Why now is a great time to apply for the British Airways Premium Plus American Express Card

Jun 4, 2021

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This week, American Express announced huge changes to its two British Airways cobranded credit cards. Most of the changes relate to the basic British Airways American Express Card, which will see its valuable Companion Voucher hugely devalued. It will only be redeemable in economy class for Vouchers earned from 1 September 2021 onwards.

Related: Higher annual fee and devalued Companion Voucher: American Express details massive changes to BA cobranded cards

For the popular British Airways Premium Plus American Express Card the changes weren’t nearly as bad. To summarise:

  • The annual fee will increase from £195 to £250;
  • Companion Vouchers earned from 1 September 2021 onwards will have access to additional Club World availability (namely, “I class” fares) that will not be available to regular Executive Club members looking to redeem their Avios otherwise; and
  • The Vouchers can be redeemed for journeys that do not commence in the U.K. as well as journeys that do commence in the U.K.

There are no changes to the Premium Plus Card’s earning rate, welcome bonus, spend required to earn the Companion Voucher, the classes of service the Voucher can be redeemed for or Voucher validity.

While an annual fee increase is never welcome, the benefits of the additional Club availability and relaxation of the “journey must commence in the U.K.” rule could cancel out the fee increase.

Related: How to use a British Airways Companion Voucher with a Household Account

(Photo by Liam Spencer/The Points Guy)

If you already have this card, the fee increase will kick in for any annual fees charged on or after 1 September. The changes to the Companion Vouchers for both cards kick in for those Companion Vouchers earned after 1 September, regardless of the annual fee date. This means if your annual fee is payable on 1 August 2020, you would be charged the existing £195 annual fee on the Premium Plus Card, but if you didn’t meet the spend required to earn the Companion Voucher until 1 November, the new Companion Voucher rules above would apply.

Related: How to best maximise a BA Companion Voucher with 100,000 Avios

If you don’t have either card, or you have the basic, no-annual-fee card but are keen to upgrade to the Premium Plus Card before the devaluation of the Companion Vouchers kicks in, it’s actually a great time right now. This is because if you apply for or upgrade to the Premium Plus Card before 1 September, you’ll be charged the lower annual fee of £195. If you then don’t meet (or purposely delay) the minimum spend of £10,000 until 1 September, your Companion Voucher benefits from the increased award availability and relaxed routing restrictions.

This is the best of both worlds.

Even if I was due to earn my next Companion Voucher this month, I would delay hitting the £10,000 spend threshold until 1 September, as I really want the new Premium Plus Card Voucher conditions more than the existing Voucher conditions.

Related: How to book mixed-class Companion Voucher itineraries

Bottom line

Card devaluations are never fun, and this one is a real mixed bag. There is a real opportunity before 1 September if you have ever considered applying for the British Airways Premium Plus American Express card. You can benefit from the existing annual fee before the price hike and the improved Companion Voucher conditions if you earn it after 1 September.

If you have the basic card, then the Companion Voucher is about to become a lot less valuable than before, so now is a great time to consider upgrading to the British Airways Premium Plus American Express Card.

Featured image by Liam Spencer / The Points Guy

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