Amex unveils £195 fee on the BA Premium Plus – plus increased sign-up bonuses

American Express unveiled its first response to the new 0.3% cap on retailer interchange fees yesterday.  It increased the annual fee on the British Airways Premium Plus card from £150 to £195.

To be fair, this increase was arguably overdue – the fee has remained steady for 13 years since the card as launched.  The other benefits, including the 1.5 Avios per £1 earning rate, double Avios on BA transactions and the 2-4-1 voucher for spending £10,000 are unchanged.

I said ‘first response’ because I don’t believe that this will be the end of the changes.  For a start, the logical impact of these changes is to push more people towards the free card.  However, I don’t believe that American Express can make any money on the free card when interchange fees are capped at 0.3% and it is giving out 1 Avios point per £1 spent.  Something will have to give.

It is possible, for now, that the contract between Amex and BA only allows changes to the annual fee and interest rates and not the other benefits.  It is unlikely that we will see any further changes for a while.

To sweeten the pill, American Express has increased the sign-up bonuses on the two British Airways American Express cards.

The Premium Plus version, now with the £195 annual fee, offers 25,000 Avios instead of 18,000 Avios. You must spend £3,000 within three months to receive the bonus.

The basic, free, card now offers 9,000 Avios instead of 3,000 Avios. You must spend £1,000 within three months to receive the bonus.

The representative APR on the Premium Plus card is 76.0% variable including the fee based on a £1200 credit limit. The representative APR on the free card is 22.9% variable.

BA Premium Plus Amex

My full review of the benefits of the Premium Plus card is here. Amex’s own home page is here.

My full review of the free card is here. This is actually the most improved deal jumping from 3,000 to 9,000 Avios. Amex’s own home page is here.

Both reviews reflect the new fee structure and bonuses and also include details of the higher ‘refer a friend’ bonus which is also available.

The higher bonuses will last until 15th June.

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.  By recommending credit cards on this site, I am – technically – acting as a credit broker.  Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as a credit broker.

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  1. Chris Cannon says:

    You say sweetened the pill with improved sign up bonus but I disagree. This is for new sign ups so it’s a pill they don’t have to take whereas existing card holders (loyalists) get stuck with the increase only. I’d have liked a communication from Amex with a renewal bonus or some other way of keeping us happy

  2. Do we know if existing cardholders have to pay £195 renewal fee?

    • I’m assuming so but I’d like to know the official stance on this as well since we have two Premium cards.

      • When they raised the fee for PRG I kept paying the old fee however, this is only 1 years worth so could change next year for me to the increased fee.

  3. JamesWag says:

    Well I was pretty much planning on ditching this card as I travel solo mostly now :-( so find the 2-4-1 less appealing.
    This just helps make my mind up.

    Still a bargain if you hit the spend & manage to get J or F somewhere rather long haul so I don’t think they’ll lose many customers over this, just ones who were thinking of moving on anyway.

    Got the Amex Plat a month ago so will put spend there instead. In fact off this morning to Marseille for a few nights, taking advantage of Le Club Accor Platinum status while we still can. First time in T3 First Galleries too. Nice eggs Benedict :-)

    • TrufflePiglet says:

      Wouldn’t it be better to keep the BAPP since it gives you 1.5 Avios per £ spend as opposed to 1 Avios per £1 for the Platinum Amex?

      • Not necessarily… If the 2-4-1 isn’t valuable then you would need to get £195 worth of additional Avios from BAPP spend than from the Plat to be worth keeping. That’s quite a lot of £ you’d need to put through the card!

  4. The owners of our local supermarket are very happy with the cap on card fees which will increase their profits – as expected, prices of their products have not gone down. Do you think the cap on card fees will be removed if Britain leaves the EU?

  5. Richard says:

    I am sure this is right, but you can’t hold both free and premium cards at the same time right? I am thinking of ditching my free card to get the premium, but i think i have to wait 6 months to ensure i get the bonus!? The free card sign up bonus looks fantastic, but i think the real value is still in the premium.,

    • I echo your entire comment. I got the free card a few months ago and sort of regret it after chatting to another guy (in the A380 bar!) who made me realise the premium card is the only one of the two worthwhile.
      I read a comment yesterday, someone said they churn every couple of months and never seem to be hit by the 6 month rule

  6. John Tickner says:

    The timing of the bonus works for me (for once!)
    Is it OK to time a new application to 6months and 1 day from when the previous account was cancelled ?

