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Advertising Standards Authority finds against Amex and British Airways over 2-4-1 vouchers

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The Advertising Standards Authority has decided that British Airways and American Express have been misleading in their promotion of the British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher.

I can see the point.  If you read Head for Points then you implicitly understand that the 2-4-1 voucher only covers the Avios required for the 2nd ‘free’ flight.  Taxes and charges are due on both tickets.  This is not necessarily clear to the general public.

British Airways and American Express offered to amend the small print to say “Taxes, fees and charges apply per person”.  This was welcomed by the ASA but was not seen as enough to overcome the strong ‘2-4-1’ message.

British Airways Premium Plus American Express

I knew this judgement was coming and we amended our credit cards directory last week to remove reference to ‘2-4-1’.  We will continue to use that phrase in our editorial but other references will change to ‘companion voucher’.

You can read the full judgement on the ASA website here.

You can learn more about how the British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher works in this ‘Avios Redemption University’ article.

PS.  Whilst you’re on the ASA website, have a look at this judgement against Holiday Inn Express from 2014.  It asks a deep philosophical question.  Is breakfast at Holiday Inn Express actually ‘free’?  Can something be ‘free’ if no-one pays for it?  The ASA decided that it isn’t and wasn’t.  Holiday Inn Express has not been able to advertise ‘free breakfast’ in the UK for the past six years.


Want to earn more points from credit cards? – January 2023 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit card, here are our top recommendations based on the current sign-up bonuses.

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the best of the other deals currently available.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 21st February 2023, the sign-up bonus on the British Airways Premium Plus American Express card is increased to 35,000 Avios from 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

35,000 Avios (ONLY to 21st February) and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

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

The Platinum Card from American Express

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

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend 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:

SPECIAL OFFER: Capital On Tap has increased its sign-up bonus to points worth 30,000 Avios if you apply by 4th February. This is exclusive to Head for Points readers. Click here to apply.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

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

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

Get a 30,000 points bonus, worth 30,000 Avios, until 4th February 2023 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 (3% for 3 months if you apply by 31st March) and no annual fee Read our full review

Comments (49)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Secret Squirrel says:

    Do you get any referral bonus for upgrading from Amex BA Free to BAPP?

    • Rob says:

      A lot of people get an unofficial 6,000 Avios. It isn’t clear why but this has been happening for at least 5 years. Amex staff know nothing about it and you can’t complain if you don’t get it. I think it was written into their IT system years ago and someone forgot to delete it!

      • Secret Squirrel says:

        Cheers Rob, i read that yesterday on here in comments but i got the impression it was a bonus for upgrading to BAPP for the account holder.
        My question is related to, does someone referring you to BAPP whilst you already hold the Amex free BA card get a referral bonus?

        • Rob says:

          Others on here have said no IIRC

        • BJ says:

          Tried this a few times, most recently early March. Never ever got a referral bonus. Last time I upgraded the system had changed, now recognises it as an upgrade and takes you away from referral link and requires you to sign in to your account to process upgrade request. Sometimes people report receiving a 6000 avios bonus for upgrading but I have never received that either.

  • BT01 says:

    A few weeks ago I shopped at Sainsbury’s using the Smart Scan till I paid with Google Pay via my phone and the total was over £100.00 and it went through, staff at M&S told me that there is not a limit when using Google Pay

  • Alex Sm says:

    So many people commenting on PayPass and almost no-one says a thing about Rhys stellar performance on that podcast with quite a cheeky host!
    One question on the contents though – will BA use the fact that almost all its planes are grounded to accelerate the refurbishment of aircraft which is now should be much easier to do than the airline was flying and planes were busy?

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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