About 18 months ago I opened a British Airways American Express Premium Plus Card for £195 a year to earn Avios points and earn a companion voucher if I spent £10,000 in a year.
I did this and earned my voucher in August 2019, which my British Airways account says is still valid.
However, I closed the card this April and when I called Amex to ask about extending the voucher due to the pandemic they told me it was no longer valid because I chose to close the account, something they state is listed in its terms and conditions.
Is this right? Had I known this I would have obviously kept the account live. I have recently married and was hoping to make use of voucher on a special trip. – K.M., via email
American Express offers a 2-4-1 voucher offering a free flight to those who spend upwards of £10,000 on its British Airways credit cards in 12 months
George Nixon, This is Money, replies: These reward credit cards can offer good returns – but only if you play by the rules and make sure you don’t get stung by sky-high interest rates.
The 2-4-1 companion voucher is considered the Holy Grail of air miles credit card benefits, and what makes the £195-a-year BA Amex card one of the best around, despite its annual fee and 74.7 per cent APR.
Someone who spends £10,000 a year on the card gains the benefit, and it lets the cardholder book another seat on a British Airways reward flight, one paid for by Avios points, for free both ways, excluding the taxes and charges.
Not having to pay the Avios points could make the voucher worth between £1,000 and £1,200 if it was redeemed for a long-haul return flight from London and New York, according to frequent flyer website Head for Points.
This is because the flight would usually cost around 100,000 to 120,000 Avios points, which are usually ‘worth’ around 1p each.
Up to two vouchers can be redeemed at once, and they are usually valid for 24 months from issuance on the £195 BA Amex card and for 12 months if earned through spending on the free British Airways American Express card.
The voucher can be earned on the free card if the holder spends £20,000 a year on it, but Head for Points has warned against doing that, as it is not considered good value.
Spending on the £195-a-year card also earns 1.5 Avios for every £1 spent and a 25,000-point bonus if £3,000 is spent on the card in the first three months of having it.
Meanwhile the free card earns Avios at a rate of every 1 point per £1 spent and gives a 5,000-point bonus for spending £1,000 in three months.
With it likely proving difficult to use the voucher towards flights at the moment, all 2-4-1 vouchers either issued between 1 October 2020 and 31 March 2021 or due to expire between those dates have been extended for an extra six months.
This means a voucher earned from spending £10,000 on the Premium Plus card would expire after 30 months, rather than 24.
But to focus on your question specifically, would the voucher also expire if you cancelled your card?
Want cashback on your card spending?
American Express is also currently running its ‘Shop Small’ scheme for the second time this year, which offers up to £5 cashback when cardholders spend £10 or more at participating small businesses between 5 December and this Sunday.
The offer is valid for use up to 10 times, once per participating location, meaning shoppers can earn a total of £50 in statement credits.
Cardholders need to sign up for the offer and can check out participating businesses on the Amex website.
Amex told you it was in the terms and conditions, but looking through both those of the card and the 2-4-1 voucher the only reference to anything like this is that the voucher ‘may be withdrawn if someone breached their Amex cardholder T&Cs.’
While someone loses their American Express points if they cancel their card, something we covered in September, this does not appear to be the case for the companion voucher.
Indeed, Head for Points’ editor, Rob Burgess, is adamant. Asked whether the voucher is lost if the card is cancelled after earning it, he said: ‘No. Absolutely not.’
He added: ‘The position is very clear, if you have already generated a companion voucher, and it is showing in your British Airways Executive Club account, it is safe.
‘You will not lose it. If you book a flight with it and need to cancel the flight, the voucher will be returned to you as normal.’
That is also the case if you no longer hold a BA Amex card at the time of cancelling a flight, and you can even cancel a card after making a 2-4-1 flight booking without the flight being cancelled.
|Credit card||Annual fee||Representative APR||Spending reward||Welcome bonus|
|British Airways American Express credit card||N/A||22.2%||1 Avios per ‘virtually’ £1||5,000 Avios for spending £1,000 in 3 months|
|American Express Rewards credit card||N/A||22.2%||1 Amex point per £1 (can be converted into Avios at a 1:1 rate)||5,000 Amex points for spending £2,000 in 3 months|
We asked American Express about your case, and it suggested there had been a slight mix-up over explaining the T&Cs to you.
They told us that while a companion voucher sits on a BA Executive Club account and can be redeemed regardless, it ‘may become invalid’ because you have to pay the remaining taxes and charges on an American Express card which is in the same name as the voucher.
But this can be any American Express card, meaning if you didn’t want to pay the £195 fee you could downgrade to the free BA Amex card or even the free American Express Rewards Credit Card to keep your account going.
And because the voucher has already been earned on the Premium Plus card, you still get the same, longer, expiry date if you downgrade to a fee-free card, which you can do by calling American Express.
Amex say it has resolved your situation and provided you with a direct contact number if you have any further questions when it comes to redeeming your voucher.
Anyone else in the same boat might be wise to downgrade the card to a fee-free option to book the flights in the future without a hitch – but again, only if you play by the rules and pay off the balance as you go along.
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