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BIG NEWS: the BA Amex 2-4-1 companion voucher has been improved (Part 2)

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This is Part 2 of our coverage today on the changes to the British Airways American Express 2-4-1 companion voucher.

(Which, for the reasons we explained in Part 1 – click here – should not really be called a 2-4-1 companion voucher any longer, because it is now also a great deal for solo travellers.)

I am less certain about the value of the second change, however, although it may have its uses.

changes to the British Airways American Express 2-4-1 companion voucher

As a reminder, here are the two changes:

  • BA Amex change #1: The companion voucher can now be used by a solo traveller to get a 50% discount on the cost of an Avios redemption (covered in Part 1 of this article)
  • BA Amex change #2: You can now mix the percentage of Avios and cash used (covered below)

Remember that these changes only apply to 2-4-1 companion vouchers issued after 1st September 2021. These vouchers are different to older vouchers because:

If you only have ‘old style’ vouchers on your account, nothing you are about to read will apply to you. You will need to wait until your next voucher is issued.

changes to the British Airways American Express 2-4-1 companion voucher

You can now mix and match the Avios and cash element when you redeem a 2-4-1 voucher

As most readers will know, whilst there is still a ‘standard’ Avios redemption chart – you can see the HfP version by clicking here – BA offers a variety of prices when you book a redemption.

In general, when you try to book with Avios on BA flights, you will see:

  • the Avios cost as per the HfP redemption chart, which is what 2-4-1 companion vouchers price off
  • a couple of options letting you use fewer Avios but more cash
  • a couple of options letting you use more Avios but less cash

In general, the option which is best value is usually the middle one, ie the one which prices off the historic Avios redemption chart.

Amex vouchers used to give you no flexibility to mix and match the cash and Avios elements

This was not the case when you used a BA Amex companion voucher, however.

The ONLY Avios price you were offered was the one showing on this chart. If you looked at New York in Business Class on an off-peak date, the cost was 100,000 Avios for two people with a 2-4-1 voucher, plus the taxes and charges.

You can now mix cash and Avios – but do the maths

It is now possible to ‘mix and match’ cash and Avios. The results can be horrendous but can also be acceptable.

Here is an example to New York. This is for two people in Business Class on an off-peak date:

changes to the British Airways American Express 2-4-1 companion voucher

Your options are:

  • 100,000 Avios + £1,688
  • 90,000 Avios + £2,168
  • 75,000 Avios + £2,708
  • 65,000 Avios + £3,168
  • 57,500 Avios + £3,368
  • 50,000 Avios + £3,568

Note that there are no options to use more Avios and less cash. All you can do is use fewer Avios and pay more cash.

This is really, really bad if you don’t take the 100,000 Avios option.

  • The 90,000 Avios option means paying £500 to save 10,000 Avios – you are ‘paying’ 5p per Avios!
  • The 75,000 Avios option means paying £1,020 to save 25,000 Avios – you are ‘paying’ 4.1p per Avios!
  • The 65,000 Avios option means paying £1,480 to save 35,000 Avios – you are ‘paying’ 4.2p per Avios!
  • The 57,500 Avios option means paying £1,680 to save 42,500 Avios – you are ‘paying’ 3.9p per Avios!
  • The 50,000 Avios option means paying £1,880 to save 50,000 Avios – you are ‘paying’ 3.8p per Avios!

There is no reason, at all, why you should do this. For a start, you can buy up to 150,000 Avios directly on ba.com for 1.6p each, so why would you want to pay up to 5p by choosing one of these options?!

It’s not all bad though.

Here is a short haul flight (Club Europe to Hamburg) where the other options are, whilst not great, not terrible either:

changes to the British Airways American Express 2-4-1 companion voucher

Your options are:

  • 30,000 Avios + £2
  • 28,500 Avios + £18
  • 23,500 Avios + £50
  • 17,000 Avios + £100 – this is the ‘old’ 2-4-1 price
  • 13,000 Avios + £170
  • 10,500 Avios + £250

In this case, the ‘old’ option is probably still the best. However, I wouldn’t shout at you if you chose any of the others.

The way I work it out is to assume that I value an Avios at 1p. In this scenario, the six pricing scenarios above work out at:

  • £302
  • £303
  • £285
  • £270 – this is the ‘old’ 2-4-1 price
  • £300
  • £355

It still makes sense to go with the ‘old style’ option if you want the best value, but the other options are not far off if you are looking to conserve cash or Avios.

