The British Airways American Express Premium Plus card can be a valuable option for frequent BA travelers. Besides high rewards rates on BA flight and holiday purchases and a hefty welcome bonus, cardholders can earn a Companion Voucher every year in which they hold the card. Much of the value from this card and its sister card, the free BA Amex Credit Card, comes from the Companion Voucher.
If you can use the voucher, then deciding between the free and paid BA Amex cards will depend on your spending patterns. Those unlikely to use a Companion Voucher should consider earning cashback on the Platinum Cashback Credit Card, also by American Express.
British Airways American Express Premium Plus Card Review
The British Airways American Express Premium Plus card is an airline rewards card aimed at frequent BA flyers. Individuals spending £10,000 a year and with flexible travel dates may get to use the Companion Voucher—this alone is easily worth hundreds of pounds. Other features include rewards rates around 3% on BA ticket and Holidays purchases and 1.5% on other everyday spending (depending on how you redeem your Avios), plus a welcome bonus of 25,000 Avios that can be worth around £250 (reached after spending £3,000 in the first three months). More value can possibly be extracted through savvy use of Avios points, for instance on Business seats or upgrades.
One intangible feature of the Premium Plus card is that Companion Vouchers earned on it are longer dated, expiring in two years. Given that much of this card’s value comes from the Companion Voucher, it is important to decide if you’ll be able to use it or not. Cardholders with some flexibility in terms of travel destination and travel dates are more likely to use their companion voucher before it expires. For those bound by school holidays and weekends, it may be difficult to find an available Companion Voucher seat on the flight you want—in this case the voucher may well expire before you can use it.
The British Airways American Express Premium Plus card enables British Airways frequent flyers to accumulate Avios points. When used to make purchases, the card offers rewards for BA flight and Holidays purchases (3 Avios per £1 spent) and good rewards on other everyday spend (1.5 Avios per £1 spent). Finally, while this card is good for purchasing flights, purchases made abroad will be subject to a 2.99% foreign transaction fee.
Bottom Line: Decide how many Avios you will earn per year based on your spending patterns and whether or not you will use the Companion Voucher to decide if the card is worth the £195 annual fee.
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|
|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 – 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 to be redemption on Business flights or upgrading from Premium Economy to Business, as you can see in the following table.
|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 Required for BA Flights to/from…||Economy||Premium Economy||Business||First|
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 "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 the days and destinations you’re after 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, which is 24 months from the date of issue on the Premium Plus card.
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.
- American Airlines
- Cathay Pacific
- Rewards Rate
- Japan Airlines
- Malaysia Airlines
- Qatar Airlines
- Royal Jordanian
- S7 Airlines
- SriLankan Airlines
Additional Avios Airlines
- Aer Lingus
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.
British Airways American Express Premium Plus Credit Card vs British Airways American Express 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.
British Airways American Express 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.