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American Express and British Airways have launched a limited-time increased sign up bonus on the two British Airways American Express credit cards.

In this article, I am looking at the free British Airways American Express card.

Until 28th February, the sign up bonus is increased from 5,000 Avios to 10,000 Avios.

For comparison, the bonus on the £250 BA Amex Premium Plus card is increased from 25,000 Avios to 40,000 Avios. You can read about that offer here and apply here.

British Airways BA Amex American Express

The interest rate on the free British Airways American Express card is 24.5% APR variable.

You can apply here.

There were substantial changes made to both British Airways American Express cards in September 2021. I have run through the details again below. If you have had the card before and are tempted to reapply, please read this article carefully as the product is not the same as it was.

The British Airways American Express has a fresh new look

As you can see above, the card got a new look last year, inspired by the British Airways speedmarque.

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

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

If you apply now, you can earn a bonus of 10,000 Avios when you spend £1,000 in the first three months. This is the most generous ‘open to all’ bonus we ever see on this version of the British Airways American Express card.

To be eligible for the increased bonus you must apply and be approved by 28th February.

Do you qualify for the sign-up bonus?

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

For clarity:

  • 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 bonus, you are still able to apply and enjoy the other benefits, including the 2-4-1 companion coucher.

What changed with the British Airways American Express card in 2021?

The changes to the fee-free British Airways American Express card in September 2021 were not just cosmetic.

There are two key changes which you need to understand and which may impact whether you decide to get the free card or the £250 Premium Plus version.

The spend required to trigger the 2-4-1 companion voucher was cut to £12,000

This is the good news.

Before September 2021, you had to spend £20,000 on the free British Airways American Express card to trigger a companion voucher.

By cutting the spend required to £12,000 per card year, it is now far easier for an average spender to trigger a 2-4-1 voucher.

The companion voucher is now only valid on Economy flights

This was a huge change to the free BA Amex credit card.

Any 2-4-1 companion voucher that you earn on the free BA Amex 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.

If you like to redeem your companion voucher for a flight in a premium cabin, you will need to apply for the British Airways Premium Plus card instead.

Whilst this change means that the card isn’t really suitable for the ‘heavy’ Avios collectors which make up the bulk of the HfP readership, the change does make sense in terms of the broader Avios market. After all, 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 2-4-1 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 2-4-1 voucher generated on the free BA Amex card can now 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.

Note that this change only applies to vouchers issued after 1st September 2021. Existing 2-4-1 vouchers retain the old rules.

British Airways BA 777X 777 9X

Other key features of the card

What do you earn on day to day spending?

The free BA Amex card earns 1 Avios per £1 on all qualifying spending. This compares with 1.5 Avios per £1 on the Premium Plus card.

Do I receive a bonus for spending with British Airways?

No. The Premium Plus version of the card earns double Avios (3 per £1) when you spend with British Airways or BA Holidays. There is no extra bonus on the free BA Amex however.

Can I have free supplementary cards for my family?

Yes. There is often a bonus offered for adding your first supplementary card, so don’t ask for one during the initial application process.

How long does the companion voucher last?

You need to take the outbound flight within one year of the date of issue of your companion voucher.

You will receive your voucher within a few days of hitting the £12,000 spending target.


Last year, British Airways and American Express made a conscious decision to put some clear blue water between the two BA Amex cards.

The 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 2-4-1 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.

We know that this card is no longer suitable for many HfP readers, but if you have friends or family who are ‘casual’ Avios collectors then send them a link to this article. 10,000 Avios for taking out a free credit card is not to be sniffed at.

For the more serious Avios collector the Premium Plus card is now clearly the best option. Click here for our article on the British Airways Premium Plus American Express card and the huge 40,000 Avios bonus available today.

You can apply for the free British Airways American Express card – with the 10,000 Avios bonus – here.

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. The site discusses products offered by lenders but is not a lender itself. Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as an independent credit broker.

Comments (17)

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

  • Simon says:

    With the restriction on economy only 241, the value of this card is lost. With all the fees and charges is cheaper to just buy your economy flight.

    • dougzz99 says:

      Not if you compare like for like. If you compare a deeply discounted economy ticket with a flexible redemption then yes.

      • Rui N. says:

        That’s kind of a silly comparison though. Virtually no one buys flexible Economy tickets (at least before Covid), so you’re not comparing with something that you’d buy otherwise. And there is no option to buy non-flexible Avios redemption, so you can never compare your “deeply discounted economy ticket” with an equivalent Avios redemption.

        • simon says:

          Also at £35 a change, not many people are using a redemption ticket as a fully flexible option. Most using avios for a flight will be doing so for personal travel, so flexibility is less of a key feature.

          • Rui N. says:

            Indeed. For most people the comparison is: check how much a given flight costs in £ vs. how much the same flight (or maybe not exactly the same flight, but around the same dates, depending on Avios availability) costs in Avios. Ticket conditions are mostly irrelevant in the comparison.
            Of course at £35 (or even better at £1 like before Covid), if you are Avios rich you can more easily make some speculative bookings that you are less likely to fly. But you wouldn’t buy a £500 fully flexible economy ticket to do the same, so you can’t compare both of them.

          • KK says:

            £35 a change is nothing in the world of change fees.
            no useful if you can only take holidays on specific times of the year, but is good option for people who wants to plan for a trip that *may* happen (lets say, a wedding of a couple who are always in arguments)

    • Manar says:

      It’s perfectly useful for reward saver (Europe) flights which can at times can be good value, especially if you don’t value long haul business class enough to pay the high fees BA adds to those redemptions.

    • Gosia says:

      It is very useful on European flights were cash value exceeds £500 for a return economy ticket: London-Warsaw for Christmas regularly hits that level.

  • truthbetold says:

    beware the Amex BA Blue card doesn’t qualify for bonus if you have MR cards. BAPP does qualify. this is easy to miss (damn it) and now also precludes applying for the BAPP bonus….(double damn it)

    • Jonathan says:

      The Amex sign up bonuses what are eligible for and what aren’t available for you are very clearly explained in numerous articles here on HfP. Regular readers generally know pretty much straight away if they’re eligible for a sign up bonus or not

  • Steve says:

    Maybe it was a targeted offer to me but received an email from BA last year offering a 20 000 mile bonus if I applied by 28 Sept for the free card. Bonus came after one month.
    Also used the same email link to get my partner to apply who has just received the bonus.

  • BrianN says:

    Hi my 24 month waiting period now up so can reapply and get a bonus.

    If I get the free BA card now, can I apply and get a bonus on the gold card within 24 months or would getting the free BA card disqualify me?


    • Rob says:

      Both BA cards disqualify you from Gold.

      Scenarios which would work:
      *get Gold first, then BAPP
      *get BAPP or free BA, get Platinum second
      *get Platinum first, then BAPP

      • Paul says:

        Is Marriott, BAPP, Plat the best option for someone that has waited 24 months.

        • Rob says:

          Or Nectar, BAPP, Plat … potentially better for Avios given Nectar is free in Year 1 unless you want 15 Marriott elite nights.

  • BorneoRH says:

    Has anyone had issues having the avios generated by the BA Amex card credited to their BA exec account? I have a new card and the balance is not moving over, so wondering if its a known issue or just something weird on my account

    • Rob says:

      My wife has this issue. When we got her paper statement it was clear why – despite putting her Exec Club number on the application, it got lost somewhere and there is just a big empty space on the statement where the number should be. It’s on my ‘to do’ list to fix.

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

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