MSE News

Barclaycard launches two Avios credit cards - here's how they compare to the British Airways American Express cards

Barclaycard has launched two new credit cards that give customers British Airways Avios points for every pound spent, while users can also get seat upgrade vouchers. We have the full info below, as well as analysis on whether the new cards beat similar options from American Express.

The two cards are a fee-free Barclaycard Avios which has a 5,000 Avios introductory bonus and 1 point per £1 spent, and the Barclaycard Avios Plus, which carries a £20 a month fee, but gives an introductory bonus of 25,000 Avios, and 1.5 points per £1 spent. Both give a cabin upgrade voucher when you hit a certain level of spending in a year. 

Avios points are what British Airways calls its "airmile currency" and you can redeem points on BA flights, hotels and car hire. To collect and redeem Avios you have to be a member of the free British Airways Executive Club loyalty scheme.

Yet, both of these new Barclaycards are very similar to two Avios cards from American Express - the fee-free BA Amex and the BA Amex Premium Plus. Yet because they're so similar, it's hard to choose between them. We've analysed the fee-free Avios cards below, or if you're a big spender and don't mind paying a fee to maximise rewards, jump to our premium Avios analysis

How does the fee-free Barclaycard Avios compare with the BA Amex?

The new Barclaycards are VERY similar to their Amex counterparts. The only real difference comes in the extra perks, where Amex offers a 'free' economy-class companion ticket at £12,000 a year spending, rather than Barclaycard's cabin upgrade voucher on £20,000 a year spent...

How the new fee-free Barclaycard Avios compares to its American Express rival

TABLE_CELL_STYLE Barclaycard Avios BA American Express
Welcome bonus 5,000 Avios if you spend £1,000 within 3mths 5,000 Avios if you spend £1,000 within 3mths
Avios per £1 spent 1 1
Annual fee £0 £0
Other perks Cabin upgrade voucher if you spend £20,000 in 12 months Free economy-class companion ticket if you spend £12,000 in 12 months (1)
Interest (if not repaid in full) 23.9% rep APR 24.7% rep APR
Card issuer Mastercard American Express

(1) You still pay taxes and charges on the companion ticket, it's only the air fare that's free.

As the tables show, the introductory bonuses and points per £1 spent can't be split. So your choice comes down to the other features of the cards.  

  • Barclaycard's Mastercard is more widely accepted than Amex. If you're looking for one card you can use to put all your spending on, the Barclaycard Avios wins. While the problem's not as big as it was, there are still a lot of retailers that don't accept Amex cards. 

  • If you'll spend more than £12,000 but less than £20,000 a year, Amex wins. Spend £12,000 on the Amex and you're eligible for a free economy class companion voucher, which could save £100s if you'll travel with a friend or partner.

  • If you'll spend more than £20,000, decide if a cabin upgrade's worth more to you than an economy companion ticket. If you'll travel solo, then you might prefer to upgrade from economy to premium economy, or pay for premium economy and travel in business class. This upgrade could be worth £1,000s. Yet, if you'll travel with a friend or partner, think about whether you (or they) could afford to travel in the same cabin. If not, it might be worth opting for Amex's free economy companion ticket.

Of course, there's nothing stopping you getting both cards, though you'd have to spend £32,000 across the cards over the year to get both the annual companion ticket and the upgrade voucher.

Or, if you already have the BA Amex, you could get the Barclaycard Avios to use where Amex isn't accepted, meaning you're earning Avios on more of your spending.

How does the paid-for Barclaycard Avios Plus compare with the BA Amex Premium Plus?

If you're a frequent flyer and don't mind paying an annual fee for the extra points the premium cards give, there's also not much to choose between Barclaycard and Amex here. Again the difference comes down to whether you'd prefer a free companion ticket from Amex, or a free cabin upgrade voucher from Barclaycard (assuming you'll spend £10,000 on the card in a year)...

How the new paid-for Barclaycard Avios Plus compares to its American Express rival

TABLE_CELL_STYLE Barclaycard Avios Plus BA Premium Plus American Express
Welcome bonus 25,000 Avios if you spend £3,000 within 3mths 25,000 Avios if you spend £1,000 within 3mths
Avios per £1 spent 1.5 1.5
Annual fee £240 (paid as £20/mth) £250
Other perks Cabin upgrade voucher if you spend £10,000 in 12 months Free companion ticket if you spend £10,000 in 12 months (1)
Interest (if not repaid in full) 72.4% rep APR (incl fee, 23.9% interest on spending) 101.4% rep APR (incl fee, 24.7% interest on spending)
Card issuer Mastercard American Express

(1) You still pay taxes and charges on the companion ticket, it's only the air fare that's free. 

Again, the introductory bonuses and points per £1 spent can't be split. So the choice comes down to the other features. 

  • Barclaycards Avios Plus' annual fee is £10 cheaper than the BA Premium Plus fee, and is paid monthly. It's not a big difference, but you may prefer paying a fee at £20 a month on the Barclaycard, rather than being charged the £250 lump sum on the Amex.

  • Barclaycard's Avios Plus Mastercard is more widely accepted than Amex. If you're looking for one card you can use to put all your spending on, the Barclaycard Avios Plus wins. While the problem's not as big as it was, there are still a lot of retailers that don't accept Amex cards. 

  • If you'll spend more than £10,000, decide if a cabin upgrade's worth more to you than a companion ticket. Here the companion ticket on the BA Amex Premium Plus can be used in any class - so if you go business class, so do they. This may swing it for some people, as a free ticket's likely worth more than an upgrade. Yet, here again, if you're a solo traveller, you may not make use of the companion ticket, so consider which suits you best.  

Of course, there's nothing stopping you getting both cards, though think about whether you'd spend enough on each to get the annual companion/upgrade perks.

Or, if you already have an Avios card from Amex, you could get the fee-free Barclaycard Avios above to use where Amex isn't accepted, meaning you're earning Avios on more of your spending.

To check your eligibility for a new credit card, including the Amex and Barclaycard Avios cards, use our Credit Card Eligibility Calculator. Our Airline Credit Cards guide explains how you can earn points for flights and upgrades. You can also read our 31 Tricks to Boost Avios Points.

MSE weekly email

FREE weekly MoneySaving email

For all the latest deals, guides and loopholes simply sign up today – it's spam-free!