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Credit & Charge Card Reviews (4): British Airways American Express (BA Amex)

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This is my review of the free British Airways American Express (BA Amex) 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.

If you want to check your credit record before applying for a new card, click here to get your free Experian Credit Score.

Key link: British Airways American Express application form

Key facts: No annual fee

The representative APR is 22.9% variable.

About the card

The British Airways American Express card is issued directly by American Express. This analysis is focused on the free version of the card – I review the British Airways Premium Plus American Express card here.

The general American Express rule is that you can hold four cards at the same time. Platinum and Green are the two widely-held charge cards, whilst the credit cards include the Starwood SPG, Nectar, Costco, Preferred Rewards Gold and Amex Rewards cards.

Any American Express cards you may have which are issued by Lloyds Bank will not directly impact on whether you are accepted for this card.

British Airways American Express review

What is the sign-up bonus?

5,000 Avios when you spend £1,000 within three months.

A larger bonus of 6,000 Avios is available if you are referred by an existing cardholder. Please e-mail me at rob [at] headforpoints.co.uk if you would like a referral.

Any other benefits?

When you spend £20,000, you receive a voucher entitling you to book two Avios redemption flights for the miles of one. This voucher is valid for one year.

I strongly recommend, however, that you do NOT get this card if you are interested in the 2-4-1 voucher. You are SUBSTANTIALLY better off getting the Premium Plus card instead if you are willing to pay the annual fee for that card. This post explains why the companion voucher on the basic British Airways Amex is not worth having (in my view). The lower earning rate on this card and the one year validity of the voucher – compared to two years for the Premium Plus voucher – makes a huge difference.

What is the annual fee?

The basic British Airways American Express card is free.

What do I earn per £1 spent on the card?

You receive 1 Avios per £1 spent on the card.

You do NOT receive bonus Avios when booking BA flights. This benefit is only available with the Premium Plus card.

What is an Avios point worth?

How long is a piece of string!

This article is my best attempt to calculate the value of an Avios.

Other points to note

You will not receive a sign-up bonus if you have previously held either of the BA Amex cards in the previous six months. You will not have a problem if you have any other American Express card, including American Express Preferred Rewards Gold.

(Similarly, getting the BA Amex does not stop you getting a bonus on Amex Gold as well, which is good news as the Amex Gold sign-up bonus of 20,000 Membership Rewards points converts to 20,000 Avios.)

For clarity, you WILL receive the sign-up bonus if you currently hold, or have held, the Lloyds Avios Rewards credit card – this is not a problem.

You WILL also receive the sign-up bonus if you are currently a supplementary cardholder on someone elses BA Amex. American Express treats supplementary cards as belonging to the main cardholder and you are not treated as an ‘existing customer’.

If you have the free British Airways card, you can upgrade to the Premium Plus fee-paying version at any time. However, you will not receive another sign-up bonus. Any spend you have done towards the 2-4-1 voucher to date will be carried over and your membership year remains the same.

You can also do this in reverse – once you have triggered your 2-4-1 voucher, you can call American Express and downgrade to the free card for a few months (receiving a pro-rata fee refund) until your new card year starts and your spend starts counting towards the new voucher.

American Express no longer has a minimum income requirement for any of its cards.

Is this a good card to use when travelling?

As Amex adds a 3% foreign exchange fee, you might want to get a separate free credit card to use abroad. Unfortunately there are no travel rewards card without a foreign exchange fee.  One option is to get a free Curve Card – see this HFP article – and link it to a miles-earning Visa or Mastercard.

How else can you earn Avios points from a credit card?

The Lloyds Avios Rewards Mastercard is currently closed to new applications.

Don’t forget these less-obvious options though:

The American Express Preferred Rewards Gold credit 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 30,000 points for signing up. These convert to 10,000 Avios. It has a £75 fee, refunded pro-rata if you cancel.

Conclusion

5,000 Avios (or 6,000 if I refer you) for getting the BA Amex is a decent, but not exceptional, bonus for a free credit card.

In terms of on-going earning rates, 1 point per £1 is not outstanding, and not receiving double points on BA spending (as offered by the Premium Plus card) is unattractive for anyone with British Airways expenditure. The terms and conditions of the 2-4-1 voucher make it less attractive than the voucher offered by the BA Amex Premium Plus card.

The application form for the free British Airways American Express card can be found 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.)

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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Comments

  1. Can someone please explain to me why Robert needs to be regulated to talk about credit cards? Which part of the page requires it?

    Only asking as if a friend talks about the BAPP in an article is she in trouble? Amex encourages promotion of these cards anyway.

    Bit confused!

    • Jonathan says:

      Credit cards and ISAs etc are financial products.

      According to the FCA website “Advice on products can only be offered by FCA regulated firms… Anyone can provide guidance.”

    • Anyone can write about cards BUT you cannot link to the Amex website. Linking means you are marketing it – even (and this is key) Amex is not paying you.

      No links = do what you like. Links = expect the FCA to be in touch pretty quickly.

      • Thanks!

        So how do Amex get away with giving out a link for referrals?

