British Airways’ Executive Club is the largest and most popular airline loyalty programme in the United Kingdom.
One of the easiest and quickest ways to collect Avios, the currency of Executive Club, is with a British Airways cobranded American Express credit card.
Today, we’re taking a look at the no-annual-fee cobranded British Airways credit card — the British Airways American Express Credit Card. It could be a good choice for low-spenders and travellers who are new to the world of points and miles.
Representative APR24.5% (variable)Rewards/perksOne Avios per £1 spent (plus 5,000 Avios bonus when you spend £1,000 in first 3 months)Annual feeNone
Earn Avios points on your everyday spending
No 0% promotional periods
While there is no annual fee to pay for the American Express British Airways card, there is no promotional period on purchases – and balance transfers are not permitted.
New purchases made on this card will attract a representative annual interest rate (APR) of 24.5% (variable).
That said, you get up to 56 days’ interest-free on purchases. So, if you clear your balance in full – and on time – every month, you won’t be charged a penny in interest.
If you are late with your monthly repayment, you will face a £12 charge. There is also a returned payment fee of £12.
With this card, working out rewards is simple, as you collect one Avios point for just about every £1 you spend. This is in addition to a welcome bonus of 5,000 Avios points if you spend £1,000 in the first three months.
If you redeem your Avios on an economy flight to Europe, one point is worth around 0.5p.
According to American Express, 20,000 Avios will get you one return flight from London to Athens, while 9,000 will get you a return flight from London to Berlin. (Examples are based on redeeming Avios through the British Airways Executive Club programme).
Avios can also be redeemed against part of the flight, or to upgrade to business or first class.
When you spend £12,000 on the card in a year of membership, you will qualify for a ‘Companion Voucher’ which you can use to take someone on a flight with you. (This spending threshold fell from £20,000 in September 2021).
Vouchers are redeemable on economy class flights (when you book an Avios reward flight in Euro Traveller and World Traveller cabins). Taxes and fees will still have to be paid.
If you refer a friend who successfully gets approved for an American Express card, you can earn at least 4,000 bonus points. In a calendar year, you can earn up to 90,000 bonus Avios points. You can put these towards flights, upgrades or treats on board.
With the American Express British Airways Credit Card, you get ‘Purchase Protection.’ If an eligible item is stolen or accidentally damaged, you will be reimbursed £2,500. This applies for up to 90 days after the item was purchased.
The card also offers ‘Refund Protection,’ so if you have trouble with a UK shop refunding your payment, you’ll get the price of eligible items refunded, up to £200, if you submit a claim within 90 days.
In addition, cardholders also have chargeback rights, as detailed in their Ts and Cs – but you should contact American Express directly to discuss.
Will I be eligible?
To be accepted for the American Express British Airways card, you’ll need a pretty good credit rating – and no history of bad debt. You will need to be aged at least 18.
Before formally applying, it can be helpful to use an eligibility checker tool. This will show the likelihood of you getting accepted, without leaving a mark on your credit file.
What are the pros?
Generous introductory bonus
Ongoing ability to earn Avios on everyday spend
Opportunity to get a free companion ticket
No annual fee
Generous referral programme
Additional cardholders can be added
Access to 24/7 Global Assist emergency assistance service. Access to Travel Accident Insurance up to £75,000. Both are subject to enrolment
Access to American Express Experiences such as tickets to film, theatre and music
What are the cons?
No balance transfers
No interest-free period on purchases
Relatively high APR
Rates you get offered may depend on your circumstances
Charges will apply for use abroad
Companion flights can now only be redeemed on economy flights
What more should I know?
You will not be eligible for a welcome bonus if you have held any American Express card in the past two years.
Exercise caution before taking money from an ATM with this card as interest is charged with immediate effect.
With this card, as with any rewards card, be sure to clear your balance in full each month. If not, any rewards you earn could be outweighed by interest charges.
Who is this card for?
The British Airways American Express Credit Card is a base-level card designed for people who want to begin collecting Avios, the currency of the British Airways Executive Club, without paying any annual fees. This card is also for travellers who already fly British Airways or its Oneworld partners and want to boost their Avios balance through everyday spending.
There is no minimum income requirement to be approved for this card. If you already hold an American Express card in the U.K., however, be sure to note the restrictions on welcome bonuses.
Welcome bonus and annual fee
As a base-level card, the BA Amex Card has no annual fee in your first or subsequent years. But even without an annual fee, it still provides a welcome bonus of 5,000 Avios after spending £1,000 in the first three months of card membership for applicants. Based on TPG’s current valuation of Avios, that welcome bonus is worth around £55, which is an solid deal for a card with no annual fee.
This credit card has a representative APR of 24.7% variable and a purchase rate of 24.7% p.a. with an assumed credit limit of £1,200.
Because this card doesn’t carry an annual fee, you may not think you can easily earn Avios for your everyday spend. However, you will receive 1 Avios per £1 spent on all purchases. Unfortunately, no bonus Avios are earned for spending directly with British Airways, as you might have hoped from a cobranded airline card.
Remember, if you meet the minimum spend of £1,000 in the first three months to earn the 5,000 Avios welcome bonus referred to above, you’ll also earn an extra 1,000 Avios, as you’ll be earning 1 Avios for every £1 spent.
