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The British Airways ‘On Business’ SME loyalty programme reviewed (Part 2, 2019 edition)

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This is Part 2 of our look at the British Airways On Business loyalty programme for businesses.  This allows a company to earn On Business points – to redeem for flights or upgrades – at the same time as its travellers earn Avios points.

Part 1 of our British Airways On Business review can be found here if you missed it.

The On Business sign-up page is here.  If you are signing up, you will qualify for a special sign-up bonus of triple points for your first six one-way flights within 12 months of joining.

If you say on your application form that you were referred by member OB10171896 then you receive 1,500 bonus On Business points after crediting your first flight.  (And so do I, so thank you!)

Today I want to look at whether it is worth redeeming for flight upgrades, and how to earn more points with the British Airways Corporate American Express card.

Redeeming On Business points for upgrades

The reward chart for upgrading flights using OB points is no longer published, but there are some examples below.  Following a recent change, tickets issued by travel agents can now be upgraded with OB points.

Following an earlier 2018 change, American Airlines and Iberia flights can now also be upgraded.

Upgrades are potentially more attractive than outright redemptions, which I discussed in Part 1.  Almost all economy tickets can now be upgraded with On Business points.  ALL Club World seats are upgradeable.

Upgrades start at 5,000 points long-haul for World Traveller to World Traveller Plus, from 10,500 for World Traveller Plus to Club World and from 7,000 points for Club World to First.   These are one-way prices.  Remember that On Business availability is better than Avios availability so you have a decent chance of being able to upgrade if you wish.

As an example:

Hamburg – Euro Traveller to Club Europe – 4,100 points each way

Dubai – World Traveller to World Traveller Plus – 6,000 points each way

New York – World Traveller Plus to Club World – 13,000 points each way

Tokyo – Club World to First Class – 10,000 points each way

These prices are generous for First Class upgrades and this may be the sweet spot.

On Business logo

Boosting points with corporate credit cards

American Express issues two British Airways corporate credit cards although I don’t discuss them much on the site.

(NB: the link only works if you are logged out of your On Business account)

The details are here.  The earnings rate is no better than for the personal BA Amex cards, but you will earn a 50% bonus on all On Business points when you buy flights using the card.

If you are using your own money to buy a lot of BA long-haul premium tickets, and you have your own company, this benefit could be valuable.  If you assume that 1 OB point is worth 4 Avios (I discussed why in Part 1) and 1 Avios point is worth 1p, then you are arguably getting back an extra 2% of your British Airways expenditure from the additional 0.5 On Business points per £1.

There is one thing to note.  The Plus card offers 2,500 bonus On Business points if you spend £25,000 on the card per year.  Due to IT issues with Amex, this does not seem to happen automatically much of the time and you need to raise a complaint in order to get a manual transfer done.

Take care when you join to get the best sign-up bonus

Finally, a slightly odd statement – it may pay you NOT to earn On Business points on every flight!

On Business has a semi-permanent sign-up bonus:

“to get your membership off to a flying start, your company will earn triple On Business Points on the first 6 flight sectors your company takes on qualifying flights in your first 12 months of joining”

This triple points offer could be hugely rewarding.  You should plan it that the first six sectors you credit are high earning ones.  It is worth NOT putting your OB number in short haul flights if you think you will have longer flights later in the year, as you want your first six ‘triple point’ sectors to really count.

Don’t forget PartnerPlusBenefit – the Star Alliance alternative

Finally, if you are thinking of joining On Business, you should also join PartnerPlusBenefit.  This is the Lufthansa-managed competitor, allowing you to collect on ten of the airlines in Star Alliance.

Full details on PartnerPlusBenefit can be found on Head for Points here.  It also has a sign-up bonus.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

Comments (3)

  • Robert says:

    Rob, I’m pretty sure you can now upgrade existing bookings with OB points, including TA bookings.

    Upgrading at time of booking is no longer a requirement.

  • Russ says:

    I haven’t taken much notice of this but I’ve got a nagging feeling I’m going to kick myself later. Bookmarked.