Amex & BA - 2009 Master Thread

Old Aug 4, 07, 3:28 am
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Amex & BA - 2009 Master Thread

This thread is for questions related to the BA American Express Cards that are available to people in the UK. (Sorry to all those US users of the BA Visa, but you never seem to generate enough questions! BA in Germany offer a Visa, in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, South Africa and Switzerland there are Diners Club cards - also available for corporate cardholders in the UK.

To summarise the benefits of the BA Amex cards, here is an updated extract from ‘The Ultimate BA Guide’ sticky:

There are two types of AmEx card current available:
Basic – no fee
Premium Plus - 150 annual fee

(The ‘middle type’ called Premium is no longer offered, but still valid for existing holders).

Miles earned
The Basic card will earn you 1 BA mile per 1 spent, the Premium Plus 1.5 miles (and historically the Premium 1.25 miles).

If you a Premium or Premium Plus card (but not the Basic) holder and purchase something from BA which appears as ‘British Airways’ on the credit card statement, these amounts will be doubled i.e. 2.5 miles per 1 for the Premium and 3 miles per 1 for Premium Plus – this applies to flights as well as Duty Free purchases onboard. You do not earn double miles when purchasing BA Miles online as these show on your statement as points.com, not British Airways.

It’s also worth noting that on Travelocity and Expedia at least, normal BA tickets appear on your card as 2 transactions; first as BRITISH AIRWAYS for the fare itself and then a second one for the site’s booking fee. These post with triple miles automatically ^ (Note this does not apply to special/negotiated fares such as ones which appear on Expedia as ‘Expedia Special’ from time-to-time).

The 2-4-1 voucher

The primary benefit of these BA AmEx cards is the voucher you get a voucher that offers you a second free ticket when you redeem your BA Miles for a flight. You need to spend 20K on the Basic, 15K on the (no longer offered) Premium, and 10K on the Premium Plus before you can get this. All of the spend must occur in one year. This is the year from the date of your AmEx card’s anniversary – not a calendar year.

However much you spend on the card, you can still only have one voucher every 12 months. If you’re really spending and it takes you three months to get to the 10K (for the Premium Plus), the next nine months of spend will NOT count to your next voucher, although you will continue to earn miles.

If you do spend heavily on the card, you may want to consider getting a separate (NOT a supplementary) card for your partner so that your household can generate two vouchers per year. You can then get a supplementary card in your name on your partners card, with the spend going towards their voucher and the miles into their account.

Using the voucher

The voucher is issued to you as soon as you hit the spend threshold, literally within a couple of days of your spending hitting the 10k / 20k level. A physical voucher will be posted to you, usually within a week of receiving the statement that put you over the spending threshold, but before that it will appear online in your BA account’s homepage. You will also receive an email from BA confirming your qualification. The physical voucher contains a numerical code which you need to give to BA when you ring up to book your flights (if booking offline).

So, once you get the voucher, what is it? Well when you redeem your BA Miles for a ticket, it will give you a second one for free. Simple as that! You still have to pay all the airport taxes and fuel surcharges for both tickets though.

As of July 2009, the voucher is valid for twelve months if issued on a Basic card and 24 months if issued on a Premium Plus card. This is a substantial improvement for Premium Plus card holders.

The expiry date is the NOT the last day for booking – it is the last day by which you must have flown ALL outbound segments of your trip. (The old trick of flying MAN-LHR and then doing LHR-BKK six months later will no longer work.) BA/Amex will also not extend vouchers any more.

Stopovers are allowed but do remember the voucher only applies to bookings solely with BA Miles. You can NOT use the voucher for:

Flights paid for with money – Miles ONLY
Part Cash / Part Miles – this means no MFU’s
Partner Airlines – BA Flights ONLY
oneworld Flights – BA Flights ONLY
Code-shares – BA Flights ONLY
Flights starting from outside the UK – the flight MUST originate in the UK

In the T&Cs it says you may not use it for flights operated by franchise partners. However, people have been successful in using it for this, notably, Comair in South Africa (though this is a mistake on the part of the booking agents not a valid exception).

