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Review: the British Airways American Express (BA Amex) credit card

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This is our review of the free British Airways American Express (BA Amex) credit card.

It is part of our series of articles looking at the major UK loyalty credit cards and discussing whether or not they are worth applying for. These articles are linked to the relevant sections of the ‘Credit Card Offers‘ area in the menu bar. Our 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 (BA Amex) application form

Key facts: No annual fee

The representative APR is 22.2% variable.

Review free British Airways American Express credit card

About the BA American Express 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.

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.

What is the BA Amex 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.com if you would like a referral.

What are the rules for qualifying for the sign-up bonus?

The bonus is only available to customers who have not held a personal American Express card in the previous 24 months.  Cards issued by MBNA or Lloyds Bank do not count.

You WILL receive the sign-up bonus if you have a Corporate or Business American Express card via your job.  Amex is only interested in any personal cards you have had.

You will definitely receive the bonus if you are only a supplementary cardholder on someone else’s American Express card.  As far as Amex is concerned, that card belongs to the primarily cardholder and does not make you an ‘existing cardholder’.

If you do not qualify for the bonus, you can still apply.  You still receive the other card benefits including the 2-4-1 voucher.

Review British Airways American Express credit card

Any other benefits with the BA Amex?

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 BA Amex 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 point.

Review free British Airways BA American Express Amex credit card

Other points to note about the BA Amex

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 the BA Amex a good card to use when travelling?

As the BA 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.

Another option is to get a free card from Currensea. Currensea is a simple but clever idea. You pay abroad with your Currensea Mastercard debit card. Currensea translates the cost to Sterling with just a 0.5% fee (83% less than Amex charges) and withdraws the money from your bank account. You can find out more by clicking here. Currensea is free so there is no risk in giving it a try.

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

The Lloyds Avios Rewards Mastercard is closed to new applications.

Don’t forget these less-obvious options though:

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

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

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.

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

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

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 £575 fee, refunded pro-rata if you cancel.

American Express Marriott Bonvoy credit card

Marriott Bonvoy American Express

20,000 points sign-up bonus and 15 elite night credits Read our full review

The Marriott Bonvoy American Express credit card offers 20,000 Marriott Bonvoy points for signing up. These convert to 6,666 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 Card Offers’ 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.

Comments (13)

  • Paul says:

    Some question why anyone would want the Blue Card over the Black premium card. For me (who has moved between them over the years), a major point is how much value you place on the free companion ticket. That’s great IF you’re using it long haul in Club and are happy paying lots in taxes for both tickets (plus paying for the ‘other’ ticket), but if you’re never likely to want to pay such amounts for long haul and are happy putting up with Economy, the companion voucher has a much lower value when used for Euro Economy flights, meaning £195 cost for the Black card feels like an excessive cost at the current time (also given i have 2 companion vouchers i need to find a good way to use plus have 600,000 pts so am not desparate for more).

    • MikeL says:

      For the first time in 15 years, we no longer have the premium card(s) as we downgraded them to blue last November – decided to take a break until the dust settles. We currently have 4 x 241’s and 500,000 Avios in the bank. With extensions, I’m covered until late 2023. As it stands, it’s unlikely we’ll be travelling any time soon, especially westbound (where we tend to use our vouchers) . Most of our card spending is travel related and that has been curbed substantially in the past year.

    • Alex Sm says:

      Exactly my thoughts. Need to sort out the existing Companion Vouchers first. We managed to get a v good deal at 50% off Avios sale in October but the flights are now cancelled, no rerouting offered and voucher returned. So, the bottom line is – until vouchers are sorted, no need for a Black card

  • Wally1976 says:

    We’re in a similar position and only bothered getting the BAPP for the first time last year for a planned trip to Florida in August 2021. We have now postponed this to 2022 so we are using the 2 for 1 for a trip to Italy in August (fingers crossed we actually get to go) to get some value out of it.

  • Avi says:

    If you’re going to mention Currensea and Curve, why not mention Revolut?

  • Dan says:

    Agree with the sentiments above. There is often (on here) a easy conclusion to the argument that the BAPP is always better than the BA free outright. I think it’d be more accurate to say that the the BAPP is only better in very specific circumstances…

    For a solo traveller like myself – this card is useless. My strategy so far is to hold the Amex Gold and use this for all spending and get the BA cards only for sign up bonuses. I cancelled my BAPP back in April ’20, so currently restarting the clock and will apply again in April ’22 just for the associated bonuses.

  • Doug M says:

    Always slightly surprised in the wake of Lloyds voucher ending Amex didn’t get a bit more inventive with theirs.

  • Billy says:

    Never head of this Currensea card before, it doesn’t seem to list on their website Amex being one of the cards you can charge to it but Amex does come up in their FAQs in relation to making savings and getting extra avios.

    Can the 0.5% be used with Amex for domestic spending? or does it only apply to foreign spend. Could be useful for large payments as an alternative to the Curve card to the few merchants that still don’t accept Amex

    • Rob says:

      You don’t link it to Amex. It links to your bank account.

      It is easier, and better for your credit report, than getting a fresh low FX fee credit card purely for FX spend.

      • Billy says:

        Thanks, I misread it. Thought Currensea was trying to pull a Curve but with an Amex card being recharged as an option.

  • Chris Heyes says:

    I ?We have both Amex premium plus Gold never tempted do downgrade to the Free Amex
    Although Partner with Gold will change from Gold around June/July as soon as extra 10k points hit (for 1/2 months charge
    May go for Premium or free Amex she hasn’t decided
    I Will Cancel my Premium as soon as next 2-4-1 hits timing for Sept

  • Steve in Croydon says:

    I dropped my BAPP 23 months ago when the fee increased to £195. My household had two BAPPs for 10+ years with everyone having secondary cards. Annual spend £25-30,000 , lots of 2-4-1s and 2m+ Avios spent. Various family changes and reduced travel means I now have the basic blue card. I had to let two 2-4-1 vouchers wither for want of someone to travel with. As a 6’5″ single traveller why not be able to use the voucher for a half price return trip in a big seat?!?!?! “Oh no” I hear the backroom luvvies at BA saying!

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