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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? – June 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

HUGE 60,000 POINTS BONUS UNTIL 2nd JULY 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

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

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee 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.

  • CT95 says:

    600th comment! Definitely one of the most commented on articles I presume?

  • DC says:

    This marks the end of the road for my families Amex journey I fear. Continued increases in charges with no improvement in the offer and considerably poorer returns than US card holders. I’m out!

  • Graham Walsh says:

    Here’s another example of cost of living crisis as some have mentioned. The dogs haircut. This time it was £52 each (has risen from £45 over the last couple of years) and was told yesterday that it’s going up to £58.90 next time. Thankfully they take Amex and are usually a small shop offer too and left me split the payments for each dog.

    Am I happy with this increase. Absolutely not. Will I cancel mine or the wife’s card? Most probably not. Spend increase isn’t the issue as I max everything via Amex including council tax.

    It’s the no added value that annoys me. All the offers are crap. They need to keep the additional TP offer.

    • hugh says:

      Hi Graham, how do you manage to pay your council tax with amex, does your Council take it?

  • gary says:

    I think there will be a smallish % of people where the decision is easy, to ditch Amex going forward.

    Then there will be a very large % who will be calculating if the card is still good value anymore.

    Then there will be a smallish % group where it will be a no brainer to keep the card without any calcs.

    I’m in the latter group:
    – already spend > £15k on Amex
    – use the voucher every year for J to USA, hence typically a 160k avios benefit.

    But everyone’s situation is different!

  • Jimmy says:

    No point keeping mine anymore.

  • ACK says:

    Just bagged 50k MR points for not canning amex plat, and my 24 month sit out will end in may. Was thinking signing up for the bapp and the bonus. The maths sort of works out. Already spending above 15k a year, check. The annual fee – well, not happy but it is what it is. I probably will put the plat in the drawer anyway because 1.5 avios on the bapp vs 1 MR on the plat. Why would i spend on the plat anyway. Will keep the free BC card, can’t justify >£1k fees on credit cards and it’s for backup only. I did just use my BC voucher but the amount of avios it needed – ouch! I probably won’t make any effort to earn another.

  • Barb34747 says:

    Naive question— My target spend is showing £10,000 by 12 February 2025. Do these changes mean this will no longer be true?

  • Nigel says:

    The biggest problem I have is some ‘big spends’ I routinely made on my old Mastercard are NOT accepted on Amex. I reckon probably £4000 annual spend will still go on Mastercard so is ‘lost’ to my Amex target spend. I really need to do the maths now and work out if I can make sufficient ‘legitimate’ spends with Amex-accepted traders to reach the new target. Very frustrating.

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

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