You can now book your voucher flights online – there will be an additional option on the miles booking engine which lets you ‘pay’ for a flight with the voucher. Simply select this, set the number of travellers to ‘2’ and book away – once you find the seats you need, it will check the validity of the voucher matches that of the journey dates and quote you the total taxes/charges for two people and the miles for one person ^

Unfortunately, however, the online booking system only works for simple bookings (i.e. out and back to/from the same airport in the same class both ways) If you want to do something more complex (i.e. open jaw, mixed classes) you still have to call up BA. They levy a 15 per person charge on all mileage bookings made on the phone – this used to be waived just for Amex bookings but now you can book online (even if you can’t book what you want online ) they will charge you it again

Two other restrictions to keep in mind – your AmEx card must be valid at the time of travel (so you can’t cancel it after booking to save the annual fee for next year). Additionally, you cannot combine your AmEx voucher with a Gold Upgrade Voucher.

The T&C's for the Amex 2 for 1 voucher are here:
http://www.britishairways.com/travel...ntc/public/en_

The T&C's for the cards are here:
http://www10.americanexpress.com/sif...1,12707,00.asp

Who can travel?

If you are only redeeming one voucher, then the primary cardholder must travel. If you are redeeming two vouchers at once (this only applies to Premium Plus cardholders who can earn 1 voucher per year but have 2 years to use them) then – as long as both vouchers are redeemed at the same time – they can be used for the primary cardholder and three other people.

The Other Big Benefit – Travel Cover

Aside from miles earning and the voucher, another big benefit of the Premium Plus card is the travel cover it offers you – if you are travelling alone, it’s actually better cover than the Platinum/Centurion card. Here is a summary for the most-used issue (sadly) – lost/delayed baggage:

1. IF you booked the tickets (on any airline, not just BA) with your Premium Plus Card
2. AND your baggage is delayed by more than 6 hours (at your first/intermediate destination NOT on the way back home)
3. THEN you can spend up to 750 on purchasing ‘essential’ items (e.g. clothes, suit for a meeting, toiletries).
4. FURTHERMORE if the bag still has not turned up in 48hrs you can spend an ADDITIONAL 1,000 too.
5. PROVIDED that ALL purchases are charged to the Premium Plus card

For holders of the Platinum/Centurion, the cover kicks in after 4 hours not 6 BUT it’s only up to 300 and then a further 300 after 48 hours…HOWEVER, that is per person on the booking so with several people it can work out better. Also, for these cards you do NOT have to have paid for the tickets on your Platinum/Centurion, you’re covered regardless.

Two further very important notes:

1. You MUST get the ‘Property Irregularity Report’ (PIR) from the baggage company when it first goes astray
2. You MUST get a date/stamp/confirmation from the courier/delivery person when the bag (hopefully) finally arrives with you (to prove the length of the delay)

Card Fees

There is no annual fee for the Basic card. The Premium Plus card carries a 150 fee. The serious mileage collector will usually take the Premium Plus card regardless, as the higher level of mileage earning cancels out much of the fee – i.e. spending 20,000 pa would get you 10,000 more miles on the Premium Plus card.

However, since the fee for the Premium Plus card went up to 150 and the basic card became totally free, this decision is not as clear cut as it used to be. Here is a rough guide to help you decide which is best:

a) If you and your partner can easily spend 20,000 pa on the card and only earn enough BA Miles to use one Amex 2-4-1 per year, then you may find the Basic card is good enough for your needs. Decide if paying 150 for the additional 0.5 BA Miles per 1, plus any initial sign-up bonus, makes the Premium Plus card worth it for you.

b) If you and your partner can easily spend 20,000 pa on the card but have so many BA Miles that you could happily use TWO Amex 2-4-1 vouchers per year, consider getting the Premium Plus card for yourself and a separate Premium Plus card for your partner. You then split your 20k annual spend between the two cards.

c) If you can easily spend 10,000 pa on the card but will struggle to hit 20,000, then get the Premium Plus card – at least you can be certain of triggering the 2-4-1 voucher after 10,000

d) If you cannot spend 10,000 pa on the card, then either don’t bother (get a BMI Amex instead since the miles go further!) or get the free Basic card and simply earn BA Miles without worrying about the voucher.

e) If you may struggle to use your voucher within 12 months of it being issued, you are better with the Premium Plus card because of the 24 month validity period.