Conclusion

The ability for solo travellers to use a British Airways 2-4-1 companion voucher to book a flight for one person for a 50% Avios discount is a game changer. We can’t argue with that.

Over the next few weeks we’ll be updating some of our British Airways American Express coverage and calculations to reflect this new option.

We need to spend a bit more time looking at the new options for mixing cash and Avios. From what I’ve seen so far, it won’t make you any better off if you have ample cash and ample Avios, but for anyone who is restricted on one of these elements it might be worth mixing and matching. Do your maths though.

Learn more about the American Express and Barclaycard Avios-earning credit cards:

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review

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

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

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

Comments (49)

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

  • HH says:

    Flexibility and user choice is never a bad thing, glad to see it.

    • Rob says:

      You can argue whether this is true if the aim is to deliberately make people who were not in the top Maths set at school make poor choices.

      • G says:

        I was in the bottom set of maths. That’s why I delegate to the clever people at HeadForPoints and other wonderful websites!

        • Will says:

          I’ve got a degree in maths and It often throws me off with all the different avios options these days.

  • SP says:

    Is this a precursor to what has happened with the Gold Priority Reward, and at some point the best value use of Avios will not be available for use with the voucher?

    • Rob says:

      No, but what it does do is let BA totally dispense with the old redemption charts. At present the charts still need to exist but ONLY for 2-4-1 reasons.

      • qrfan says:

        When I saw the headline I was expecting some higher avios lower cash combinations for long haul to offset the insanely high surcharges that BA are now charging to North America. I still wouldn’t be surprised if that appears later – get back to the same cash levels but with more avios i.e. a typical devaluation.

        • ankomonkey says:

          Agreed. 50,000 Avios + £3,568 J LON-NYC 2 pax – I wouldn’t pay the £3568 for those flights, let alone the additional £50k Avios.

  • sammyj says:

    Slightly O/T but is there any way of checking availability to ‘anywhere’ in Club with the new voucher, other than going through the search on BA site? Seatspy is great but obviously doesn’t show the extra Club availability with an Amex voucher.

    • Rob says:

      No, because there is no clear rule. It seems there must be at least 8 I-class discounted cash seats for sale, but that isn’t always correct – sometimes it requires 10 or more.

      • Sammyj says:

        Ah ok, thanks. I’ll keep searching and trying to convince them that I’m still not a robot.

  • G says:

    Does this (theoretically) open up 50% discounts on Avios redemptions for the solo traveller?

    So…. 102k avios for a return flight in First Class to Tokyo? (as an example). Or 62,500 to San Diego in Club World?

  • NorthernLass says:

    I’m so disappointed that BA has gone to the trouble of making changes, but not made it possible to book outbound and inbound sectors separately with the vouchers. This is far and away the biggest problem with the companion voucher and tweaking it would mean a lot people not clogging up the phones and Twitter asking for returns to be added/avios to be refunded.

    • G says:

      Strongly agree with this.

      I was always going to be ringing up at midnight to get my return flights from Australia (got Club World!); but being able to add a return flight to a booking when using a 2 for 1 is v much needed.

    • Roberto says:

      This…. +1

  • Ed_fly says:

    Just been looking at some economy flights to Orlando (peak period) using a 241, options include 70k Avios and £300, 60k Avios and £460, 50k Avios and £600. The 70k option provides a return of 1.5p per point, which is quite reasonable I think.

  • polly says:

    And the greatest thing about all these vouchers is the flexibility to cancel etc if need be. Invaluable feature for us over the years. Especially when another OW J sale appears…

  • Ian says:

    Looks like the introduction of the Barclaycard Avios cards has finally prompted Amex to address the uselessness of a 2-4-1 voucher for solo travellers, though too late for me as I have already switched from Amex and won’t be going back.

    • qrfan says:

      Given the additional inventory available for the 2-4-1 voucher I would genuinely reconsider that if I were you. At the very least you want both.

    • points_worrier says:

      If you have a big spend coming up, the Amex clearly wins now. Apply using the site that shall not be named, spend your £10k quickly, keep voucher and then cancel/downgrade. Opens up extra J inventory as well.

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