Frequent BA travelers, in particular, can find the British Airways American Express Premium Plus card to be a valuable addition to their wallet, owing to higher rewards rates on BA flight and holiday purchases. But do the welcome bonus and Companion Voucher make up for the high annual fee? Read our review to find out. If you don't like the annual fee, the sister card (BA Amex Credit Card) is free, but has less robust rewards. Which BA Amex card is better?
In this Review
British Airways American Express Premium Plus Card Review
The British Airways American Express Premium Plus card is a solid rewards credit card that is particularly suited to frequent BA flyers, enabling them to accumulate extra Avios points they can later redeem for mileage flights, upgrades, etc. When used to make purchases, the card offers rewards for BA flight and Holidays purchases (at a rate of 3 Avios per £1 spent) and other everyday spending (1.5 Avios per £1 spent).
These points translate into rewards rates around 3% on BA ticket and Holidays purchases and 1.5% on other everyday spending, plus there's a welcome bonus of 25,000 Avios that can be worth around £250 that is earned after spending £3,000 in the first three months on your card. The actual rewards rate you earn will depending on how you redeem your Avios, of course, so savvy cardholders can get the most out of their cards, for instance by redeeming on Business seats or upgrades.
As with the free card, much of this card's value comes from the Companion Voucher, which you can get by spending £10,000 a year. As long as your travel dates are flexible and you can plan ahead, you should be able to make use of this perk, which alone is easily worth hundreds of pounds.
Premium Plus card advantage: The Companion Vouchers earned on the paid card are longer dated, expiring in two years instead of the one year that you get on the free card. Consider how flexible you are in terms of travel dates and destination, as those who are flexible are more likely to use a companion voucher within the valid window. For those bound by school holidays and weekends, it may be difficult to find available Companion Voucher seats on flights you want, which can make the 2-year expiry more appealing.
Finally, while this card is good for purchasing flights, purchases made abroad will be subject to a 2.99% fx fee. For spending abroad you may want to consider one of the no-FX-fee travel credit cards on the market.
Bottom Line: If you can use the Companion Voucher and spend money booking BA flights and holidays each year, the £195 annual fee may be worth it. If not, consider the free BA Amex Credit Card.
Which BA Amex Card is Best?
Is the £195-a-year BA Amex card worth the annual fee? It depends on how much you'll spend on the card each year, plus you need to consider to longer expiry date on the companion voucher, the larger the welcome bonus and the higher rewards rates on the paid card. Here's a quick summary comparing the two BA Amex cards:
|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||£20,000||£10,000|
|Companion voucher expiry||12 months||24 months|
If we only consider everyday spending (e.g., on the weekly shop, petrol, clothing, restaurants, etc.), the "breakeven" on the two cards is around £40,000. At this amount of spending, the two cards both return estimated rewards of £400 a year after taking into account the £195 fee on the Premium Plus card. Spending under £40k a year would earn higher rewards with the free card, and spending over £40k a year would earn higher rewards on the paid Premium Plus card—this is the point where the higher rewards rates make up for the annual fee.
However, there's a lot more to these cards than just everyday spending rewards. The paid Premium Plus card earns the Companion Voucher sooner (at £10,000 of spend instead of £20,000 on the free card). Therefore, 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, may very well be better off with the paid version of the BA Amex.
|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%|
British Airways Amex Premium Plus Benefits & Features
|British Airways Amex Premium Plus Features|
|Welcome Bonus||25,000 Avios, when you spend £3,000 in first three months|
|Companion Voucher||earned by spending £10,000 per card year|
|Earning Avios Rewards|
|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 also earn 25,000 Avios points by spending £3,000 on their card in the first three months. We estimate this Welcome Bonus can be worth £250, assuming Avios is worth 1p per point.
The ongoing rewards rate on the British Airways American Express card is between 1.5% and 3%. We calculate this as follows: you are rewarded with 3 Avios per £1 spent on BA flight and Holidays. Assuming a value of £0.01 per Avios, this reward is worth £0.03, or 3% of your purchases. The same methodology results in a rewards rate of 1.5% for all other purchases (based on earning 1.5 Avios per £1 spent elsewhere).
Avios Value: What is the Best Use of Avios Points?
While we have assumed an average value of £0.01 per Avios for the calculations in this review, the actual value you achieve may vary depending on how you redeem your points.
After analyzing flight data on some popular routes out of the UK, we found the best use of Avios to be redemption on Business flights or upgrading from Premium Economy to Business:
|Avios Rewards Usage||Value per Avios|
|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 the Avios you’ve earned, 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|
Cardholders will be awarded one Companion Voucher in every year they make at least £10,000 in purchases; the voucher will normally be posted to your account within 10 to 15 days of reaching the required spend. A companion voucher is essentially a BOGO ("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 personal experience that it can be tricky to find availability for companion voucher seats, especially if you're restricted to certain dates or destinations. BA recommends booking your companion voucher flights as soon as you receive your companion voucher. While seats are available all year round, it tends to be much easier to find seats for the days and destinations during non-peak times, avoiding school holidays and weekends.
Keep in mind that Outbound travel must be completed before the expiry date of the voucher, which is 24 months from the date of issue on the Premium Plus card. Families with school-age children may find it difficult to book companion voucher seats before the vouchers expire.
British Airways American Express Premium Plus Credit Card vs Other Credit Cards on the Market
To better understand the value of the BA Amex Premium Plus card you need to see it relative to other available options. We compared this card to other cash back and airline rewards cards so you can decide which is better for you.
BA Amex Premium Plus Credit Card vs BA Amex Credit Card
The British Airways American Express card is a decent card for those trying to accumulate more Avios points, especially for those who spend less than £10k a year on general purchases, (or less on BA flights or Holidays).
Quick Takeaway: If you'll spend £10k on your card, you may extract more value from the Premium Plus card due to higher earning rates, a larger welcome bonus and a lower spend requirement (£10k) per year to earn the Companion Voucher. Individuals spending less than £10k can earn a solid rewards rate on the free card.
BA Amex Premium Plus Credit Card vs Platinum Cashback 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.