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BIG NEWS: BA Amex annual fee AND voucher qualifying spend to rise sharply

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American Express has announced some unwelcome changes to the two British Airways American Express credit cards today.

The fee for the Premium Plus card will increase to £300. This is effective immediately for new applications.

The annual spend required to receive a 2-4-1 companion voucher will increase to £15,000 in November. This applies to both cards.

BA Amex fee AND voucher qualifying spend to rise sharply

The British Airways Premium Plus fee will rise to £300

This is the easiest change to get your head around.

The fee for the Premium Plus card will increase from the current £250 per year to £300 per year.

The fee increase will apply:

  • from today, if you are a new applicant for the card
  • for your next renewal after 1st August, if you already have the card

This means that if your renewal date is in April, May, June or July, your card will renew at the current £250. You will not pay the higher fee until your subsequent renewal in 2025.

If your next renewal date is after 1st August 2024, you will pay £300 from your next renewal.

The 2-4-1 companion voucher will require £15,000 of spending

This change is more complex because it is NOT linked to your current card year.

From 1st November, you will need to spend £15,000 to receive a 2-4-1 companion voucher. This applies to BOTH the free British Airways American Express card and the Premium Plus version.

The change will kick in on 1st November for both new and existing cardholders.

This means that you are now under pressure to hit your current membership year spend target by 31st October. If you don’t, you’ll need to spend £15,000 instead.

Here’s an example. Let’s assume that you have the Premium Plus card and that your card year runs to 1st February. You will need to either:

  • spend £10,000 by 31 October 2024, or
  • spend £15,000 by 31 January 2025

…. to earn your next voucher. From 1st February 2025, when your membership year renews, you will need to spend £15,000.

BA Amex fee AND voucher qualifying spend to rise sharply

As a reminder, this is how the companion vouchers currently work:

  • the free British Airways American Express card awards a 2-4-1 companion voucher when you spend £12,000 in your membership year. The voucher is valid for one year for an Economy flight redemption on British Airways, Aer Lingus or Iberia.

What do we think?

The increase in the annual fee is not easy to justify. American Express is pointing to improvements in card benefits (the ability for a solo traveller to use it for a 50% Avios discount, the ability to use it on Aer Lingus and Iberia) but for 90% of cardholders these changes have no impact.

(The solo traveller benefit IS valuable, but by default most existing cardholders applied when the voucher was only usable by two people and don’t need this functionality. The ‘value’ in the solo traveller discount is all for the benefit of Amex, since solo travellers are now applying for the card when they wouldn’t previously.)

It will be interesting to see how many people decide that the maths no longer stacks up.

I am more amenable to the increase in annual spend. The card is now over 20 years old and the spend target for the Premium Plus voucher was £10,000 from the start. £10,000 in 2004 is equivalent to over £17,000 in 2024, so it is hard to argue with £15,000.

What should you do if you can’t spend £15,000 per year?

We’ll look at this in a separate article later in the week.

Fundamentally:

  • there is little value in having the free British Airways American Express card if you can’t spend £15,000 per year on it – it makes more sense to have the free American Express Rewards credit card or the free Barclaycard Avios Mastercard
  • there is absolutely no value in having the Premium Plus card (beyond the first year and the big sign-up bonus) if you can’t spend £15,000 to earn the voucher. This isn’t up for discussion.

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

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American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

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British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

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If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these offers:

American Express Business Platinum

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Comments (626)

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

  • j22262 says:

    Ouch. This is some unexpected news. Had a path plotted out for some spend for the 2-4-1 with BAPP in a few months but now need to re-evaluate.

  • Ben says:

    Another opportunity for a retention bonus, though

    I am a solo traveller so the card massively increased in usefulness to me when they added this, but appreciate I’m one of the few who benefit.

    It also seems a lot of people “put their card in the drawer” at £9,999, so this will now happen later.

    • Qrfan says:

      Yeah, if we are anything like the majority I would not want to be working on the Barclays avios cards right now. They just lost £10k a year of spend from our household.

      • BJ says:

        Readers could ditch BA and fly QR (and AY) more often like I did 🙂

      • Roy says:

        Yeah, that has to be the thinking. I’m guessing that there are a lot of people who hold the BAPP and Barclays, or BAPP and Virgin (or even all three!) and they (probably rightly) feel that the BAPP 2-4-1 voucher is the most valuable in the industry, so they’re trying to get holders of multiple cards to push more spend their way.

        Of course some will cancel a card, but they’re probably guessing that a lot more will cancel one of their other cards than cancel their BAPP.

        Of course, they’ll lose those who don’t put at least £15,000 through a credit card – or at least can’t do £15,000 of Amex spend – but I guess they feel that they benefit more from those who will be shifting spend to Amex than they lose from those shifting spend away.

    • Novice says:

      They never give me a retention bonus when I ask😩

  • Zark says:

    Rob, you say “the British Airways Premium Plus American Express card awards a 2-4-1 companion voucher when you spend £12,000 in your membership year”.
    I believe this should read £10,000

    • FEMW says:

      I did notice that and about to comment when I double- checked and it had been sorted. I wasn’t imagining it!!

  • BBbetter says:

    Don’t mind these changes if they can:
    1) sort out booking for a family of 3 using one or two vouchers
    2) extend the voucher expiry to the end of anniversary year
    It leaves a bad taste to have been hit by both fee increase and threshold increase with nothing to show for it.

    • cin3 says:

      What’s wrong with booking for three?

