Avios Redemption University – Lesson 6 – Using your BA Amex 2-4-1 voucher

The “Avios Redemption University” series is a good starting point for beginners, although I hope everyone will learn something from themClick here to see the other articles.

It is not an understatement to say that, used properly, the British Airways American Express 2-4-1 is the biggest perk of any loyalty credit card in the UK.

If you want mathematical proof of that, take a look at this post! The voucher from the Premium Plus card should get you at least £750 of value if used ‘properly’, which is 7.5% of the £10,000 you spent on the card to earn it.

BA Premium Plus - NEW

If you do not already have a British Airways American Express card (see the ‘Credit Cards Update‘ page for the latest offer), here are the key details. There are two different cards available:

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.

In my mind, it is pointless having the basic, free BA Amex if you plan to earn a 2-4-1 voucher.

Why? Well, for a start, triggering the voucher means spending £20,000 on the free BA Amex. And 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! That alone is almost enough reason to pay the £150 fee.

However, I wouldn’t do that. Instead, what I would do is get the Premium Plus card and just spend the necessary £10,000 on it. I would then use my additional annual spending to open more credit cards and meet the spending target required to trigger their bonuses.

Or, if I had a partner, I would get them their own BA Premium Plus Amex and get myself a supplementary card on that account. I could then spend £10,000 on each card (my own card, then the supplementary card on my partners account) and earn TWO 2-4-1 vouchers each year.

In reality, we go with the latter option. My wife has her own BA Amex and I am a supplementary cardholder on that account. Between the supplementary card and my own BA Amex I can get through £20,000 per year to trigger 2 x 2-4-1 vouchers.

It is also worth remembering that the one-year expiry on the voucher on the free card is very inconvenient, especially as you often need to book well ahead to get the seats you want.  If you triggered your 2-4-1 voucher today (November), the one year validity means that it  would not be possible to book seats for Christmas 2014 and it would probably be too late now to book something good for Christmas 2013.

How do the vouchers work?

It is a simple and transparent process. Every month, your card statements shows your spend to date (well, your spend total up to 6 days before the statement was printed).

Once you have hit the £10,000 or £20,000 target, you will receive an email from BA and the voucher will show prominently in your ba.com account when you log-in.

What small print should I know about?

The year-to-year dates for the spending target are based on the date you applied for your card. It does NOT run on calendar years.

Certain sorts of expenditure, eg cash withdrawals, do not count towards the £10,000 / £20,000. These are the same items which do not earn Avios for the transaction. The £150 card fee on the Premium Plus card also does not count towards the £10,000.

The voucher can be used for a one-way redemption, as long as it is from the UK.

You must pay taxes and charges on BOTH seats, even though you only pay the Avios needed for one seat.

If one person cannot travel, you cannot remove that person from the booking and get your voucher back. You would need to cancel the whole booking and rebook for yourself, which may not be possible if Avios seats are no longer available.

Standard BA cancellation terms apply (all Avios and taxes refunded if you cancel up to 24 hours before the flight, £25 per person fee unless BA Gold) and you get the voucher back in your account to re-use. The expiry date does not change

How do I redeem?

For standard return or one way (ex UK only) flights on BA, you can use the voucher online at ba.com.

As of recently, it is now possible to make mixed class bookings on ba.com. You no longer need to call and potentially end up paying the telephone booking fee.

Remember that you CANNOT redeem for codeshare flights or partner flights with your 2-4-1 voucher, even with a BA flight number.

(This is often an issue if trying to get to Cape Town via Johannesburg, as the Johannesburg to Cape Town connection is on Comair, a BA franchise. The planes look like BA planes and have BA flight numbers, but they cannot be used with the voucher.)

For open-jaw flights (flying to one airport and returning from another) you need to call BA. A valid open-jaw flight is one where the distance between your arriving and departing airport is shorter than either of the flights to or from London. London-Boston, New York-London, for example, is clearly OK because Boston-New York is shorter than either of the transatlantic flights.

You must use an Amex card to pay the taxes and charges on your 2-4-1 redemption booking. However, this can be ANY American Express card – it does not need to be your BA Amex.

If you are booking for a very busy destination, there is a ‘trick’ you can use to help ensure your seats. Using a 241, you would wait until the return seats open up at 355 days in advance as you cannot book each leg separately. However, by that time, the outbound seats may have gone. What you can do is book the outbound you want as soon as it comes up at 355 days out, and book a return flight for the same day! When the return flight you really want opens up, you simply change your return flight to that one. Unless you are BA Gold you will pay the £25 per ticket change fee, but it ensures that you don’t lose the outbound seats.

Who can I redeem for?

The main BA Amex cardholder must be one of the booked passengers.

There is one formal exception – where the member has 2 active vouchers. (A Premium Plus cardholder could have this, as they earn 1 voucher per year and they are valid for 2 years.) In this case, both vouchers can be used together to make a booking for a group of four.

If the person who earned the voucher is in a BA Household Account, then both travellers must be members of the Household Account or be on the ‘Friends and Family’ list attached to it.

Does cancelling my BA Amex cancel my voucher?

There is NO risk of losing your flights if you cancel your BA Amex after booking a flight with your voucher. However, if you later cancel the flight you may not get the voucher back.

