Best Credit Cards for Earning Avios Points

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Most airline rewards are tied to one (and only one) frequent-flyer program. Avios points are a unique exception because they are the currency used by the British Airways Executive Club, Aer Lingus AerClub, and Iberia Plus loyalty programs.

These three programs each have their own rules and pricing, but if you set up your loyalty accounts correctly, you can move Avios freely from one program to another. That flexibility creates some huge opportunities.

For U.S. based travelers, one of the easiest ways to earn Avios points is by applying for one of the co-brand rewards cards from Chase. All three cards have huge 100,000-point sign up bonuses, so let’s explore how you can turn one (or more) of these offers into an amazing trip.

What Makes Avios Points Different?

Before we compare the Avios credit cards, it’s helpful to take a closer look at what it means for three different frequent-flyer programs to use the same points currency:

At a basic level, Executive Club, Iberia Plus, and AerClub are independent entities. If you and your friend want to book an American Airlines flight from Chicago to Madrid, one of you could redeem Avios with Iberia Plus, and the other could redeem with B.A. Executive Club.

Even if you’re sitting right next to each other on the same flight, the number of Avios points required and the taxes and fees could be very different. What makes Avios points unique is that you can exploit those differences by transferring your Avios to the program with the best pricing.

Related: How Many Points Do I Need to Get a Free Flight?

Maximizing the Chase Avios Card Offers

Since all three Avios cards are offering up to 100,000 points after meeting identical minimum spending requirements, the right choice comes down to the unique benefits of each card.

There's no rule that prevents you from holding more than one of these cards, so you can eventually acquire all three if you fall in love with Avios points. If you have the expenditure to reach each card’s spending requirement, you could accumulate a massive balance of Avios and combine them into a single account for a once in a lifetime redemption.

British Airways Visa Signature® Card

British Airways Visa Signature® Card
British Airways Visa Signature® Card
Annual Fee$95
Welcome Bonus Earn up to 100,000 bonus Avios. Earn 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening. Plus earn an additional 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $20,000 on your purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Earn 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Plus earn an additional 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $20,000 on your purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • 3 Avios per $1 spent on purchases with British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia, and LEVEL
  • 2 Avios per $1 spent on hotel accommodations, plus 1 Avios per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • 10% off British Airways flights starting in the US
  • 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.
  • Pay no foreign transaction fees when you travel abroad.
  • Simply tap to pay with your contactless British Airways Visa Signature Card. Just look for the contactless symbol at checkout. It's fast, easy and secure!
  • 3X Avios per $1 spent on purchases with British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia, and LEVEL
  • 2X Avios per $1 spent on hotel accommodations
  • 1X Avios for every $1 spent on all other purchases

British Airways Visa Card Feature Benefits

  • Earn up to $600 in statement credits each year (to cover taxes, fees, and fuel surcharges).
  • Earn a Travel Together Ticket after spending $30K each year – Pay only taxes and fees when you add a companion to a reward flight operated by British Airways.
  • Save 10% on British Airways flights from the U.S. to Europe (via London).
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees

Who Would Benefit From Holding The British Airways Visa Card?

Of the three co-brand Avios cards, the British Airways Visa Signature® Card will provide the most value for the majority of travelers.

Executive Club members can take advantage of high-value sweet spots courtesy of British Airways’ distance-based award chart, including round-trip flights from the West Coast to Hawaii on American Airlines for just 25,000 Avios.

British Airways also allows you to set up a Household Account, so you can pool Avios points with family members and reach your award travel goals faster. Just be aware that, with a Household Account, you’ll need to set up an account at Avios.com if you want to transfer points from B.A. Executive Club to Iberia Plus or AerClub.

Take Advantage of British Airways Visa Card Perks and Benefits

The best perk of holding the British Airways Visa Card is the Rewards Flight Statement Credit, which provides up to $600 in rebates each year to cover award fees and taxes. High out-of-pocket costs are a major drawback of British Airways redemptions, so this is a benefit that can easily justify the card's $95 annual fee.

