Video SRQ: Should I Cancel The British Airways Visa Before the Annual Fee is Due or Keep It?

by on May 12, 2013 · 12 comments

in American Express, Avios, British Airways, Chase, Sunday Reader Questions, Video Blog Post

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TPG follower Jake tweeted me this week worried that he may lose his Avios after canceling a card:

“‪@thepointsguy‬ time to keep or cancel my British Airways Visa. I still have 91K Avios sitting around. Chase said I would forfeit if I cancel…is that true?”

First off don’t worry –  you are not going to lose your Avios. With airline co-branded credit cards, every month when your statement closes those Avios go directly into your frequent flyer account. This is true regardless of whether it’s a British Airways card, a Delta SkyMiles Gold Amex or a Citi Platinum Select American AAdvantage Visa, and your miles will be safe once deposited into your account. I think credit card representatives often say what they think is right, even if it’s not the right answer. The reps don’t want you to cancel the card and want to keep your business with the company so sometimes they’ll tell you something in hopes that it will keep you around, even if it may be wrong. I don’t think it’s intentional, I just think they are not completely educated on the specifics of each and every credit card they offer.

However, one thing to keep in mind is that the credit company can pull back your miles if you engage in fraudulent activity, but for the most part that is not going to happen. As a rule of thumb, I would recommend keeping a credit card open for at least 6 months after you apply. If you get a sign-up bonus and then cancel the card the next day after having it for two weeks the credit card company can say, “You had no intention of keeping this card and we are taking the bonus back.” Always try to keep a good relationship with the credit card company since it will affect your likeliness to get approved for cards with them in the future.

British Airways Visa

That being said let’s get into the details of the card and why you might want to cancel it or keep it open. The British Airways Visa currently has an offer for 50,000 Avios after $2,000 in purchases after the first 3 months and a $95 annual fee. However the perks that come with the card can far outweigh that amount.

I keep the card open because I spend $30,000 on it annually to get the Travel Together ticket, which allows me to redeem an award on a British Airways-operated flight and get a second award ticket for zero additional Avios. Granted British Airways does charge heavy fees (about $800 for a transatlantic business class flight), but for example if you flew New York to London round trip it would cost 80,000 Avios for one ticket in business class. With the Travel Together ticket you would get two tickets for 80,000 Avios and about $1600 in fees. So for a flight that would normally cost you $3,500 a ticket ($7,000 total), you would be getting two tickets for about $1,600 and 80,000 Avios. In my mind, that is a pretty good deal.

BA Visa Benefits

The terms of the British Airways Visa currently being offered.

The card also offers some other great benefits, like 10% off all British Airways flights, no foreign transaction fees and they do run some promos from time to time like the Michelin dining promotion that they had last year. The base earning is 1.25 Avios for every dollar spent and 2.5 Avios for every dollar spent on British Airways purchases. Most airline cards only earn one mile per dollar on purchases so with this card your getting a good 25% increase.

The bottom line is, this is a great card to have in your wallet if you know how to maximize its benefits, but if you’re not using it enough and you’re earning more points in other programs then you should cancel it. Do an inventory and see what benefits make the most sense for you and make your decision from there.

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.

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  • Scott

    Is the Travel Together benefit available on partner redemptions or only BA? For example, could I do two tickets from Boston to Dublin on Aer Lingus for the price of one Avios award?

  • Rogo57

    Do they have a foreign transaction fee? If I am in Canada will I have to pay the 3%?

  • Curious

    Do you lose the travel together ticket if you cancel the card after earning the travel together but before using it (earned in 2012, haven’t used, now considering canceling)?

  • gregillinois

    As all ways your advice is interesting but at times unrealistic for a lot of readers. Every year we keep the Chase Sapphire, an AA, and maybe a Delta or new United. We try one international and one US trip each year based on work and finances. The thought of another card with the ability to spend $30,000 sounds like the world of the Great Gatsby!

  • John k

    Companion pass is ONLY good for BA metal. No partners or alliances etc…

  • nibongo

    Come on, just read the post. He cut and paste a list of card benefits and the third one reads “No Foreign Transaction Fees”

  • 2 companion vouchers per year?

    Your post got me thinking about how great the annual companion voucher is. I have the BA card, and my wife, who kept her maiden name so has a different last name, and is an additional cardholder on my BA account. Do
    you know if BA would allow her to apply for her own, separate account, so that we could get two companion vouchers per year? I have no issues dropping her as an additional card holder on my account
    if that is what it took.

  • Julie

    Yes, she could get her own card, regardless of what her name is. Each half of a couple can get each credit card, which is a great way to double up on sign-up bonuses, and you’ll see frequent mention of this on the blogs/forums.
    The only possible concern is meeting all the spend thresholds if you and she have minimums spends to meet at the same time. Many people stagger their and their spouse’s applications a few months apart, to keep the spend requirements achievable.

  • Julie

    I earn a companion ticket every year, and I also have CSP, an AA card, and a couple of others.
    It just depends on what you want to achieve and how much effort you’re willing to put in. $30k sounds like a lot but it’s not really if you focus all your spending on the BA card. I start 01 Jan and I’m usually at $30k by May or so. The rest of the year I focus on my other cards.

  • jason

    You forgot to mention great value for short haul flights and no fees for next day travel awards. In addition, decent value for fare upgrades from World traveler plus to business

  • Jake Johnson

    appreciate the response to my tweet! The chip feature has saved us several times in Europe at automated machines. That was the other thing I didn’t want to lose until I discovered the other Chase cards that have it.

  • ralph_pdx

    I’ve just applied for this card. Can anyone tell me how the “2.5 Avios for every dollar spent on British Airways purchases” works?
    Does it have to be purchased through the British Airways website? What if I book through a travel agent and what if part of the journey is via Oneworld Partners?
    I tried the 10% off all BA flights promo code but it said this wasn’t available if one of the flight legs was not flying with BA.

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