In 2021, American Express relaunched the British Airways American Express Accelerating Business Credit Card. This is the dedicated British Airways credit card for sole traders and small businesses.
The card is now massively improved. The sign up bonus, which used to be paid in On Business points, is now paid in Avios.
You receive 30,000 Avios when you spend £5,000 in the first three months. You qualify for the bonus as long as you haven’t had any American Express Business cards in the past 12 months.
You can also earn up to 30,000 bonus Avios per calendar year if you spend £60,000 (an average of £5,000 per month) on the card. You also earn bonus On Business Points when you buy qualifying British Airways flights.
Today I want to take our annual look at the British Airways On Business loyalty programme. This article runs in two parts, with Part 2 here.
How does the British Airways On Business programme work?
Whilst the Avios programme will be familiar to all Head for Points readers, you may not have come across On Business.
On Business is the other British Airways loyalty programme. Instead of rewarding flyers, it rewards your company when you travel.
The On Business programme is explained at this website. It is fundamentally the same as Avios in structure. You earn On Business Points for every flight your company books. They can then be redeemed for flights or for upgrades.
You can collect both Avios and On Business Points on the same flight. You collect Avios as a flyer and On Business Points as a company.
Signing up for On Business
The sign-up page is here (click ‘Join On Business’ in the menu bar). If you are signing up, you will qualify for a special sign-up bonus of triple points for your first six one-way flights within 12 months of joining.
You must provide the name of your company and its VAT registration number when you sign-up.
The VAT requirement is waived if you apply for the British Airways American Express Accelerating Business Credit Card. This is an additional benefit from getting the card if your turnover is under the VAT threshold.
If you say on your application form that you were referred by member OB10171896 then you receive 1,500 bonus On Business points after crediting your first flight. (And so do I, so thank you.)
How to earn BA On Business Points
Points earning in On Business is 100% revenue based. The more you spend, the more points you earn. It is that simple.
The programme has three tiers which you move through based on your annual spending:
- On1 – up to £29,999 spend – 1 point per £1
- On2 – £30,000 to £299,999 spend – 1.25 points per £1
- On3 – £300,000+ spent – 1.5 points per £1
Qualifying spend comprises of flights taken on British Airways, Iberia and American Airlines. Points are based on the ticket price excluding taxes, charges and fees – but including carrier surcharges.
You receive points irrespective of where you book.
You will not, however, receive any points if you book a flight as part of a BA Holidays or similar package with inclusive hotel or car hire.
As soon as you hit the threshold for the next tier, you are moved up. You retain that tier for the rest of the current calendar year and all of the following year.
Note that, when you have multiple flights on one booking, the earning system can get a little chaotic. This is because BA has to make a notional split of the cost of your ticket between each individual leg.
On Business Points have a ‘hard’ expiry date of two years from the December after you earn them. Unlike Avios, this expiry date cannot be extended – you must spend your points within 2-3 years.
If you do not have on-going activity on your account, they expire even sooner – exactly on the 3rd anniversary of your last earning activity.
How to spend BA On Business Points
The On Business redemption chart is skewed towards Economy redemptions.
A Business Class flight needs roughly 5-6x more points than an economy one. Avios only charges 2x the economy points for Business Class on short-haul and 3x on long-haul.
Most small companies should forget about redeeming for long-haul premium classes. You would need to spend roughly £40,000 to earn one Club World return to the Middle East.
Before we look at the numbers, you should note a few things:
- You can only redeem on BA, American Airlines and Iberia. You do not have access to full oneworld reward inventory.
- Reward availability is often far, far better than when using Avios. This, for me, is the main benefit of On Business and I NEVER spend them if Avios seats are available.
- There is no ‘Reward Flight Saver’ option with On Business. This is not a major problem, however, as the actual taxes due are rarely substantially higher than the £35 ‘Reward Flight Saver’ cap.
- You cannot redeem flights until two different travellers have collected points on your account. This is presumably to stop ‘one man bands’ joining up.
What is the On Business redemption chart?
There is no published redemption chart. You need to plug routes manually into the widget on the On Business home page in order to get pricing examples.
However, Head for Points has published the full On Business redemption chart for Economy flights for the first time anywhere – see here. This will save you a substantial amount of time in working out how far your points will take you.
Here are a few examples. These are all return flights but one-way bookings are also allowed:
- Hamburg – 2,200 points Euro Traveller return; 10,400 points Club Europe return
- New York – 9,000 points World Traveller return; 48,000 points Club World return
- Tokyo – 10,000 points World Traveller return; 58,000 points Club World return
Note the huge gap between Economy and Business pricing, especially for Hamburg.
Roughly … and this is very rough … I work on the basis that 1 On Business Point has the same burning power as 4 Avios when used for Economy flights and 2 Avios when used for Club World flights.
Part 2 of our British Airways On Business review is here. It looks at the value of using your On Business points for upgrades.