    • I think so. I recently sent Amex an onlone message asking when I could first apply for a platinum Amex following cancelling my gold and still getting the bonus. Customer services were happy to inform me of the earliest date I could apply.

  7. mr bridge says:


    log into to your ba amex card
    click on the card benefits tab
    click the second tab down ‘AVIOS’
    Once this slides to the left, ant the bottom of the text click on ‘show terms and conditions’
    then you will see:
    Examples shown are based on redeeming Avios through the British Airways Executive Club programme for return flights departing from and returning to London.
    With the British Airways American Express Premium Plus Card you will earn 1.25 Avios for virtually every £1 you spend and 2.5 Avios for virtually every full £1 you spend direct with British Airways on BA flights and holidays.

    • I have the Amex news release, nothing else changes.

      • Nothing else changes………yet

        Mine also says:-
        Examples shown are based on redeeming Avios through the British Airways Executive Club programme for return flights departing from and returning to London.

        With the British Airways American Express Premium Plus Card you will earn 1.25 Avios for virtually every £1 you spend and 2.5 Avios for virtually every full £1 you spend direct with British Airways on BA flights and holidays.

    • Genghis says:

      Agreed. The headline still says 1.5 (3 for BA) but the Ts and Cs say 1.25 (2.5 for BA). If so, this card is definitely a churner considering at the moment I can still get 2 on the legacy BMI card

      • The t&c’s on the application page I’ve just looked at refer to 1.5 avios per £? Which t&c’s are you looking at?

        • I followed Mr Bridge’s instructions. Log into your Amex account and go to BAPP account, click on the ‘card benefits’ tab and the second row down called ‘AVIOS’.

          The title says “1.5 Avios for virtually every full £1 you spend, and 3 Avios for virtually every £1 you spend direct with British Airways or BA Holidays.”

          However, if you click into the ‘AVIOS’ selection and click on “Show Terms and Conditions”, it says “Examples shown are based on redeeming Avios through the British Airways Executive Club programme for return flights departing from and returning to London. With the British Airways American Express Premium Plus Card you will earn 1.25 Avios for virtually every £1 you spend and 2.5 Avios for virtually every full £1 you spend direct with British Airways on BA flights and holiday”

          Perhaps more changes are due…

          • I was able to find this too. It does look worrying, but as it’s nowhere else, maybe it’s just a typo?
            Either way, I’m definitely holding on to my BAPP and not downgrading, “just in case”…

  8. Hi, I have 2 club seats return booked via avios London to Vegas return, I’ve just received the voucher. Can I call BA and apply that voucher to my upcoming booking?

    • Unfortunately not

    • Genghis says:

      If there’s still availability you might be able to book again using 241 then cancel current booking (for a fee).

    • They’ll probably guide you through it. I think officially you book 1 avios seat for yourself then ring the call centre to add the companion 241 seat. So they might cancel your 2nd seat – you might pay cancellation fee? if they’re picky – then re-book the same seat using 241.

      Others can tell you how helpful the call centre staff are in your circs. All I can say is that if you put on the pleasant charm & hit the right call girl, you can get a lot gratis, I’ve had free name changes and reduced price cancellation fees in the past just by asking nicely

  9. Hi all, OT but Amex related-ish. Bought an ex EU via Amex Travel NL 10 days ago which is yet to post on my Gold charge card account. Any experience on how long it takes (specifically with Amex travel NL) for this to appear? Reason is because I’m itching to take up the Plat upgrade offer but am told by Amex that the number will change and don’t want transaction to bounce. Thanks in advance!

    • The transaction has been approved and went through. All fine.
      If you upgrade, they will send a PLAT within 5-7 days. Then up to you when you activate it. and by the way, Amex will be liable for the transaction in anycase, so it will be finalized.
      Ie, I requested a duplicate of my BA PREM (new 4 ending numbers) and activated it 2 weeks after reception.

  10. Noggins says:

    Hi – unless I have missed it along the way what I have yet to see is comment on whether multiple new merchants will sign up with Amex due to the new level playing field giving us many more earning opportunities. If that happened it would mitigate the membership fee increase – at least until the earning rate is cut!

    • The lower fees will hopefully lead to more small business’ accepting Amex, but talking to a hotelier friend of mine, the chief reason he stopped accepting Amex was the length of time it took for them to pay him.

