Which is better – the Lloyds Avios Rewards upgrade voucher or the BAPP Amex 241?

The received wisdom, prior to the 2015 Avios devaluation, was that the British Airways Premium Plus American Express 2-4-1 voucher was the best thing since sliced bread whilst the Lloyds Avios Rewards credit card upgrade voucher left something to be desired.

The 2015 changes to Avios reward pricing meant that the relative value of the two vouchers changed.  It often takes time for long-held opinions to change, even when the underlying facts are now different.  Is the Lloyds Avios Rewards card still second fiddle to the BAPP Amex 241?

BA Amex - NEW

In support of the British Airways Premium Plus American Express 2-4-1 voucher ….

Let’s summarise the deal with the BA Amex card. When you spend £10,000 on the Premium Plus BA American Express card, you get a 2-4-1 voucher valid for TWO years on an Avios redemption in ANY class.

The ‘catches’ are that:

you can only use it on a BA flight starting in the UK

you cannot use it on a one-way TO the UK (one-way FROM the UK is fine) and

you pay full taxes on both tickets

The voucher on the free BA card is less attractive.  This article (click) explains why you should NOT try to earn a 2-4-1 voucher on the free British Airways Amex card.

Here is a good point we forget – if you cancel your redemption, you get your voucher back; the voucher is valid for 2 years from the date of issue (you must fly the outbound leg by this date)

Here are some bad points we forget – you need be travelling with someone else to use it; the £10,000 of spend can only be accumulated via American Express which excludes many small retailers and online payment providers for council tax etc

What happened with the 2015 Avios devaluation?

In some ways, the 241 voucher became MORE valuable. As Club World to New York jumped from 80,000 Avios to 120,000 (peak) or 100,000 Avios (off-peak), the voucher is saving you more Avios!

In other ways, the voucher is LESS valuable.  If you can no longer earn enough Avios each year to use it in Club World or First, you may use it for a less attractive redemption (say, World Traveller Plus or Club Europe) where the value you are getting per Avios point is lower.

In general, the BA Amex has NOT got less valuable.  It is simply that the Lloyds card has got more valuable.

Lloyds Avios Rewards credit card

In support of the Lloyds Avios Rewards upgrade vouchers ….

Following the scrapping of the Premier card earlier this year, there is now only one version of the Lloyds Avios Rewards card.

It comes with a £24 annual fee and offers you a voucher to upgrade a return reward flight – or two one-way flights – by one class when you spend £7,000.

Let’s be clear about one thing.  It is NOT an ‘upgrade’ voucher, despite the name.  It is a voucher which lets you book a redemption flight for the miles of a cheaper class.  You do NOT need Avios availability in the cheaper class, just in the class you want to fly.

For example, if you want to fly Club World, you do NOT need to find reward space in World Traveller Plus to ‘upgrade’.  You only need reward space in Club World, for which you are charged the World Traveller Plus price.

Here are some good points we forget – spending on BOTH the Amex and the MasterCard cards count towards the vouchers; the Lloyds card have no foreign exchange fees so you can boost your spend on holiday with no worries about being overcharged; the upgrade voucher is great for solo travellers; you only need to spend £7,000 to trigger it

Here are some bad points we forget – the upgrade voucher is LOST if you cancel your reward flight (although you can make date changes); the MasterCard has a very poor earning rate on spend (0.25 Avios per £1); you CANNOT use the upgrade voucher to fly in First Class; the voucher is only valid for ONE year from the date of issue (you must book by this date but can fly later)

What happened with the 2015 Avios devaluation?

With the 2015 changes, the multiplier between flight classes changed:

World Traveller Plus was 1.5x economy, it became 2x economy 

Club World was 2x, it is now 3x

First Class was 3x, it now 4x 

The Lloyds upgrade voucher would previously have saved you 20,000 Avios if travelling to New York in Club World, whilst the BA Amex 241 would have saved you 80,000 Avios.  Remember that Club World was 80,000 Avios and World Traveller Plus was 60,000 Avios. Put crudely, before April 2015 the BA Amex 241 was 4 x better than a Lloyds upgrade voucher.