        Surely if that is posted to Facebook or Twitter that is a breach even if shared amongst Facebook friends.

        • Because something you share exclusively with friends is not covered. Anything which the general public can access is covered.

          Blog posts are far more visible than tweets or FB.

      • So all those people posting their links on MSE are breaking the law?

        I know they are breaking the terms of their agreement with Amex which say “You must only send the referral link to close friends and family. If you do not comply with these terms, you could lose your bonus points and you will be excluded from participating in the … Referral Programme in future. ”

        But MSE has a special thread for Amex referrals!

        • Yes, technically they are. But the FCA has bigger fish to fry than that. Running blog posts is different.

          Why do you think that people who have ZERO financial expertise, who have no financial qualifications, should be marketing credit cards? Especially cards with annual fees and with interest rates which are literally triple the lowest rate on the market.

          As an example …. whilst IHG can put a leaflet on its credit card in UK hotel rooms, reception staff are forbidden from handing them out directly or discussing the card because they are not FCA regulated.

  2. Was thinking about signing up, but the recent (second) data breach has put me right off! Think I will wait for BA to get themselves together before considering again…

    • Jonathan says:

      That’s BA the website, nothing to do with the Amex BA card. Bit like saying you wouldn’t buy a Ford because of the VW emissions scandal.

      • James M says:

        I’m inclined to agree with Dave.

        To me it’s more like not buying another VW because I had one with the emissions issue and they simply didn’t care, like BA.

        BA’s credit card earns reward for.. BA. They’ve “misplaced” my data, had to have new cards issued etc. – I wouldn’t want to be using a product that promotes them indirectly either.

      • Thomas Howard says:

        It depends whether the OP believes BAs incompetence is linked to Amex, or whether they wish to leave the BA/Avios ecosystem altogether.

    • Might take a while. BA’s contract for outsourced cargo reservations / inside sales staff was for 2 years which is up soon. It will be interesting to see whether this gets extended or they decide to bring the jobs back to the UK. This outsourcing has cost BA a lot of money in lost revenue.

      • Lady London says:

        ….. but perhaps outsourcing their cargo reservations hasn’t cost British Airways as outsourcing their IT might conceivably have cost them? Based on the apparent complete IT meltdown which left everyone stranded everywhere on a UK Public Holiday weekend (did that happento British Airways this year, or last year? i can’t remember). Plus at least 2 known serious mass leaks of customers’ personal and financial data that we’ve only just learned about..!

        I think IT outsourcing may turn out to cost British Airways far more !!!

  3. OT sort of. Received my 500 avios today for the amex offer of spend £5.00

    • FlyUpTop says:

      Just to check, the £5 spend is at any retailer accepting Amex?
      I accepted the offer & saved on Mon, made a qualifying transaction on Mon morning but still no email or bonus points credited, should I be contacting them. I have done numerous transactions since then also..

  4. Be aware to leave plenty of time to upgrade to Premium from basic BA, I thought it would be instant as I wanted to get my 2-4-1 voucher which I would have qualified for with premium but not with basic. The agent said ‘a lot of people wanted to do that, but they would take 2-3 weeks to give me an answer’. I think it was purely driven by trying to reduce the number of companion vouchers they were giving away. My fault for leaving it to the last moment of course. Hope others don’t get similarly caught out.

    • Genghis says:

      How prevalent is this upgrading?

      We will earn a 241 in about 3 months so I’m happy to pay Amex £50 and get the extra 5k avios from spend (not to mention extra 20k from the sign up).

    • Laura (07:46),

      I was told 24-48hrs on Friday-we’ll see…………..!

      • Upgrading from fee free to Premium right?Where were you with your spending on BA fee free?They seem to far from triggering the 241 you are when you want to upgrade !!!

  5. Yesterday I down-graded from BAPP to blue by applying for the blue and giving the BAPP number.
    As expected I had to do a new application although mostly pre-filled.
    I was, however, surprised when it was referred for approval.

    • I need to do the same soon. Do you follow a link to downgrade or can you actually send a referral for Blue and use that link to sign up for Blue. Does the person referring get the referrral bonus? Do you turn call and cancel the premium one?

      • The latter. You simply apply online for the Blue card after which the BAPP is automatically cancelled as you cannot hold both.

        If you use a referral link then the referrer should get bonus points.

        • I think it very unlikely that anyone will get a referral bonus; I have done that and got no bonus.
          Please report back if they do.

        • I didn’t get a referral bonus when I did this, presumably because the other person wasn’t opening a new account, just changing the card attached to an existing one.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Genuine question why downgrade? Just sign up for another card and cancel so you can Bag the bonus is 6 months.

      The 2-4-1 is 99.9% safe and you just need any Amex is anyone’s name to pay

      • rams1981 says:

        Agree

      • Shoestring says:

        People hold cards for various reasons, I have a very longstanding Blue card which I judge is helpful on my credit score, in no particular rush to cancel it to enable churning. (Not as manic as some!) But I could (say) get the spend up to £9500, upgrade to BAPP, get my 2-4-1, then downgrade to Blue again to avoid the fee. Not that I do that as I’m not interested in 2-4-1s. And now somebody is going to tell me that if you do that, you’re effectively getting 3 different cards and each time you do that you reset the clock so the credit report thing for longstanding cards doesn’t hold?

        • TGLoyalty says:

          Yes me becuase that’s 3 different cards As each application in a new one.

          My long-standing card is my Halifax clarity.

        • Shoestring says:

          OK thought that might be the case! Anyway, good to know.

        • What is “credit report thing for long-standing cards”?

        • Someone who does not have any cards on their credit report older than 12 months is clearly in a different risk category to someone whose report shows that they have held at least one card for 10 years.

      • I have used the 241.
        I want to keep the two cards for ShopSmall, then cancel.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          Then that’s exactly the same as opening a nectar or SPG card instead and bagging the sign up and referral bonus.

          Both can be a potential credit search.

        • That could be true, providing that I did not already hold those cards or have held within the last six months.
          I am not too worried about credit searches as the only money that I shall ever borrow is on credit cards for convenience, s75 and points.

    • “Referred for approval” – this is standard procedure when downgrading. It will be approved.

  6. Is the statement about no bonus on BA spend correct? I recently booked flights on ba.com using the free BA Amex and definately received a bonus 1 avios per £1 for BA spend. Had the card since it was first introduced so is this a legacy benefit?

    • Your avios acount will show “finance card, points from BA spend” as a separate transaction when your points get sent across but they’re not bonus points.

  7. OT: Want to pull the trigger on a Hilton stay next month, using the Amex £50 off deal. Any other data points re: people buying the pre-paid/Hilton honours discounted rate up front, and still getting the £50 credit from Amex? Thanks.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      I think the only reason they put that is becuase you are not guaranteed to be charged for pre paid rates until checkout.

      As long as the hotel charges you before the offer ends you will get the cash back. Sometimes hotels try and do you a favour but you can always contact them to make the charge asap

    • Peter K says:

      Did this for a prepaid stay for next year and had the email to say I had redeemed the offer. Took 5 days from point of the sale going through to get the email. It took about 2 days from booking for the transaction to hit my card. It was a UK Hilton.

  8. Hugely O/T — sorry! (No Bits today.)

    AAdvantage question:

    Would anyone be able to advise me on the following? From AA’s website, I notice that award changes are fee-free if there is no change in the origin and destination.

    However, does this still apply if:

    (i) My origin (NRT, Japan) and destination (LHR, UK) remain the same, but:

    (ii) I wanted to change my current award (which is an indirect flight via, AUH) to a direct flight?

    Really, I’m trying to confirm whether it would still be free for me to change my current, indirect award on EY — which is: NRT– AUH, then AUH–LHR — to a direct BA flight from NRT–LHR, where, with both awards, the origin and destination cities remain the same?

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    • I have always thought the only way to avoid change fees on AA was to keep the actual original routing, not just the same origin and destination. And even then only on the return half, not the outbound (since that would require a ticket reissue).

      The example you give would require a ticket reissue with different airports/taxes and airlines involved, so it is unlikely to be fee-free. I think they may also now charge a change fee if any other airlines (other than AA) is involved, even if you keep the original routing. Worth a phone call to AA to check though.

  9. Shoestring says:

    You’re risking your entire interest-free period for this? As soon as MBNA codes it as cash advance, you lose your IF period & start paying interest.

    • I’m sorry you’re talking absolute bull. How does withdrawing cash harm an interest free period? Missing a payment can ‘harm’ your interest free period certainly not withdrawing cash. So stop spreading mis information and lies because you do not understand how credit cards work.

      • Shoestring says:

        Not sure telling people they’re telling lies ever really helps the OP, other people just tend to despise them & their immaturity.

        Interest-free Purchases credit cards tend to work this way. Missing a monthly payment or (OK maybe not always, but generally) using a cash-advance on the card will immediately cancel the interest-free period.

      • You will start paying interest on the CASH ADVANCE but not on your entire card balance.

  10. If paying one credit card from another is discovered, and in some way highlighted, wouldn’t that really damage your credit record. Isn’t that the sort of thing that really sets alarms ringing with credit checks.

    • Not particularly. What happens is it either counts as a cash advance or it doesn’t, you will know after doing it once (until something changes, like with Curve).

      If it counts as a cash advance then it just has the same effect on your credit record as actually withdrawing cash, which is to say, pretty bad if you want a mortgage, probably not a big deal if it’s a low amount compared with your overall credit limits and it doesn’t happen too often.

  11. They recently emailed and posted a letter to me saying that they are unilaterally slashing my credit limit by ca50%, with a week’s notice. It was such a blow as I wanted to buy an annual travel card with my BA cc and this sudden slash made it virtually impossible. At the same time MBNA Horizon PROACTIVELY – without any move on my side – increased my credit limit from December. Does anybody knows what’s going on?

    • Shoestring says:

      Yep – they’ve reduced your credit limit

      • Shoestring says:

        Sorry not too sympathetic – just tucking into a couple of free Bombadiers.

        You can’t equate one card company’s credit assessment methods with another’s.

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