      • doog1000 says:

        Slightly OT but it seems the fees card processing companies seem to charge small businesses has not gone down since the EU cap came into force – for example paymentsense charges 1.99% for credit cards which is the same as it charged a year ago!
        Does anyone have any payment providers closer to this supposed 0.4% credit card cap? Seems like the payment providers are completely grabbing the benefit from this change…

        • Doesn’t the cap only apply to those on interchange plus plus (i.e. larger retailers), leaving smaller companies to continue paying higher cc fees?

        • axel heyst says:

          dog1000, I’ve got my month’s statement in from Worldpay. I was looking at it to try and work out how much I’m being charged for the Curve Mastercard Card.

          It’s not clear how mucxh the Curve card is costing me as a merchant,, but to answer your question Worldpay have put their merchant prices UP to 1.17% plus monthly terminal hire.

          Obviously I’m thinking of moving to someone cheaper but the problem is WorldPay offer merchant lots of benefits e.g 4% off shopping, free mobile phone insurance etc

          • doog1000 says:

            thanks Alex – will check worldpay out

          • Camille says:

            Axel Heyst, i have a merchant account with Worldly…..but had no idea they offered 4% off shopping, free mobile insurance, etc. Please can you direct me to where I might find these benefits?


  11. Jason K says:

    A small change i would recommend is making the 241 voucher valid for 2 years from the cards anniversary date. That way people wouldn’t be too bothered about when it was earned during the year.

    Im currently sitting at £9.9k spend (less than 6 months in), and I’m loathed to earn the voucher now as i have no use for it just yet. So I am redirecting my spend on to different cards. When i would rather the earning rate from the BAPP.

    • that’s my strategy too..but as I am going to waste my first 241…once I will finish with the current (the third) I will not renew the card.

  12. SteveQB says:

    Small correction to the article – the fee hasn’t been the same for 13 years. I had one maybe 6 or 7 years ago approximately, and was paying either £60 or £100 pa. It may be that I was paying £60 and got rid when it went to £100, and it subsequently went to £150, but I can’t remember. Maybe someone else has a better memory.

    • The Amex press release said 13 years and I am tempted to agree, having had one since day 1

      • I’m pretty sure it was £120 before it went to £150. And there was an upgrade from WT to WT+ in those days IIRC.

  13. I applied and was accepted for the free BA Amex two days ago with a referral. Will i be entitled to the higher 9k sign up bonus retroactively?
    I haven’t received the card yet.

    • Ring, you may get it as a goodwill gesture

      • Thanks Raffles. I just did- they cannot offer the extra avios retroactively, but they suggested to cancel it while on the cool off period, and re-apply to get the 9k.

        Do you know whether i will get extra avios if i re-apply via a refferral?

    • Don’t think so. I applied for the premium one a few days before I read this but didn’t an instant decision… I arrived home last night to the card and welcome pack confirming the ‘old’ annual fee of £150.

  14. Can you apply for the free card, earn the bonus, then upgrade to the full card and earn a further bonus? Unlikely I suspect

  15. My memory is foggy when it comes to upgrading the card. I have a basic card but would consider moving back to a premium plus card. Do the promotional additional avios apply? Or should I cancel the card then reapply at a later date?

    I have been channeling my spend through The Gold rewards charge card which, when abroad, also generates 1.5 avios per pound spent on foreign currency. Good for corporate use.

    • You can only get the bonus if you’ve not had an avios earning credit card for the last 6 months (i.e. no). If you want another bonus, cancel your BA blue card, wait 6 months and then reapply.

      • not from my experience..i churn it every couple of months once ive hit the 10 grand, and have always had the welcome bonus…think its loosely enforced.

        • That’s very interesting. Although I still think I’ll continue to wait 6 months between cancelling and a new application in case it is enforced

          • fair enough..

            an average year sees me earn approx. 4 companion vouchers, on 40 grand spend..

            although people seem to of the view that you can earn only one per year, you can actually earn as many as you want, for each 10 grand of spend you can earn another by opening/closing.

          • Just called Amex to cancel my SPG card (After hitting the £3K spend and earning 20K SPG points). Asked the customer service rep about the new BAPP card and whether i will be eligible for the 25K bonus .
            To my horror, been advised have to wait 6 months before applying and qualifying for any Amex credit card bonus? I hold an active Gold charge card.

            Any thoughts/ feedback? Surely she has got her wires crossed or thats the norm?


            • Rubbish, rule is clearly stated on BA page on Amex website.

