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

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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.

British Airways Premium Plus American Express

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.

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.

Want to earn more points from credit cards? – August 2021 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are our August 2021 recommendations based on the current sign-up bonus

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the other top current deals:

British Airways American Express card

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and a companion voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

BA Premium Plus American Express card BAPP

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and the most generous non-Amex for day to day spending Read our full review

Earning miles and points from small business cards

If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these offers.

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

Earn both Avios and BA On Business points with your business spending Read our full review

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company Read our full review

For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending:

Barclaycard Select Cashback Credit Card

1% cashback and no annual fee Read our full review

Comments (110)

  • ET says:

    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!

    • idrive says:

      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.

  • 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!

    • D says:

      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…

        • Genghis says:

          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?


  • 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.

    • idrive says:

      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.

  • 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.

    • Rob says:

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

      • DV says:

        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.

  • Joe says:

    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.

    • Rob says:

      Ring, you may get it as a goodwill gesture

      • Joe says:

        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?

    • nerd. says:

      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.

  • Go says:

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

  • Luca says:

    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.

    • Genghis says:

      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.

      • luke says:

        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.

        • Genghis says:

          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

          • luke says:

            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.

          • KK says:

            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?


          • Rob says:

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

          • Rum says:

            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.

          • Rob says:

            Rules are on the website in the small print

          • KK says:

            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.

  • LEE says:

    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

    • Rum says:

      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.

      • Genghis says:

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

        • darren says:

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

          • Genghis says:

            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

          • darren says:

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

          • Rob says:

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

        • Rum says:

          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…

    • Rob says:

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

    • darren says:

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

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