TPG Points Clinic: Is there any point trying to earn a British Airways Companion Voucher?

Oct 6, 2019

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We’ve been asking our TPG UK readers to write in with their specific points situations for a free Points Clinic with our TPG experts. Reader Olly contacted us to express his frustration at the lack of value he believed he was receiving from both the British Airways Premium Plus Card from American Express UK, and the Companion Voucher he earned from it:

“I have the £195 annual fee BA Amex card and have achieved my Companion Voucher and earned 55,000 Avios points in the process. I looked up the best way to use my Voucher, and TPG suggested Europe to avoid high surcharges. I tried to avoid high taxes by flying through Jersey, but that didn’t work for me.

So my issue is that I’ve paid the £195 annual fee for the card, spent thousands of pounds with Amex and BA and when I use my Companion Voucher for a flight to Ibiza, the taxes cost £70. And had I bought the flight with cash, it would have cost £222 in total. 

I can’t see how I’ve actually saved money. In fact, it seems I’m spending more — the Companion Voucher essentially costing me £265. Please do let me know where I might be going wrong as I really can’t see any incentive to stay with this card, despite understanding the points rewards being better with the annual fee, the fee seems to wipe out any benefit.”

This is a really great question, and I can understand Olly’s frustration. I would note straight away that the 55,000 Avios he has earned during the card year are, in our opinion, far more valuable than the £195 fee he has paid. In fact, according to TPG UK’s most recent valuations, those 55,000 Avios are worth around £600.

Using his valuable BA Companion Voucher for two return tickets to Ibiza, assuming they were peak dates, would cost 15,000 Avios + £70 in fees and taxes for two people. This saved around £150 off the cash price for two people, giving those Avios Olly used a value of around 1p each, which is right around our valuation, so a reasonable use of the Companion Voucher. It’s important to note that Olly should still have 40,000 of his 15,000 Avios left after using his Companion Voucher, which he could use for up to 10 one-way Reward Flight Saver redemptions. Using the same 1p per Avios value he obtained from his Companion Voucher, those 40,000 Avios would be worth more than £400, which means he is coming out well in front.

Was Ibiza the best use of the Companion Voucher? Yes and no.

A return cash fare of £221 for two people is quite reasonable, especially if this is over the busy summer season. If Olly could find another use for his Companion Voucher, this might have been an occasion to just pay the cash fare instead.

We’ve published a guide on what we think are some of the best uses of a Companion Voucher with 50,000 Avios. We’d consider a return economy redemption to either the East Coast of North America, or the Middle East as a great use. While you would use up all your Avios in one redemption and still have to pay several hundred pounds in fees, taxes and surcharges, normal cash fares to the likes of Montreal and Dubai can easily be £700+ per person return even on off-peak dates. So using your Companion Voucher for two passengers could easily save you £800 in total — coming out well ahead of your £195 annual fee.

If you would like your own Points Clinic with our points and miles experts, you can email tips@thepointsguy.co.uk with ‘TPG Points Clinic’ in the subject line for the chance to be featured on TPG UK. Unfortunately, due to the volume of requests we receive, we cannot provide advice to every reader and nor can we respond privately.

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