Today, if travelling to New York in Club World, the Lloyds voucher saves you 40,000 Avios on a peak day and 48,000 Avios on an off-peak day .  The BA Amex 241 voucher will save you 120,000 Avios on a peak day and 100,000 Avios on an off peak day.  This has substantially increased what you can save.  Put crudely, after April 2015 the BA Amex 241 is now only 2-3 x better than a Lloyds upgrade voucher.

British Airways BA 787

Let’s compare a typical redemption

Sticking with our New York Club World redemption, let’s see how five redemption options compare using different credit card reward vouchers:

Two Club World seats, off-peak dates, flights to New York on British Airways:

No credit card – 200,000 Avios required

BA Amex (free version) – no fee, spend £20,000 on the Amex and your cost falls to 100,000 Avios, saving you 100,000 Avios

BA Premium Plus Amex – pay a £195 card fee and spend £10,000 on the Amex and your cost falls to 100,000 Avios – saving you 100,000 Avios

Lloyds Avios Rewards – pay a £24 card fee and spend £7,000 across either the Amex or MasterCard and one person travels for 52,000 Avios (the WTP cost).  The other pays the standard price of 100,000 Avios.  You save 48,000 Avios.

The British Airways Premium Plus option is STILL the best deal for a couple, I think.  It has never made sense for a solo traveller – the best options if you travel alone are in this article.

However, you are restricted to one BA Amex voucher per person per year.  A couple can have a Premium Plus card each, of course, but you are then looking at £20,000 of Amex spend per year to trigger both vouchers – this is not easy.

A more interesting scenario would be to get the Lloyds Avios Rewards card and use it ALONGSIDE your British Airways Premium Plus card.

Here are some good reasons why:

The fee on the Lloyds card is only £24 per year so your sunk cost is low

With no foreign exchange fee, it is a better card to use for your holiday spending than a British Airways Amex with its 3% fee

You can use it for bills such as council tax where you can often use a Visa or MasterCard but not an American Express

Between the second and third points above, triggering the upgrade voucher at £7,000 should not be too difficult.  It should not make a big difference to how long it takes to trigger the voucher on your BAPP Amex if you have close to £7,000 of annual overseas spend or spend at ‘non Amex’ retailers.

In conclusion

Don’t cancel your British Airways Premium Plus American Express.  The 2-4-1 voucher, for a couple, remains the best deal available on ANY loyalty credit or charge card.

The Lloyds Avios Rewards card has a decent claim for being added alongside it.  Whether you should do it depends on how many Avios holidays you book per year, how much money you spend on credit cards per year and whether you would prefer to push MasterCard or Visa spend towards a non-Avios card instead (eg Hilton, IHG – the best MasterCard and Visa cards are in my article here).

(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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Comments

  1. super super OT – Marriot 1,000 bonus airmiles for signing up. The bonus is showing on my online account under “last activity” (although not in the points in the top bar). Do I have to do anything to get these moved to my BAEC account? Thanks in advance

    • I assume these should be moved automatically – I’m in the same boat as you but nothing showing in my baec yet

      • I myself and 5 other family members are all in the same boat, we were all awarded on 31.07.17 and 1000 is showing in the Marriott accounts, but no transfer to date.
        I have spoken to Marriott rewards who say it is down to BA Executive club to enact, I have spoken to BA who say they cannot see what the problem is but will investigate , I have also pointed them to my wife’s account which was awarded the same day as ours on Marriott and then showed up in BA executive club 2 days later.
        They are still looking into it and i will be calling them back Friday to see what they are doing. I will let everyone know then, unless someone else beats me to it or BA get there act together, I suspect it is down to BA’s IT issues

        • Will be good to be kept updated on the outcome as I’m sure there’s many in the same situation as yourselves.

  2. Flying Misfit says:

    Just received an email from aer club to register for an Aer Club account to claim my 250 bonus avios, presumably this email has been sent in response to the original registration over a year ago…

    But having already registered and created an Aer Club account, not too certain how to ‘register’ and claim the 250… I suppose there may be some others in the same boat

    • BlueThroughCrimp says:

      Yes!

    • Same here!

      • me too – had a flight last new year on united which i tried to credit to Are Club. Did a claim and they said it would eventually appear online, still not happened though.

    • I got that today too. Pathetic of them. I did join and never got the 250. I had 3 email requests ignored for the actual bonus to be paid, and then made another 3 or 4 DM requests via Twitter. I’d never use them after that experience, if that’s their idea of customer service when they’re trying to secure you as a customer, what it’d be like when you’ve given them money is unthinkable.

    • Haha yes received the same email. I received my 250 many moons ago so must admit I just chuckled and deleted it rather than try and get a 2nd 250!

  3. Slightly OT and sort of newbie question.
    How can you get the spending on the BAPP card or Amex Plat, if normal expenses, bills etc. does not cover it? What ways can you put the spend through?
    OH has Amex gold and hoping to upgrade to plat in couple of months before year ends, I then want to be referred and start churning, thing is our expenditure does not really go that high?

    TIA

    • Jtz
      Can your oh get the £15 k spend in before year end? If so they will earn a further bonus of 10k avios at renewal point. If poss, it’s worth holding on before upgrading to plat for that bonus. You may be charged the fee before the bonus hits but they will also get the pro rata fee refunded. Then upgrade to plat and do the bonus earn spend.
      One way of extra spending is to try to get PayPoint cards for all your utilities and council tax. That way you can find a local co op and pay bills using Amex. Some co ops don’t accept Amex , you may have to hunt for a PP who will accept Amex. It works for lots of us on here. DVLA etc all take Amex now.
      You can always buy gift cards for the food and petrol store you use in advance, if you are a few £100 short of bonus spend. Plenty of options…hope that helps.
      Then refer each other every 8 mths or so..

    • There are a few things you can do.
      1 – I would say most regular spends can go on Amex, certainly shopping, petrol, etc.
      2 – Find out what bills you can pay at the post office or at a pay point terminal. Often you can use amex for those (Coop for paypoint).
      3 – Anywhere that accepts PayPal can use amex.
      4 – Most travel uses amex.

      Once those have been used up, if you are still not meeting the min spend there are a few options. That is either to use amex in a way that incurs fees. For example self employed people can pay their tax bill with amex, but they charge a fee for the privilege.

      The other option if you are close to the max spend is gift cards. For example if you are 400 pounds short, and spend 400/ month on petrol and groceries you can buy 400 pounds of tesco vouchers and use them over the following month (before you churn for your next card. It won’t drive up spend overall but means you have 4, 5 or 6 months to get through your spending rather than 3.

      Finally, and somewhat unfairly, you can buy refundable things. For example if you are 2000 pounds short you could buy a couple of fully flexible tickets somewhere and refund it after a couple of months. As eluded to above, i personally think this pushes the boundary of fairness a little too far; but each person can decide on that themselves.

      • Genghis says:

        “For example self employed people can pay their tax bill with amex, but they charge a fee for the privilege.”
        How?

        • self employed tax – The only way I know is premium prepaid visa from tesco. I think it works out to be >=7% overall – so probably not worth it. I have never done it myself, just read it on this website.

          Also paying thousands of self assessment tax in 50 pound prepaid visa cards is just annoying.

          I might be out of date – so please check if it works first.

        • Genghis says:

          When Tesco paid clubcard points on the gift cards it was worth it to hit a sign up bonus etc if you had a way to liquidate the card. In the new world, 7.9% wastage is an awful lot. I also think HMRC have put limits on the number of cards that can be used?

        • Yes there is a limit on the amount of times you can pay a bill with HMRC so unless your bill is about £300 I would forget the £50 a time idea completely.

          I would not consider wastage in the range of 7% acceptable unless it is a very small amount of spend needed for a desirable target.

          If you expenditure doesn’t go that high after including all bills and potential bills then you will need to think outside the box and do some research on increasing your spend an easy answer to how to spend a few extra thousand out of nowhere without a bit of hassle.

        • Trinovant says:

          Google “billhop”. I hit bonuses for Palatinum, business platinum, gold and 2x SPG in 24hrs paying HMRC. Didn’t incur any annual card fees. Total fees charged by billhop were 1.5% due to a discount given for an earlier error (normally 3%). I also received the base payment points.

        • Trinovant says:

          Alternatively you could just pay yourself rather than HMRC…

      • I would just add re the fully flexible ticket point that although not exactly the same, the principle seems similar. I had a deposit on a cruise booked through Amex and the company went bust. The deposit was refunded but on receipt the related avios were reversed by Amex.

        • Genghis says:

          It can only really be done to “smooth out” spending (i.e. if you would spend less this year, spend more next year) or if you were planning on cancelling the card (and I guess to the annoyance of Amex).

    • Genghis says:

      Spend hours and hours researching and trying out manufactured spend techniques?

      • Genghis says:

        I’ll give you a lead (that I’ve not tried out but unlikely to use) – Unibet now accept deposits by Paypal…

        • CountryKerry says:

          You can’t deposit via. Amex on Paypal through Unibet. They’ve been rather clever and blocked it!

          On the other hand; use Paddy Power to deposit via. Apple Pay on the 1|2|3 Lite Account through Santander, get 5% back, then withdraw to your bank account ( a different one of course!)… then repeat.

        • Genghis says:

          Thanks for confirming. I’m easing off the MS game these days.

        • CountryKerry says:

          Same.

          Just had a thought – are credit card rewards taxable? Let’s say I receive £1,000 cash back from Santander next month – do I need to declare it?

        • I am pretty sure cash back and similar is not taxable (as opposed to interest which is taxable).

          I am pretty sure points counts the same as cash back.

        • Thanks for all the replies everyone. Unfortunately or rather fortunately we don’t have much bills to pay as live in a shared household, same with groceries. I hadn’t thought of vouchers for petrol, but OH uses amex to pay for the petrol anyway and tesco food shops.
          We don’t bet, but will look into MS a bit more if we go ahead with Platinum.

        • In that case will you get enough Avios to get value from a 241 voucher or even normal redemptions?

        • I agree with mark2. Have a good look at whether you are actually going to be generating enough avios to make use of the 241. My O/H and I put quite a bit through credit cards anyway – and my self employed tax and VAT goes on MC for IHG points – I don’t think we would generate enough avios to justify 2 x BAPP vouchers for instance (tbh we struggle with using one a year, but then I’m the only regular churner). I think the days of manufactured spend are – well they are not what they were. You can earn avios and Virgin miles through using shopping portals but again you have to be buying things. I’m not saying this hobby is a niche one but you do need to be spending a certain amount.

        • In that case of not being able to accrue avios with spend, l would concentrate on earning avios over the next year or so on card bonus spend (buying just enough Tesco or Amazon gift cards in advance to hit bonus spend) and referring each other. One of you gets the PRG as its free the first year. Once the bonus spend is banked, as avios, upgrade to plat with a 20k bonus, Once you hit the plat spend bonus, refer OH for gold PRG. .
          Meanwhile the OH has the BAPP, hit bonus, transfer avoid out, drop down to free card, pro rata refund of fee. Refer OH, keep cycle going. Then you are not aiming for the 241 £10k spend, but smaller bonus spends. You will eventually have enough avios to maybe aim for a nice long haul in a year or so.
          Just no point aiming for the 241 unless you can realistically archieve a pot of 100k avios or so which gives you some long haul options.
          Plan the referral cycle so that each card is around 8 months cancelled before referral.

    • The usual, food, petrol, insurance, car tax plus now the family children are “tweenagers” they are more than happy with Amazon vouchers for Xmas and birthdays (or Kindle vouchers for older relatives). These can all go towards your Amex spend. We only use credit cards for household spend (i.e. no business use), but triggered our 2 4 1 and Lloyds upgrade within 6 months.

      • Anna,
        Agree similar spending here. Would be great if insurance companies accepted online payment by PayPal…not likely am sure. The amount of non Amex low earn spend we have really is annoying. No way round it unless pay point cards are issued tho…

  4. “Can you actually book ex-DUB on a Lloyds voucher and have it cover both segments?”

