Cracking the Companion Voucher – Flights to North America in Economy

Some links to products and partners on this website will earn an affiliate commission.

The American Express BA Premium Plus credit card (BAPP) is often considered to be one of the best credit cards available in the United Kingdom. This belief is mostly due to the companion voucher that cardholders receive when spending £10,000 in a year. But I am skeptical, and am seeking to prove or disprove this belief. You can reach the introduction to my study by clicking here. If you would like further background to the companion voucher, you should re-read Miles’ post by clicking here.

Today, I’m going to look at using the companion voucher on flights to North America.

Using the Companion Voucher for Reward Flights to North America in Economy

I know I know… no InsideFlyer reader is going to use their companion voucher to fly in Economy, right? But what if you live outside of London, have two vouchers and are trying to take your family of four to Orlando during peak-time school holidays?

So, how much would four reward flights from Manchester to Orlando cost, thanks to the BAPP card and two companion vouchers? Let’s assume that you spend £10,000 per year for two consecutive years in order to earn some Avios and two companion vouchers.

Reward Flights from  Manchester to Orlando in World Traveller on a Peak Date

You will require 100,000 Avios for the two “paid-for” rewards. Since you only earned 30,000 Avios from spending £20,000 (over two years) on your BAPP, you must buy an additional 70,000 Avios. You must also pay the taxes and surcharges for ALL FOUR rewards – this works out to £293 per person.

As a result, you will pay £390 (2x BAPP annual fee) + £1,172 (4x taxes and surcharges) + £700 (buying 70,000 Avios at 1p each) = £2,262 for four reward flights to Orlando. (or £565 per person)

Travel Hacking Option A – Get a Cashback Credit Card and Buy American or Alaska Miles

If you are planning on visiting Orlando during February half-term or Easter, you could pay as little as 40,000 miles per person (return) to fly on American Airlines (one-stop via a U.S. gateway airport). During the summer, you will pay 60,000 miles per person (return).

American Airlines do not add surcharges, although you cannot avoid the UK’s APD without positioning. So, each reward would cost approximately £125 in taxes.

Both AAdvantage and Alaska Mileage Plan sell discounted miles at regular intervals. You can usually buy as many Alaska miles as you desire for 1.5p each. AAdvantage miles can often be bought for 1.4p.

To fly four people to Orlando during February will cost 160,000 Alaska miles. That will cost £2,400… ouch!

However, since you spent £20,000 over two years on a cashback credit card, you will earn £150 of cashback (£100 per year less £25 annual fee per year).

As a result, you will pay £2,400 (to buy Alaska miles) + £500 (4x taxes) – £150 (Cashback credit card) = £2,750 for four reward flights to Orlando. (or £687.50 per person)

Travel Hacking Option B – Just Buy Your Flights!

I didn’t really expect to beat the companion voucher – UK APD is too high and too difficult to avoid for families with small children. But I did want to highlight how expensive rewards are in Economy – even using a companion voucher – when compared to just buying a ticket…


It’s going to cost you a lot of money to use companion vouchers to fly in Economy. You’d be better off simply buying tickets.

Maybe I’ll have more luck in Business Class, when we can drop by Dublin…  😉


  1. Adam says

    Question related to the BAPP card, if you have the free version you can upgrade to BAPP and get the companion voucher for spending 10k. If you then downgrade back to the free card after the voucher hits your BAEC account, can you keep spending on the free card up to 20k using the existing balance and still get the companion voucher on a 20k spend and all associated avios bonuses on both Cards?

    • Tom says

      Whilst you may be able to, you would arguably be better off (if possible) persuading a partner/family member to sign-up for their own BA card via refer-a-friend, with the additional sign-up bonuses that would come with it, get you a supplementary card on their account, again with a 1k bonus normally, hit the 10k limit, upgrade to BAPP then downgrade again.

      This way, you could use 1 voucher on a big redemption with your bulk of Avios, and be less concerned about value on the other redemption, e.g. Club Europe return.

      As a couple, you could secure a hefty number of bonus Avios via this route, although i appreciate that is not open to everyone.

  2. Adam says

    Unfortunately I won’t be able to add my wife as another user for a BAPP so it’s all on my own with this strategy.
    I was thinking spend nearly 10k on free card, upgrade to BAPP and go over 10k and bag companion voucher then downgrade back to free card for the pro rata refund and keep spending on the free card to match up dates of expiry between the two vouchers.
    I believe the spend clock resets per year so in theory how many companion vouchers can I hold in avios account?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *