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Review: the British Airways American Express Premium Plus credit card

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This is our review of the British Airways American Express Premium Plus credit card.

It is part of our series of articles looking at the major UK loyalty credit cards and discussing whether or not they are worth applying for. These articles are linked to the relevant sections of the ‘Credit Cards‘ area in the menu bar. Our other UK airline and hotel credit card reviews can be found here.

Key links: British Airways American Express Premium Plus application form

Review British Airways BA Amex Premium Plus American Express

Key facts: £250 annual fee

The representative APR is 103.1% variable, including the £250 fee, based on a notional £1,200 credit limit. The interest rate on purchases is 25.7% variable.

This article was updated on 1st August 2022, and all of the information is correct as of that date. Ignore the original publication date shown.

About the BA Premium Plus card

The British Airways American Express Premium Plus card is issued directly by American Express. This analysis is focused on the paid version of the card – I reviewed the free British Airways American Express credit card in a separate article.

What is the BA Premium Plus sign-up bonus?

You receive 25,000 Avios when you spend £3,000 within three months.

A larger bonus of 26,000 Avios is available if you are referred by an existing cardholder. Please e-mail me at rob [at] headforpoints.com if you would like a referral link emailing to you.

What are the rules for qualifying for the sign-up bonus?

The BA Premium Plus sign-up bonus is only available to customers who have not held a British Airways or British Airways Premium Plus American Express card in the previous 24 months.

You will definitely receive the bonus if you are only a supplementary cardholder on someone else’s American Express card. As far as Amex is concerned, that card belongs to the primarily cardholder and does not make you an ‘existing cardholder’.

If you do not qualify for the bonus, you can still apply.  You still receive the other card benefits including the 2-4-1 companion voucher.

Any other benefits?

Very much so!  When you spend £10,000, you receive a companion voucher entitling you to book two Avios redemption flights for the miles of one. This voucher is valid for two years.

This voucher is the most valuable perk available in the UK airline and hotel credit card sector in my view. It could save you 150,000 or more Avios when used for a long-haul redemption in a premium cabin.

If you are a solo traveller, you can use the voucher to get a 50% discount on the Avios required for a flight for one person.

I attempted to calculate the value of the British Airways American Express companion voucher in this article.

From 1st September 2021, the 2-4-1 companion voucher improved markedly. Vouchers earned after this date have access to a wider pool of Club World long-haul business class seats than other Avios members. This should make them substantially easier to redeem for Club World flights.

Note that taxes and charges are due at the standard rate on all tickets booked with a companion voucher. The discount only applies to the Avios element.

Review British Airways BA American Express Amex cards

What is the BA Premium Plus Amex annual fee?

The BA American Express Premium Plus card has an annual fee of £250.

You will receive a pro-rata refund of your annual fee if you cancel. American Express is the only UK card issuer to offer this.

What do I earn per £1 spent on the card?

You receive 1.5 Avios per £1 spent on the card.

You receive double Avios (3 per £1) when booking flights or holidays directly with British Airways.

What is an Avios point worth?

How long is a piece of string!

This article is my best attempt to calculate the value of an Avios point. You should target 1p to 1.75p per point.

Is the BA Premium Plus Amex a good card to use when travelling?

As Amex adds a 3% foreign exchange fee, you might want to get a separate free credit card to use abroad.

Unfortunately there are no credit cards with 0% foreign exchange fees worldwide which earn airline or hotel points. (The Virgin Atlantic credit cards have 0% FX fees in the Eurozone.)  One option is to get a free card from Currensea. Currensea is a simple but clever idea. You pay abroad with your Currensea Mastercard debit card. Currensea translates the cost to Sterling with just a 0.5% fee (83% less than Amex charges) and withdraws the money from your bank account. You can find out more about Currensea by clicking here. Currensea is free so there is no risk in giving it a try.

Other points to note about the BA Premium Plus Amex

If you have the Premium Plus card, you can downgrade to the free version at any time and get a pro-rata refund. You may want to do this if you have triggered your 2-4-1 voucher but not yet redeemed it, and do not want to continue paying the annual fee.

American Express no longer has a minimum income requirement for any of its cards.

Is this card better than the £240 Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard?

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched a premium Avios Mastercard (apply here) with a generous sign-up bonus.

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

This is fundamentally the same package as the Premium Plus American Express card. The fee is virtually the same and you earn 1.5 Avios per £1. Both have a 25,000 Avios bonus. Both trigger a voucher after £10,000 of annual spend. Mastercard is accepted more widely than American Express.

The key difference is the annual voucher. Barclaycard Avios Plus gives you an annual upgrade voucher for an Avios flight on British Airways. You can upgrade a return flight for one person or one leg of a return flight for two people. Read our Barclaycard Avios Plus review for the full terms.

For most couples, the British Airways Premium Plus American Express will be more valuable than Barclaycard Avios Plus. The 2-4-1 voucher is more valuable than an upgrade voucher.

However, if you are a solo traveller, you are likely to find the Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard annual voucher more useful.

Importantly, remember that even if you do get the British Airways Premium Plus American Express card, nothing stops you also getting Barclaycard Avios Plus and then cancelling it once you have the 25,000 Avios bonus. If your credit card spending is high enough, you may want to get and keep both cards.

What is best Visa or Mastercard to use alongside the British Airways Premium Plus American Express?

American Express is widely accepted, but not everywhere takes it.

We recommend the brand new FREE Barclaycard Avios Rewards Mastercard to use where American Express is not accepted.

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

You can apply for the Barclaycard Avios Rewards Mastercard here.

