For many years now we’ve been encouraging, via anyone who would listen, BA and American Express to start issuing British Airways Executive Club tier points on credit card spend.
We thought that 1 tier point per £100 of spending seemed fair. With capped interchange rates restricting the miles that can be funded, giving out status benefits seemed a better way to go. There are also a lot of people who are more interested in elite status than miles.
And – spookily – it has come to pass!
From today, you will earn British Airways Executive Club tier points when you spend on your British Airways Premium Plus American Express card.
There are strings attached, however, which make the deal less attractive than it could be.
As a reminder of how British Airways Executive Club status works:
- Bronze – requires 300 tier points and two cash segments on BA or Iberia – benefits include free seat selection seven days before flying, priority boarding and the use of business class check in desks
- Silver – requires 600 tier points and four cash segments on BA or Iberia – benefits include access to airport lounges, free seat selection at booking and additional baggage allowance
- Gold – requires 1,500 tier points and four cash segments on BA or Iberia – benefits include access to First lounges, First class check in and boarding, free seat selection at booking, additional baggage and additional reward flight availability
…. and as a reminder of how the British Airways Premium Plus American Expess card works:
British Airways American Express Premium Plus
Sign-up bonus and earn rate:
- Get 25,000 Avios when you spend £3,000 within 90 days
- Earn 1.5 Avios per £1 spent
- Earn 3 Avios per £1 spent with British Airways and BA Holidays
- Receive a companion voucher, letting you book two flights for the Avios of one, when you spend £10,000 in a card year
- A solo traveller can use it for a 50% discount on the Avios for one ticket
- The voucher is valid in any cabin
- It can be used on British Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus
- Annual fee: £250
Representative 113.1% APR variable based on an assumed £1,200 credit limit and £250 annual fee. Interest rate on purchases 31.0% APR variable.
You will receive 25,000 Avios as a sign-up bonus on the British Airways American Express Premium Plus card if you spend £3,000 within 90 days of signing up.
To qualify for the bonus, you must not have held the British Airways Premium Plus or the free British Airways American Express cards in the previous 24 months.
You are OK if you had a supplementary card on someone else’s British Airways American Express account.
You are OK if, currently or in the previous 24 months, you have held any other American Express card.
For clarity, you can still apply for the British Airways Premium Plus card even if you do not qualify for the bonus. You would still benefit from the companion voucher and all of the other card benefits.
When you spend £10,000 on the British Airways American Express Premium Plus card, you receive a companion voucher entitling you to book two Avios redemption flights for the miles of one.
Alternatively, a solo traveller can use the voucher for a 50% reduction on the Avios required for one ticket,
This voucher is valid for two years. Full taxes and charges need to be paid on both tickets.
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.
The voucher with the Premium Plus card is far more powerful than the voucher given with the free British Airways American Express card. You only need to spend £10,000, instead of £20,000, in a card year to receive it. More importantly, the Premium Plus voucher is valid for two years and is valid in ALL cabins. The voucher on the free British Airways American Express card is only valid for one year and can only be used for Economy flights.
You receive your voucher within a few days of reaching the spending target. You need to fly the outbound leg of your 2-4-1 flight before the expiry date of the voucher.
The voucher can be used for flights on British Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus.
You need a minimum personal income of £35,000 to apply for the card.
How can you earn tier points from British Airways credit card spending?
This is how the offer will work:
You need to opt-in to this offer via the ‘Offers’ tab of your Amex account
If you don’t opt-in, you won’t receive any tier points. Only spend made after you have opted in will count.
You cannot opt in via the American Express app. It can be done on the website.
Only British Airways Premium Plus American Express members can take part
You can only earn 200 tier points
The tier points are triggered like this:
- you will receive 100 tier points when you have spent £15,000 after registration
- you will receive a further 50 tier points if you spend a further £5,000
- you will receive a final 50 tier points if you spend a further £5,000, for a total spend of £25,000
You need to complete your spending by 21st May 2024
You will need to be careful with your timing
The tier points will be sent across to your British Airways Executive Club account on the same day as your base Avios are transferred. This is six days before your statement date.
You will need to look at your British Airways Executive Club membership year end and decide when the optimum time is to trigger the tier points. For me, with an 8th September year end, it makes no difference – irrespective of when I earn the tier points between now and 21st May 2024, the points will count towards my next requalification year.
If your membership year ends on 8th December, 8th January, 8th February, 8th March, 8th April or 8th May, you need to think about whether the tier points would be better credited in the current or your next membership year and try to time your spending appropriately.
I’m excited to see British Airways and American Express trialling the earning of tier points via credit card spend.
However, I don’t think that the balance is right, although they are heading in the right direction.
I think that:
- you should earn tier points starting at £5,000 of qualifying spend for 50 tier points – £15,000 is simply out of reach for many people over a six month period and will lead to a lack of engagement
- the number of tier points you can earn should be uncapped – if someone wants to spend £60,000 to earn a British Airways Executive Club Silver card from scratch, assuming they also fly four segments, they should be able to (and the same for spending £150,000 to earn Gold)
One option could be to give cardholders a choice – earn Avios OR tier points. Economically this would work for the airline because it would receive the equivalent value of selling 90,000 Avios to Amex in return for issuing a Silver card.
At the moment, this offer appeals to a niche which is simply too small – people who can spend £15,000 to £25,000 within six months AND for whom an extra 100 to 200 tier points would make a difference to their Executive Club status AND have an Executive Club year end with a suitable date.
It also creates problems for people who have spent £9,999 on their cards and are holding off spending more so they don’t trigger their annual 2-4-1 companion voucher unnecessarily early – although I published the obvious solution for that problem here. I spent nothing on my BA card between February 2023 (when I was above £9,500) and the last week of October 2023 because I wanted to ensure the 2-4-1 voucher would be valid for half term in 2025.
It’s a promising move, however, and hopefully we will see it rolled out permanently in 2024 with a few user-friendly tweaks.