Historically, holders of another Amex card, such as a Blue credit card, Green charge card, Gold charge card, found that the annual fee for the Premium and Premium Plus was reduced to 30 pa. This policy was abandoned in 2008 and now all new applicants need to pay the full fee regardless of what other Amex cards they hold.

Note you can get cash back when applying for most Amex cards, including the BA Amex, through sites such as quidco.com and greasypalm.com. Amex is also usually offering a sign-up bonus of a few thousand BA Miles for both the Basic and Premium Plus cards – see americanexpress.co.uk/ba for details of any current promotions. There is also usually an promotion for existing cardholders to refer a new member, with both the referrer and the referred member receiving a few thousand miles as a bonus – ask an FT’er to refer you.

Domicile

Your BAEC must be registered in the UK for you to hold the BA American Express card. If you move your account to a European address to benefit from the lower tier point thresholds, your card will be cancelled as soon as Amex attempts to make the next miles transfer. However, if you simply do not use your card during your time in Europe then you can retain it as long as you don’t use it.

With some planning, it IS possible to benefit from the European tier point thresholds and the Amex 2-4-1. You would need to squeeze your 10k on Amex spending into part of the year, and then (once the voucher is issued) move your BA account to Europe so it is EU registered when your membership year comes up for renewal. If this is too complicated, you may prefer to have your partner get the BA Amex on a UK BA account and then get a supplementary BA Amex issued in your name. This allows you to use the card day-to-day whilst having your own personal BA account domiciled in Europe.


The BA Corporate AmEx

There is also a BA AmEx Corporate Card available - full details can be found at http://corp.americanexpress.com/gcs/...oratecard.aspx. If you have your own business you may find this useful, or you may find that your employer gives you one. It earns miles at the rate of 1 mile per 1, and also accrues 50% bonus OnBusiness points for the sponsoring employer for BA flights booked using the card. Only BAEC accounts domiciled in the UK will receive miles - if you move your account to Europe you will no longer receive miles although, unlike the standard BA AmEx, your Corporate Card will not be cancelled.

Last edited by Shuttle-Bored; Jul 28, 09 at 3:28 am
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Old Jan 1, 09, 12:57 pm
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While paying off my plat charge card over the phone, I was asked if I wanted to activate flexselect on my card- and receive 2000 reward points for doing so..
Worth doing?
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Old Jan 1, 09, 4:06 pm
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Originally Posted by linenbasket View Post
While paying off my plat charge card over the phone, I was asked if I wanted to activate flexselect on my card- and receive 2000 reward points for doing so..
Worth doing?
I would strongly advise not to, especially during these crunch times. When I activated Flexselect on my account, it triggered a FR (Financial Review). I would not wish that on anyone, it was an absolute nightmare, had to fax them over 100 pages of documents. As soon as I cancelled Flexselect, my account was back to normal, but it took 6 months of complaining until someone at AMEX realised where the problem was.
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Old Jan 1, 09, 5:37 pm
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Originally Posted by arpiuk View Post
I would strongly advise not to, especially during these crunch times. When I activated Flexselect on my account, it triggered a FR (Financial Review). I would not wish that on anyone, it was an absolute nightmare, had to fax them over 100 pages of documents. As soon as I cancelled Flexselect, my account was back to normal, but it took 6 months of complaining until someone at AMEX realised where the problem was.
I activated last month due to the bribe finally going up to 5K MR. So far no problems...fingers crossed.
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Old Jan 1, 09, 10:21 pm
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Originally Posted by arpiuk View Post
I would strongly advise not to, especially during these crunch times. When I activated Flexselect on my account, it triggered a FR (Financial Review). I would not wish that on anyone, it was an absolute nightmare, had to fax them over 100 pages of documents. As soon as I cancelled Flexselect, my account was back to normal, but it took 6 months of complaining until someone at AMEX realised where the problem was.
Originally Posted by G-BOAC View Post
I activated last month due to the bribe finally going up to 5K MR. So far no problems...fingers crossed.
Interesting. I've just been offered the 5k MR bribe, and was going to bite, but not so sure now...I spend a lot of time in US as well as UK, and if this triggers a FR, it might raise tricky questions...

