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If you get a free grandfathered BA Premium Plus Amex, it’s over – but you saved £3,000+

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There was one final twist yesterday in the story of the changes to the British Airways American Express credit cards.

We have already covered:

Here’s the last bit of news – and it’s not good.

American Express ends free British Airways Premium Plus credit cards

When the British Airways American Express cards were launched in 2001, American Express was keen to encourage its existing charge card holders to get one.

Offers were made depending on what charge card you had. In my case, as a holder of The Platinum Card, I received a Premium Plus card for free. Others paid a heavily reduced fee of £30.

I have never, ever, paid a penny for my Premium Plus credit card. I have saved 15 years of £150 and 5 years of £195, so £3,225. I know that many HfP readers are in the same position.

This is now over.

It was hidden away somewhat in an email sent out by American Express yesterday. I have not received it, so they are either being staggered or some people are being saved – I am assuming the former.

This clause takes effect from 1st September unless you cancel your Premium Plus card before then:

4. Introduction of an annual Cardmembership fee of £250, which will be the standard Cardmembership fee for the British Airways American Express® Premium Plus Card, and the removal of the clause that allows you to hold the Card for free if you hold an Amex Companion Card. This is to ensure we can continue to offer the existing range of rewards and benefits linked to your Card. The Cardmembership fee charged to your Account from 1 September 2021 will be the new annual fee and will be charged on the statement following your Card anniversary.

I can’t really blame American Express for this. In some way, I am amazed that this perk has continued for so long.

The good news for Amex is that I doubt many people will cancel their British Airways Premium Plus card due to the change.

The bad news for Amex is that I DO think that some people will cancel The Platinum Card instead. It is effectively a £250 increase in their Platinum card fee, net of the discount attributed to getting a free British Airways Premium Plus card. It probably won’t be enough cancellations to wipe out the extra revenue on the Premium Plus card, but it will make a dent in it.

For the record, it is unlikely I will cancel mine. The maths still works. It won’t work for many other people.

Want to earn more points from credit cards? – September 2021 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are our September 2021 recommendations based on the current sign-up bonus

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here.

The following offers will end soon:

  • 2,000 Virgin Points on Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard (ends 15th October)
  • 30,000 Virgin Points on Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard (ends 15th October)
  • 10,000 Avios on British Airways American Express (ends 2nd November)
  • 40,000 Avios on British Airways American Express Premium Plus (ends 2nd November)
  • 60,000 points on The Platinum Card from American Express (ends 2nd November)
  • 30,000 points on American Express Preferred Rewards Gold (ends 9th November)

Here are the top current deals:

British Airways BA Amex American Express card

British Airways American Express

10,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and an Economy 241 voucher for spending ….. Read our full review

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

40,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Rewards credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard

The UK’s most generous free Visa or Mastercard at 0.75 points / £1 Read our full review

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

30,000 points bonus and the most generous non-Amex for day to day spending 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.

American Express Business Gold

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

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

60,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company 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 and no annual fee Read our full review

Comments (76)

  • Ls says:

    Wasn’t the Prem plus card £120/year at some point? Or did I imagine it?

    • Rob says:

      As opposed to Premium Plus?

    • Mark says:

      I’m sure when they first came out the Premium card was £60 and the Premium Plus card £120, then when they stopped new applications for the Premium card they upped the Premium Plus to £150.

  • Ed says:

    Hi Rob, what about the 241 voucher first leg can be used for departing from a non Uk airports? You haven’t mentioned that again. Is it a wrong info or Amex/BA hasn’t release the whole terms yet ?

  • Alex Sm says:

    Can we assume that let’s say MBNA Horizon cards will be discontinued one day by simply letting the existing cards expire and not reissuing them?

    • Genghis says:

      I may be corrected but I don’t think I’ve ever seen an example of when cards are discontinued, that they stop on a card’s expiry date. It’s generally all at once, irrespective of when individual cards expire.

      • Andrew says:

        Yes because you can always “lose” your card and it will be reissued with another few years on it.

        • old codger says:

          I got a Barclaycard around 2000 and only used if for a free (pre fee) balance transfer. Never purchased anything on the card and may have even transferred the balance to another no fee card or paid it off in full.

          Every 3 years I’d duly get the new cards. Finally last year or the year before they wrote to say if I wanted to keep the card to spend something on it. I meant to, just for the heck of it but forgot!

