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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.

  • K says:

    You’re also forgetting that until a few year ago if you had a Platinum card the BA card fee was waived. Maybe time to cancel both !

  • CarpalTravel says:

    Ouch. I can see one or the other item increasing, but both?! That is quite a slap, just as I was looking to apply for a BAPP too.

    So it is now the equivalent of a £25pm subscription and a min spend of £1250pm to qualify for the 2-4-1, assuming no pro-rata action. Am thinking I’ll just stick with having the BarcAvios+ and stomach the 2x Avios usage come booking time instead.

    • Erico1875 says:

      Carpal travel
      The Barclays+ voucher isn’t even in the same league as BAPP companion voucher.
      I’m struggling to get any value out of my Barclays upgrade voucher.
      I’d cancel Barclays+.and take the extra £5pm hit on AMEX

  • Will says:

    Please everyone cancel. That may free up redemptions for anyone left and send a message to Amex. Let’s face it, there isn’t much competition for Amex and everyone else is whacking up prices so it’s hardly surprising.

  • e14 says:

    Don’t see much from Amex to justify the increase in the fee

    Now the spend is around £3000 too much, no way as a retired person I can reach that without putting foreign transactions through -£12,000 I could justify but not £15,000

    Maybe one for your MP, should a financial company be increasing fees and spending requirements by these percentages in these austere times

    • BBbetter says:

      Yep, write to your MP.

    • Rui N. says:

      Besides the MP please also write to your bishop. And your local turkish barber.

    • CJD says:

      Given Amex haven’t raised the spending requirement for 20 years I think you’d be hard pushed to argue the rise in spend required is unfair.

      • Roy says:

        I was thinking that. So I thought I’d see what £10,000 in 2001 corresponds to in today’s money. I don’t know what month in 2001 the cards were launched, so I’ve arbitrarily taken December 2001 as my base.

        Depending on what inflation measure you pick, the corresponding value in February 2021 of £10,000 in December 2021, allowing for inflation, is

        £17,878 (CPI)
        £17,440 (CPIH)
        £21,972 (RPI)
        £21,820 (RPIX)

        • Roy says:

          And doing the same exercise with the annual fee. The fee last went up in September 2021. £250 in September 2021 corresponded to the following values in February 2024:

          £294 (CPI)
          £290 (CPIH)
          £308 (RPI)
          £303 (RPIX)

          So I’d disagree somewhat with Rob’s title for the article – it’s not really a big increase; it’s been increased broadly in line with inflation, although there is a small real terms increase, in terms of CPI/CPIH.

        • Roy says:

          Sorry, my first post above should say, “Depending on what inflation measure you pick, the corresponding value in February 2024 of £10,000 in December 2001, allowing for inflation, is”.

          I know that inflation was high in 2021, but prices didn’t double in the space of a year – even if it might have felt like it!

  • Alex says:

    You have to spend £12000 on the free one rather than £10000, do you not?

  • Rob H not Rob says:

    It is what it is.

    • Thywillbedone says:

      The insight I was hoping to find among the many comments …

  • Rum says:

    This is an absolutely pathetic move by Amex. Have they gone completely mad?
    The Barclaycard Avios+ offering suddenly became a huge winner for. The spend limit of £10k on a card that is more widely accepted just makes Amex’s offering look rubbish. I know the Amex voucher is a stronger benefit, but there is a clear cheaper alternative now, so Amex will lose out.
    The Amex Gold is also a lot more attractive now at a lower fee and with double points on airline spend.
    And why make such a stupid change to the BAPP whilst offering nothing in return? What happened to a permanent tier point offering with this card? I think it’s going to be goodbye Amex for many…

    • Icewhite says:

      I get the feeling they aren’t much bothered with the UK market.

  • jj says:

    Kills use of the voucher for short haul. I’ll keep my card but my wife’s will go, as we have little appetite for two long haul trips a year and one of our two vouchers was always used for longer distance short haul (eg Athens)

    • meta says:

      Yes, we are cancelling my partner’s card. I hope that this actually increases the reward seats availability.

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

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