The British Airways American Express Credit Card is a good air rewards card for someone who collects Avios points and can use a Companion Voucher, but doesn’t want to pay a large annual fee. Its 3,000 Avios welcome bonus is decent for a free card. However, those spending more than £10,000 a year and frequent BA flyers may find more value in the £195/year BA Amex Premium Plus card, due to its larger welcome bonus, higher ongoing rewards rates and longer expiry on the Companion Voucher.
British Airways American Express Credit Card Review
The British Airways American Express card offers a generous 5,000 Avios welcome bonus for a free card, and an ongoing rewards rate of around 1% is certainly competitive. Those who spend more than £10,000 a year on their card (of regular, everyday spending) and especially those who fly BA frequently should consider the BA Amex Premium Plus card instead—although it charges a £195 annual fee, you’ll collect a much larger welcome bonus of 25,000 miles earn earn 1.5X on everyday spend and 3X on BA flight and holiday purchases. The different benefits translate into quite a higher rewards rate, depending on the spending category.
Points are earned on this card at a rate of 1 Avios per £1 spent. Avios can then be used to buy flights (on a number of airlines in addition to BA), car hire, Disneyland Paris, etc.
One of the biggest perks of the British Airways American Express card is the Companion Voucher, which is awarded for annual spend of £20,000. This voucher can be worth hundreds of pounds, but keep in mind that it can be hard to use—you must book early and seats are limited, making it harder to use during peak times like school holidays. Finally, while this card is good for purchasing flights, once abroad the card should stay in your wallet if you don't want to pay FX fees: purchases made abroad will be subject to a 2.99% foreign transaction fee.
Bottom Line: The British Airways American Express Credit Card is a good way to earn Avios for your general spending. Big spenders and those spending thousands of pounds a year on BA flights and Holidays will find more short-term and long-term value with the BA Amex Premium Plus card instead.
British Airways Amex Card Benefits & Features
|British Airways Amex Premium Plus Features|
|Welcome Bonus||5,000 Avios, when you spend £1,000 in first three months|
|Companion Voucher||earned by spending £20,000 per card year|
|Earning Avios Rewards||Earn 1 Avios per £1 spent|
|Enrollment in Global Assist and BA Executive Club|
|APR (variable)||22.9% on purchases|
Cardholders can earn 5,000 Avios points by spending £1,000 on their card in the first three months. We estimate that this Welcome Bonus is worth £50 based on an Avios value of £0.01/point. More value can be possibly be extracted through careful use of your Avios points.
The ongoing rewards rate on the British Airways American Express card is around 1%, depending on how you redeem your Avios. We calculate this as follows: you are rewarded with 1 Avios per £1 spent on your purchases. Assuming a value of £0.01 per Avios, this reward is worth £0.01, or 1% of your purchases.
What is the Value of Avios?
We have assumed an average value of £0.01 per Avios for the calculations in this review. The actual value you achieve will depend on how you redeem your Avios—the value of Avios is quite variable, depending on how you use them.
After analyzing flight data on some popular routes out of the UK, we found the best use of Avios is redeeming them for Business flights or upgrading from Premium Economy to Business, as you can see in the following table.
|Avios Rewards Usage||Value per Point|
|Premium Economy Seat||£0.005|
|Upgrade from Economy to Premium Economy||£0.007|
|Upgrade from Premium Economy to Business||£0.025|
To get an idea of where you can go with your Avios, the table below shows the Avios needed for some popular routes at off-peak times out of London.
|Avios for Roundtrip BA Flights||Economy||Premium Economy||Business||First|
Cardholders will be awarded one Companion Voucher in every year they make at least £20,000 in purchases; the voucher will normally be posted to your account within 10-15 days of reaching the required spend. A companion voucher is essentially a "buy one get one free" voucher on a single flight—receive a second seat on the same flight in the same class when you make a Reward booking for yourself using Avios. Depending on where you want to fly, and what class you travel in, the companion voucher is potentially worth several hundred or even thousands of pounds.
Be aware that you can only use a companion voucher on a BA flight with a BA number, not other OneWorld Alliance partners. Also, you are still responsible for paying the taxes, fees, and carrier charges on your own Reward flight and the "free" companion flight. Though these can tally hundreds of pounds, you’d pay them anyway so the voucher is still very valuable.
We know from experience that it can be tricky to find availability for companion voucher seats. BA recommends booking your flights as soon as possible once you receive your companion voucher. While seats are available all year round, it tends to be much easier to find seats for your desired days and destinations if you avoid school holidays and weekends. Those with school-age children may have more difficulty making use of this valuable feature. Outbound travel must be completed before the expiry date of the voucher.
Vouchers earned through the paid version, the Premium Plus card, expire 24 months from the date of issue.
OneWorld Partner Airlines
You may very well find more value by using Avios on other airlines that are also part of the Avios scheme. While the simpler method is to use Avios on other OneWorld Partner airlines, you may also redeem them through Avios on a few additional airlines that are not part of OneWorld. Finding the best airline on which to use your miles depends on where and when you want to fly.
OneWorld Partner Airlines
- American Airlines
- Cathay Pacific
- Rewards Rate
- Japan Airlines
- Malaysia Airlines
- Qatar Airlines
- Royal Jordanian
- S7 Airlines
- SriLankan Airlines
Additional Avios Airlines
- Aer Lingus
Note: when redeeming your companion voucher you have to redeem your Avios on BA, not a partner airline.
British Airways American Express Card Compared to Other Credit Cards
To better understand the value of the British Airways American Express Credit Card you should look at some other available options. We compared this card to other cash back and airline rewards cards so you can decide which is best for you.
British Airways American Express card vs British Airways American Express Premium Plus card
The £195 per year British Airways American Express Premium Plus card has the potential to create a lot of value, especially for frequent BA travellers. Earn 3X on British Airways spending and 1.5X on everyday spending, vs. the free BA Amex card. One significant benefit is that Companion Vouchers earned on the paid card are valid for two years (vs. one year on the free card). This benefit is hard to value, but it can make the difference between using and not using your companion voucher.
Quick Takeaway: If you want to earn Avios at a higher rate and you spend at least £10k a year (to trigger the Companion Voucher), you might earn more on the Premium Plus card. Individuals who spend less will probably find more value on the free card.
British Airways American Express card vs Platinum Cashback Credit Card by American Express
The Platinum Cashback Credit Card by American Express is one of our favourite cashback rewards cards for those seeking an easy and flexible rewards program. Cardholders earn an ongoing rewards rate between 1% and 1.25% on all purchases (with a higher initial cashback rate of 5%). The annual fee is relatively low and annual rewards are not capped.
Quick Takeaway: Frequent BA flyers who are savvy Avios users may well extract higher rewards from the British Airways Amex, especially by putting the Companion Voucher to good use. Individuals who would rather not actively manage a rewards program may value the simplicity of Amex's cashback rewards program, despite the lower rewards.
Virgin Atlantic Reward Card vs Flybe Credit Card
The Flybe Credit Card is another solid free air miles card, for those looking to earn free fares within Europe. Your Spend&Fly balance grows with your spending, and can be redeemed for vouchers for Bonus Return Flights. Higher spending translates into more flights (there is no limit each year), higher-tier ticket types and travel outside of the UK. Rewards rates have the potential to be anywhere from 0.5% up to 10% or more in some cases (depending on how you redeem vouchers), but Bonus Return Flights aren't available on all flights and are subject to availability.
Quick Takeaway: The Flybe Credit Card might create more value for you, if your focus is flights within Europe on Flybe routes.