Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Why the changes to the British Airways Premium Plus Amex could be better than we thought

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We ran two articles yesterday on the changes to the two BA Amex (British Airways American Express) cards.

The changes to the free British Airways American Express are outlined here.

The changes to the £195 British Airways Premium Plus American Express are outlined here.

If you are one of the very few people to still have the Silver-coloured British Airways Premium American Express, there is no article. However, you need to know that your card is being closed on 31st August.

Full details of the companion voucher changes are on this page of

It seems that we may have been too hard on the Premium Plus changes.

American Express sent us a mass-market press release about the BA Amex changes. This did not go into the levels of detail which are important to Head for Points readers. After the original article went up I spoke with a senior Avios person and we clarified some of the details.

The key change is this:

For companion vouchers earned from 1st September 2021, it appears that you will be able to redeem for ‘I-class’ (‘discounted Business Class’) Club World seats as well as standard Avios availability.

Your chances of getting Club World seats are, in theory, much improved if you have a voucher (issued after 1st September 2021) from a Premium Plus American Express card.

For clarity, this does NOT apply to existing 2-4-1 vouchers or any vouchers earned between now and 31st August.

This is a logical but potentially valuable change

We have been banging on for years on HfP about how it made zero sense for British Airways to be selling Club World seats for £1,299 or £1,499 in a sale, but not making them available for 120,000 Avios plus £550 of taxes.

From BA’s point of view, the maths is virtually the same, so why didn’t they do it?

Going forward, if there is a very cheap British Airways Club World cash ticket available to be bought, it should be bookable with Avios using a 2-4-1 voucher.

The devil is in the detail, of course

British Airways is very capable of moving flights around inside different ticket buckets. I-class is one of two discounted business class ticket buckets, so BA could very easily pop seats into R-class instead if it didn’t want to release them for 2-4-1 redemptions.

We won’t know how this works until 1st September when people start receiving the new vouchers. We can then compare Avios availability with I-class Club World cash availability to see if there is a true match.

It is promising, however. What is even more promising is that, if this is only made available to UK holders of BA credit cards, it creates a pool of seats which can’t be accessed by US credit card holders or those who have frequent flyer miles with oneworld partner airlines.

You may want to slow down your Premium Plus spending

If, like me, you are currently close to triggering a Premium Plus 2-4-1 voucher, you may want to hold on for 3 months.

There may be substantial extra value in triggering it after 1st September. This isn’t guaranteed, and it may turn out to be a damp squib, but it would be a shame to miss out. If it is as good as promised, it will justify the £250 annual card fee.

You can find out more about the BA Amex changes on this page of

PS. The link above highlights an annoying quirk. You will not be able to combine an ‘old’ and ‘new’ Premium Plus 241 voucher in one booking. This throws up even more issues as I will discuss tomorrow.

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Comments (194)

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

  • Ben says:

    There’s another change in T&C with new vouchers around booking the inbound at the same time as outbound. Couldn’t see that requirement with current version of vouchers.

    9. Outbound travel must take place before the expiry date of the Companion Voucher however inbound travel can take place after the expiry date of the Companion Voucher, provided it is booked at the same time as the outbound travel.

    So no more booking outbound flight as soon as they are available. All hinges on your return date now, but I guess it does mean it could all be done online.

    Could see it impacting those taking a longer 2+ week holiday as outbound flight availability might be taken by those travelling for a week.

    • A says:

      This is a very good spot, and if enforced as written will negate some of the much-touted value to families of the increased club availability to 4 seats per flight given that families of 4 are likely to use companion voucher.

    • BuilBackBetter says:

      Don’t think it’s as restrictive as it sounds. What I think it means is you’ll have to get it all together on one ticket before your departure.

    • FatherOfFour says:

      I’m missing something here, but why would people still not book their outbound as soon as is available in order to protect availability for their flight? Understand of course that if availability is increased, there would not be as much urgency as there is today. However, I’m missing the link to a change in booking the inbound for after the expiry date?

    • CarpalTravel says:

      This has always been the case, unless I have misunderstood? Certainly for years now it has only been necessary for the outbound sector to be completed prior to the companion voucher expiry.

    • Genghis says:

      All it means is that provided the outbound and inbound flights are on one PNR, the inbound flight can be flown after the expiry of the companion voucher.

      If the outbound and inbound flights are booked separately, they will be on two PNRs so it’s saying that the inbound flight couldn’t then be flown after the expiry of the companion voucher.

      It does not mean that the outbound and inbound need to be booked at the same time.

      • Ben says:

        @Genghis so that’s the point I’m making. If you want to book the outbound flight as soon as it is available, then you can’t book a return *and* benefit from the voucher for the return flight. This means you need to wait for the return to be available which I think could increase the risk you won’t be able to secure your desired outbound flight. I’ll be at a disadvantage if I wanted to take a 2-week family holiday over a 1-week holiday as the 1-weekers may take all the outbound availability.

        I just need to really plan when I trigger the voucher in future. I’m just mindful a couple of the vouchers I have now expire in July or August so if the same was to happen with new vouchers, I’ll potentially be at a disadvantage. Might be a niche thing, but does feel like the sort of thing that will impact a few folk.

        In the current terms and conditions, there is no mention about when an inbound flight must be booked. The term states “22. Outbound travel must take place before the expiry date on the Companion Voucher however inbound travel can take place after the expiry date of the Companion Voucher. The equivalent term in the new T&Cs adds, “provided it is booked at the same time as the outbound travel”.

        Agree that inbound within expiry of the voucher don’t need to be booked at the same time.

        • Genghis says:

          Your OP wasn’t that clear.

          I’d imagine over 99% of 241s redeemed have outbound and inbound both before the expiry date of the 241.

          • Rob says:

            I have just booked one for October where the return is after!

          • Memesweeper says:

            Very few people will be caught by this … but plenty of those that do will be HfP readers trying to maximise value. Seems petty if they enforce it.

  • Gothbe says:

    What are the chances of an enhanced sign up offer to coincide with the changes?

    • Rob says:

      Not impossible, September is a peak time for card sign up anyway.

  • Chris R says:

    I’ll probably just suck it up. Got plenty of value out the card to justify the fee.

    Always wondered why there’s no lounge access element to the product? I get a lot of holders will be Silver/Gold and when using the 241, you’ll be in Cw/F anyway, but thought there might be an opportunity for X times use of a BA lounge when traveling economy might be a selling point that won’t cost them the earth

    • Andy in Cheshire says:

      If you open lounges to Economy passengers, there would be no point in having the lounges. It would be like sitting in Starbucks.

      Lounge access is one of the reasons why those of us who pay for our own flights, save hard to earn Avios and spend them maybe once a year if we are lucky, book CE/CW seats.

      I’m now sitting on 200,000 Avios, all earned by myself, 3x 2-4-1 vouchers and nowhere to go. My wife doesn’t want to fly anymore.

      Time to forget Avios all together and transfer to Nectar where we can get some value out of them.

      • BJ says:

        She may just be influenced by the current situation, I wouldn’t move those avios in haste. She may change her mind once travel gets easier again and risks from the pandemic reduce.

  • Chris Heyes says:

    Just a thought but I think around 1st Sept for a couple of months at least there is a good possibility of getting large retention offers by threatening to cancel the paid card, “fee going up to “£250” what can you offer me ?

    • BJ says:

      Exactly 🙂

    • Super Secret Stuff says:

      Probably, we shall see

    • Lady London says:

      Please report back on how it goes when you do it, Chris H 🙂

      • Chris Heyes says:

        LL Will do my BAP expires 6th October £50 odd short of 241 so will hold off spending £50 until Sept then ask for retention bonus then move all to Avios.
        Then cancel and get Platinum for 4/6 weeks then cancel
        Meanwhile Partner has two Amex Cards Gold just 1 year old today hit all bonuses
        waiting until the extra 10k posts then cancel so no more spend on it.
        But she also has just got BAP card in May so both of us using that to hit target by 1st Aug for 1st lot of Avios then cancel soon as hit 241 later for free card
        Partners Brother same Gold and BAP Cards at mo waiting for July when 10k posts
        Not sure going forward after though ?

  • Colin MacKinnon says:

    Taken me a bit of time, but here are my thoughts:

    Long haul for us to the USA: forget it.

    For Denver it’s 125,000/150,000 avios plus £600 in taxes (plus £250 for card fee) is – with 242 and avios at 1p – £1,250 + 2 x £600 + £250 = £2,700 /2 = £1350 per person. Would rather do an ex-EU or buy a sale ticket and collect avios.

    Other long hauls: Maybe Caribbean, thanks to direct flights from UK. Or one ways back from Asia (ie HKG).

    Short haul:
    In Scotland, just so much simpler going EasyRyan if they fly direct. Even pre-Covid, LHR never the most pleasant experience.

    However, can see value in destinations not served by EasyRyan – such as Tirana. (I used to know the Albanian for: “We are three years into the five-year plan and 40% ahead of target”. Was one of the useful phrases in the only Albanian guide book in the 1980s!)

    But on short haul, the killer is the £250 fee – even though with careful timing one can also cancel the card within weeks of taking it out to chop that to £20 or £30.

    So, for me, bye bye BA PP.

    And yet… if Covid has taught anything, flexibility is the key. And you can cancel an Avios flight up to 24 hours before departure. What price on that?


    • BJ says:

      Don’t Icelandic fly to Denver Colin? Might be worth exploring if you have not already done so.

      • Colin MacKinnon says:

        Hi BJ, yes Icelandair do – but their business class is a US first class reclining seat. No flat bed!
        I like a long flight back to get some sleep, so BA good for that. United via EWR or AA via Chicago (?) are two medium flights rather than one long and one short.

        For Andrew, no skiing – visting family.

        • BJ says:

          I thought so but also figured the tradeoff for the shorter journey and sector’s might swing it. All in the connection time too though.

    • Andrew says:

      £1,350 per person.

      Or £1,409 per person for a business ticket on United from EDI to DEN via EWR in January/February (guessing you are going skiing).

    • BuilBackBetter says:

      Thumb rule is: where BA has a monopoly on the route, use avios.
      Where there is plenty of competition, pay cash.
      Sometimes paying PE cash and upgrading using avios can be good value.

  • JRC says:

    Do the new T&Cs stop you from churning the BAPP and earning multiple 2-4-1s? I get the no sign up bonus, but I thought you could earn multiple 2-4-1s if you cancelled the card and then reapplied 3-6 months later.

    • Memesweeper says:

      If I was to guess it will be the upgrade/downgrade route Amex will block. This used to work online but now requires a call.

    • BuilBackBetter says:

      One voucher per anniversary year

  • Kevin D says:

    Could someone explain the “flight departing from” UK thing again? I live in NI, so potentially I could now be better off as I could do DUB-LHR-JFK and pay less, is that correct?

    • joseph jordan says:

      Yes, you can not currently use a 2-4-1 on that route. 2-4-1 vouchers generated from 1st sept now allow it, effectively allowing you to combine low surcharges plus no UK APD with a 2-4-1. Making a 2-4-1 voucher much more valuable for those that can avail of such routes.

      The old lloyds voucher could be used for non-uk departures, and I used that previously out of DUB, but that could not be used for F redemptions.

    • Jeffrey Ohara says:

      Even better, us NI residents can now do DUB-LHR-XXX-LHR-BHD

      • joseph jordan says:

        provided you don’t mine ending up 100 miles away from where you started ?

      • David says:

        That’s only better if you’re not driving to DUB and leaving your car there!

        • Kevin D says:

          Thanks guys.
          Yes, that sounds good. Outbound trip get a lift to Dublin Airport from Belfast, save on paying car park fees then return back into BHD, walking distance from my front door! (as long as I walk along a dual carriageway for 1/2 a mile!)

  • JDB says:

    One thing re the card fee increase I haven’t seen mentioned when people say they can’t justify the £250 is the plethora of good card offers recently. There is a tab on the desktop site that shows the cash back (but not Avios bonuses). I have earned £389 in 2021 YTD from my BAPP and PRG (they don’t separate them out). That’s more than my combined annual fees. The two biggest were FT subscription that I buy every year anyway and a new cooker that we were going to buy anyway and bought at the lowest price that also had an offer. So the 241 and the various Avios bonuses are all free.

    • JP says:

      However those offers are also on the free cards from Amex. They seem to just randomly allocate them to one/or two cards you have if it is a good offer, or all if it is not a very good offer. Whether you paid for the card or not doesn’t seem to make a difference but largely seem to prefer the non branded ones (probably because of non interchange caps on those).

    • Duncan says:

      Don’t the free Amex cards also share a good chunk of the deals? I know it’s hit and miss, and my Platinum deals don’t match my BAPP, but some to all of that value could also come from a free or cheap card.

    • Guernsey Globetrotter says:

      That seems a really useful report but I can’t for the life of me find it on the desktop interface – which menu options does it hide behind please?

      • JDB says:

        If you are on the home page (top left tab) scroll down and you will see Amex offers and three tabs – Available Offers, Saved to Card and Savings. This last tab shows the savings. Thank you for asking as when I checked, it doesn’t combine the cards as I said earlier, just some of the same offers used on both cards.

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