Additionally, the card charges a 2.99% foreign transaction fee, which is more than the value of the Avios it would earn for these purchases. Because of the foreign transaction fee, it might be best to leave this card at home when you’re travelling internationally or making a non-Sterling purchase.
Avios are easy to redeem because there are so many options, from flights, cabin upgrades, hotel stays, gift vouchers and shopping. Read our ultimate guide to redeeming Avios here.
Those 6,000 Avios are enough for a one-way peak or off-peak flight with British Airways from London to Edinburgh (EDI), Copenhagen (CPH), Berlin (BER), Amsterdam (AMS) or Jersey (JER), plus £17.50 in fees, taxes and surcharges as part of British Airways’ great Reward Flight Saver offer.
As there’s no annual fee, you’re coming out well ahead before we even consider the Companion Voucher.
The biggest perk of this credit card — aside from the welcome bonus and lack of annual fee — is the Companion Voucher. The cmpanion voucher is one of the most valuable benefits for British Airways flyers. In short, once you’ve got one of the vouchers, you can take a companion with you on the same flight and in the same economy cabin when you redeem Avios for a BA reward flight. Taxes, fees and other carrier charges still apply to both seats.
You will earn a companion voucher after spending £12,000 on the card any card membership year. The voucher is valid for 12 months; you’ll need to both redeem the voucher and commence at least the outbound leg of your travels within 24 months.
Unfortunately, unlike the voucher earned from the British Airways Premium Plus Card, you can only redeem your voucher for economy-class travel (short-haul Euro Traveller or long-haul World Traveller).
You can commence your journey outside of the U.K. if you wish by using your companion Voucher. If, for example, you wanted to fly from Paris (CDG) to Los Angeles (LAX) via London (LHR) on British Airways, this would be allowed.
This rule is also handy if you only want to redeem your companion voucher for a one-way journey. You could start anywhere British Airways flies and redeem it for a one-way flight back to the U.K.
Open jaws are still allowed, too, though you may need to call British Airways to book this if it’s not possible to do it online.
In addition to the companion voucher, the basic British Airways Amex Credit Card also comes with several other perks.
For example, cardholders get refund protection and purchase protection. For refunds, eligible items that were purchased with the card in the U.K. are covered for 90 days. The insurance covers up to £200 to refund or replace the item, so long as the retailer won’t do the same.
For the purchase protection benefit, eligible items stolen or damaged within 90 days of purchasing with the card will be covered. The protection to repair or replace the purchase is covered to £2,500 per item.
The card’s travel accident insurance covers up to £75,000 for the accidental death or accident resulting in the complete loss or permanent loss of use of limb, sight, speech or hearing while travelling in a public vehicle. In order to be eligible, the ticket must have been purchased with the British Airways Amex Credit Card.
You can find the full terms of what’s covered with the insurances on the Amex website (PDF). Keep in mind that some of these benefits, such as the insurances, are subject to enrollment.
Finally, you can opt to have free supplementary cards for any close family and friends in order to maximise your return on the card. But remember you, as the primary cardholder, will still be responsible for paying the balance each month.
Which cards compete with this card?
The premium version of this card, the British Airways American Express Premium Plus Credit Card, does have an annual fee but comes with a much larger welcome bonus and earns more Avios per pound spent. Plus, with its preferential earning structure that card also earns bonus Avios for spending with British Airways directly, it could be a better option for frequent BA flyers.
But the most important difference is that you’ll earn the lucrative companion voucher after spending only £10,000 on the Premium Plus Card versus £12,000 on this basic card. Also remember, the Premium Plus Card:
Gives a longer voucher validity period of 24 months, rather than 12 months with the base level card.
Allows you to redeem the voucher for any cabin of service BA flies at all times, rather than just economy.
If you are planning to spend £10,000 on any British Airways American Express credit card in your card membership year, you may wish to consider the Premium Plus Card instead of the basic BA Amex, as it’ll trigger the companion voucher much sooner. The voucher from the Premium Plus Card is significantly more valuable as it can be used for premium cabins.
So, why do we say this is a solid card for low spenders? Because if you are spending less than £10,000 in a year (i.e. less than £830 every month) and you won’t earn a valuable companion voucher on any card, then with this card you can still earn Avios on every purchase without paying any annual fees. If you were spending £800 per month, you would still earn 9,600 Avios over the course of the year with no annual fee.
That’s enough for a return peak or off-peak flight to the likes of Amsterdam (AMS), Copenhagen (CPH) or Edinburgh (EDI) plus fixed fees and taxes – not bad for a card with no annual fees.
Is the card right for me?
If you’re looking for a generous airline credit card and plan on using this plastic for your everyday spending – especially in the early days to take advantage of the welcome bonus – this card could be ideal.
What you get is a decent Avios offering, a welcome bonus, a friend referral scheme – and the added extras that come with being an American Express cardholder – all with no upfront fee.
What are my alternatives?
As with any great deal, this card comes at a cost. In this case, the APR on purchases kicks in right away.
You may be able to find a card offering a lengthy 0% period on new purchases – and potentially also on balance transfers – athough the rewards on offer could be less generous.
Be sure to check out the other cards in the American Express stable, as you could, for example, find a card with a bigger welcome bonus and slightly higher rate of earnings point – but with an annual fee. Compare all options amd weigh up the fee against the benefits and how you will use them before making a decision.