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Get 10,000 Avios with the new fee-free British Airways American Express® Card – this is what has changed

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Today, 20 years into their partnership, British Airways and American Express® have revealed their new-look British Airways American Express® Credit Cards which come with a host of changes.

The changes were announced in June so nothing here should come as a surprise to you, although it is worth running over them again.

What wasn’t announced in advance is the jump to the Welcome Bonus on the ‘no fee’ British Airways American Express, which increases to 10,000 Avios for applications approved by 2nd November.

There is a second article looking at the changes to the British Airways Premium Plus American Express Card which you can find here. This article looks at changes to the ‘no fee’ British Airways American Express Credit Card.

British Airways BA Amex American Express card

The interest rate on the card is 24.5% APR variable.

Details of the changes are on ba.com here. You can apply for the ‘no fee’ British Airways American Express Card here.

The British Airways American Express has a fresh new look

As you can see above, the Card has a new look, inspired by the British Airways speedmarque.

Your Card number and expiry date have moved to the back of the Card. The Premium Plus Card has a similar design but in shades of grey.

Get a limited time 10,000 Avios sign-up bonus!

New Cardmembers can earn a Welcome Bonus of 10,000 Avios when you spend £1,000 in the first three months. This is the most generous bonus we have ever seen on this version of the British Airways American Express Card. To be eligible for the increased bonus you must apply and be approved by 2nd November.

Remember that you are only eligible for the sign-up bonus on this Card if you have NOT held a personal American Express Card in the past 24 months.

You ARE eligible if you currently or have held American Express Business Platinum, Business Gold or British Airways Accelerating Business as these are not classed as ‘personal’ Cards.

You ARE eligible if you are currently a supplementary Cardholder on a personal American Express Card held by someone else, but have not held a Card in your own name in the past 24 months.

Even if you do not qualify for the Welcome Bonus, you are still able to apply and enjoy the other benefits, including the Companion Voucher.

What has changed with the British Airways American Express Card?

The changes to the fee-free British Airways American Express Card are not just cosmetic.

There are two key changes which you need to understand and which may impact whether you decide to keep the Card or upgrade to the Premium Plus version.

British Airways BA Amex American Express

The spend required to trigger the Companion Voucher is cut to £12,000

This is the good news.

Before today, you had to spend £20,000 on the fee-free British Airways American Express Card to trigger a Companion Voucher.

By cutting the spend required to £12,000 per Card year, many more Cardmembers will now be able to generate a Companion Voucher.

You may have earned a Companion Voucher today

If you have already spent between £12,000 and £19,999 in your current Card year, you will trigger a 2-4-1 Companion Voucher today.

If you have spent less than £12,000 in your current Card year, your next Companion Voucher will be triggered when you hit £12,000.

If you do not want an ‘Economy only’ voucher, you should upgrade to the Premium Plus Card before you hit the £12,000 target.

The Companion Voucher is only valid on Economy flights

This is a huge change to the fee-free BA Amex Credit Card.

From today, any new Companion Voucher that you earn will only be valid on Economy flights on British Airways.

You can no longer redeem your voucher in World Traveller Plus, Club World / Club Europe or First.

For clarity, there is no change to the terms of any existing vouchers you have. These can be used in all travel classes. You can check all the new terms and conditions here.

If you like to redeem your Companion Voucher for a flight in a premium cabin, you will need to upgrade to Premium Plus.

Having a voucher which is only valid on Economy flights is far better than not having a voucher at all if you weren’t able to reach the previous £20,000 spending threshold.

Your Companion Voucher flights no longer need to depart from the UK

Historically, your Companion Voucher flight had to depart from the UK. Since this was a benefit for UK American Express Cardmembers, it was not a major restriction.

The rule has now gone. A flight booked with a new Companion Voucher issued after today (there is no rule change to existing vouchers) can start outside the UK.

There are some scenarios where this may prove useful. If you wanted to reduce the taxes and charges you pay, you could book a reward flight from, say, Dublin or Amsterdam via London to somewhere. This would mean you had no Air Passenger Duty to pay, although you would need to get to Dublin or Amsterdam to start your trip.

You cannot merge ‘new’ and ‘old’ Companion Vouchers on the same booking

This is more of a problem for Premium Plus Cardholders, but it will impact some holders of the fee-free British Airways American Express Card too.

One feature of the Companion Voucher is that you can use two vouchers in the same name to book for a group of four people. The voucher rules normally insist that the Cardmember is a traveller but this is waived on the second voucher if two are redeemed at once.

However, it is not possible to use an ‘old’ (pre 1st September 2021) and ‘new’ (post 1st September 2021) voucher together in the same booking. If you already have an unused Companion Voucher, you cannot combine it with any you earn from today.

British Airways BA 777X 777 9X

The other Card features remain unchanged

The other benefits of the Card remain as they were:

  • you earn 1 Avios for every £1 spent on the Card
  • you can receive more Avios with complimentary Supplementary Cards for family and friends (subject to approval)
  • Companion Vouchers remain valid for one year from the date of issue (the outbound flight must be taken by the expiry date)
  • the Card remains fee-free
  • after the limited time offer of 10,000 Avios expires, the Welcome Bonus returns to 5,000 Avios if you qualify
  • invite a friend bonus Avios (after the limited time offer expires) and access to Amex Offers remain as they were

Companion Vouchers issued in 2021 will continue to come with an additional six months validity – so 18 months on the free British Airways American Express Card – as part of BA’s coronavirus mitigation measures.

How do you upgrade to the British Airways Premium Plus American Express?

If you want to earn a Companion Voucher which is valid in premium cabins, you will need to upgrade to the British Airways Premium Plus American Express Card.

The best way to do it online is to make a fresh application for the British Airways Premium Plus Card via this page of the Amex website.

Give the number of your existing fee-free British Airways American Express Card during the application process when you are asked about any other Amex Cards you have. After you have submitted it, Amex will automatically pick up that you are upgrading and carry over all of your existing transactions and spending history.

You keep the same Cardmembership year and your ‘year to date’ spending carries over towards your 2-4-1 Premium Plus Companion Voucher. If you have spent between £10,000 and £11,999 in your current membership year, your next Companion Voucher will be triggered immediately.

You will not receive a sign-up bonus because you are an existing Cardmember.

The British Airways Premium Plus application form is here.

Conclusion

British Airways and American Express have made a conscious decision to put some clear blue water between the two BA Amex Cards.

From today, the fee-free British Airways American Express is the best choice for the casual Avios collector. This person is unlikely to redeem in premium cabins but can hopefully spend £12,000 per year to earn a Companion Voucher for an Economy trip. The ability to earn a Companion Voucher via a more realistic spending target should make the Card more attractive to this market.

For the more serious Avios collector the Premium Plus Card is now more attractive than it was. Click here for our article on the changes to the British Airways Premium Plus American Express Card.

You can find out more about the changes on this page of ba.com.

You can apply for the fee-free British Airways American Express Card here.

American Express Services Europe Limited has its registered office at Belgrave House, 76 Buckingham Palace Road, London, SW1W 9AX, United Kingdom. It is registered in England and Wales with Company Number 1833139 and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

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.

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