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Is It Worth Collecting Avios if I Typically Fly Southwest?

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TPG reader Ian tweeted me to ask:

@thepointsguy– “Is it worth getting the British Airways Visa and collecting Avios if I already have the Southwest Companion Pass for 2015/16? I typically fly more on Southwest than American/BA.”

The Southwest Companion Pass is one of the most amazing airline perks out there (if you fly Southwest, of course). The pass can give you free travel for a companion for up to almost two years if you know how to maximize it. I’ve written at length about the Companion Pass and the ways you can get it. Congratulations to Ian for scoring that!

Ian is wondering whether he should get the British Airways Visa and start collecting Avios points, even though he usually flies Southwest. My guess is that if you’re flying Southwest often, you’re likely flying a lot of short-haul routes around the US, which Avios are also very useful for. The thing about the Southwest Companion Pass is that it’s really only valuable when you travel with a companion. If you’re traveling alone, it’s a great idea to have some Avios you can use to fly on American or Alaska for short-haul flights around the US, or to have points in programs that transfer to Avios, like Starwood Preferred Guest, American Express Membership Rewards, and Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Always diversify your points and miles. This way, you have options. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
Diversify your points and miles so you have more options. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

One of my most important tips (and one I repeat often) is to diversify your loyalty portfolio. If you put all your points and miles in one basket, then you’re less flexible and more susceptible to devaluation. Even though you’re loving Southwest right now, what happens when all of a sudden you’ve got a wedding in Ireland. Neither Rapid Rewards points nor the Companion Pass will get you there, but other points can, so having other options is key. Southwest devalued its points a little over a year ago; hopefully there won’t be another devaluation, but it could happen at any time, and you don’t want to be overexposed in any one loyalty currency.

So yes, get the British Airways Visa and start collecting Avios (and probably some other currencies as well, like hotel points). Or, get a card like the Barclaycard Arrival Plus so you can cover the cost of your Southwest ticket with Arrival miles (and earn Rapid Rewards in the process), while your second passenger still flies free with your Companion Pass. That sounds like a win to me!

If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook, or send me an email at info@thepointsguy.com.

British Airways Visa Signature® Card

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  • 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
  • Every calendar year you make $30,000 in purchases on your British Airways Visa card, you'll earn a Travel Together Ticket good for two years.
  • In addition to the bonus Avios, you will also get 3 Avios for every $1 spent on British Airways purchases and 1 Avios for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Pay no foreign transaction fees when you travel abroad.
  • Chip Technology allows you to use your card for chip based purchases in Europe & beyond, while still giving you the ability to use your card as you do today at home.
Intro APR Regular APR Annual Fee Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Rating
N/A 16.24%-23.24% Variable $95 0% Excellent Credit