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Update: The current offer for the British Airways Visa Signature Card is 50,000 Avios when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months.

TPG reader Nachama asks:

“I have a question about the Oneworld Alliance. I think I’ve mastered the Star Alliance, but haven’t spent a lot of time banking Oneworld points. Who should I make my primary Oneworld carrier – British Airways or American Airlines? I’ll occasionally fly AA domestically, but I’m expecting to have a bunch of Amex points thanks to a corporate Amex card and obviously, those transfer to British Airways and not AA. When I fly AA, should I be booking my AA points with British Airways?”

In general, I think American AAdvantage miles are more valuable than British Airways Avios, however the key factor here is that you can easily top up your British Airways Avios with Amex transfers (often at 40% or 50% bonuses), so do you want to put all of your eggs in one basket with British Airways or diversify with American?

It really depends on how much flying is “occasional” and what you want to redeem your miles for. If your ultimate goal is awards to Europe or Australia (or Asia on JAL), then I’d say steer clear of British Airways because those award tickets (except on Air Berlin and Aer Lingus) come with huge fees. However, if you want to redeem for North America awards or flights to South America, British Airways is a better bet since their awards are distance-based and short/medium-haul flights usually come to less Avios than American. Additionally British Airways doesn’t charge a last minute award booking fee (vs $75 on American for awards ticketed within 21 days of departure), so it’s all around probably smarter to just consolidate and bank everything to British Airways than try to build up a small balance with American. Another good thing is that even the cheapest AA coach fares earn 100% miles with British Airways, so you won’t have to worry about only getting a fraction of the miles, which often happens when you credit partner airline miles to a frequent flyer program.

AA earning on British Airways

If you end up flying AA more (especially with their double EQM/ point promotion) and get within elite status range, you may want to rethink your strategy. However, if it truly is occasional, I’d probably just simplify things and accrue all of your Oneworld flying to British Airways. There are a lot of other positives (cheap Avios upgrades on British Airways flights, decent hotel redemptions and household accounts) and negatives (no changes to awards 1 day prior to departure and buggy website) to using Avios, but once you get the hang of it, you can extract great value out of your Avios. I’d highly recommend reading through my most recent Maximizing British Airways series so you know how to maximizing your Avios!

Spotlight on Taxes and FeesDistance-Based AwardsTravel Together Companion TicketUsing Avios to Upgrade Paid TicketsThe Avios and Cash OptionSave Money on Fuel Surcharges by Transferring British Airways Avios to IberiaUsing Avios For Non-Flight Redemptions.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
16.49% - 23.49% Variable
Annual Fee
Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
Balance Transfer
5.00%
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.