Statement credits are limited to British Airways-operated flights departing from the U.S. and crossing the Atlantic, and the amount of the credit depends on the class of service (see this post for more details).

Cardmembers that regularly fly British Airways can also extract a lot of value from the 10% discount on British Airways flights from the U.S. to Europe, and the Travel Together Ticket earned after spending $30,000 in a calendar year can be very valuable if redeemed for a premium cabin flights.

Iberia Visa Signature® Card

Iberia Visa Signature® Card
Iberia Visa Signature® Card
Annual Fee$95
Welcome Bonus Earn up to 100,000 bonus Avios. 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 on your purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • 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 on your purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • 3 Avios per $1 spent on purchases with Iberia, British Airways, Aer Lingus, and LEVEL
  • 2 Avios per $1 spent on hotel accommodations, plus 1 Avios per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Save 10% on Iberia flights purchased on iberia.com/Chase10
  • Earn a discount voucher of $1,000 to use toward two tickets on the same flight for each year you make purchases of $30,000 on your card
  • Pay no foreign transaction fees when you travel abroad.
  • Simply tap to pay with your contactless Iberia Visa Signature Card. Just look for the contactless symbol at checkout. It's fast, easy and secure!
  • 3X Avios per $1 spent on purchases with Iberia, British Airways, Aer Lingus, and LEVEL
  • 2X Avios per $1 spent on hotel accommodations
  • 1X Avios for every $1 spent on all other purchases

Iberia Visa Feature Benefits

  • $1,000 discount voucher after spending $30K
  • Save 10% on Iberia flights from any destination
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees

Who Would Benefit From Holding The Iberia Visa?

The standout benefit of this card is the $1,000 voucher when you spend $30,000 on the card in a calendar year. That’s a 3.3% return on spending before you factor in any additional Avios earned on purchases—an excellent value if you have significant expenses that don’t fall under traditional bonus categories. If you're planning on earning the full 100,000-point sign-up bonus, you'll need to spend $20,000 in your first year of card membership. If you reach that goal, you'll already have two-thirds of the spending required to earn your $1,000 voucher.

Unlike the discount you get with the British Airways Visa Card, the 10% discount on Iberia flights offered with the Iberia Visa Signature® Card applies to flights from any destination Iberia serves. You’ll get 10% off for up to nine passengers traveling on the same reservation.

While the British Airways and Iberia award charts are very similar, Iberia has some unique sweet spots you won’t find in the other Avios programs (or any program for that matter). For example, Iberia Plus offers a business-class award from the U.S. to Madrid for just 34,000 points each way.

Aer Lingus Visa Signature® Card

Aer Lingus Visa Signature® Card
Aer Lingus Visa Signature® Card
Annual Fee$95
Welcome Bonus Earn up to 100,000 bonus Avios. 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 on your purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • 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 on your purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • 3 Avios per $1 spent on purchases with Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia, and LEVEL
  • 2 Avios per $1 spent on hotel accommodations when purchased directly with the hotel, plus 1 Avios per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Every calendar year you make purchases of $30,000 on your Aer Lingus Visa Signature Card, you'll receive a Commercial Companion Ticket good for 12 months
  • You and any authorized users on your account are eligible for Priority Boarding on Aer Lingus flights departing from and returning to the US from Ireland.
  • Pay no foreign transaction fees when you travel abroad.
  • Simply tap to pay with your contactless Aer Lingus Visa Signature Card. Just look for the contactless symbol at checkout. It's fast, easy and secure!
  • 3X Avios per $1 spent on purchases with Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia, and LEVEL
  • 2X Avios per $1 spent on hotel accommodations
  • 1X Avios for every $1 spent on all other purchases

Aer Lingus Visa Feature Benefits

  • Priority boarding (flights originating in U.S. & Ireland)
  • Economy companion ticket after spending $30K
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees

Who Would Benefit From Holding The Aer Lingus Visa?