How else can you earn Avios points from an Amex card?

Don’t forget these less obvious options:

American Express Amex Gold

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 American Express Preferred Rewards Gold credit card offers 20,000 Membership Rewards points for signing up and is FREE for the first year. These convert to 20,000 Avios points.

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points, £200 travel credit and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

The American Express Platinum charge card usually offers 30,000 Membership Rewards points for signing up. These convert to 30,000 Avios points. It has a £575 fee, refunded pro-rata if you cancel.

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

Conclusion

The sign-up bonus of 25,000 Avios (26,000 if I refer you) is an excellent offer especially as the card fee is refundable pro-rata if you choose to cancel during the year.

The higher sign-up bonus – plus the 50% higher earning rate on your spending – makes the Premium Plus card better than the free BA Amex card, at least for the first year. Remember that the 2-4-1 voucher on the free card can only be used on Economy flights, however.

In terms of on-going earning, 1.5 Avios points and the 2-4-1 voucher when you spend £10,000 make the most valuable package on the market for your long-term spending as long as you are confident of hitting the £10,000 target. If you won’t spend £10,000 on the card each year then the value of the Avios earned will not cover the annual fee.

Solo travellers can also now benefit from the 2-4-1 now that British Airways has started allowing vouchers to be used for a 50% discount on one ticket. If you are a solo traveller, you should also consider the upgrade voucher that comes with the Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard.

The application form for the British Airways American Express Premium Plus card can be found here.

(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibly 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 (53)

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

  • Harry Hightower says:

    One thing that always strikes me about this card is that for the 241 voucher to be worth 150k avios, you need to earn 150k avios. Exclude the sign up bonus, and that’s £100k spend on this card. When considering the value of the annual voucher you need to consider how many avios you can earn annually – logically it can’t be worth more than that to you.

    • dougzz99 says:

      I heard a rumour that some people earn Avios by flying with BA, seems a bit far fetched though.

  • DJ says:

    I remember seeing some comments hinting about keeping the card till at least the end of Feb. Is that still the case?

    • Rob says:

      You misinterpreted whatever was written. End of Feb getting pretty close anyway though.

  • Edward says:

    For several years now my wife and I have downgraded to the free BA card after hitting £10k and triggering the companion voucher but last year we both experienced pushback from AMEX when we entered the new membership year tried to upgrade the card. Online upgrade rejected, we called up and still rejected via call centre. I escalated to a fairly senior level and eventually got the card upgraded but it seems fair to say they must keep a track of the history and not look too kindly on this strategy. Have others experienced this issue?

    • ianM says:

      Can’t blame them, but you wouldn’t get any sign up bonus on this strategy so why would you ?

      • Edward says:

        No bonus but can save you over £200 in fees if you can hit the £10k spend in the first couple of months and then use the free card for the rest of the year.

        • Bob M says:

          If you can spend 10 grand in a couple of months why are you worrying about saving 200 quid?

          Spend at that rate throughout the year and the extra Avios earned via the Premium Plus will more than compensate for the card fee.

  • Roger* says:

    I just cancelled my BAPP card after almost 28 years, and with it the limit of £29k, which I never really exploited.

    The reasons were mainly personal. In my case, the fee increase from £0 to £250 would be difficult to justify but the major problem would remain the lack of award seats to where I want to go, even with the enhancement.

    I wanted to downgrade to the free card but apparently the only way is to apply for it, they told me when I phoned twice. I don’t need an unnecessary ding in my credit report.

    It’s been good over the years but increasingly less so. I couldn’t use an extended voucher for 3 years, largely because of COVID, so had to let it expire.

    We’ll see how it goes.

    • Edward says:

      Be interesting to see if anyone from AMEX contacts you, you’d hope so after being a loyal card member that long but I don’t imagine they have that level of resource now with their mass market strategy.

    • Sundar says:

      Amex may not necessarily get a ding on your credit report if you are already a member as it checks internally first from what I have read here – YMMV and others can confirm.

      • QFFlyer says:

        This seems to be the case, of course they reserve the right to pull your file, but I haven’t had a hard search from Amex in years, and have opened multiple new cards in that time.

    • Andy says:

      I downgraded over the phone with no issues on Friday, and the pro-rata refund of the fee was even added the same day

  • chelseafifi says:

    I applied for BAAP 1st Feb, application was “under review” I’ve not received any emails or card, should I have received an update on my application by now?

    • Rob says:

      Amex just posts you the card if accepted – you don’t get emailed. Given the current state of the postal network ….

  • Gordon says:

    I may be wrong but I really don’t see the point in downgrading to the free card once you have triggered the C.V. It seems like penny pinching, Agreed you get a pro rata refund on your remaining membership, But on the flip side you are loosing 50% Avios on purchases, False economy….

    • Roger* says:

      You need an AX card to pay the ‘taxes’.

    • Edward says:

      You need a lot of spending to justify the extra £200 cost, especially when you can stop using the card for the rest of the year and put the spending through another card.

    • Roger* says:

      I didn’t get a refund on my £0 fee (looking for the smiley button) and after 28 years wouldn’t be faffing around with cancelling and reapplying. As I said, my reasons were mainly personal. What’s right for you may not be right for everybody.

      • Secret Squirrel says:

        Think you need to call up again as I’ve always been able to downgrade over the phone to the fee free BA card.

  • chelseafifi says:

    When searching for flight availability on RFF, would I find more availability directly on BA using my new 241? Thanks

  • Gordon says:

    P.S. As long as you spend over 10k a year which is why you would apply for the BAPP card anyway.

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

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