British Airways is tempting travelers with a couple of bonus offers aimed at getting you flying. One deal is better than the other, especially for leisure travelers.
If you buy a ticket to Europe for travel now through Jan. 29, you'll earn a free companion ticket to be used between Jan. 11 and Dec. 15, 2010. This deal looks good, but check the fare classes you have to fly in. The cheapest classes are excluded.
When we checked rates for January travel, the cheapest fare for round-trip travel from Dallas to London was $827 in coach, but the cheapest qualifying fare was $1,205. The deal makes more sense for those traveling for business, since someone else will pay for the qualifying ticket.
The fare classes that you must book to use the companion offer are also not the cheapest available. When we checked prices, the cheapest coach-class fare for summer travel was $1,377 round trip with taxes and fees. The cheapest qualifying fare was $300 higher, and you're responsible for taxes and fees on the companion ticket.
In the sample above, the taxes and fees were $389, and if you add the fare difference of $378 for the qualifying fare to earn the certificate and $300 more to book a qualifying fare to use the certificate, you get a total of $1,067 for that "free" ticket. You would end up saving $310, but it's not the deal it looks like on the surface. Visit www.britishairways.com/travel/FALL09USPROMO for details on the offer.
While the previous deal wasn't as good as it seemed, this next deal is a winner. British Airways has a promotion to entice people to sign up for a new Visa Signature affinity credit card that is the most aggressive campaign I've seen.
First-time cardholders with new accounts will earn 50,000 miles with their first purchase and another 50,000 miles for spending $2,000 in the first three months after the account is opened. That's 100,000 miles, enough for two coach round-trip tickets or one business-class round trip to parts of Europe, including Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the U.K. You also can redeem miles for flights on codeshare partner American within the continental U.S., and to Canada, Hawaii and Mexico.
If you want to rack up that $2,000, think about going cashless and using the card for last-minute holiday shopping, groceries, gas, bills and restaurants. Even if you don't spend $2,000 in the first three months, for the $75 annual fee you'll still have enough for a ticket to Europe or Hawaii, or two within the U.S., to Canada or to Mexico.
If you and your spouse aren't current cardholders, consider signing up for separate accounts.
Customers will earn 1.25 miles for every dollar spent and 2.5 miles per dollar spent on British Airways tickets. Other bonuses include saving $50 off a qualifying round-trip ticket purchased by Dec. 31, and if you spend $30,000 in a year, you can earn a companion ticket. If the airline gets a big response from this offer, it could end quickly. Details: www.mychasecreditcards.com/britishairways/hp (underscore)postpin.
American Express Membership Rewards program members will be happy to learn that British Airways will return to the program by the end of the year. Even if you don't want to travel to Europe, this is good news. You can transfer points into your British Airways account and then redeem them for flights on partners American and Alaska. Visit www.americanexpress.com/rewards.