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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.

best travel rewards credit cards

Want to earn more points from credit cards? – July 2024 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit card, here are our top recommendations based on the current 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

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the best of the other deals currently available.

Marriott Bonvoy American Express

20,000 points for signing up and 15 elite night credits each year Read our full review

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 points (TO 16TH JULY), FREE for a year & four airport ….. Read our full review

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

30,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points AND (to 27th August) £400 to spend at Amex Travel Read our full review

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

18,000 bonus points and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review

Earning miles and points from small business cards

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

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

Capital on Tap Business Rewards Visa

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

For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending.

Barclaycard Select Cashback Business Credit Card

1% cashback uncapped* on all your business spending (T&C apply) Read our full review

Comments (626)

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

  • Optimus Prime says:

    Getting closer to the Chase BA qualifying spending for the voucher! 😂

  • Robert Thompson says:

    What happens if your new year starts end of April and you intended to upgrade to BA premium card? Will that count as needing £10,000 spend by 1 November or is it considered a new card so the £15,000 kicks in straight away?

  • AW says:

    Surely it breaks contract law to change the t and c mid contract. I paid £250 at end 2023 on the basis of certain rewards being possible. How can they unilateraly change that so substantially in the middle. The changes I don’t mind too much for the reasons given in the article but now I have a situation where I may not be able to get what I thought I had paid for!!!!

    • meta says:

      It’s all as legal, they need to give you two month notice of any changes. My renewal is October, so I am expecting a notification in August.

      HfP is just giving you heads up.

    • Matt says:

      You could potentially argue that moving the goal post on the companion voucher is bait and switch if you applied after 1st November (so the change occurs within your first year). Take it up with Amex and escalate to FOS if necessary, assuming it materially impacts your ability to trigger the voucher.

    • JDB says:

      @AW – they can change it because it’s not an annual contract/agreement, but one that is open ended with no fixed duration so it can be changed on notice which is a standard term for most credit cards and products such as insurance that form part of the benefits.

      • Matt says:

        I think the nature of the companion voucher being a cumulative benefit should make a difference versus other insurance type benefits – you’re spending on the card with an expectation of receiving a benefit of a certain value in the future.

    • Steve says:

      I agree. Changing benefits and costs at the next renewal is one thing. Changing the spending target mid-way through the year is just plain bait and switch. I renewed my BAPP in February and have put a lot of spending through this card, rather than others, in the reasonable expectation that I would get the voucher after spending £10k. Changing that to £15k now just seems wrong. Next membership year, fine, but not now – I can’t turn back time and make my spending elsewhere, or get a refund on the annual fee. This seems like a really poor show from Amex.

      It’s no different to waiting until you’ve paid your non-refundable annual fee and then announcing that they will no longer give you Avios for spending.

      • meta says:

        Then take them to court. FOS won’t work out favourably on this as things are set-up like that. When you took out the card, it was clear that they only need to give you two months notice of any changes. Same thing happened with old Lloyds Cards and vouchers, etc.

      • Rob says:

        It’s a £15 hit, maximum, which is the cancellation fee for booking a fully flexible BA flight ticket and cancelling it a week later after the voucher has been triggered.

  • Can2 says:

    Indeed Player 2’s card anniversary date is funnily Feb 1 :))

    I understand the £15k limit. But I find it hard to justify both the limit AND fee increase.

  • Chris says:

    When you consider how much these cards cost and the alternatives available I wonder if the whole loyalty game is worth it.

    I was about to sign my wife up but I’ll now cancel my card after the referral. Will probably cancel the Barclaycard too and focus spend on one card at a time. It’s more admin but otherwise the whole thing is of marginal benefit unless you spend a lot of time optimising.

    • Freddy says:

      I used to really play the loyalty game with cards/accounts etc but it’s often not worth the hassle these days once you take into account the card fees/availability etc. My personal spend is amex cashbaxk for simplicity

  • G says:

    Guess I will cancel after I get my voucher this year.

    • G says:

      Thankfully my card year spend is until 11 November. I will hit that voucher spend then. Can I cancel in the ‘renewal’ period? Without having to pay the higher fee?

      • meta says:

        You need to spend it by 31 October, otherwise you will need to spend an extra £5k between 1 and 11 November.

  • Ian says:

    Looks like the era of points is drawing to a close…

    I suspect in 5 years we will see few points being collected.

    Time to cancel Amex cards on the renewal.

    The offers are also weaker these days.

    • meta says:

      It’s not over. You just need to have a different strategy, but that requires more effort. It’s increasingly difficult to earn miles and points quickly.

      In a way the change will also reduce the amount of people redeeming which means more seats on popular routes.

    • Jake says:

      The era isn’t closing. If anything it’s only going to get stronger. Airlines have a far more dependable (and potentially larger) income stream from points.

      Obviously some will try to milk it in the short term in certain aspects but over the long run it will improve for more people.

      Also, these changes whilst unwelcome really don’t spell the end of the “game”. The increase spend is just inflation linked and who cares about a £50 card increase when it can get you access to 2x business class seats to Sydney. It’s still invaluable for people for special moments (honeymoon etc) and I don’t think this changes that

      • Harry T says:

        QR to Sydney is far better than tolerating BA!

        • meta says:

          Iberia is also far better than BA. JAL/Finnair/Cathay Pacific too.

          • Ali B says:

            Iberia!! You have to be kidding? The service is absolutely shocking and unless you’re in one of the new seats, the hard product is pretty shabby

          • Rhys says:

            The hard product on the old seat really isn’t that bad. Whilst the new seat is obviously an upgrade, the old one is still decent (and better than BA’s Club World). Staff on my recent trip were excellent throughout.

        • Novice says:

          Agree @Harry T. Imagine flying all that way in BA when you could have gone in an actual decent seat with better food and entertainment etc

        • occasionalranter says:

          This isn’t always true. BA to Sydney on my last trip was Club Suite all the way, easy transit in SIN, pleasant crew, OK food. QR back was their older A380 J product as far as DOH and a crappy transit experience involving a 15 minute bus tour of the building works.

  • Anthony says:

    Not worth the money anymore. Better to have one Carte with flexible points that can be used across all airlines.

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

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