      • Chrisasaurus says:

        Indeed – they would be insane to do it that way, firstly because at the end they’d be runnnng an entire credit card program for a few stragglers and secondly they’d attempt to shunt them onto a non-earningback card and hope to keep a percentage of the customer book no?

    • Andrew says:

      There’s multiple versions of the Horizon card. All have the 0.5% rate, but only some have the FX free benefit.

  • flyoff says:

    Rob, I note your comment about people ditching the Platinum card. I think there will be significant people who are on the £30 rate, who only needed another credit card product, may ditch the BA card with this increase in fee. This will be especially true if two people in the household had this discount as they are likely to have 2-4-1’s awaiting use and don’t need another 2-4-1.

    • Truffman says:

      Agreed. I have been paying the £30 rate while holding a no-cost companion credit card. As a single person I mostly use companion vouchers with friends opportunistically, so will most likely downgrade and focus on UUA in future. The old Lloyds upgrade vouchers were much more useful for me.

  • StanC says:

    I have had an Amex Gold charge card since 1975, so only paid £30 for the BA Premium card…. going to £250 my emails says. Gold card will go.

  • StanC says:

    PS – it does not require “maths” – simple arithmetic!

  • TC says:

    Getting rid of the BAPP. I have 3 2-4-1 vouchers and not enough avios to use them for decent long haul flights. Moved spend to Virgin, so will see how that goes. Has anyone got feedback on using the VA upgrade to Premium or a Companion ticket? How easy is the process to upgrade/book? Thanks

    • Sean says:

      Using the voucher has to be done by phone – but never had much of a problem – only issue will be availability – no guarantees unlike BA.

    • Travel Strong says:

      As above, easy by phone. No weird call centre times or useless agents – every virgin agent is skilled, empowered, and friendly. Easy to see availability on the app before you call (much quicker to see than BA). I’ve never had any issue getting availability if I am a little flexible on dates, although on occasion I have had to book 1 leg in a different class and wait and see if more availability opens later on (it always has). There’s simply a lot less people competing to get the seats compared to avios.

    • Tom says:

      Called a few times and they’ve been highly knowledgeable and helpful regarding the voucher. Was easy to book UC to the States with Premium miles by using the voucher also at sales rates so got an absolute bargain. Also hassle free to get back miles, taxes and voucher (less £30 fee) when I had to cancel it because of Covid. I would strongly advise ringing them at 7am on the dot when they open, I’ve managed to get straight through most times whereas I did have one experience of waiting over 2 hours ringing in the afternoon. You snooze you lose! Hope that helps

  • Paul says:

    I simply do not buy the
    “You saved £3,250 in fees argument” used to soften this blow. You only saved it if you would actually have paid it!
    My anniversary date is August 24th so I am unclear if I’ll get another year of free BAPP or if the charge starts right away.
    For me platinum will be retained
    and BAPP ditched. Family travel is over and my wife and I are sitting in two vouchers which have become harder and harder to use in recent years. Indeed 2/3 of the last vouchers were used on ShortHaul club Europe redemptions.
    Longer term I am more likely to churn and look at alternatives to Amex and BA altogether – if any where available.
    2 club world long haul seats using are nearing £1,200 in fees and as we saw yesterday, sub £1,000 fares ex EU still come along it’s hard to justify the often painful experience of obtaining seats, I have never for example booked 355 days out. I class may improve that but I can’t use my existing vouchers for those.
    This move has been a long time coming I admit, but it again demonstrates very starkly that loyalty is a one way street. For those for who money is no object £825 a year in fees may not be an issue but for many others it is unlikely to be value for money.

    • Andrew says:

      I think you’ll be lucky and not have to pay the fee until August 2022 as your anniversary date is before 1 September and the new fee kicks on the anniversary after 1 September.

      • NFH says:

        The same happened when Platinum went up from £450 to £575. My increase was delayed for more than a year because of good timing. So Paul will not pay the £250 until 24/08/2022.

        • Paul says:

          I have just had confirmation from Amex that fee kicks in August 2022. So a bit of luck there. I will then have old style vouchers till 2024 by which time who knows what will happen

          • NFH says:

            So the new companion vouchers (redeemable in I class) apply only to those earnt in a membership year in which a £250 annual fee is paid, not for all vouchers issued after 1st September 2021?

    • Harry T says:

      Saying that people saved thousands in card fees over the years also ignores the fact that they could have churned the BAPP numerous times during that period instead and earned many more points from sign up and referral bonuses.

    • Sloth says:

      Data can be, and is, always skewed to suit the argument being made

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