The best use of Aer Lingus Avios is typically Aer Lingus flights as you pay lower award fees than British Airways. You can score off-peak economy awards from the U.S. East Coast to Ireland for as little as 13,000 points, or 16,250 from the rest of the U.S. The priority boarding is a nice touch if originating in the U.S. or Ireland. On the other hand, the economy companion ticket after spending $30,000 isn't nearly as attractive as the benefits offered with the Iberia and B.A. cards.

If you don’t qualify for the British Airways Visa Card (either because you currently hold the card or you received a bonus in the previous 24 months), both the Iberia Visa and Aer Lingus Visa offer a way to substantially boost your Avios balance.

Flexible Rewards Cards That Earn Avios

Apart from the signup bonus, the Avios co-brand cards aren’t the best way to maximize the points you’ll earn from everyday spending. All three Avios programs are a 1:1 transfer partner of both Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards.

If you pay for a British Airways flight with The Platinum Card® from American Express, you'll earn 5X Membership Rewards per dollar (compared with 3X Avios you'd earn by purchasing the same flight with the British Airways Visa Card). Since you can convert those Amex points into Avios, the Amex Platinum effectively earns more points on the flight than the airline's own co-brand card.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card earns only 2X Ultimate Rewards on travel, so you'd be better off swiping your British Airways Visa Card to buy a British Airways flight, but for all other travel purchases, the Sapphire Preferred is the better choice to maximize your Avios.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Annual Fee$95
Welcome Bonus Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Our #1 recommended beginners rewards card featuring an 80,000 point signup bonus after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That's 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
  • 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide
  • 1X point per dollar spent on all other purchases

For more a full rundown on building out a portfolio of flexible rewards cards, see these guides:

You can also transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to Avios at a 3:1 ratio, plus you’ll get 5,000 bonus miles for every 60,000 Marriott points you transfer. Transferring 60,000 Marriott points will convert to 25,000 Avios after the bonus is awarded.

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card
Annual Fee$95
Welcome Bonus For the first time, earn 5 Free Nights after spending $5,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn 5 Free Nights after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Our Best Free Night Offer Yet.
  • Earn 6X Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy™.
  • 2X Bonvoy points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • 1 Free Night Award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary.
  • Automatic Silver Elite Status each account anniversary year. Path to Gold Status when you spend $35,000 on purchases each account year.
  • 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • 6X Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels
  • 2X Bonvoy points for every $1 spent on all other purchases

Avios Card Application Restrictions

All three of the Avios cards are subject to the same application rules.

  • 5/24 – If you’ve opened five or more new credit cards in the previous 24 months, you won’t be approved for any Avios cards.
  • 24-month bonus restriction – If you currently hold one of these cards, or you’ve received a new cardmember bonus within the last 24 months, you won’t be approved for that card.

Can You Hold More Than One Avios Co-Brand Card?

One of the highlights of the Avios card family is that holding one of these cards doesn’t exclude you from obtaining either of the other two cards. For example, if you are a longterm cardholder of the British Airways Visa Card, you can still open an Iberia Visa or Aer Lingus Visa and earn the signup bonus!

Should I Get an Avios Co-Brand Card?

For most travelers, it makes sense to prioritize the Avios cards like this:

  1. British Airways Visa Card
  2. Iberia Visa
  3. Aer Lingus Visa

If you fly with British Airways at least once per year, the card's benefits should easily make up for its modest annual fee. In particular, the ability to earn up to $600 in statement credits with the British Airways Visa Card puts it firmly at the top of the lineup.

If you spend $950 per year on Iberia flights, the Iberia Visa‘s 10% discount will cover its annual fee.

The value proposition for the Aer Lingus Visa is a bit less clear. While the economy companion ticket you can earn after spending $30K is certainly valuable, there are lots of other rewards cards with benefits for high spenders.

That said, the huge 100K offers make all three of these cards compelling—especially since you can move points between the three programs in the Avios ecosystem.

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Comments

  • Avatar

    I am not a huge fan of this program so I’ll stick to earning flexible points. I dislike BAs high fees so much that I was used up the last of my Avios for hotels. It actually was a decent use of the points.

