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Got a British Airways American Express? Are you sure you are ready for the 1st September changes?

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On 1st September, the British Airways American Express credit cards will see the biggest changes since they were introduced 20 years ago.

Are you ready?

We have written comprehensively about the changes, but here is a quick reminder.

Got the free BA Amex? Are you sure you are ready for the 1st September changes?

On the free British Airways American Express card:

  • 2-4-1 companion vouchers issued after 1st September can no longer be used for First, Business or Premium Economy flights
  • 2-4-1 companion vouchers will be triggered with an annual spend of just £12,000, down from £20,000
  • 2-4-1 companion vouchers issued after 1st September cannot be used in the same booking as vouchers issued before 1st September

Full details of the changes to the free British Airways American Express are in this article.

On the British Airways Premium Plus American Express card:

  • the annual fee increases from £195 to £250 per year
  • 2-4-1 companion vouchers issued after 1st September will have access to substantial extra availability in Club World – if there are cheap cash seats for sale on a flight (technically “I-class” tickets) you can book them for Avios
  • 2-4-1 companion vouchers issued after 1st September cannot be used in the same booking as vouchers issued before 1st September

Full details of the changes to the British Airways Premium Plus American Express are in this article.

Got the free BA Amex? Are you sure you are ready for the 1st September changes?

If you have the BA Premium Plus Amex, are you ready?

Holders of the British Airways Premium Plus American Express card have it easier. There is only have one decision to make in the short term:

  • should you trigger your next 2-4-1 voucher before 1st September, which will let you combine it with other 2-4-1 vouchers you have?, or
  • should you trigger your next 2-4-1 voucher after 1st September, because you will get access to far more Club World seats?

For what it’s worth, I went with the first option. I already had an unused 2-4-1 in the bank, and we are a family of four. It is more important to me that I can combine two vouchers for my entire family than get access to extra Club World seats.

If you travel as a couple, or travel as a family but don’t have an unused 2-4-1 already banked, I would go with the second option.

If you have the free BA Amex, are you ready?

This is where it gets complicated because if you don’t act, decisions may be taken for you without your consent.

Got the free BA Amex? Are you sure you are ready for the 1st September changes?

Will you have spent £12,000 to £19,999 on your free BA Amex on 1st September?

If the answer is ‘yes’, then you have a problem.

On 1st September, your account will automatically trigger the new-style 2-4-1 voucher which is only valid in Economy.

Not everyone will be unhappy about this. Some holders of the free BA Amex have never, ever triggered a companion voucher because they never spent £20,000 in a year. (These people should not be BA Amex cardholders, frankly, because there are more generous cards available but let’s ignore that for today.)

If this sounds like you, here are your options:

  • you could try to bring forward spending (top up your Amazon account etc) to ensure that you hit £20,000 by 31st August. This would get you a one year 2-4-1 voucher which can still be used for First Class, Business Class or Premium Economy, not just in Economy.
  • you could upgrade your free BA Amex to the British Airways Premium Plus American Express. As you have spent over £10,000 this year, your 2-4-1 voucher will be triggered immediately. This will give you a two year 2-4-1 voucher which is valid in any travel class.
  • you can do nothing. A new style one year 2-4-1 voucher, valid only in Economy, will be awarded to you on 1st September.

In my view, options one and two are far more attractive than option three.

Will you have spent under £12,000 on your free BA Amex on 1st September?

If this is you, you don’t have any pressure to act now. Nothing will be triggered on 1st September.

You WILL have to make a decision at some point before you hit £12,000 however:

  • do you remain with the free BA Amex, and wait for the new-style Economy-only 2-4-1 voucher to be triggered whenever you do hit £12,000?
  • do you upgrade to the British Airways Premium Plus card at some point before you hit £12,000? If you are already over £10,000 of spending when you upgrade, your 2-4-1 voucher is triggered immediately. If you are under £10,000 of spending, it will trigger when you hit the threshold.

If you go for the 2nd option, you also need to think about the timing:

  • should you upgrade and trigger your next 2-4-1 voucher before 1st September, which will let you combine it with other 2-4-1 vouchers you have?, or
  • should you upgrade and trigger your next 2-4-1 voucher after 1st September, because you will get access to far more Club World seats?

Will you have spent over £20,000 on your free BA Amex on 1st September?

For completeness, let’s look at the other possible scenario.

If you will have spent over £20,000 on your free BA Amex on 1st September, you have nothing to worry about.

You have already triggered your 2-4-1 voucher for this card year. The change in the rules won’t take effect until you trigger your next companion voucher in a future card year.

How do you upgrade your free BA Amex to Premium Plus?

Confusingly, there is no ‘official’ upgrade process.

Go to the Premium Plus application page here and make a fresh application. Give details of your free BA Amex when asked about what other American Express cards you hold.

Amex’s IT will automatically spot your attempt to upgrade, issue your Premium Plus card, close your existing free BA Amex (it isn’t possible to have both cards) and copy across all of your existing statement information and your ‘year to date’ spending total. This will work smoothly – Amex has the process very much under control.

For clarity, you will not receive a sign-up bonus on the Premium Plus card.

Conclusion

There are some tough decisions ahead for holders of the free British Airways American Express.

If you will have spent between £12,000 and £19,999 on 1st September, you need a plan. If you don’t act, you will be issued with a 2-4-1 ‘Economy only’ companion voucher on 1st September whether you like it or not.

PS. For simplicity above, I have ignored the fact that all 2-4-1 vouchers issued before 31st December 2021 will come with an extra six months validity as a covid compensation benefit. The free BA Amex voucher will be valid for 18 months whilst the BA Premium Plus voucher will be valid for 30 months.


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

If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are our October 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:

  • 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

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 (103)

  • Tracey says:

    Thanks to this article I’ve just checked and have only a few hundred pound to go before triggering a 241 for this year. Putting the card away until September 1st, but I want to book a holiday using one of my existing 241 vouchers. Can I recommend my other half for a blue card and put the holiday spend on that? It seems worth sacrificing the extra 0.5avios/£1 to delay the voucher.

    • Peter Bullock says:

      I am having difficulty researching Club/First availability for a 2 4 1 Avios earned on a Premium (Black) Amex card….is this because I am now a BA Blue Executive Card member? All very confusing!

      • Rob says:

        No, makes no difference.

        Have a play with SeatSpy, it makes the process a lot faster.

  • HH says:

    Follow-up to the Accor Book With Confidence refund discussion two days ago. The hotel reception informed me the refund needs to be requested manually, separately from the cancellation (???) and gave me their email address. They replied yesterday morning to confirm it’s been issued and I can see it on my Amex today. Nowhere did Accor explain this, very odd but at least it was honoured in the end.

    • HH says:

      Sorry, meant to post in daily chat.

      • Lou says:

        Oh really?! I smell the subtle scent of the excrement of a male cow…

        If it’s not in the T&C’s, it didn’t exist

  • Cora says:

    Hello,

    Thanks for such a fantastic article.

    I have already triggered the 2 for 1 voucher and it’s in my BA account however, moving forward I wont be interested in the economy only 2 for 1 voucher and therefore I’m looking to cancel my AMEX credit card.

    Would cancelling my Amex before making a booking using my voucher have any impact on my voucher?

    I assume not but wanted to check with someone who is far smarter than I am 🙂

    • Rob says:

      No, but Amex will lie and tell you otherwise.

      You will need AN Amex to pay the taxes when you redeem the 241.

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