You MIGHT lose your voucher if you cancel your BA Amex before you have used your 2-4-1 voucher. If you don’t want to pay another £150 for the Premium Plus card, then ask Amex to downgrade you to the free basic BA Amex instead. Your voucher will retain its 2 year validity.

Is the British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher for everyone?

NO.

It is easy to give the impression that the 2-4-1 is the greatest deal in the world. However, you still need to be able to generate a lot of Avios each year to take full advantage of it.

If you want to fly to the US once a year in Club World on your 2-4-1, you still need to be able to generate 100,000 Avios per year on top of being able to spend the £10,000 on the card.

Of course, the 2-4-1 vouchers are also valid on short-haul flights. However, you are obviously saving fewer Avios with your voucher that way – and the £150 fee on the Premium Plus card may seem poor value.

The 2-4-1 voucher also implies that you have someone to travel with.  If you are a solo traveller, it will not be any use at all.  You should look at the Lloyds Avios Rewards credit cards instead, which offer upgrade vouchers for Avios redemptions.

You should also remember that Amex cards are not accepted everywhere, so spending £10,000 is not always as easy as it seems – although I run regular articles on Head for Points on ways of generating Amex spend more quickly.

Need more information?

The official terms and conditions for using the voucher can be found via this page at ba.com.

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Comments

  1. I did my first redemption on Friday over the phone (open jaw to the west coast during school holidays). On the call the agent told me the fees were £25 per person (rather than per booking) to cancel and £40 to amend. Is the agent wrong?

    • Paul,

      That is what i paid too. Try to argue you could’t do it on the website but they countered it with we shouldn’t be doing open jaw on 2-4-1 (2 different agents same response)

      • They were correct to charge but rationale was incorrect. BA charge even when BA. Com does not have the functionality. Nice little earner and no incentive for them to improve the site. They will only waive if BA.com is not working or has a fault. Recently spent 1 hour on phone getting £100 of fees waived on a free (JAL) ticket I could not “pay” for on the site. Unless you are Gold it is very much harder to get fees waived.

    • Yep £25 per head to cancel or change and £15 per head to use off line service centre. Pretty shabby really.

  2. Can I just highlight that if you are making the booking for four, being on the same booking also means you have to be in the same class, so if there are only 2 seats in WTP and 2 in CW this won’t work (unless you manage to plead your case and quote the amex page from when you applied).

    • I’ve had this problem before. Very often 2 seats in each class open up – so one can get two in first and two in Club but not four in Club. And its very few routes where they open up 4 seats at a time – which means you have to be more flexible. It can be done – we were surprised when we were able to find 4 seats both ways to Singapore albeit this was 10-11 months out.

  3. Tracking spend can be a problem as the statement shows spend tons point 6 days prior to the statement date. I have previously been caught out by this and triggered the voucher months before I needed it.
    Only recently noted that if you click on the Avios earned number on the web site you are taken to a page which shows a full statement if Avios earned per transaction and the spend to date. This is much more accurate.
    With £100 to go cards now in a drawer and now using my wife’s. Aim to trigger both vouchers within a day or so to allow family booking.

  4. Paul,

    For a booking London New York and viceversa, how much do you pay for taxes? is this in economy or business?

    appreciate the response.

    Carlos

  5. Hi Raffles,
    It’s probably my fault for being so dense, but I don’t quite understand the sentence “In reality, we go with the latter option. My wife has her own BA Amex and I am a supplementary cardholder on that account. Between the supplementary card and my own BA Amex I can get through £20,000 per year to trigger 2 x 2-4-1 vouchers.” Can you really earn two companion vouchers per year on the one BA credit card account? This seems to contradict clause 4 of the BA credit card terms and conditions: http://www.britishairways.com/travel/amexcompaniontc/public/en_gb. Your enlightenment will be most appreciated!

    • I believe he has 2 BA Premium Amex, one in his name and one in wife’s, it’s one on each card not 2 on one card, of course it’s possible to have the other person as the supplementary card holder on each card, so a total of 4 cards, 2 accounts so 2x 2-4-1 is possible.

  6. I think you misused “not an understatement” there.

  7. I think the BA terms contradict this post a little:

    1) A supplementary card holder can’t use the 2/4/1 voucher
    2) You have two years to use the voucher if earnt on a Prem Plus card

  8. So I’ve hit £10k spend on my fee-free ba Amex card, is it possible to switch to the fee paying Amex and get the 2-4-1 voucher? My end date ends in mid December so need to switch quick if this is possible.

    Thanks

  9. Hi!

    Do you get the 2-4-1 voucher by the end of the year, or as soon as you’ve reached the £10.000 trigger? I signed up in October this year, but I can already see that I’ll reach that fee in a few months. Will I have to wait for October next year?

  10. We are looking for a new credit card and we are considering this card, we fly to Orlando or Tampa in August is it likely that avios flights will be available on these routes in August, we collected virgin miles for ages but miles or miles+money flights never became available for our dates.

    • Flights are available to Orlando or Tampa (probably easier than MCO). It is easier if you book your tickets at 355 days out. That being said, I found availability by chance for Tampa in the last two weeks of August 2014 just a couple of weeks ago.

      With Avios redemptions, it pays to be flexible e.g. I found all of August available in club to Washington DC. There was also some availability for August to Phoenix and Atlanta (a 2 hour flight from Orlando).