      • BBbetter says:

        BA’s systems reject booking for 3 if it includes a BAPP voucher.

        • Corney says:

          Not for me they don’t. Currently away in Turkey on a ticket booked for 3 using one 2-4-1.

          • babyg_wc says:

            Oh, how did you do this? (book for 3 using 2 for 1?).. normally you need 2 vouchers so that all pax can “see” the extra seats etc.

          • Rob says:

            You can book for 3 IF you’re not accessing the ‘extra’ seats in long-haul Business AND the 3rd seat is paid at full Avios price.

      • Rob says:

        Impossible using 2 vouchers issued to the same person to do a 241 and 1×50%

        • Gustavo says:

          That’s what is making me rethink this card. I have got a newborn who doesn’t pay yet but when she does my alternative is using the barclays voucher. The problem with that is the amount of avios required to use it which is not flexible.

  • CheshirePete says:

    My next Fee was due on 13th April and was about to call anyhow to downgrade to the Free card, as the travel insurance in particular is so poor now.Also my fee renewal and collection year are now misaligned, for next voucher this doesn’t start till July 13th. Not bothered about generating a voucher anyhow this year so just need to keep a card for a bit to use existing. This news now makes it a no brainier to cancel for my particular circumstance anyhow. Just hoping I don’t long queues now when I call on the next 2 days!

    • BJ says:

      Way not take a retention bonus, refer a family member for Nectar from the BAPP, get a Nectar sup, cancel BAPP after your referral avios transfer to BA?

  • BJ says:

    Readers should not let amex and BA take them for fools. Even before this change the card, amex voucher, RFS had all combined to trash what was a great opportunity. They now have little merit except for those living within the LHR catchment who can benefit from the convenience of direct flights, and those redeeming the voucher in First. For those in the regions who need to connect anyway the lower avios and co-payments required by AY and QR, or exEurope departures, are an increasingly more attractive proposition than BA RFS even with an amrx voucher. Since RFS went global, avious have become increasingly fifficult to collect, and amex has tightened things up BA and BAPP have all but disappeared from my radar in favour of AY and QR. From a loyalty point of view BA and amex are flogging a dead horse, relying on customer ignorance to do so.. HfP are not ignorant so fon’t fall into their trap, explore all the options of alternative carriers, revenue flights, and exEurope departures. Ignore BA and BAPP unless you fall into the increasingly small niche where it still provides value, and even then pause to think twice because your strategy depends solrly on BA metal reward seat availability and your personal flexibility. All things considered, I think BA reward travel facilitated by BAPP vouchers is already a dead horse, there are better and mire flexible loyalty and reward strategies available to all.

    • Mikeact says:

      Agreed..

    • SharonC says:

      Completely agree with BJ. We always used to use our 2-4-1 for First redemptions and those are long gone now, so it’s only Business. That’s OK if you get Club Suite, but otherwise you’re stuck in the old CW even on the A380. Taxes have shot up too.
      We live a good 3hrs from LHR and closer to places where QR and EK fly out of, so guess what….I’ll be utilising my AMEX Plat (transferable miles anywhere) and Barclaycard (Avios) to avoid BA like the plague now. There is little or no value for me to carry on using it.
      My year starts/ends in October so I’m pushing for what will probably now be my last 2-4-1.

      • NorthernLass says:

        There are still F redemptions out there if you can be flexible and watchful. We have MEX booked for later this year, going via DUB cost less in cash and avios than CW from the UK!

        • Nick says:

          Got a great (imo) cash fare to CUN from DUB in biz in December too.

        • john says:

          As I am about to start looking at Mexico potions, please can I ask more about your travel plans ?

        • Tom says:

          London to Mexico City via Dubai???

          Any benefit from flying Emirates in First is outweighed by a doubling of your journey time, or maybe a trebling.

    • NorthernLass says:

      Agree to an extent. We have a very specific use for our annual 241 (CW to GCM where cash fares are always high), and years when we have a second one we do an F redemption. If I feel I’m not “winning” with the voucher going forward, I’ll bin off the paid card, at least, and focus more on QR (or VS), as you say.

      • Robert says:

        Not strictly true about the regions losing out, as when you book your reward long haul flights you can simply add your domestic flights on completely free, no extra Avios required or taxes, so if anything the regions are better off.
        I usually pay £250+ in CE for NCL-LHR return, so saving a further £500 on my reward trips.

        • BJ says:

          I realise that, my point was just that we’re commited to a connection from regions anyway with the redult thst we arr more amenable to alternatives such as AY and QR
          Than those near LHR who are more likely swayed by the attraction of nonstop on BA matal.using voucher than introducing an extra unnecessary stop to use alternative carriers.

          • NorthernLass says:

            Agree, there’s only an incentive to fly via LHR if there’s no direct service from your local airport. Though in the case of MAN, that’s quite a lot of routes!

          • sharonC says:

            Agree. It seems most of the other posters are either near LHR or MAN and seem to forget others around the rest of the country

  • executiveclubber says:

    Smart way to increase card usage and push smaller players out of the market . Well played Amex… making the game harder though!

  • _nate says:

    Surely changing the spend target in the middle of people’s membership years is unjustifiable…

    • Ben says:

      Of course, to be fair, they also should have done is align everyone’s renewal year and have an existing year spending and new year spending running concurrently then shorten the subsequent year and add back what was earned in part of the current year to work out when your new voucher would be triggered.

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