The British Airways American Express Credit Card is a good rewards credit card for someone who collects Avios points and can use a Companion Voucher, but doesn’t want to pay a large annual fee.
Its 5,000 Avios welcome bonus is decent for a free card, but big spenders and frequent BA flyers may find more value in the £250/year BA Amex Premium Plus card (despite the annual fee increasing from £195 to £250), due to its larger welcome bonus, higher ongoing rewards rates and longer expiry on the Companion Voucher. See our analysis of the two cards below.
British Airways American Express Credit Card Review
The British Airways American Express card has decent rewards for smaller spenders, with a 5,000 Avios welcome bonus—quite generous for a free card—and an ongoing rewards rate of around 1% on purchases.
Points are earned on this card at a rate of 1 Avios per £1 spent. Avios can then be used to buy flights, 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 £12,000 (this is down from £20,000, which was the minimum spend a few years ago). 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. For use abroad, you may want to consider a credit card designed for use abroad that doesn't charge FX fees.
Which BA Amex Card is Best?
When deciding which BA Amex card is better for you, consider your annual spending, the expiry on companion vouchers, the size of the welcome bonus and the annual fee on the Premium Plus card.
|Comparing BA Amex Cards||BA Amex||BA Amex Premium Plus|
|Avios on spending||1 Avios/£1 spent||1.5 Avios/£1 spent|
|Avios on BA spending||1 Avios/£1 spent||3 Avios/£1 spent|
|Welcome bonus||5,000 Avios||25,000 Avios|
|Spend to earn companion voucher||£12,000||£10,000|
|Companion voucher expiry||12 months||24 months|
If we only consider everyday spending for a moment, the "breakeven" on the two cards is around £50,000 of purchases—at this level, the two cards return estimated rewards of £500 a year after taking into account the £250 fee on the Premium Plus card. Those spending less than £50k a year would theoretically be better off with the free card (disregarding BA spending and the welcome bonus). If you don't plan to use the companion voucher or spend on BA flights, this would be the metric to use to decide between the two cards.
However, most people are attracted to the card for the companion voucher, which you earn sooner (at £10,000 of spend) on the Premium Plus card—although admittedly there's not much difference in when you earn the vouchers between the two cars (£10k vs £12k of spending), remember that the Premium Plus card gives you two years to use the voucher (vs one year with the free card).
Those who will reach £10,000 of spend to trigger the companion voucher on the paid card, especially if they also fly BA frequently and will earn Avios at the higher rate of 3 Avios/£1 of BA spend, should consider the BA Amex Premium Plus card. While that card charges a £250 annual fee, you’ll collect a much larger welcome bonus of 25,000 miles, earn 1.5X on everyday spend and 3X on BA flight and holiday purchases. And get a longer expiry on the companion voucher. The different benefits translate into quite a higher rewards rate for bigger spenders.
|Estimated rewards rates (for Avios = 1p/point)||Other Spending||British Airways Spending|
|BA Amex Card||1%||1%|
|BA Amex Premium Plus Card||1.5%||3%|
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 likely 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|
|Travel Insurance||Travel Accident Insurance up to £75,000 on public transport when you buy your ticket with your Amex card|
|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. How much is the welcome offer worth? It depends on how you redeem your points. Based on an Avios value of £0.01/point, we estimate that the Welcome Bonus is worth £50. Cardholders who are particularly savvy at managing their Avios might be able to get more value from the bonus.
We calculate that the ongoing rewards rate on a free British Airways American Express card is around 1%, but this depends on how you redeem your Avios. Assuming a value of £0.01 per Avios, earning 1 Avios per £1 spent on your purchases is equivalent to 1% on purchases.
What is the Value of Avios?
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 Using Miles||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 Return BA Flights||Economy||Premium Economy||Business|
Every year you charge at least £12,000 of purchases to your card, you'll earn a 2-for-1 Companion Voucher. A companion voucher is essentially a BOGO (buy-one-get-one-free) voucher on a single flight. That is, you can book 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 hundreds or even thousands of pounds.
How do you get the BA Amex companion voucher?
The BA Amex companion voucher should be posted to your account within 10-15 days of reaching the required card spend.
Costs of using BA Amex companion voucher
When using a companion voucher, you still pay the taxes, fees, and carrier charges on your own Reward flight and on the "free" companion flight. Though these taxes and fees can add up to hundreds of pounds, you’d pay them anyway—so the voucher is still very valuable. But it doesn't mean "free" travel.
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.
Be aware that you can only use a companion voucher on a British Airlines mainline flight with a BA number (e.g., BA1324), not other OneWorld Alliance partners. Outbound travel must be completed before the expiry date of the voucher—the vouchers are valid for 12 months.
Vouchers earned through the paid version, the Premium Plus card, expire 24 months from the date of issue, giving you an extra year to use the voucher.
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.
BA Amex vs. BA Amex Premium Plus
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 (especially for BA spending) and you spend at least £10k a year (to trigger the Companion Voucher), you might earn higher rewards on the Premium Plus card, but if you'll only use the card for everyday spending and you spend less than £50k a year on the card then the free card is likely to be a better deal.
BA Amex card vs Platinum Cashback Everyday Credit Card by Amex
The Platinum Cashback Everyday Credit Card by American Express is one of our favourite cashback rewards cards for those seeking an easy and flexible rewards program on a free card. Cardholders earn an ongoing rewards rate between 0.5% and 1% on all purchases (with a higher initial cashback rate of 5%). There's no annual fee 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 potential rewards.