tb
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Old Jan 1, 09, 11:48 pm
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Originally Posted by G-BOAC View Post
I activated last month due to the bribe finally going up to 5K MR. So far no problems...fingers crossed.
Please, don't misunderstand me. I am not saying that everyone will trigger a FR review, but many people have had this happen. Reading the AMEX forum, it seems that Flexselect is placing the cardholder into a higher "risk" category, which then triggers the FR. Despite me being with AMEX for donkeys years and immaculate payment history, that doesn't count. But then everyone on the AMEX forum says the same thing, immaculate history, blah, blah. So the FR does not make sense at all. But if triggered, it's worse than the taxman paying you a visit. one thing: if you do trigger it, MOVE YOUR MR POINTS QUICKLY!!!
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Old Jan 2, 09, 12:06 am
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Originally Posted by arpiuk View Post
Despite me being with AMEX for donkeys years and immaculate payment history, that doesn't count. But then everyone on the AMEX forum says the same thing, immaculate history, blah, blah.
Yes, ditto...you have me worried now! How soon did the FR kick in - was it before they gave you FlexSelect or some time after? I really can't be arsed with all that, and don't even want/plan to use FS anyway.
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Old Jan 2, 09, 4:25 am
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Originally Posted by G-BOAC View Post
I really can't be arsed with all that, and don't even want/plan to use FS anyway.
Ditto- was only tempted because of the points, now that you can convert to BA. No intention of using the flex payment really...
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Old Jan 2, 09, 4:31 am
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Anyone else waiting for the normal/routine Amex to BA miles transfer for December?
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Old Jan 2, 09, 4:38 am
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Originally Posted by uk1 View Post
Anyone else waiting for the normal/routine Amex to BA miles transfer for December?
Mine arrived today, they usually turn up on the 1st or 2nd.
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Old Jan 2, 09, 5:13 am
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Originally Posted by bmi Gold View Post
Thanks Raffles!

Does anyone have tips as to where I should go to apply for my BA Amex - is there cashback (or extra miles) available by doing something clever?

Or should I just go through the BA website?

Thanks - as usual!

bmi G
Quidco will pay 35 (although never paid out for me on this one - but maybe that's because I had other Amex cc. cards)?

http://www.quidco.com/american-express/
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Old Jan 2, 09, 5:52 am
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Originally Posted by uk1 View Post
Anyone else waiting for the normal/routine Amex to BA miles transfer for December?
Mine transfer on the first of each month and then post on the second. All fine and happy this month, nothing out of the ordinary.
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Old Jan 2, 09, 8:56 am
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Originally Posted by G-BOAC View Post
Yes, ditto...you have me worried now! How soon did the FR kick in - was it before they gave you FlexSelect or some time after? I really can't be arsed with all that, and don't even want/plan to use FS anyway.
G-BOAC, it took about a month or two after activating Flex, can't remember precisely. I didn't even know what the heck an FR was. They told me that my account was suspended, subject to me disclosing all my financial situation. In the US all you have to do is submit your tax returns, but in UK they don't trust those, as most people do it online and all one can supply is a printed pdf. So I had to fax them over 100 pages of stuff and they still were not happy. Luckily, I was dealing with a guy who was very sympathetic, as I was about to close my account. He assured me that they do not want to loose high spending customers, but it's impossible to over ride the computer. But he did advise me to move my MR points as a precaution. Which I did. In the end, it was all fine, but I did feel like a criminal. The do come down on you like a ton of bricks.

No need to worry, probably there are lots of people who have Flex and did not go through an FR. Just keep on spending like normal and all should be fine.
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Old Jan 2, 09, 9:12 am
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Thanks, arpiuk...just what I didn't want to hear But seriously, thanks - I will watch out for it and hope it doesn't happen. Like you I have the info to back everything up...I just have far better things to do than dick around with this sort of crap! I shall report back if anything bad happens!
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Old Jan 2, 09, 9:39 am
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Amex 2-4-1 - nesting : duration between outbound & inbound ?

I've had a look at the T&C - and could not see this.

Could anyone give me a duration.

Also - any ideas as to the consequences if the inbound journey can not be made ?

Presumably if there is death or divorce and the 'companion' is no longer a companion - then the tix become invalid as the 2 passengers can not travel together.

My understanding is that once the outbound travel is made - then the inbound can not be changed under any circs ?

Thanks
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