    I have no idea, but it’s worth someone trying.
    Ask to book DUB-LHR-LAX (for example) and ask for just the LHR-LAX to be upgraded to BIZ. They do promote this as an upgrade voucher. Then ask for LAX-LHR to be booked in biz. If it works this saves having to fly back to into DUB and then DUB-LHR, as you might otherwise do with a 2-4-1.

    • You can pretty much use the Lloyds voucher on ANY BA redemption from anywhere i.e. not limited to starting from the UK.

  5. With the Lloyds voucher, can one use it on the ex LCY flight to JFK, if avios seats are available, still paying WT+avios?

    • I know people who have done it, seems to depend on the agent. The rule of ‘no City flights’ in theory does not apply. No promises though.

  6. Slightly OT… but look for some advice around BA amex cancellation….

    I cancelled my BA PP amex card at the end June, but it still appears in my account as “cancelled” as I have a gold charge card… my question is, does this affect the original cancellation date on the card, with regards to re-applying for another card in 6m (end of Dec) to receive the signup bonus?

    Or do you have to completely close my amex online account?

    Many thanks,
    Will

    • Genghis says:

      Just close card account. Nothing to do with online account.

      • Genghis says:

        You can remove the cancelled card from your online account (see drop downs at top).

        • Hi I just downgraded from black to blue. do u have to use the voucher first before u can fully cancel the free card too? Does the six month rule apply to the black card now or only my blue ?

        • Voucher will stay valid in your baec. You can use any Amex to lay the fees when using your 241.
          You must wait six months after cancelling either card or indeed any card of an equivalent category before reapplying. That’s if you want the bonus. So rule applies to the most recent card. But you can refer your partner etc for either card and ger referral bonus.

  7. If my wife and I have our own BAPP cards and each of us have generated a 2-4-1 voucher, so we have two vouchers in total, is it possible to use them to make one reward travel for 4 people (wife, 2 kids, me)? My doubt is because 1 voucher is under my name and the other under my wife’s. We have Household account. Thank you.

    • Yes it’s possible. But you have to call up BA to do the booking, if you all want to fly together.

    • It needs to be 2 separate bookings (you + kid, wife + kid) which means 2 separate ticket references. This isn’t a problem UNLESS one of you has BA status. In that scenario, only that person and their flying partner would get free seat selection – the other two would need to pay. Apart from that, having to make 2 bookings makes no difference to anything.

      • Sussex bantam says:

        Unless your status is gold when ithey will link your bookings together a and allow you all free seat selection. Need to call to do this

      • Thank you for the reply. I have Bronze, so nothing to write home about, probably won’t even come with free seat selection 🙂

  8. Regarding the Lloyds upgrade voucher, how does it work when you have a connecting flight on your booking, so for example Newcastle – London – New York return, is it possible to choose the two sectors you wish to upgrade? which would obviously be the long haul sectors!

    • They’ll all be in the higher class, so CE for the regional legs and CW for the longhaul. It’s just the same policy as making a CW booking, the difference is you then only have to pay the WTP level of Avios.

  9. Hi Rob, I currently have an upgrade voucher earned from LLOYDS AMEX CC. I’m wondering if I apply for BAPP then obtain a companion voucher later, is it ok to combine these two vouchers together for a trip for me any my partner? For example, I book a return trip via my upgrade voucher via Avois, and using the companion voucher at the same time for my partner? I doubt it but just want to confirm with you. Many thanks.

  10. Nick Anon says:

    I am looking to use the 241 for the first time, to JNB / CPT in First. I think ive got my head round the booking process and hassle of inbound – outbound – T355 etc but, there seems to be little/no availability in First and ‘some’ availability in Club.
    Is it possible to book in Club, then change to First if and when availability opens up later?
    If so, what would be the best way to do this? Just check online every day?

    • Yes, but you’ll be charged £35 change fee. Yes – or sign up to https://www.expertflyer.com/

      • Nick Anon says:

        Many thanks Genghis,
        A question about expertflyer –
        I can search for seats and get alerts (option of paying .99c for specific seats etc) for availability, but can I search for avios availability with the free version?