TPG reader question: What happens to my Companion Voucher if I downgrade my British Airways American Express card?

Nov 21, 2021

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Editor’s note: This article is part of a weekly column to answer your credit card, points and miles and general travel questions. If you’d like to ask us a question, tweet us at @thepointsguyuk, message us on Facebook or email ben.smithson@thepointsguy.co.uk.


With long-haul travel having now well and truly returned, you may be looking at finally redeeming one or more British Airways Companion Vouchers. I redeemed both of mine earlier this month and cleared out my Avios balance in the meantime.

For any vouchers earned after 1 September 2021, the vouchers have very different rules depending on whether you earned the voucher from spend on the “no annual fee” British Airways American Express card, or the “£250 annual fee” British Airways American Express Premium Plus card.

You might have earned a Companion Voucher from the Premium Plus card but are considering cancelling or downgrading your American Express card before redeeming your voucher. There’s a very important snag though, which brings us to this week’s TPG reader question of the week.

I’ve earned this years Companion Voucher on the premium BA Amex. I’m sure I read you can downgrade your card to the free one which I’d like to do since all spend will now be on a different card. Does this place any limitations on using the Companion Voucher, ie, does the card have to be the paid for one at the time of booking or flying? Thanks.

Margaret, TPG UK Facebook Lounge Member

One of the key terms and conditions of the Companion Voucher is that you must pay the fees, taxes and surcharges with your British Airways American Express credit card. This creates a frustrating situation with the premium card that if you want to cancel the card to avoid the annual fee but have just earned a Companion Voucher valid for two years, you could end up keeping the card for the sole reason that you have to pay the taxes with the card.

I’ve checked the terms and conditions of the Companion Voucher carefully and spoken with American Express about this. The exact wording of the terms and conditions is “All Taxes, Fees and Charges must be paid for using the British Airways American Express Card.” Note that this does not specify which BA Amex you must use (i.e. it doesn’t say it must be the same exact card number you earned the card with). I confirmed with American Express that it can be any BA Amex in the name of the same name as the person who earned the Companion Voucher.

There are some anecdotal reports that other American Express cards can be used for payment (such as The Platinum Card from American Express) though I would not risk a valuable Companion Voucher by attempting this. Given the “free” British Airways American Express card has no annual fee, if you want to cancel your premium card to avoid the next annual fee I would recommend switching to the free card to ensure you can redeem your Companion Voucher without any problems.

You can cancel a card by calling American Express (on the number on the back of your card). They may be able to move you to the free card on the phone though in my experience they will make you cancel the premium card over the phone and then you must apply for the free card online separately.

Featured image by Nicky Kelvin / The Points Guy

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