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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.

  • LS says:

    You do not mention one of the best benefits of the card: the very high travel inconvenience benefit for flights booked on the card. Luggage not turned up within 4 hours? Spend £750 on necessaries on amex. I used this once on a work trip, where my luggage all went missing. Had to buy a suit, shirts, toiletries etc that were easily > £500, all paid out by amex without any fuss.

  • AK says:

    Perhaps some examples for how much avios and tax is payable for say New York, Dubai and Mumbai. Then, how much £ spending is required to achieve this annually without adding on card sign up bonuses as most people would not want to be applying for 3/4 cards every year and adversely affecting their credit score. That just leaves the other regular promos posted on HfP which require active following. I just feel that knowing the effort and spend required to get the avios to make good value of a 241 redemption would put off many.

    • Rob says:

      That’s a slightly bizarre comment. If I ran a blog about pretty houses for sale, you wouldn’t expect articles saying ‘don’t buy a house, houses are too expensive’. You’ve already decided to buy a pretty house when you start reading the blog, and you know what they cost and you’ve decided you want one anyway.

      Under no scenario can you argue that HfP attempts to persuade non-Avios collectors of their value. We don’t even want non-existing Avios collectors reading the site – they are too ‘needy’ in terms of questions, expectations etc. Our target reader is a BA Silver / Gold card holder who has made that decision already and we just guide them along. These people also have the sort of salary which allows us to sell them some luxury hotel rooms via Emry and occasional business class flights for cash.

      • Stephan says:

        I think you forgot to add Amex churners and all those creation readers although guess you wouldn’t state it explicitly. Also not sure you need to be someone on a big salary to hit silver/gold

        • AK says:

          There have been articles specifically about how to strategically do Amex churning.

  • Kipto says:

    I have the free ba card and have accidentally gone over £10K spend. It was always my intention to freeze the spend on the card until later in the year and then upgrade the card. As soon as I apply for the card will the companion voucher be triggered ?

    • MarkZ says:

      Yes – that is how I received my very first 2-4-1 voucher. Looking back through my records, I recall that the voucher was actually sent to my BA Executive Club account when the next monthly statement after upgrading was generated.

  • PGW says:

    I’ve been tempted back to this card after a few years following the changes in September last year. The new option to start the vouchered trip outside the UK easily saves me enough in charges to justify the higher fee and gives much more flexibility. I’ll almost certainly cancel the card as soon as I earn the voucher though.

  • MissGeekChic says:

    Would I still get the sign up bonus if I hold an Amex platinum? The article says that I shouldnt have held a BA Amex card for 24 months but just wanted to check as I have other flavours of Amex cards.

    • Rob says:

      Yes, you will. You qualify for the BAPP bonus but NOT the bonus on the free BA card (ie Amex is happy to have you if you’re willing to spend money on an annual fee).

  • VikG says:

    Whilst waiting for the 241 to post – is there a tool to check availability? We are planning our trip so wanted to get a head start on availability

    • Gordon says:

      Log into your executive account and choose pay with avios on BA site,There’s a section in there….

    • Rob says:

      SeatSpy is as good as it gets BUT it doesn’t show the ‘extra’ business class seating that the new 2-4-1 vouchers offer, unfortunately.

      • VikG says:

        I have seatspy but as you mentioned it doesnt cover the 241 availability.

        Gordon – I dont have the voucher so I cant use it yet. Infact qualified already but Amex support keep messing up linking my BA ID. I think finally done but I wanted to use for a trip to Mauritius next month so really cutting it fine!

  • Dave says:

    I have on this card a points bonus for adding a supplementary card and then another one to refer someone for it. Can it be the same person? (They currently hold an Amex card but have never had a BA card)

  • Alexthenotsogreat says:

    I’ve had this card for a year now, and until recently never really questioned the value in having it (or indeed of collecting Avios in general). However the other day I sat down to price up a planned trip to Canada, and my options were:
    – 100,000 Avios plus c£1,200 in total if using the 2 for 1 (effectively £2,000 if using the Nectar value of 0.8p)
    – I could also pay £1200 each to fly BA from Dublin
    – Or I could pay sub £1000 to fly via another European county on another airline
    Admittedly the latter two options are more of a faff – but they present the ability to tag on a couple days European city break beforehand. I tend to do one long haul holiday a year in business – my other trips are in Europe, and as I’m based in Scotland using BA for these is too much hassle for us vs using Easyjet direct. Obviously the value one gets from Avios depends on what one would pay for the tickets; but for me it seems that without a 2 for 1 voucher, the price of Avios tickets is ridiculous vs what I’d pay in cash, and using the 2 for 1 just brings it down to what I’d pay for a cash ticket.

    • Peter K says:

      That assumes you want to/have enough time to tag on a few days in a European city.
      Plus the cost of even a night at another city is adding significantly onto your cost. But yes, you do need to work out if the 2-4-1 does work for you as an individual. It won’t for everyone.

    • Bob M says:

      Most of my 241 redemptions have been on Club Europe. Not the same amount of Avios saving but £1000s less in fees!

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

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