This is my review of the British Airways American Express Premium Plus credit card.
It is part of my series of articles looking at the major UK loyalty credit cards and discussing whether or not they are worth applying for. These articles will be linked to the relevant sections of the ‘Credit Cards Update‘ page. My other UK airline and hotel credit card reviews can be found here.
(EDIT: This review was updated in May 2015 and all the information is correct as of that date. The refer-a-friend bonus is also still available.)
Key facts: £150 annual fee, £20000 household income requirement
The representative APR is 56.4% variable, including the fee, based on a notional £1,200 credit limit. The interest rate on purchases is 19.9% variable.
About the card
The British Airways American Express Premium Plus card is issued directly by American Express. This analysis is focussed on the paid version of the card – I wrote about the free BA Amex card in a separate article.
The general American Express rule is that you can hold two charge cards and two credit cards at the same time. Platinum and Gold are the two widely-held charge card, whilst the credit cards include the Starwood SPG, Nectar, Costco and Harrods Amex cards.
Any American Express you may have which are issued by Lloyds, TSB, Barclays or MBNA will not directly impact on whether you are accepted for this card.
What is the sign-up bonus?
25,000 Avios when you spend £3,000 within three months.
A larger bonus of 26,000 Avios is available if you are referred by an existing cardholder. Please e-mail me at raffles [at] headforpoints.co.uk if you would like a referral link emailing to you.
This is a special offer which runs until June 17th. The standard offer is 18,000 Avios points or 19,000 if referred.
Any other benefits?
When you spend £10,000, you receive a voucher entitling you to book two Avios redemption flights for the miles of one. This voucher is valid for two years.
This voucher is the most valuable perk available in the UK airline and hotel credit card sector in my view. I attempted to calculate the value of the British Airways American Express companion voucher in this post.
What is the annual fee?
The BA American Express Premium Plus card has an annual fee of £150.
You will receive a pro-rata refund of your annual fee if you cancel. American Express is the only UK card issuer to offer this.
What do I earn per £1 spent on the card?
You receive 1.5 Avios per £1 spent on the card. You receive double Avios (3 per £1) when booking flights or holidays directly with British Airways.
What is an Avios point worth?
How long is a piece of string!
How does this compare to a cashback credit card?
The best cashback card on the market which offers a) a MasterCard or Visa, b) no annual fee and c) unlimited cashback is the Asda card, which pays 0.5%. The best ‘pseudo cashback’ card is the House of Fraser MasterCard, which offers 1% of your spend in House of Fraser gift vouchers.
On this basis, the British Airways American Express Premium Plus card performs very well, even if you have a conservative valuation of your Avios.
Other points to note
You will not receive a sign-up bonus if you have previously held a BA Amex (free or paid) in the previous six months. You will not have a problem if you have any other American Express card, including Amex Gold.
For clarity, you WILL receive the sign-up bonus if you currently hold, or have held, the Lloyds Avios Rewards cards – this is not a problem.
If you have the card, you can downgrade to the free version at any time. You may want to do this if you have triggered your 2-4-1 voucher but not yet redeemed it, and do not want to continue paying the annual fee.
There is a £20,000 household income requirement.
How else can you earn Avios points from a credit card?
The obvious options are the two Lloyds Bank-issued Avios cards and the two TSB-issued cards.
Don’t forget these less-obvious options though:
The American Express Preferred Rewards Gold charge card offers 20,000 Membership Rewards points for signing up and is free for the first year. These convert to 20,000 Avios points.
The American Express Platinum charge card offers 30,000 Membership Rewards points for signing up. These convert to 30,000 Avios points. It has a £450 fee, refunded pro-rata if you cancel.
The Starwood Preferred Guest American Express credit card offers 10,000 Starwood Preferred Guest points for signing up. These convert to 10,000 Avios points. It has a £75 fee, refunded pro-rata if you cancel.
The sign-up bonus of 25,000 Avios (26,000 if I refer you) during the current promotion is as high as I have seen it on this card. The only card offering a large sign-up – in terms of quantity of points – is the American Express Platinum charge card with 30,000 Membership Rewards points.
In terms of on-going earning, 1.5 Avios points and the 2-4-1 voucher when you spend £10,000 make the most valuable package on the market for your long-term spending as long as you are confident of hitting the £10,000 target. If you won’t spend £10,000 on the card each year then the value of the Avios earned will not cover the annual fee.
(Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points and do not consider interest rates, service levels or any impact on your credit history.)