  • Avatar

    Lots of good information here! The worst thing about using BA Avios are the taxes and fees when going through London! If you can avoid London then the odds of usage are so much better. We’ve enjoyed using them for American Airlines flights down through the Caribbean.

  • Avatar
    fertornal says:

    How it will affect the take over of Air Europa by Iberia to the Avios program? Any clue ?

    • Avatar

      I haven’t come across any good information yet. Often loyalty program details are sorted out well after the merger goes through. My best guess is that Iberia Avios won’t be impacted at all in the short term. In the medium/long term, we’ll likely see Avios redemption and earning on Air Europa (maybe other Avios currencies too)

  • Avatar

    Hi – I like the idea of getting more Avios points. I already have a lot. I have had trouble finding the best way to utilize them though. Any suggestions?

  • Avatar

    I would like to fly on BA some day but I would focus more on my transferable points and maybe use another card to pay the taxes that I could use points to cover. Or just use some other airline to fly on them. I like that suggestion you give. Otherwise I would usually look maybe only intra Europe to fly them.

  • Avatar

    Iberia Visa? Oh, no, the Iberia avios is hard to use as that’s website will be have some errors. I will be not use Iberia Visa card to get that’s avios, the British Airways would be better than Iberia , there have one way can be connect Avios British Airways with Iberia ,but trust me you are not want to use that as many error and requirement for you.

    • Avatar

      I’m surprised to hear you had problems. Can you be more specific? I have the credit card and took advantage of their great bonus offer from a couple years to earn 90,000 more Avios, which allowed me to book a biz class ticket to North Africa and I had no issues with them or their website. I’m hoping to do the same when travel returns to normal.

  • Avatar

    The Avios just only good use at short distance, if the long distance will be bad. And another question is it’s need you pay many oil fee. The AA will not be pay that.

  • Avatar

    The bonus the credit card offers are very good but trying to get a “close-to-free trip” in Iberia is completely impossible, a lot of restrictions and very few discounts, I will try with B.A. to see if things are any better.

  • Avatar

    Why no mention of the Sapphire Reserve in this article??

    • Avatar

      Sapphire Reserve is a good option too. We picked CSP because the other card mentioned by name (Amex Plat) also has a high annual fee. You can find a lot more card options in the links to building a MR/UR credit card combo.

  • Avatar

    Good cards from Chase but their very restrictive policies defeat the purpose.

  • Avatar

    I’ve only used a BA card to earn avios… everything else seems hard to get at this time.

  • Avatar

    What is a better avenue to go down the Iberia or the Aer Lingus ? I’m considering one of those options and trying to decide. Pro vs. Cons.

  • Avatar

    100,000 points??! Heck yeah, that is a great bonus. Most i have ever gotten was 50,000. This is a eye catching deal. Will pass this on to my family and friends

  • Avatar

    Still don’t know how to combine my avios points from BA with my avios points from Aerlingus- don’t know if that’s possible but if anyone knows that would be helpful

  • Avatar

    I was recently turned down for the Aer Lingus card for the 2nd time, it said because I have insufficient balance in deposit and investment accounts with Chase (it said I had an 815 score on the day of application and I currently hold 2 Chase SW cards, BA card, Sapphire Reserve, IHG, Marriott. I’m willing to give up the Marriott bc I have other Marriott cards with Amex and wondering if I should try to find the reconsideration line phone number? It seemed like a strange reason to be turned down.

    • Avatar
      JT Genter says:

      That sure is a unique reason! I’d recommend calling the reconsideration line. In fact, I just did so myself to get my new Marriott Boundless application approved (I needed to shift some credit lines). So, they might have a workaround for you too.

    • Avatar

      You may have too many cards and/or the total line of credit may exceed a threshold of your income. Call and find out if you can do anything.

    • Avatar

      Another reason might be that the bank flags the person who opens the account just to get the bonus and closes the account when annual fees are about to come.