American Express (Amex) and British Airways (BA) have two co-branded credit cards – the British Airways Amex and the British Airways Premium Plus Amex. They allow customers to collect Avios points for their daily expenses, which can then be redeemed for airline tickets, hotel stays and more.
With both cards, customers can also purchase a so-called “companion ticket” every year above a certain spending limit. A companion ticket is a great way to get someone else to seat on a flight you bought with Avios and all they have to do is pay taxes and fees (although this can sometimes cost hundreds of pounds – check out our full Avios guide for more the information). But even this advantage is shaken up for some.
For full information on both cards and other ways to earn airline miles, check out our complete guide to airline credit cards. Keep in mind, however, that if international travel is still interrupted, a cashback or reward credit card could be a surefire way to get perks on your daily expenses and only spend what you would be doing anyway – don’t use reward cards as an excuse to stop to spend a lot.
Amex turns its two British Airways credit cards upside down
Here is a summary of the changes that will affect both new and existing British Airways Amex cardholders from September 1, 2021:
- Do you have or will receive a British Airways American Express credit card? The spending threshold for purchasing a companion ticket will drop from £ 20,000 / year to £ 12,000 / year, but will only be limited to Economy Class flights. Your annual spending limit starts on the date or anniversary on which you removed the card. So if your year end is before September 1, 2021, you still need to spend £ 20,000 to get the companion ticket. However, if your year end is after September 1, 2021 you will need to spend £ 12,000.
As long as you reach the spending threshold of £ 20,000 before September 1, 2021, you can have a companion flight on any flight from Economy to First Class (provided seats are available) – even if the flight takes place after September 1, 2021 , you can only redeem one accompanying flight in Economy Class after reaching the spending threshold of GBP 12,000.
- Do you have or will you receive a British Airways Premium Plus American Express credit card? The annual fee is increased from £ 195 to £ 250 but all other benefits remain the same or increase. In contrast to the British Airways Amex card mentioned above, companion vouchers purchased with the British Airways Premium Plus Amex card can still be redeemed on all flights from Economy to First Class (provided seats are available).
As of September 1st, you will no longer need to redeem companion vouchers on flights departing only from the UK, which offers additional flexibility.
In addition, British Airways has doubled the number of seats that can be booked with Avios on flights starting July 28th, with the additional seats now bookable.
Consider whether the cards will still be worthwhile from September 1st – maybe you can earn more Avios elsewhere
Weigh the pros and cons of keeping your cards from September 1st. Both cards will continue to be some of MoneySavingExpert.com’s most popular credit cards after September 1st (assuming no new players hit the market), but you may be able to earn more Avios using the American Express Gold and Nectar credit cards instead, also currently the best buys.
We compared all four cards in the table below, assuming an Avios value of 0.5 pence per mile, although the actual value of the Avios will vary depending on the flights you use them on. Typically, off-peak hours flights require fewer Avios than peak-hour flights. Therefore, if possible, try to choose cheaper periods in which you normally need 10 to 35% fewer points in economy class.
However, if you are not just looking for the Avios, you also need to compare the value of the added benefits such as escort flights and free visits to airport lounges. Also take into account any card fees and if you are unhappy with the increased fee for the Premium Plus card, for example, make sure to cancel your membership before the renewal date.
Also, keep in mind that Amex isn’t as widespread as Mastercard or Visa and you won’t get the introductory bonuses listed below if you’ve had a personal (i.e. non-business) Amex in the past two years.