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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 BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

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 BA Amex American Express card

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.

  • PJJ says:

    Don’t suppose there is a bonus to upgrade to BAPP from the free card ?
    Wishful thinking?

    • Spurs drive me mad says:

      Surely the bonus is you get 2 years validity instead of 1 and you can use your new voucher on business flights not just economy?

  • Kevin D says:

    Rob, why have BA/Amex made the second change (mix and match) if it is such poor value? I literally cannot see any benefit in it.

    • Rob says:

      There are probably people who only earn a small number of Avios each year and this is the difference between being able to redeem and not redeem, even if they are getting a slightly worse deal.

  • Ben says:

    Do we know how this will interact with reward flight saver? On certain routes (often long haul), the ‘old’ avios rate doesn’t even appear as one of the options unless you use a companion voucher. This means that when booking a return online it can be hard to select the option which then allows the agent to link the bookings and refund half the avios…

    • NorthernLass says:

      They don’t link the bookings, but if you do select RFS for your return leg, they will refund the 50% avios for that. Not sure about the other options.

  • Paddy says:

    I booked flights to India at the start of the year. 3 x biz flights return to Bangalore. Used 2F1 voucher for 2 of the flights but needed to pay full avios for the 3rd. The 3rd person was added as a household name. Could I now change this depending on availability? Might be best to give the call centre a ring

    • chelynnah says:

      I would think not, based on the family of 3 scenario on the 1st half of the article.

    • BuildBackBetter says:

      The voucher can only be used for the person in whose name it was issued. If the two vouchers are in different names, you can take advantage.

      • Paddy says:

        Ah right, we have a couple more vouchers so maybe I could swap one. Thanks for the help

  • Anthony says:

    Is it still the case that the free BA Amex can only be used to redeem economy Avios bookings – not Premium or Business? That’s the main sticking point for me with the free card vs the new Avios Barclaycard.

    • Jonathan says:

      Yes, Amex BA Blue is Economy only, BAPP is any seat available

  • Tracey says:

    One advantage of doing the most Avios, least cash route is if you think there is a high chance you will need to cancel. Rather than lose £35 per sector, you only use the cash you paid.

    Of course, having recently done this to pay just 50p for the cash element, I ended up taking the flight!

    • BuildBackBetter says:

      Rebook it when you are certain to travel!

      • Rob says:

        …. at which point it’s more expensive!

        • BuildBackBetter says:

          I assume Tracey was talking about an avios ticket. The problem would be there is no guarantee of the avios availability even after cancelling the first one.

  • Richie says:

    So how should it be re-named? 4 sector voucher for ???

  • Alex Sm says:

    The last bullet point in the list bringing back 90,000 option looks redundant

    • Rob says:

      Fixed, thank you. That’s because I cut and pasted the first bullet point one too many times!

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

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