British Airways Amex cards: Companion Voucher and fee overhaul

You’ll pay more to get the perks

These American Express credit cards have been popular with Avios collectors looking to save on flights. Find out what’s changing and when.

Which Amex credit cards are changing?

There are two cards affected:

  • British Airways American Express
  • British Airways American Express Premium Plus

These cards earn Avios points as you spend, and if you spend enough each year you’ll also get a ‘Companion Voucher’ that can be used for a 2-4-1 flight with BA.

The changes apply to the annual fee and requirements for the 2-4-1 voucher. They’ll come in at different points this year and Amex will begin notifying cardholders of the new rules in the coming weeks.

How much will the BA Amex credit cards cost?

From 10 April the BA Amex Premium Plus can will increase from £250 a year to £300 a year for new cardholders. The standard BA Amex card will remain free of charge.

If you’re an existing cardholder then you won’t pay the new higher fee until you renew for another year, and only after 1 August 2024. So if you last paid for the card at any point after 1 August last year, then it’ll kick in 12 months after that. For example, if you took the card out in January 2024, then you’ll pay the new rate in January 2025.

What’s happening to the Companion Voucher?

The big reason people go for either of these cards is to trigger the Companion Voucher. Once you spend enough you get a voucher, and it’s this threshold which is changing for both cards from 1 November 2024.

Under the new rules, you’ll need to spend £15,000 within a membership year (this starts based on when you first signed up) on both cards – an increase from £10,000 for the Premium Plus and £12,000 for the free card.

The switchover date gets a little complicated though. Unlike the fee change which only happens at the end of your membership year, this one can kick in part way through.

In the examples provided by Amex, a membership that runs from 1 February 2024 to 31 January 2025, will have until the 31 October 2024 to earn the Companion Voucher at the old levels (so £10,000 or £12,000 depending on the card).

But if they haven’t done this by that date, they’ll need to reach the new spending threshold of £15,000, though they won’t lose any cumulative spending already wracked up.

Then it’ll reset to zero when they reach the end of the membership year, when that £15,000 spend will apply.

How BA Companion Vouchers work

How you use the BA vouchers isn’t changing, and it’s the same rules that were set in June 2022.

So the Premium Plus voucher can be used in any cabin class and lasts two years. The free card voucher lasts only one year and is only valid in economy. Solo travellers can also still use the vouchers for a 50% discount rather than 2-4-1 tickets.

These vouchers might seem attractive, but they’re not as easy to use as you’d hope. First you need to have enough Avios points to cover the entire ticket you are buying. Then you have to pay taxes and fees on top of the voucher for both flights.

And that’s assuming you can find a seat. Avios redemption tickets go on sale 12 months in advance and are limited, meaning the most popular destinations tend to go fast.

I’m not the biggest fan and would rather shop around for deals with more flexibility, but I did earn and use one last year.

Amex will allow pro rata refunds

One silver lining from this change is another pause to the rule change on pro rata refunds. First announced last summer, this will (eventually) mean you won’t get some of the fee back if you cancel part way through your membership year.

Doing this was a great hack to reduce the effective cost of those Companion Vouchers, or to boost the profits on welcome bonuses across any Amex card.

Implementation of this has already been delayed, and now Amex say this has been paused “while we make this fee change”. Though Amex won’t confirm a start date for the rules, it likely means we’ve until at least 31 July 2024 before they do. And obviously it could be later that that.

What it means is anyone who has one of the expensive American Express cards – primarily the Platinum, Gold or BA Premium Plus – and don’t want to keep it, have a few months where they can still take advantage.

A quick warning though. If you have Amex Reward points that you haven’t yet converted or spent, these will be lost if you then cancel either the Platinum or Gold cards. You can prevent this by opening up the free Amex Rewards card, which will keep the point active.

2 thoughts on “British Airways Amex cards: Companion Voucher and fee overhaul

  1. After earning and obtaining the companion voucher in the BA Executive Club account, do we still need to keep the BA Amex Card account in order to use the companion voucher to pay for the taxes and fees of the ticket in the future?
    In other words, if we cancel the BA Amex Card, could we still use the companion voucher earned in the future?

    1. You need an Amex, but it doesn’t need to be the BA one


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