This article is part of an ongoing refresh of our reward credit card reviews. Over the next few months, I’ll be revisiting, adding to and updating all of our in-depth credit card features. You can read the current series here.
There are two British Airways credit cards issued by American Express that allow you to earn Avios points from your day-to-day spending.
- British Airways American Express Credit card – Free
- British Airways American Express Premium Plus card – Paid
If you are new to Avios points, I would advise also having a read of our beginners guide to collecting Avios points.
Last week I reviewed the Premium Plus card in detail. This article focuses on the free version.
You will receive 5,000 Avios upon spending £1,000 in your first three months of card membership.
This is a special boosted offer with the regular bonus on this card being 3,000 Avios.
In the past, Amex has run higher offers on the BA Amex cards for relatively short promotional periods. Interestingly, this raised bonus has now been available for almost a year and you wonder whether this is now a permanent offer.
What can I do with 5,000 Avios?
Reward flight redemptions using Avios start at just 4,000 Avios one-way via British Airways’ excellent Reward Flight Saver scheme.
Destinations available at 4,000 Avios include Amsterdam, Paris, Dublin, Copenhagen, and Nice.
Alternatively, you can use them to treat yourself to an upgrade to Club Europe. These start at just 3,750 Avios and would include lounge access, extra baggage and complimentary catering onboard – which for under 4,000 Avios is a quite a bargain.
2-4-1 Companion Voucher
This voucher is one of the best, if not the best, perk in the UK credit card market for ongoing spending.
It essentially allows you to book two Avios reward flight redemptions for the price of one.
This voucher is valid for a year and is triggered after spending £20,000 in a card membership year.
Why it makes no sense to trigger the 2-4-1 voucher on this card
As I explain in my article on the Premium Plus card, if you intend on triggering the 2-4-1 companion voucher, you are far better off with that card than this free version.
This is because the Premium Plus version of the voucher is earned by spending ‘just’ £10,000. It also carries a 2-year validity, allowing you the extra flexibility to really try and maximise its value.
The longer validity is key when it comes to booking tricky routes such as Sydney. In order to have a chance of grabbing Avios seats on those flights, you’ll want to be booking as soon as those flights are released, 355 before departure. Given that the voucher is only valid for a year, your timing when triggering the voucher would have to be absolutely perfect.
There’s no doubt in my mind that if you’re able to put through the required £20,000 on the free BA card, you would be better off if both you and your companion were to each get a Premium Plus card. You could then put £10,000 of spend through on each card thereby earning two vouchers, each valid for 2 years.
If the fee on the Premium Plus card is putting you off, you can always take out the free card now and upgrade to the Premium Plus card at a later stage. All spend that you have put on the free card during your card membership year to date is carried over and counted toward the £10,000 required to trigger the voucher on the Premium Plus card.
Day-to-day earnings rate
You will earn 1 Avios per £1 spent on your card.
That is a solid rate and matches that of the American Express Gold and Platinum cards. Although the fact that a free credit card offers the same earnings rate as the flagship £450-a-year card, says more about the poor Platinum offering than anything else.
Unlike the British Airways Premium Plus card, there are no bonus Avios for purchases made directly with British Airways.
Am I eligible for the welcome bonus?
You are eligible for the sign-up bonus UNLESS you hold or have held one of the two British Airways American Express cards in the last six months.
You WILL still receive the sign-up bonus on this card if you hold/have held either of the Gold or Platinum charge cards, SPG card, Platinum Cashback card, Nectar Card or any other Amex issued by Barclays, Lloyds, TSB or MBNA.
Amex will generally allow you to hold two of their charge card products and two of their credit card products at any one time. Platinum and Green are the other charge cards available while credit cards include the two British Airways cards and the Nectar credit card.
Note: The above isn’t a hard and fast rule. I’ve held the British Airways Premium Plus, Starwood and Nectar credit cards at the same time without issue. It is one to be aware of though, as some have reported being declined for cards after exceeding those limits in the past.
There are NO minimum income requirements to be eligible for any cards issued by American Express. That restriction was removed a number of years ago.
This card is a good card to apply for if you are just starting to collect Avios or would just like to have an Avios-earning credit card option. The current 5,000 Avios sign up bonus, while not life-changing, is a decent enough offer for a free card.
It will be interesting to see how this card fares in the brave new world of 0.3% interchange fees. Will the earnings rate be slashed or perhaps a nominal fee introduced?
We shall find out.
Representative example: Representative 22.9% APR variable. Based on an assumed credit limit of £1,200. Interest rate for purchases: 22.9% p.a. variable
Disclaimer: The information provided by Tricks of the Trade is intended solely as a helpful guide to relevant travel rewards card products and their various features and offers. You should always conduct your own research as recommendations provided within may not be suitable for your personal financial circumstances.