            • Hmmm…. sounds very fishy. Call the new applications number for the BA card and ask them the same question. Interested to see what they’ll say.

            • Rules are on the website in the small print

            • Ok called the Amex New Card applications and asked the same question, to my amazement same story, not eligible for bonus for 6 months if had ANY Amex credit card.
              On pushing him further and clarifying it was a different rewards programme ( SPG and AVIOS), he put me on hold to TRIPLE check with his supervisor!

              After on hold for a good while, THANKFULLY CONFIRMED, will be Eligible for BAPP Bonus!
              Phew !! Close call…Thanks!

            • jackandjill says:

              goodness me you have just scared the bejesus out of me….that would have been my hobby over more or less

            • Genghis says:

              I know. I was concerned reading these comments. Normally Amex staff are pretty hot on their product knowledge but I guess you had a couple of staff there who got their wires crossed.

  16. I just spoke with Amex , Card holders who have a card or applied for there card before the PRICE change day will pay £150 every year of there card and this will not increase For these customers

    • Hmmm, so maybe the thing to do is hold the BA PP for now and instead churn Gold / Platinum throughout the year if the fee is an issue for you? Otherwise, churn that too for the ocassional higher bonus of the BA card.

      • I’ll continue to churn BAPP once 241 spend requirements are met.

        • So you’ve had success on a 241 travel using and different card to pay for taxes etc?

          • Yes. For my last 241 (on my own account), I used my supp on wife’s new BAPP to pay the taxes (to earn 3 avios / £ and go towards her sign up bonus requirements). Other amex cards work too by other reports.

            • jackandjill says:

              yeap u can use any amex, even the Lloyds…don’t listen to the speel you get from amex when closing the account

            • Ok, I have a supp card which I could use, may have to churn this before the anniversary

          • It is the usual payment page with all the boxes except Amex greyed out – so any Amex goes through.

        • Got mine a week ago. Had this BAPP since late Sept 2015. Could technically cancel now, but going to keep it until we know for sure what is happening. Long story short, I don’t care that much about a £45 increase, just concerned some other rules may change later for new customers only…

    • This would surprise me if true to be honest, but lets see if we get any letters.

    • Really, my anniversary is coming up at the end of the month and it would be good if it stays at the old rate.

  17. Gareth Morgan says:

    Can I get these, and the points, via Centurion?

  18. I’d say it’s decent even just for the sign up bonus. For you, you’ll get the net 22k avios most likely for even less than the net cost of £147.75 (cancel as soon as you’ve hit £3k spend and avios have transferred to BAEC account for a prorata refund).

    • dewsburyborn says:

      Yes, I did that cancellation thing once before on the BAPP. tbh, I felt a bit bad doing it. I wonder if they ‘black mark’ you for future applications ?

  19. I’ve been meaning to get around to cancelling mine for ages.

    I’m in Manchester, so having to factor in LHR positioning/repositioning flights when trying to schedule a weekend break (without abusing grandma’s goodwill having the kids for a few days…). Add in the impact of the taxes and charges (I’m currently in ‘a period of fiscal recovery’….), and the likelihood of actually using a 2-for-1 have been pretty remote.

    I’ve not put anything on the BA Amex in quite a while – apart from the annual fee, which hit at the start of the year.

    However, in light of the ‘fluidity’ of the credit card market, I was wondering if it might be sensible to retain it and cross my fingers that I’ll actually have a few quid to spend on travel in the not-too-distant future. This would be reliant on current card holders retaining current benefits (earning rate, annual fee and 2-for-1) which might evaporate for new sign-ups.

    What’s the expert opinion of this scenario – i.e. a) devaluation of benefits on the BA Amex over the coming months and b) protection of current benefits for existing card holders?

  20. Totally off topic but I need to vent somewhere and any advice would be appreciated.

    I flew to Geneva on Sunday morning (Avios) , for some reason, one of my suitcases was put on the next flight resulting in a wasted 2 hours hanging around the airport and wasting precious skiing time. I asked ba for compensation and was basically told not a chance. Has anyone experienced something similar?

    • Johnnycl says:

      I’ve had compensation for bags being delayed by 2-3 days (not BA), but wouldn’t expect more than an apology for two hours.

    • Genghis says:

      Put in a complaint on their online system ( so everything is in writing and you have your facts straight. You might have to wait a while and chase a bit but someone will be in touch, argue your case (no pun intended…) and you might get some free avios.

      • I encountered the same sort of delay and received 10k miles as a goodwill gesture out of it.

