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 British Airways Premium Plus American Express card.
Until 28th February, the sign up bonus is increased from 25,000 Avios to 40,000 Avios.
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 got a new look last year
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, giving it a sleeker appearance. I have the new style card now and it is quite classy.
Get a limited time 40,000 Avios sign-up bonus!
If you sign up by 28th February, you 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 ever see on the card.
Do you qualify for the 40,000 Avios bonus?
Remember that 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.
The bottom line is that if you haven’t had either of the BA Amex cards in the past 24 months, you will qualify for the 40,000 Avios.
What changed with the British Airways Premium Plus American Express card last year?
The changes to the British Airways Premium Plus American Express card in September 2021 were 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.
I run through the key changes below.
The big one: 2-4-1 vouchers now have access to extra Business Class availability
Companion Vouchers issued from September 2021 have access to a FAR wider pool of Business Class seats.
Basically, if a flight has roughly eight or more non-refundable cash seats left for sale in Business Class, the seats should be available for Avios redemption.
(To be clear: you only see these extra seats when redeeming your 2-4-1 voucher. All other Avios redemptions you make will be subject to the usual availability rules.)
Feedback so far on this change is very positive. Based on reader reports, business class availability is massively better when using a newly issued 2-4-1 voucher. It doesn’t mean you can book on any flight but your odds are hugely improved.
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 represented 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 companion voucher flights no longer need to depart from the UK
Historically, your 2-4-1 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 2-4-1 voucher issued after 1st September 2021 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.
Other key features of the card
What is the annual fee?
£250. This is refundable pro-rata if you choose to cancel, so – for example – you would be repaid £187.50 if you cancelled after three months.
What do you earn on day to day spending?
The British Airways Premium Plus Amex card earns 1.5 Avios per £1 on all qualifying spending. This compares with 1 Avios per £1 on the free card.
Do I receive a bonus for spending with British Airways?
Yes. 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 two years of the date of issue of your companion voucher. This compares to one year for the voucher on the free BA Amex, which is also heavily restricted to ‘economy only’ Avios bookings.
You will receive your voucher within a few days of hitting the £10,000 spending target.
Should you consider the free British Airways American Express instead?
If you reading this article – and so are probably a ‘hard core’ Avios collector – probably not.
The free BA Amex has a very restrictive 2-4-1 companion voucher which can only be used for economy flights on British Airways. The voucher, issued after £12,000 of spending, also has a restricted one year validity vs two years on the Premium Plus card.
The free card IS a good choice for the ‘casual’ Avios collector, and you may want to encourage your friends and family with an Avios account to sign up before 28th February whilst the bonus is 10,000 Avios. The free British Airways American Express application form is here.
British Airways and American Express have made a conscious decision to put some clear blue water between the two cards.
Following the September 2021 changes, the British Airways Premium Plus American Express card is 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 2-4-1 vouchers offer.
If you had been thinking about applying (or re-applying, if you cancelled your last BA Amex card over 24 months ago), now is a great time. The 40,000 Avios sign-up bonus is running until 28th February.
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.