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NEW AMEX: Is the British Airways American Express Accelerating Business Card worth a look?

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American Express has launched a new British Airways credit card for SME’s – the British Airways American Express Accelerating Business Card.  This is our review.

The good news is that, irrespective of what other American Express products you have, you will receive the sign-up bonus if you spend £3,000 on the card within 90 days.

Legal stuff:

Application page:  you can apply and find further details on the American Express website here

Interest rate information: representative APR 81.6% variable, including the £210 annual fee, based on an assumed credit limit of £1200.  The interest rate on purchases is 22.9%.

This is what it looks like (quite funky!):

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

Here is the card in a nutshell:

It is aimed at small businesses, and sits alongside American Express Business Platinum and American Express Business Gold as part of the Amex SME portfolio

You earn BOTH Avios AND, with BA, British Airways On Business points with your spending

There are no restrictions on getting the sign-up bonus – you will receive the sign-up bonus on this card irrespective of what other American Express products you have

What is the annual fee on the BA Accelerating Business credit card?

£210 (this would be tax deductible if you used the card exclusively for business purposes)

What is the sign-up bonus on the BA Accelerating Business credit card?

2,200 On Business points if you spend £3,000 within 90 days

What is the earning rate on the BA Accelerating Business credit card?

There are two ways to earn points with the British Airways Accelerating Business card:

You earn 1.5 Avios for every £1 you spend, plus

You earn 50% more On Business points for every £1 you spend with British Airways using the card.  For most small businesses, this means you will receive an extra 0.5 On Business points per £1, or 1.5 per £1 spent vs the standard 1 point per £1 spent.

Is there an annual spending bonus?

Yes.  You earn an annual bonus of 3,000 On Business points if you spend £20,000 in a card year.

Are there any other benefits?

You get typical American Express credit card benefits:

Up to 56 days to pay

Up to 99 FREE supplementary cards for your employees

Travel inconvenience cover (with higher payouts if you or your baggage is delayed on a British Airways flight)

Travel accident protection

Purchase protection

Refund protection

See this page of the American Express website for full details of these benefits.

British Airways Accelerating Business credit card

Does the card charge FX fees on overseas spend?

Yes, 2.99%

How does On Business work?

On Business is the British Airways loyalty scheme for small businesses.  Tomorrow I will do a full overview of On Business and how it works.  On Business points can be redeemed for flights in the same way that Avios can be used for flights, with a couple of key differences:

You can only redeem on BA, American Airlines and Iberia.  You do not have access to full oneworld reward inventory.

Reward availability is better than when using Avios. This, for me, is the main benefit of On Business and I NEVER spend them if Avios seats are available.  This doesn’t apply if you are a BAEC Gold member as the extra availability you get in Economy when using Avios seems to be better than what On Business offers.

There is no ‘Reward Flight Saver’ option with On Business.  This is not a major problem, however, as the actual taxes due are rarely substantially higher than the £35 ‘Reward Flight Saver’ cap.

Business Class flights are disproportionately expensive.  Using Avios, Business Class flights cost 2 x Economy for short-haul and 3 x Economy for long-haul.  With On Business, Business Class redemptions cost 5-6x the points of an Economy redemptions.

You cannot convert On Business points to Avios, or vice versa.

On Business points have a hard expiry of two years from the end of the year in which you earn them.  It is not possible to extend the expiry date.

Roughly … and this is very rough … I work on the basis that 1 On Business point has the same spending power as 4 Avios when used for Economy flights and 2 Avios when used for Club World flights.

More on this tomorrow though.

Who can apply for the BA Accelerating Business credit card?

There is some confusion here.  The On Business scheme requires you to have a VAT number in order to join.  This creates a de facto turnover minimum of £85,000 per year, and excludes charities and other businesses which do not charge VAT.

However, I spoke to American Express and they told me – in writing – that you can override this requirement by applying for the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card.  If you are accepted, an On Business account will be opened for you even if your company does not meet the VAT threshold.

This statement contradicts the application website, however, which says “You understand and meet the British Airways On Business requirements.”  You also cannot apply if your company is a travel agency, ticket brokerage firm or consolidator or your company has an existing corporate incentive agreement with British Airways, Iberia or American Airlines.

There are few other requirements.  To quote:

    • The business has a current UK Bank or Building Society account
    • You/The business have/has no County Court Judgements for non-payment of debt
    • You are aged 18 or over
    • You have a permanent UK home address
    • You will pay the annual Cardmembership fee of £210

Basically ….. as long as you have a Business Bank Account, you should have no trouble meeting the other criteria.

Does this card offer real value?

The British Airways Accelerating Business sign-up bonus:

Let’s look at the sign-up bonus first.  You will receive 2,200 On Business points if you spend £3,000 within 90 days.  This is ROUGHLY worth the equivalent of 9,000 Avios if used for Economy Class flights or 4,500 Avios if used for Business Class flights.

As an example, a flight to Hamburg using On Business points costs 2,200 points in Economy and 10,400 points in Club Europe, return.  The equivalent number of Avios would be 9,000 Avios for Economy and 18,000 Avios for Club Europe, and the taxes and charges would be lower due to Reward Flight Saver.

