In 2016, I saw headlines on several blogs that I followed about a credit card sign up bonus that was too good to pass up. Here’s what one article from back then said about the card:
Breaking news: one of the best (and certainly one of the biggest) miles & points offers is now back. For a limited time, you can earn a total of 100,000 British Airways Avios points after applying for their signature card and meeting a number of spending requirements.
One of the best offers. I needed to get in on this limited time offer so I went to the Chase website and signed up for the card. I was instantly approved and started spending. The amount needed to get the bonus wasn’t small.
The first 50,000 points are easy—you’ll get them after completing a $2,000 minimum spend in three months. This is worth it on its own, even if you can’t earn the additional 50,000 points for spending more.
For the adventurous, you’ll be able to earn an additional 25,000 Avios for spending $10,000 within the first year, and then another 25,000 Avios for spending $20,000 within the first year.
I decided to go big but I wasn’t all in. I set a goal to spend the $10,000 on the card for 75,000 Avios. I passed on the $20,000 bonus points and the Travel Together Ticket that came with spending $30,000 on the card.
It took several months but I eventually hit the spending threshold and had over 85,000 Avios. Now what?
Flash forward to the present where I read a post on Million Mile Secrets about the new 100,000 points sign up bonus for the British Airways card.
Earn 50,000 Bonus Avios after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. Plus earn an additional 50,000 Bonus Avios after you spend $20,000 total on purchases within your first year of account opening.
Not quite as good as getting 75,000 Avios for spending $10,000 but you’d still get 100,000 Avios for spending $20,000.
Twenty thousand dollars. Just think about that number. If that’s an insignificant amount to you, congratulations. You’re doing much better than most of the rest of us for whom that’s a big number to hit, even if we have a year to do it.
Why did this mega sign-up bonus give me flashbacks to when I signed up for this card?
Back in 2016. I took the bait for the British Airways card. Hook, line, and sinker. I was convinced it was one of the best card sign-ups available and this huge bonus was the icing on the cake.
That’s right. I had a huge pile of points that I had no use for. Now, I couldn’t put all the blame on those pushing the card. They had no idea that British Airways was going to devalue using Avios to book short or mid-range flights on American and Alaska Airlines.
The change will only affect shorter routes on American Airlines and Alaska Airlines, with reward flights now starting from 7,500 Avios, rather than 4,500 Avios, plus taxes, fees and carrier charges from $5.60 USD. The majority of North American reward flight prices will remain unchanged.
The least expensive flight in the US would now cost 7,500 Avios. Still, that wasn’t a bad price to pay for a non-stop flight from Orlando to New York, Charlotte or Chicago. Shortly thereafter, American Airlines started to reduce the availability of saver award space on those non-stop flights. Not only would those flights cost more miles, but they also weren’t even available unless you wanted the worst timed non-stop flights. Sure, American had award space if you made a connection, but when you book with Avios you pay for each flight segment and connecting would double the number of points needed.
I don’t want to use the points to fly on British Airways because they add a huge amount of taxes and fees to their award tickets.
So here we are in 2019. I still have over half of the points I earned with that sign-up bonus in my account and no sign of an easy way I’ll be able to spend them.
Sure, I’ve been able to use some of those points on the rare occasion when a flight I want to take on American is bookable with points. I was also able to redeem points for the only flight I’ve taken on Alaska. I was even able to upgrade the flight to first class by paying an upgrade fee in cash the day of the flight.
If there’s ever a better example of Your Mileage May Vary, I’ve not seen it. When I went to Frequent Traveler University weekends and told people how I couldn’t spend my Avios and I got looks like I was crazy. Even though I knew the tricks and all the best uses for them, they just weren’t a good fit for our travels.
What did I learn from all of this? I guess big takeaway was to not blindly believe what everyone is saying. I’m not saying to ignore them. What I mean is that you need to take that information and apply it to your personal situation.
What will you earn from a promotion? What can you do with it? What could you do instead? Which of those things better fit your goals?
In my case, living in a city with limited service from both American and Alaska, earning a bunch of Avios wasn’t a smart thing to do. I know that now. All I can do with that knowledge is to not waste my time trying to earn more Avios.
And that was the turning point for how this blog eventually got started. Your Mileage May Vary. Not all offers are for everyone. Even the best offer ever might not be right for you. Take the time to see what you can get out of any promotion. Don’t be a lemming. Trust me, there’s nothing over that cliff worth jumping for.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary