On 1st September, British Airways and American Express revealed their new-look British Airways American Express credit cards.
They also announced a huge temporary jump to the Premium Plus sign-up bonus which increased from 25,000 to 40,000 Avios.
You are running out of time to apply for this offer, which ends on 2nd November. You must be APPROVED by 2nd November, so I recommend applying no later than 31st October in case Amex does not give you instant approval.
The interest rate on the Card is 101.1% APR variable, based on a notional £1,200 credit limit and a £250 annual fee. The interest rate on purchases is 24.5% APR variable.
The British Airways Premium Plus 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.
Get a limited time 40,000 Avios sign-up bonus!
For another few days, new cardholders can earn a sign-up bonus of 40,000 Avios when you spend £3,000 in the first three months. This is the most generous bonus we have ever seen on the card.
To be eligible for the increased bonus you must apply and be approved by 2nd November. Amex has confirmed to us that the offer will not be extended and the bonus will drop back to 25,000 Avios.
Do you qualify for the sign-up bonus?
You are only eligible for the sign-up bonus on this card if you have NOT held a British Airways American Express (free or Premium Plus) card in the past 24 months.
You ARE eligible if you currently or have held The Platinum Card, Preferred Rewards Gold Card, Green Card, Nectar Card, Platinum Cashback Cards, Marriott Bonvoy Card, American Express Rewards Credit Card, Business Platinum or Business Gold Cards.
You ARE eligible if you are currently a supplementary cardholder on a British Airways American Express card held by someone else, but have not held a card in your own name in the past 24 months.
What has changed with the British Airways Premium Plus American Express card?
The changes to the British Airways Premium Plus American Express card are not just cosmetic.
You should now find it substantially easier to redeem your 2-4-1 Companion Voucher for seats in Club World or Club Europe.
Here are the key new benefits which launched in September:
New 2-4-1 vouchers will have access to extra Business Class availability
Companion Vouchers issued from 1st September have access to a FAR wider pool of Business Class seats.
In technical terms, if a flight is showing I-class availability (I-class is BA’s selling class for discounted non-refundable Business Class cash tickets) then the chances are these seats will be bookable for Avios.
We need to see the real life impact of this change, but on paper it should sharply improve your ability to book Business Class seats on the flight you want. It doesn’t mean you can book on any flight – there will be days when BA doesn’t need to sell discounted Business Class tickets – but your odds are hugely improved. Here is an experiment we did which shows the improvement in availability.
For clarity, this new benefit only applies to new 2-4-1 vouchers earned after 1st September 2021. Any existing vouchers you have will be subject to the old rules.
The spend target to receive a companion voucher remains £10,000 per Card year.
Avios availability is improved across all classes, whether you have a voucher or not
There was a hugely positive change to the Avios programme in May 2021 when British Airways announced that it would be releasing at least 14 seats per flight for Avios redemptions.
The airline now guarantees, when booking opens at 355 days before travel:
- 8 seats in World Traveller / Euro Traveller
- 2 seats in World Traveller Plus (long haul only)
- 4 seats in Club Europe / Club World
This represents a substantial improvement on the previous guaranteed minimum of six seats. There were previously no guaranteed World Traveller Plus seats at all.
As usual, it is likely that more Avios seats will be released over time depending on how well a particular flight is selling for cash. You can be certain, however, that there will be at least 14 seats per long haul departure and 12 seats per short haul flight.
ALL Avios collectors benefit from these changes, not just holders of British Airways American Express cards.
Your 2-4-1 flights no longer need to depart from the UK
There is another new benefit which is available to holders of both British Airways American Express cards.
Historically, your 2-4-1 companion voucher flight had to depart from the UK. Since this was a benefit for UK American Express cardholders, it was not a major restriction.
The rule has now gone. A flight booked with a new companion voucher issued after 1st September 2021 (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 that there was no Air Passenger Duty to pay – although you would need to pay to get to Dublin or Amsterdam to start your trip.
You cannot merge ‘new’ and ‘old’ 2-4-1 vouchers on the same booking
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 cardholder 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 September 2021) and ‘new’ (post September 2021) together in the same booking. If you already have an unused 2-4-1 voucher you cannot combine it with any you earn from today.
This will wash through over time and become less of an issue as older vouchers get used up or expire.
The other card features remain unchanged
The other benefits of the card remain as they were:
- you earn 1.5 Avios for every £1 spent on the card
- you earn 3 Avios per for every £1 you spend with British Airways or BA Holidays via their call centre or ba.com
- 2-4-1 vouchers remain valid for two years from the date of issue (the outbound flight must be taken by the expiry date)
- after the limited time offer of 40,000 Avios expires on 2nd November, the sign-up bonus returns to 25,000 Avios if you qualify
- Invite a Friend bonus Avios, once the current limited time offer ends, 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 30 months on Premium Plus – as part of BA’s coronavirus mitigation measures.
British Airways and American Express have made a conscious decision to put some clear blue water between the two cards.
From 1st September the companion voucher on the free British Airways American Express has required just £12,000 of spending. The companion voucher on the free BA Amex is only valid for Economy flights, however.
The British Airways Premium Plus American Express Card is now clearly the best choice for the serious Avios collector. This person wants to redeem in premium cabins and will benefit from the additional Business Class availability that the new-style Companion Vouchers offer.
Remember that the 40,000 Avios Welcome Bonus is only available for applications approved by 2nd November. I recommend you apply no later than 31st October in case Amex needs 24-48 hours to consider your application.
Want to earn more points from credit cards? – November 2021 update
If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are our November 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. Here are the top current deals:
British Airways American Express
5,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending ….. Read our full review
British Airways American Express Premium Plus
25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review
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 Platinum Card from American Express
30,000 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
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
30,000 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: