The British Airways (BA) 2-4-1 companion voucher is arguably the most valuable benefit for ongoing credit card spend in the UK. This guide answers the most commonly asked questions about earning and using the 2-4-1 companion voucher.
What is a British Airways 2-4-1 companion voucher?
American Express issues two British Airways credit cards – the free British Airways Credit Card (review here) and the British Airways Premium Plus Card (in-depth review here).
One of the perks of these cards is a 2-4-1 companion voucher that is triggered upon hitting certain spending thresholds. The voucher takes the form of an e-certificate that sits in your BA Executive Club account. It allows you to book two Avios redemption tickets for the price of one.
- 2 adults to fly Club World to New York over Christmas WITHOUT a 2-4-1 voucher = 220,000 Avios plus roughly £1,000 in taxes and charges.
- 2 adults to fly Club World to New York WITH a 2-4-1 voucher = 110,000 Avios plus roughly £1,000 in taxes and charges.
Before we go any further, here’s a quick recap of the key features of the two BA cards:
British Airways American Express Credit Card
- 5,000 Avios welcome bonus
- Earns 1 Avios per £1 spent
- 2-4-1 companion voucher available after spending £20,000 in card membership year
- The voucher is valid for a year
British Airways American Express Premium Plus Card
- £195 annual fee
- 25,000 Avios welcome bonus
- Earns 1.5 Avios per £1 spent and 3 Avios per £1 spent with BA directly
- 2-4-1 companion voucher earned after spending £10,000 in card membership year
- The voucher is valid for two years
How much is a BA 2-4-1 voucher worth?
That depends entirely on the route and class of travel you use it on. At the very top of the scale, it can save you an enormous 400,000 Avios if you used it for peak First Class return tickets to Sydney. If you used it for off-peak economy flights to Amsterdam however, you’d only be looking at a saving of 8,000 Avios.
How easy is it to use?
Here’s the thing – it’s just as easy or difficult to use these vouchers as it is to book regular Avios redemptions. You’re utilising the same reward availability. Think of the 2-4-1 voucher as a discount code applied at the payment page.
As long as you’re trying to use your voucher on a route with a reasonable chance of securing (two) Avios seats, you will have no trouble using your 2-4-1.
Key points to be aware of
While the voucher itself is a simple enough concept, there are a fair few points to be aware of. I’ll do my best to cover as many of them as I can, feel free to add your own experiences and insights in the comments section below.
- The voucher can only be used on British Airways flights
- When using a 2-4-1 voucher, your journey must start in the UK.
- It can be used for a one-way journey
- You must fly the outbound leg of your trip before the voucher expiry date, although you can return after that date.
- You must pay taxes and charges for both seats
- There must be two Avios reward seats available in the cabin you wish to book
- You can book mixed cabin redemptions i.e. fly out in First Class and back in Club World.
- The cardmember who earned the voucher MUST be one of the travellers
- You are not permitted to change the name of the companion after booking. If you wish to do so, you’ll have to cancel and rebook.
- If you are part of a BA Household account, your companion must be in your Household account or named on your ‘Friends and Family’ list.
- The voucher will appear in your BA Executive Club account shortly after you pass the £10,000/£20,000
Does the 2-4-1 voucher make sense for me?
Not necessarily. While for many the 2-4-1 is an extremely valuable perk, it may not work for you for a number of reasons. For starters, it’s not much use to solo travellers.
Secondly, you also have to bear in mind that the best uses of a 2-4-1 are reliant on you being able to generate enough Avios for the primary traveller. It’s all very well saying the 2-4-1 voucher saves you 150,000 Avios on a Club World redemption to Los Angeles. But if you will struggle to earn the first lot of 150,000 Avios, you need to a rethink whether it’s really worth putting £10,000/£20,000 of spending a year towards a 2-4-1 voucher.
I want a ‘2-year voucher’ but don’t want to pay the £195 Premium Plus fee
If you like the idea of having two years to use your 2-4-1 companion voucher but don’t want to pay the £195 fee, here’s a couple of useful tricks:
- Take out and use the BA free card until you are just short of the £10,000 threshold. You can then upgrade to the Premium Plus card and all progress you have made towards earning a 2-4-1 voucher is retained. When your spend then passes £10,000 you’ll receive a voucher with a 2-year expiry date – exactly the same as if you had held the Premium Plus card all along.
- Take out the Premium Plus card and trigger the voucher upon spending your £10,000. You can then downgrade to the free card without it affecting the expiry date of your voucher, which by now is sitting safely in your BA account.
How to book using a 2-4-1 companion voucher
For the majority of trips involving a 2-4-1, you can book online as normal.
Log in to your BA Executive Club account on ba.com, scroll down and you will see a section that says ‘My e-Vouchers’
Click on ‘Redeem’ and you will be taken to the regular ‘Book with Avios’ page where you will see an option to use one/more of your vouchers:
However, some bookings can’t be made online. Booking an open-jaw itinerary, for example, must be done by calling the BA call centre.
Using a 2-4-1 voucher for flights that haven’t been released yet
If you want to book Avios seats as soon as they are released, you can use your 2-4-1 for the flights in both directions. Here’s how to do it:
Use the voucher to book the outbound journey as a one-way ticket when the seats are released. You can do this online if you prefer.
Then at midnight GMT 355 days before your inbound journey, ring an open BA call centre (the ones in the US or Japan seem most popular) and they will add the return leg to your existing 2-4-1 booking. It seems fairly common practice that BA agents will waive the normal ‘£35 per person change fee’ in these circumstances.
Note: Multiple reports suggest it’s now possible to simply book a full price one-way Avios redemption online at midnight when the seats are released for your return leg. Then call the UK call centre when it opens in the morning to apply the 2-4-1 and receive half the Avios back. I haven’t tried it so can’t verify firsthand whether this is definitely the case.
What happens to a 2-4-1 voucher when you cancel a booking?
You can cancel BA 2-4-1 bookings and receive your voucher back in your BAEC account with the original expiry date – provided of course you are cancelling within the permitted cancellation period and rules.
What happens to my voucher if I cancel my BA Amex?
Despite what the Amex call centre tells you, you WON’T lose your 2-4-1 voucher if you cancel your BA Amex card. Once earned, the voucher sits in your BA account and won’t be affected by your Amex card cancellation. Although Amex will tell you that you need your BA card to pay the taxes when redeeming your voucher, in practice, any Amex will suffice.
This voucher is a terrific card perk and offers a guaranteed saving every time. It also continues to blow the competition out of the water. Only top-tier Virgin Gold members can use the Virgin Atlantic 2-4-1 voucher in Upper Class for example, whereas a BA Blue member without a single tier point to their name can use theirs for First Class flights.
The application page for the BA free card is here. The application page for the BA Premium Plus card can be found here.
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