2,200 On Business points won’t get you very far, clearly.

The British Airways Accelerating Business general earning rate:

1.5 Avios per £1 is clearly a generous earning rate.  It matches what you receive on the British Airways Premium Plus American Express personal card, which has a similar annual fee.

The British Airways Accelerating Business BA earning rate:

For most companies, the extra 50% On Business points earned when booking British Airways flights on the card is worth 0.5 On Business points per £1.  This means you are getting the equivalent of 2 extra Avios per £1 if you spend them on Economy flights or 1 extra Avios per £1 if you spend them on Business flights.

The British Airways Accelerating Business annual bonus:

3,000 bonus On Business points for spending £20,000 is in line with the annual bonus on American Express Preferred Rewards Gold.  You are getting the equivalent of, roughly, 12,000 Avios if used for Economy flights and 6,000 Avios if used for Business Class flights.

However, it is clearly far less valuable than the 2-4-1 voucher offered on the British Airways Premium Plus American Express personal card, which has a similar annual fee.

British Airways Accelerating Business credit card review

Let’s look at a few scenarios:

Is this card better than the personal British Airways Premium Plus American Express?

No.  The sign-up bonus is far worse, the day to day earning rate is the same, the annual bonus is very substantially worse and the annual fee is £15 higher (£195 vs £210)

Is this card better than the American Express Business Gold Card?

No, for modest spenders.  Business Gold is free in the first year (vs £210 for the BA card) and £125 thereafter.  The earning rate is lower – 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent vs 1.5 Avios, but Membership Rewards points can be transferred to many different airline and hotel programmes, not just Avios.  There is no annual bonus on Business Gold.

If you would spend over £20,000 per year on the card, however, the British Airways Accelerating Business Card looks better.  You trigger the annual bonus and the difference in annual earning (1.5 Avios vs 1 Membership Rewards point) starts to outweigh the fee difference.

For clarity, American Express Business Gold is a charge card and you must repay your balance in full each month.  BA Accelerating Business is a credit card.

Is this card better than the Capital On Tap payment card?

We don’t know.  The Capital On Tap payment cards earn points which convert to Avios.  They are relaunching as Visa credit cards in the next few days (see our last Capital On Tap article here).  Until we see the small print, we can’t compare them with this new American Express product.  As a Visa card, Capital On Tap will have the benefit of being accepted more widely for business transactions than an American Express card.

Is the card worth getting purely for the sign-up bonus?

Not really.

As there are no restrictions on receiving the sign-up bonus based on what other Amex cards you hold, you may be thinking about applying purely to receive the bonus.

The maths does not work though.  2,200 On Business points – even if you assume you use them for Economy tickets and get value equivalent to 9,000 Avios – won’t get you much more than £90 of value.  This does not sit well against the £210 annual fee in Year 1.

I would have expected to see a bonus closer to 10,000 On Business points given the annual fee and the lack of a ‘free first year’ offer.

Who should get this card?

There are some groups who will find this card worth getting:

The ability to give 99 supplementary cards to employees means that, if you have a lot of high spending staff, you could earn a substantial number of Avios for yourself

If you spend a lot with British Airways – if you are in the On2 or On3 tiers of On Business – the card will have value due to the additional On Business points you will earn

If you have dropped your personal British Airways American Express card because you are waiting until you are eligible for a new sign-up bonus, this card is a good stop-gap.  The Avios earning rate is as good as the BA Premium Plus American Express, albeit that you do not receive a 2-4-1 voucher.

Conclusion

Overall, I don’t think that the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card is breaking any new ground.

There are good reasons why American Express Business Gold (no fee in year 1, transferable points), Capital On Tap (flexibility of a Visa card) or for one-man bands the personal British Airways Premium Plus American Express card (2-4-1 voucher, lower fee) are better.

It may, of course, work for you – these things are all down to personal choice at the end of the day.  Tomorrow I will do a full overview of British Airways On Business to help you decide if there is any value in earning On Business points via this card.

You can find full details, and apply, on this page of the American Express website.

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. Do they offer a pro-rata refund if you cancel the card? I am thinking that could make the sign up bonus seem more appealing.

  2. Who receives the 1.5 Avios per £1 spent? The primary card holder or each of the additional card holders (up to 99)?

  3. faulty85 says:

    O/T but do you get referral points for referring to the “American Express® Rewards Credit Card”? Customer services told me know as it is a basic card however I thought there was a separate card called “The Basic Card”

    • faulty85 says:

      No not know!

    • It is, they are confused. You can be referred to the 5,000 points version, with an extra 1,000 points on top. You won’t get a bonus if you’ve had a Gold/Plat in the last 2 years though.

      • faulty85 says:

        So I would still get the 9k referral points if I refer someone from my BA Premium?

        Thanks Rob helpful as always!!! Much appreciated.

  4. memesweeper says:

    Does holding this card stop you getting a sign up bonus later for Gold/Plat Business?

  5. Question about the “hard expiry” of the OB points collected with this card. Does anyone know if the flights need to have been “booked and flown” by the expiry date, or is just “booked by” sufficient?

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