British Airways made an announcement recently about the terms and conditions of the companion voucher. It is imperative that you read these terms closely so that you know your options prior to the 1st September. Personally, I believe the revised British Airways American Express Credit Card terms make this card even less attractive (See ‘When Is The Free BA AMEX Card Not Free At All? To discover why it was already unappealing). Unless you wish to save a pittance on an economy class flight, it is time to ditch this card and upgrade to the British Airways American Express Premium Plus Card or opt for a different kind of card entirely.
The revised British Airways American Express Credit Card terms
There are two main changes to the terms of the companion voucher;
- You will now only need to spend £12,000 each policyholder year on the British Airways American Express Credit Card to earn a companion voucher. Sounds good right?
- But, wait….you can only redeem for reward tickets in economy class. Noooooo!!!!!
The revised British Airways American Express Credit Card is thus incredibly unattractive from September, but you can act now to improve your situation.
Companion voucher options
The new terms and conditions apply to Companion Vouchers earned from 1 September 2021 onwards. If you therefore have a British Airways American Express Credit Card now and have already spent £10,000 you can upgrade to the British Airways American Express Premium Plus Card. You will immediately earn a companion voucher but crucially it will adhere to the terms for the British Airways American Express Premium Plus Card. That means it will be valid for 2 years and you can use it in any cabin.
If you fail to upgrade before you earn the companion voucher on your current British Airways American Express Credit Card, your voucher will be subject to the current companion ticket rules for the card. That means you will be able to use it for any cabin (if you earn it before 1st September 2021) but it will only be valid for a year.
If you retain your current card and do not earn your companion ticket prior to 1st September you will be subject to the new terms which means you can only redeem in economy class. Bah humbug!
Note, you will not receive any sign-up bonus on any personal American Express card if you have held a personal American Express Card within the previous 24 months. However, if you decide to apply for a card for the first time, be sure to use this British Airways American Express Premium Plus Card referral link to earn 30,000 AVIOS when you spend £3,000 within 3 months. If you do not use this link, you will only earn 25,000 AVIOS on sign up.
Economy class redemptions
In case you still think the British Airways American Express Credit Card is worthwhile, here is why an economy class redemption is a waste of money. If you use your companion voucher to book economy class fights you get extremely poor value for your AVIOS. The bulk of any economy class fare is taxes and fees. You still need to pay these fees when you make a reward booking so will only save the small amount of the fare that is attributed to the economy class seat.
The following shows you the cost in taxes and fees for several economy class routes to illustrate the point. (All figures are based on flights departing May 2022 and are for 2 people. Prices include 1 checked bag weighing up to 23kg for cash flights.)
Sample AVIOS costs
|Route||Required AVIOS for economy class||Taxes & fees||BA Cash Price for 2 people||Skyscanner Cash Price||Saving if Book BA||Saving if Book Cheapest Flight||AVIOS Value (if book BA)|
|London – New York||26,000||£439.86||£1,031.64||£560||£591.78||£120.14||0.0227|
|London – Hong Kong||39,000||£687.20||£990.24||£991.75||£303.04||£304.55||0.0077|
|London – Cape Town||32,500||£715.16||£1,325.04||£1,047||£609.88||£331.84||0.0188|
|London – MIlan||9,500||£70||£190.94||£261.75||£120.94||£191.75||0.0127|
Analysis of sample AVIOS costs
In the London to New York example, you can see that using 26,000 AVIOS to fly economy with British Airways saves you £591.78. Each AVIOS is therefore worth 2.27p which is actually not a bad return. However, contrast this with the London to Hong Kong fare where each AVIOS is worth less than 1p (0.77p to be precise!).
As you can see, there is usually very little value in using AVIOS for an economy class flight. Yes, you can save money on the equivalent British Airways cash fare. However British Airways rarely offer the best value economy fare flights so more often you can buy a cheaper fare elsewhere. This really means the value of each AVIOS is less. The value you receive for each AVIOS is poor in comparison to what you achieve if you use to redeem for a business class flight in long haul.
It might be better for you to apply for an alternative credit card which offers more valuable rewards if you do not wish to upgrade to the British Airways American Express Premium Plus Card
Note the cash price fares above include 1 x 23kg luggage which can be removed to reduce the cost.
How the cards now compare?
Once the new rules come into force on the 1st September, how will the two cards compare?
British Airways American Express® Credit Card
British Airways American Express® Premium Plus
|Earnings rate||1 AVIOS per £1 of spend||1.5 AVIOS per £1 of spend|
|Expenditure required to receive companion voucher||£12,000 (reduced from £20,000)||£10,000 (remains unchanged)|
|AVIOS earned for expenditure||12,000||20,000|
|Sign up bonus (assuming you use my referral links)||6,000 when you spend £1,000 within the first 3 months (5,000 if you do not use this referral link)||30,000 (25,000 if you do not use this referral link)|
|Companion voucher validity||12 months||24 months|
** Note the annual fee increases to £250 but this is still worthwhile considering these recent changes for those applying after the 1st September (currently at £195)
These recent announcements sound the death knell for the British Airways American Express Card. I have only ever advocated holding this card to save money on the annual fee but if you cannot use it for business class the revised British Airways American Express Card looks very unattractive. I would love to know what you think though so have your say in the comments.