I have just finished writing a post on the British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher, which will run in a couple of weeks as part of the ‘Avios Redemption University’ series.
Whilst writing it, I came to a conclusion that (when you think about) should be obvious but which many, many people in the UK don’t realise. And that is:
In my mind, it is pointless having the basic, free BA Amex if you plan to earn a 2-4-1 voucher!
The BA American Express card has no fee, earns 1 mile per £1 spent and generates a 2-4-1 voucher each year when you spend £20,000. The voucher lasts for 1 year.
The BA Premium Plus American Express has a £150 annual fee, earns 1.5 miles per £1 spent (3x on BA flights) and generates a 2-4-1 voucher each year when you spend £10,000. The voucher lasts for 2 years.
So, why is the 2-4-1 voucher via the free BA Amex card such a bad idea?
Well, for a start, triggering the voucher means spending £20,000 on the free BA Amex. This leads to our first key point:
If you are spending £20,000 on the card, you’d earn 10,000 extra Avios by spending the same £20,000 on the Premium Plus card, because of the higher earnings rate of 1.5 Avios per £1 compared to 1 Avios! The Premium Plus also offers double miles when you book BA flights on the card. That alone is almost enough reason to pay the £150 fee.
However, even that is not the most effective solution.
Assuming you can manage £20,000 of American Express spend in a year, I STILL wouldn’t put it all on the BA Premium Plus card either! There are two better alternatives:
a) Get the Premium Plus card and just spend the necessary £10,000 on it. You can then use the additional annual spending to open more credit cards and meet the spending target required to trigger their bonuses.
b) If you have a partner, get them their own BA Premium Plus Amex and get yourself a supplementary card on that account. You could then spend £10,000 on each card (your own card, then the supplementary card on your partners account) and earn TWO 2-4-1 vouchers each year.
And there’s more ….
It is also worth remembering that the one-year expiry on the voucher on the free card is very inconvenient. I have just booked some flights to Dubai for next Christmas. It would have been virtually impossible to use the voucher from the free BA Amex for these flights, as I booked the full 355 days ahead (as you must, for Christmas flights) and the outbound flight must be taken within 1 year of the date the voucher is issued.
So, taking into account:
- The need to spend £20,000 instead of £10,000
- The 10,000 extra Avios ‘lost’ on £20,000 of spend on the free card
- The lost ability to use spend above £10,000 to meet sign-up bonuses on other Amex cards like the SPG Amex
- The inflexibility of just having one year to spend the 2-4-1 voucher
…. you really have to wonder if there is ANY point at all to earning a 2-4-1 voucher with the free BA Amex card!
I am NOT saying that the free BA Amex is useless! You get a decent sign-up bonus (during a promotion) and the Avios earnings rate per £1 is not beaten by any other free card. (Although note that the Amex Gold gives a higher bonus and earns 2 Avios per £1 on supermarket, travel, petrol and foreign spend for the first year, and is also fee-free in Year 1. The Lloyds Amex also offers 1 Avios per £1 but gives double miles on foreign spend.)
For someone who spends under £10,000 a year on their Amex, it is a sensible option. Anyone who spends £20,000 a year on it, though, needs to think again.