    • Hi I waited 75minutes for my snowboard to be delivered in the departure hall at GVA so missed my resort transfer (last of the evening), had to cough for an overnight hotel stay in Geneva, dinner and missed most of a day’s skiing. No joy from BA customer relations or CEO office.

      I’m sorry to hear it took over an hour for your snowboard to be delivered to the baggage carousel when you travelled to Geneva on 05 March. I appreciate how frustrating this was for you, especially as you missed your shuttle bus to the resort.
      Sometimes it can take longer than we’d like for baggage to be delivered to the carousel, especially during busy periods. As snowboards are often stored in an alternative part of the hold to regular baggage, they can take longer to be taken off the aircraft. I apologise for the inconvenience you’ve been caused.
      Whilst I understand and appreciate your reasons for asking, we’re unable to offer compensation for the problems faced. We need to be fair and consistent with all our customers. This means we can’t make an exception this time and I’m so sorry to let you down. If you had travel insurance, they may be able to help.
      Thanks again for letting us know what happened. As a Bronze member of our Executive Club, we really appreciate your support and if there is anything else we can help with, please don’t hesitate to contact me using the blue link below.
      Best regards
      Jane Burrage

    • That’s really annoying, Ben. Did they tell you at the time it was on a later flight? If so I’d have just left and given them details to courier it on to you. Definitely worth pushing them for some Avios.

  21. Johnnycl says:

    Slightly OT, it looks like Virgin have brought back their 10,000 (White) and 25,000 (Black) bonus points for opening up an account until 31st May.

  22. Presumably no change for those of us still grandfathered via the old plat charge rules of free BA PP card?

  23. Simon Schus says:

    Hi all :)

    Just got an mail from Curve with the dispatch date of my card. My card is being dispatched on the 10th May. That seems rather disappointing given that they promised they’d be sent out in the last week of March over four weeks.

    Anyway, here is the email:

    “Your Curve batch details

    Dear SimonSchus,

    We’re really pleased to be able to confirm your Curve batch details.

    Your Curve card is being processed, packaged and is scheduled to be dispatched from the 10th of May, sent first class.

    You should have received an email from us asking you to confirm your order details. If not, you will receive one very shortly. We’ll also email again when your card is dispatched and to confirm that we’ve taken payment.

    Thanks so much for your patience whilst you’ve been waiting for your Curve.

    Despite us working around the clock to fulfil demand we haven’t been able to get all the cards out as quickly as we would have liked. We’ve built something that’s never been built before and some parts took longer than expected

    We’re really sorry for any delay or frustration caused to you – please know how excited we are to finally put Curve in your hands.

    Any questions, please get in touch at


    Curve Community Champion”

  24. I haven’t had anything Curve, which sounds like a software development problem (see First Law of Programming – No Program is Ever Finished).

    But I do now have my Best Western Diamond after a Status Match from Accor Platinum.

  25. Chewbacca says:

    Can anyone confirm whether 241 vouchers are supposed to lapse if you cancel the BA cards? I’m pretty sure I cancelled a card before and the voucher remained displayed in BA Exec account. I think one expired and one is still there. Is it supposed to remain valid or lapse or is this a technical glitch, would it actually work if I tried to renew (nothing planned just now) just wondering on the actual position.

    • It doesn’t lapse.

      You are not 100% certain to get the voucher back if you later cancel a redemption and Amex need to reissue it.

    • I cancelled my BA card in Jan and my 241 voucher is still on BAEC. But my mate tang to cancel his and was told he would definitely loose his 241 voucher by 2 members of staff.

  26. So, does anyone know if you can churn the virgin cards?

  27. Tom Foxton says:

    American Express cards aren’t directly affected by the interchange cap, it’s only Visa and MasterCard cards that are caught by the regulations. Thus Amex can, and still do, charge merchants a rate above 0.3%…

  28. Hi, when it states the sign up bonus deal lasts until 15th June, does that mean that you must sign up for the card before June 15th to receive the bonus, or do you need to have spent £1000 on the card by June 15th to receive the point bonus?

  29. Forgive me if this has been asked and answered – my 241 voucher shows valid for 2 years on my BAEC account, I’d rather not pay the £150 (or maybe £195) renewal fee for the BAAE card (I have Amex Gold CC too) but I think the T&Cs say I need to pay for the 241 tickets using it – can I revert to the free card and use that to pay for the 241 travel? Thoughts? Many thanks!