, GRS has just a blanket disclaimer in the sidebar. Because we’ve talked about this before on the blog, I sometimes just assume everyone knows how things work. That’s a bad assumption though because not everyone has been reading the blog for five years, and not every pays… Read more »

Jeremiah
Jeremiah
9 years ago
Reply to  Jeremiah

Thanks for the explanation on the redirect. Sounds like a good system.

Samantha
Samantha
9 years ago
Reply to  Jeremiah

Hey JD, What were the problems with [aff] or with a disclaimer at the end? Was it a tech problem or a people-don’t-understand-this problem, etc? In your first reply to El Nerdo, I though ‘oh YEAH, he does do that, I remember the post about it’ but I wouldn’t have remembered if you hadn’t said so. The other blogs I read always say disclaimer: affiliate link, so when I don’t see that I just assume it isn’t. I don’t know if that’s standard practice, or those blogs are just being above-and-beyond upfront, but it can’t hurt to be overly upfront,… Read more »

J.D. Roth
J.D. Roth
9 years ago
Reply to  Jeremiah

Samantha, when I put [aff] on every link, I had a chorus of folks saying, “What does that mean? What does that mean? What does that mean?” It created lots of work responding to the same question again and again. Plus, there were those who thought it was overkill. When we had a disclaimer at the end of every post, folks thought that was overkill, too, so we moved the disclaimer to the sidebar. Reading the responses in this thread, though — especially MT’s further down — I think there’s a balance to be had. Everybody expects book links to… Read more »

Jennifer
Jennifer
9 years ago

We’re planning a trip from Oregon to Ireland next year and I’ve been doing tons of research to find the best prices.

With the fuel fees British Airlines charges (in addition to surcharges and taxes), we’d end up paying about $700 each *with* this voucher. Details: http://www.smartertravel.com/travel-advice/why-does-british-airways-award-ticket.html?id=6669595

That’s roughly the same price we can negotiate on Priceline or similar sites.

I was tempted by this offer until I read about the fuel fees. I think I’m going to pass this up and keep my credit temptations to a minimum. 🙂

Thanks for the heads up. Enjoy the world domination.

Rock Modestly
Rock Modestly
9 years ago

Trent…long time reader but this is my first comment. I have a Q similar to El Nerdo: are you using an affiliate link and/or getting a kickback for referrals about this program?

If so, what’s your kickback or incentive? I personally have no problem with affiliate money, so long as the author is transparent and open about it.

Given that you’re advocating people go and open up a new credit card, I think you should consider telling your readers about any money you’ll be making if they sign up.

Valerie
Valerie
9 years ago

Does anyone know if they charge high fuel fees/surcharges for travel within Europe?

Rock Modestly
Rock Modestly
9 years ago

PS…apologize for calling you Trent! You can probably guess the two blogs I read :-D. Would love to hear the details on what % you’re making from the affiliate program.

Cely
Cely
9 years ago

No one has mentioned this, but one of the best things about this card is that you pay no transaction fees for foreign currency purchases! That might be enough of a reason to get the card, aside from the miles. My bank and my CC both charge me for that, so when I travel to Europe or Mexico (at least once a year) I get dinged a lot.

Anne O
Anne O
9 years ago

I just did the same with the Continential OnePass card! Got me 50,000 miles for sign-up and is $95 after the first year. I transferred those miles to my United account (since they are merging) so my husband and I could fly together with his miles too.

skeptic
skeptic
9 years ago

do you need to pay the $95 up front or only after a year?

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
9 years ago
Reply to  skeptic
Michael
Michael
9 years ago

“Since I returned to the world of credit four years ago, I’ve been adamant that I’m only going to have one personal credit card.” I’m kind of surprised by this — aren’t you concerned that you’ll be counting on using your CC somewhere and suddenly find it’s blocked? Credit Cards get blocked or rejected for all sorts of reasons, unusual valid spending (eg. you’re traveling), unusual invalid spending (eg. someone stole your CC number), bank error, finicky card reader at a specific store, etc. I never carry a balance, and I have a little bit of cash on my and… Read more »

Julie
Julie
9 years ago

Is the annual fee waived for the first year? If not, it will show up on your first bill, not at the end of 12 months. I signed up for one of these cards on a US Airways flight several years ago. Instead of sending it to the address I provided, they sent it to my childhood home (must have gotten the address from my credit report). By the time I realized I’d never received the card and contacted the bank (several months later), they’d charged me months of interest on my “first bill,” which contained only the annual fee… Read more »

Mom of five
Mom of five
9 years ago

Last year, Discover Card offered us an additional $500 cash back if we spent 2k a month between July and December. Piece of cake. All monthly expenses, including gas, groceries, car insurance, and utilities were running us about $1700 a month during that time. And that’s before other spending like eating out, appliance parts, extra groceries for a party, back to school items or Christmas presents. Really, it was the easiest 500 dollars we ever made in our lives. There’s simply ALWAYS an extra $300 that comes up in our monthly spending. Previously, we’d been putting the majority of our… Read more »

