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BA closes the Avios-earning British Airways Prepaid Mastercard

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In 2022 British Airways launched a Prepaid Mastercard. It was designed to allow fee-free foreign currency spending, but could also be used in the UK for day-to-day spend.

A lot of HfP readers took it out, because we had an exclusive 3,000 Avios sign-up bonus available.

The ability to load the card was suspended last year due to various functionality issues. It has now been killed off entirely.

British Airways prepaid Mastercard closed

According to an email sent out yesterday:

We regret to inform you that the British Airways Prepaid Mastercard programme is closing on 22 April 2024. Please see below for further details and dates.

What does this mean for you?

Until 21 April 2024
You can spend the balance on your card. For information regarding topping up your card, please check the British Airways Executive Club Rewards app. You have until this date to submit any missing Avios claims. 

22 April 2024 onwards
Your card will automatically close on 22 April 2024. From this date, you will not be able to access your card or outstanding balance on the British Airways Executive Club Rewards App. If there are any funds remaining on your British Airways Prepaid Mastercard you will be able to request these funds back. 

How do you get your money back?

Up to 22nd April, you can request your money by webchat or phone. Note that:

As a gesture of goodwill, we will not charge you the £5 fee for any funds you want to redeem by 21 April 2024.

…. which is kind of them.

If you wait until 22nd April to request your cash, you will need to provide:

  • Card number
  • Proof of ID
  • Proof of address
  • Details of the bank account you wish the funds to be sent to
  • A scanned copy of your bank statement dated in the last 3 months with all four corners visible

You WILL be charged a £5 fee for getting your money back if you request if after 22nd April. Also:

Your card issuer may charge you an additional fee of £20 which will be deducted from your Available balance.

Suffice it to say, if you have a Prepaid Mastercard, ensure you cancel it BEFORE 22nd April.

british airways prepaid mastercard closing

What was the British Airways Prepaid Mastercard?

Long-term readers may remember that Avios used to have a prepaid travel money card in the past. This new card was an attempt to launch a next generation product which could be used via a smarphone.

The key points were:

  • It was NOT a credit card – it was a prepaid card
  • You had to preload your card before you could spend on it
  • There were no credit checks when applying, because you were not being given any credit
  • The card was managed via the British Airways Executive Club Rewards app
  • There were no foreign exchange fees when spending in $ and € although there are loading limits

How many Avios did you earn on the card?

It was very simple. You earned 1 Avios for every £2, €2 or $2 of eligible purchases you made.

How did the card work?

Your British Airways Prepaid Mastercard was linked to your UK current account debit card. You topped it up in Sterling via the British Airways Executive Club Rewards app.

When travelling abroad, you had two options:

  • you could move funds from the Sterling ‘wallet’ on your card into either the Euro or Dollar wallets, or
  • you could keep your funds in the Sterling ‘Wallet’ with transactions being charged at the Mastercard exchange rate + 1.5%

Wasn’t this too good to be true?

You may think that this all sounds too good to be true.

After all, you earned 1 Avios for every £2 / €2 / $2 you spent and there were no FX fees on your € or $ spending. Where was the catch?

British Airways prepaid mastercard closed

If you spent in £ in the UK:

There was no catch. You loaded the card in Sterling, you spent in Sterling and you earned 1 Avios for every £2 you spent.

If you didn’t qualify for the Barclaycard Avios Mastercard, this was a great way to earn Avios on your Sterling spending.

The card was only meant to be free for six months (£2.99 per month thereafter) but due to the issues with card functionality I don’t think anyone ever paid.

If you spent in $ or € outside the UK:

When you moved money from your £ ‘wallet’ to your $ or € wallet, the exchange rate was not great.

Whilst transactions made in € or $ were FX-free themselves, you were still paying roughly 3% to move your ‘wallet’ currency out of Sterling in the first place.

This was taking a very liberal definition of ‘no FX fees’.

If you spent in other currencies:

There was a 1.5% FX fee for transactions in currencies apart from Euro and US$.

Oddly, because these transactions worked off the Mastercard exchange rate – which is only slightly away from the interbank rate – the fees were lower at around 2% all-in than spending in $ or €.

Conclusion

In truth, despite the integration into the Executive Club app, the British Airways Prepaid Mastercard always seemed like an attempt to breath life into a concept which was past its prime 15 years ago.

Revolut, Monzo and the like did a great job educating the British public about the foreign exchange fees charged on credit cards, and how they could be avoided. The Prepaid Mastercard was claiming to have no FX fees at the point of purchase (true) but was hitting you with a big loading fee when you moved £ into $ or €.

If the Barclaycard Avios Mastercard credit cards hadn’t launched, this would have been a great product for UK spending at places where American Express is not accepted. Unfortunately, with the free Barclaycard Avios Mastercard offering 1 Avios per £1, there was no point in using a Prepaid Mastercard paying 0.5 Avios per £1.

There IS still a gap in the market for an Avios-earning payment card which genuinely has no FX fees. Will anyone step up and launch one?

You can find out more about the closure of the British Airways Prepaid Mastercard on ba.com here.

PS. If you have a Limited Company, there IS an Avios-earning credit card you can get with no FX fees. Click here for details of the Capital on Tap Business Rewards Visa card and our special 10,500 Avios-equivalent sign-up bonus.


How to earn Avios from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (April 2024)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

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

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the famous annual 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 £15,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points. These points convert at 1:1 into Avios.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Run your own business?

We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,500 Avios.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers Read our full review

You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and FREE for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

Comments (38)

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

  • FearlessTraveller says:

    Personally, I would have gotten yhe card just for the design. I was very close to apply for the card, but never went through due to the reviews.

    Oh well.

    • DeB2020 says:

      It attracted lots of envious looks from my former colleagues, all in financial services, every time that I pulled it out to pay for lunch in the staff cafeteria.

      None of them had heard of it before, but they weren’t keen to move from Revolut and their shiny paid-for cards.

  • daveinitalia says:

    Remember Monese? IAG bought a stake in them at some point and back just before COVID they sometimes ran promotions with Avios. I wonder why BA didn’t use them to do the Avios card rather than the mess they ended up with.

    Anyone know if IAG still has anything to do with Monese?

    Hopefully Revolut will roll out points earning (which Avios is an option) in the remaining countries soon.

    • FearlessTraveller says:

      An article from January this year suggests that their future is uncertain after losses have widened

  • Londonsteve says:

    I applied right at the start and still have it. The idea was great, the execution however was awful and in the end, I largely gave up using it 6 months ago. It was relevant to me as I’m no longer a UK resident and therefore it was the only financial services product via which I could generate Avios, which became even more relevant with the advent of Avios Boost. Its departure leaves a clear gap in the market for someone to step in and offer a product that allows users to generate meaningful quantities of Avios without using a ‘credit’ product for which you need UK residency.

    I don’t understand why BA didn’t leverage existing relationships with, say, Barclays to create a product with solid tech and a household name behind it. It feels like a missed opportunity. Avios Loyalty is self interested in selling me more Avios but due to the failure of this product, I can acquire/buy much less going forward.

  • Gabriel says:

    Do we HAVE to cancel it like its mentioned above or is it ok to just let the programme end as long as there is no money in the account? Is there a downside to this?

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

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