Avios Barclaycard vs BA Amex Card – Which is Better

Until recently the only credit card with good Avios earning potential was the BA Amex Premium Plus Credit Card.

Then the Avios Plus Barclaycard came along, and everything changed.

I have taken out both the Avios Plus Barclaycard, along with the BA Amex Premium Plus card – at a cost of £500 a year in fees – and want to share with you the advantages, the disadvantages.

I also want to share one major factor on both credit cards that could be the decision maker for 95% or more of those trying to decide.

The Avios Plus Barclaycard offers a core benefit of a cabin upgrade voucher when spending £10,000 a year which is better for solo travellers. The BA Avios Amex Card offers a core benefit of a free companion voucher for the same spend, which is better for those regularly travelling with a friend or partner.

Both cards offer similar Avios per £1 spent benefits, as well as a similar welcome bonus for a £3,000 spend in three months. Both cards have similar annual fees.

Without the core benefit for spending £10,000 in a calendar year, then the Avios Barclaycards monthly fee as well as being accepted in more places, has a slight edge over the Amex Premium Plus card – but when the core benefit is added, things are very different.

The Avios Barclaycard Plus Card Explained

The Avios Plus Barclaycard is the recent offering from Barclaycard, using the World Elite Mastercard status, offering lots of great benefits.

Avios rewarding benefits include:

  • 1.5 Avios per £1 spent almost anywhere
  • 25,000 Avios Sign Up Bonus if you spend £3,000 in the first 3 months
  • Free Cabin Upgrade Voucher if you spend £10,000 each calendar year

The cost of the Avios Barclaycard Plus card is £20 per month, which is equal to £240 per annum. You can reduce this to £15 per month – or £180 per annum – if you also have the Barclays Premier Banking account.

A monthly charge has the benefit of spreading the fee across the year as well as only paying for the months you have your card if you decide to cancel it for any reason.

The core benefit is the free cabin upgrade voucher.

This allows one person a return upgrade to the next cabin up when booking a reward flight using Avios, or two people can upgrade to the next cabin on either the outbound or inbound flight.

There are three caveats to the free cabin upgrade voucher you need to be aware of:

  • The original flight booking must be a reward booking using Avios in full. You can not upgrade a cash or a cash plus points booking
  • Fees and surcharges for the upgrade will need to be paid in cash
  • Very frustratingly you can not use the upgrade voucher to upgrade from Club World (Business Class) to First

An upgrade can be made from Economy to Premium Economy, or Premium Economy to Business Class – but not from Business Class to First.

An unnecessary caveat considering the spend level needing to be reached on the card in 12 months.

The BA Amex Premium Plus Card Explained

The BA Amex Premium Plus card has been around for a while and has long been the credit card to have if you are serious about collecting Avios points.

Avios rewarding benefits include:

  • 1.5 Avios per £1 spent almost anywhere
  • 25,000 Avios Sign Up Bonus if you spend £3,000 in the first 3 months
  • Free Flight Companion Voucher if you spend £10,000 each calendar year

The cost of the BA Amex Premium Plus card has recently been increased to £250 per year, which is just £10 a year more than the Avios Barclaycard Plus card.

The core benefit of this Amex card is the free companion voucher.

This allows you to book a reward flight using Avios and take a companion with you for free, and unlike the Avios Barclaycard Plus card, you can use this voucher in First Class too!

Having just used a free companion voucher, I can tell you the caveats are:

  • The flight has to be booked using a reward flight booking using Avios in full
  • Fees and surcharges will need to be paid for both passengers

I can confirm using the voucher was really easy, and all can be done online using your BA Executive Club account.

Major Difference Between the Cards

As you can see so far, the benefits and costs between the two cards are almost identical.

Not every place in the UK accepts American Express due to having one of the highest merchant processing fees of all credit cards, but I have found only a small number of small independent retailer not accepting Amex.

If you have read to this point you will see the major core benefit of the cards may be the deciding factor.

For those people who usually fly solo, the free companion voucher from the BA Amex card may be of little benefit, whereas a free return upgrade voucher could be perfect.

For those who regularly fly with a partner, friend, or family member then the free companion voucher from the BA Amex card may provide the best rewards, whereas the free upgrade voucher only allows one flyer a return free upgrade or both passengers a one way upgrade which is not as rewarding.

Real Life Case Study Cost Analysis

The best way to prove this is to look at a real life case study, using an actual flight.

For example, a return flight for two to New York, in Club World (Business Class) from 14th September to 19th September would currently cost £6,212.12 in cash.

Price of Two BA Business Class Return Flights to New York

Now let’s see what this same flight would cost if the booking was made using a free companion flight voucher.

First of all, a reward seat to New York in Business Class would cost 100,000 Avios.

Fortunately, with the free companion voucher, only 100,000 Avios are required for two people to fly rather than the standard 200,000 Avios.

As I mentioned, there are fees and taxes that need to be paid per passenger.

Avios and Fees to fly BA Business Class to New York

As you can see from the screenshot above, for this flight the fees and taxes are £841.51 per passenger, which equals a total of £1,683.02 to pay for both passengers, in addition to the 100,000 Avios needed of course.

This represents a total saving of £4,529.10!

Considering the annual fee of the BA Amex Premium Plus card is just £250, which is less than 6% of the total saving, you can see how the benefits and savings of this card can really add up if there is more than one person flying.

Which is Better: Avios Barclaycard or BA Amex Card – The Insider’s Notes

With the Avios earning potential on both the Avios Barclaycard Plus card and BA Amex Premium Plus card being very similar, it can be difficult to choose between the two.

The Barclaycard, through Mastercard, would be accepted in more places than the American Express card, but I haven’t found any considerable missed Avios earning opportunities using the American Express for the past year.

I would recommend anyone who often takes to the sky with a partner, friend or family member to look further in to the BA Amex Premium Plus card as the free companion voucher can offer substantial savings, and allow both flyers to travel in Business or even First for a fraction of the cost.

If though you generally fly solo, the free companion voucher may be of little use, and the benefits of a free cabin upgrade much more rewarding.

You can’t get in to First using the free cabin upgrade voucher from the Avios Barclaycard but a return flight in Business Class at the cost of a Premium Economy ticket will always be welcomed!