Matt
Matt
9 years ago

JD – a good article topic might be the cost of health care. I work for a Fortune 500 and they past most of the cost onto us peons at the company – we basically pay out of pocket up to a deductible, then they cover 80%. Then after a max out of pocket they cover 100% – but you’d literally have to have a serious disease or accident to rack up that much. What made me think of it is my son’s recent surgery and having to pre-pay half of the hospital bill upon arrival. I’m thinking of signing… Read more »

Tom
Tom
9 years ago
Reply to  Matt

That is how most insurance works; health, home, auto, you pay a monthly amount to have the insurance, and then there’s a deductible that you’re responsible for when you use it. Your scenario (80/20 coverage after deductible) is not that uncommon. You should ask your HR department how much the company pays for your health insurance, btw. I’m sure that the Fortune 500 company picks up at least 2/3rds of the monthly or biweekly cost before you pay the rest out of your paycheck. (Not defending them, because it still sucks to pay so much and feel like you aren’t… Read more »

carriekris
carriekris
9 years ago

My husband and his mom used BA miles to fly business class Houston to India and each paid about $1,000 in taxes/fees whatever. If they had used Continental miles they would have spent ~$150 each.

Katie Lou
Katie Lou
9 years ago

I get that people are upset to find out JD makes a commission when people sign up for the BA card. Maybe you feel like you are being used but how do you think he makes his money and is able to continue blogging? I have been an avid reader for the last 2 years and I honestly think that JD tries to do right by us. I sincerly doubt that he is going to toss up any old affiliate link. That would ruin the rapport he has worked for so long to build. JD – I trust you to… Read more »

MT
MT
9 years ago

JD, I think a good way to approach being upfront and honest with people concerning affiliate programs/links etc is to evaluate which linked items probably raise the most concern. I personally think, given the nature of the website, you should have an additional disclosure on any CC links in a post, no matter what. Based on my website experience, I’d guess that CC affiliate links don’t represent a significant part of your site income (Google is always the big one), but CC links probably border 10-15% of site income, just based on how much each new registrant brings in by… Read more »

J.D. Roth
J.D. Roth
9 years ago
Reply to  MT

I think this is a good balance, actually. Because we don’t cover credit cards often at GRS, being more upfront about the affiliate links in those posts won’t create many headaches. Working on a system! 🙂

Becky P
Becky P
9 years ago
Reply to  MT

I agree. I remember when you did the ING link and I liked the way you wrote it up. I went over and checked it out at that time, and appreciated your honesty.

Jeffrey
Jeffrey
9 years ago

Come on, J.D.! You gotta get in Chris’ Travel Hacking Cartel! Although a lot of the best deals, like this one, involve applying for credit cards, there are other great ways to earn miles that are shared, too.

Sarah in Alaska
Sarah in Alaska
9 years ago

Europe is nice. But I use my Alaska Airlines card to get free tickets to the lower 48, since a RT flight to Seattle alone is $500 and back east to visit family is $700 – $900. I’m not a real credit card cheerleader either, but…it’s nice to see family without breaking the bank every time.
P.S. Alaska is the only airline that serves my community, so it’s a no brainer for most people up here.

bethh
bethh
9 years ago

I entered this game about 8 months ago – I got two cards (no longer offered) that rewarded 1500k spending within the first 6 months with 75k miles. That was easy, so I got 150k miles! I’ve even booked a trip! But you have to be very very flexible and creative and prepared to spend money. In January I called to book my end-of-June trip to Greece. Even though I was flexible on my travel dates, I got the very last mileage seat available to/from London in a weeklong window. And they told me they could not get me to… Read more »

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
9 years ago

Folks, I can confirm that this card is as awesome as it sounds. I took advantage of this promo last year when it first occurred. I used 80,000 miles to book a whirlwind tour of South America. I flew in business class from Miami to Lima, Peru for 2 days, then Easter Island, Chile for 3 days and then Buenos Aires, Argentina for 3 days. The tickets cost me $150 in taxes and fees plus the annual fee for the card (which at the time was $75). So for less then $250, I got to explore a whole new continent… Read more »

Sarah
Sarah
9 years ago

Our plan is to get this card, and if we can’t spend $2500 in 3 months on normal expenses, we’ll stock up on grocery store gift cards since we know we’ll use them.

Jay
Jay
9 years ago

The travel hacking “cartel” is a terrible deal… Talk about a useless monthly expense.

