Is this the beginning of the end for the free British Airways AMEX? Last week, AMEX lost their battle with the EU and now have to cap the interchange fee at 0.3%. This effects most travel American Express credit cards including British Airways and Starwood SPG Rewards cards and means that AMEX will be making less money off card transactions. This may mean that they need to change the rewards that you earn from their cards, or possibly be the end of the cards entirely. Now that would be a disaster!
Benefits of the British Airways AMEX credit cards
There are two British Airways American Express cards – the British Airways American Express cards card and the black British Airways American Express Premium Plus Card which carries a fee of £195 per annum. Both offer a Avios companion voucher, (BOGOF type offer) but you need to spend £20,000 on the blue card to secure your companion ticket, or £10,000 on the Black card.
The earnings rate increases on the black card from 1 AVIOS per pound spent to 1.5. If you spend money on British Airways using the premium card, it increases to a whopping 3 AVIOS per pound.
If you refer a friend, you only get a measly 4,000 on the blue versus 9,000 on the black. Use my referral links here to earn extra sign up bonus points of 26,000 on the Premium card (usually 25,000) and 6,000 on the blue free card (usually 5,000).
Possible impact on British Airways Amex cards
This EU legislation has already had a pretty dramatic impact on the availability of travel rewards credit cards. It is unclear yet whether any of the BA Amex credit cards will be withdrawn. However, in recent months, MBNA withdrew many of their travel rewards cards from the market as a result of these changes. British Airways may follow suit with the free card, they may remove the ability to earn a companion voucher or simply reduce the earnings rate rather than withdraw the card.
Given the fee on the Premium Plus card, it is less likely that this card will be impacted. Despite the cost, I prefer this card due to the lower companion voucher threshold. However, if you do not wish to pay for a card, and want to earn AVIOS and a valuable companion ticket, sign up for the free card now.
If you want to make it easier to earn a companion ticket, and are happy to pay a fee, opt for the Premium Plus card.
Remember, use these referral links to earn more AVIOS.
Will BA AMEX cancel my card?
Once you have signed up, the terms and conditions state that it is possible for AMEX to change the agreement ‘to reflect a change in law, regulation or industry codes of practice…or to reflect a decision by a court.’ They make no specific mention of an ability to cancel your contract, but it would seem unlikely that they would do so. Certainly when MBNA withdrew the Miles and More card from the market, they did not cancel existing cards!
So, this really might be your last chance to take advantage of a free British Airways credit card which offers AVIOS reward.