There are NUMEROUS sites online which offer the same info for free. To pay $300+ per year for it is silly

Meredydd
Meredydd
9 years ago

As an amateur travel hacker, I’m glad the JD brought this to my attention. Reading the fine print, I see: If applicable, Chase cardmembers who currently have or have had a Chase credit card in any Rewards Program associated with this offer or have received a similar bonus offer, may not be eligible for a second Chase credit card in the same Rewards Program, or for any bonus offer. Hmmmm. I have a Chase/United Airlines card that had a sign-up bonus (not nearly as good as this, but the first year fee was waived). Does anyone know if having one… Read more »

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
9 years ago
Reply to  Meredydd

As long as you haven’t had a Chase British Airways card in the past, you’ll get the miles. When I got the card, I had a Chase Continental card already.

Andy
Andy
9 years ago

I looked at the terms and didn’t see anything about spouses applying for this offer separately. Does anyone know if a person and their spouse can apply individually for this offer? (both receiving 100K miles?)

Niek
Niek
9 years ago
Reply to  Andy

In the application with my wife as the main cardholder we only gave her SSN and just added me as a “extra cardholder”. But if, instead of my name, I would have filled out “The pink unicorn” that would have worked as well. Therefore, I assume you could do it twice. But I’m not sure if you could “pool” the miles together and get 200k in one account. Also, you would need to spend 5000 instead of 2500 in the first 3 months. And that “companion ticket” you get with 30k dollars spend in one calendar year would be hard… Read more »

Nguyen
Nguyen
9 years ago
Reply to  Niek

I believe that the British Airways airline has a “household account” feature which let members pool their mile accounts together. Basically, there is a head of household. This person will have full control of who joins/leaves the household account. Anyone can join your Household, they just need to have the same address as the Head of Household on file in their Executive Club account. When you book the award tickets, the miles will be pulled proportionately from each member’s account.

Thanks.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
9 years ago
Reply to  Niek

Someone who has a Chase credit card can add other authorized users to the account. However, those users will not get the sign-up bonus and any points they earn will count under whoever applied for the card.

In order for a couple to get 200K, each one needs to apply for the card separately.

Nguyen above is correct about household accounts- it’s a unique feature of British Airways that’s not found at any other airline that I know of.

Jake
Jake
9 years ago

If everyone isn’t the one who carries a balance, than who makes up the 95% that does? Why would you need a credit card to get plane tickets if you are wealthy? I promise you out of the handful of wealthy people I know never use a credit card to gain miles so they can get a free ticket. They just use their wealth to buy tickets when they want to travel. Lets not be foolish and think we are the one who can beat the system and really stick it those fools at the credit card company and cheat… Read more »

Niek
Niek
9 years ago
Reply to  Jake

Those who carry a balance on a credit card are financial train wrecks and will never become as wealthy as they could. But since merchants pay up to 3% to the credit card companies on each transaction, you can definitely “win” the game by getting a part of that money back as miles/cashback. If I was wealthy, I wouldn’t bother with this either. But since I’m not, and because this is helping me pay for flights to my family, I don’t see a problem with it. If you are however not strong enough to keep discipline and pay the card… Read more »

Becky P
Becky P
9 years ago
Reply to  Jake

I know one who would probably qualify as wealthy, but she DOES use every possible gimmick to get free/cheap tickets. AMEX, miles, etc. She’s not “hollywood wealthy” but makes a good income and could just probably buy the tickets as she wants.

Most of us aren’t that wealthy, but want to travel for cheaper. Even if you end up paying the fee for the year, if you get $500+ tickets for them, it’s a good deal for the consumer…if you can handle c/c.

Claire
Claire
9 years ago

One strategy for meeting spending threshholds within certain time periods is to buy yourself gift cards to stores you’re sure to patronize in the future (grocery stores, Target, etc.). You can spend those gift cards at your leisure later after meeting the credit card spending amount and deadline. Also some (though not many in my experience) utilities accept credit card payments without charging an extra fee.

And JD, I would love to see a “how blogs make money” post. Soon, I hope?

Jaime
Jaime
9 years ago

Thanks for posting this; I’m looking into it and curious about the potential 2nd flight–can it be used for a companion? I haven’t been able to find this info on the site.

Charlie Peck
Charlie Peck
9 years ago

Scam. Just signed up.

Street price $1890 PHL to London
With 2 “free” tickets 100,000 points PLUS $1,100 in Fees, LOL

SCAM.

unless you want a 40 percent off coupon, AVOID!

SSSSSSSSS
CCCCCCCCC
AAAAAAAAA
MMMMMMMMM

Julie
Julie
4 years ago
Reply to  Charlie Peck

You are comparing apples to oranges. The $1800 ticket you quoted is for economy and the free ticket can be used for Business class. That’s where you want to use it and pair it with a free companion ticket. Not really a scam if you can get 2 round trip tickets for the $2200 in fees 1st class RT.

Steve
Steve
9 years ago

This offer ended (a few hours earlier than one might expect).

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