Is British Airways’ Prepaid Debit Card a Game Changer?

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British Airways Executive Club has quietly launched a prepaid debit card that allows cardholders to earn Avios.

You can earn:

  • 1 Avios for every £2, €2 or $2 you spend
  • 1,500 bonus Avios when you spend £500, €500 or $500 in your first 90 days

The card will be free for the first six months – after that, you will pay £2.99 per month.

How do I apply?

To be eligible for the card you must be

  • be over 18 years of age
  • be a UK resident
  • be a member of the British Airways Executive Club
  • hold a valid debit card, which is registered against a UK bank account

You can only apply for the card if you can:

  1. Download or open the British Airways Executive Club Rewards app in the App Store or Google Play. You log in with your British Airways Executive Club details
  2. Select the Mastercard icon in the navigation bar at the bottom of the British Airways Executive Club Rewards app
  3. Follow the instructions and wait 10-12 business days for the card to be delivered. Once the card arrives, you should link the Mastercard to your Executive Club account and load some GBP from your attached UK debit card.

Sounds like a manufactured spend paradise…

Not so fast…  You cannot earn Avios on these types of transactions.

  • on your monthly card fee;
  • on any means of digital electronic payment method (including but not limited to Bitcoin or casino money);
  • on payments of rent for residential or business premises;
  • on Payments for Court Costs, including Alimony and Child Support;
  • on Payment of Fine;
  • on Bail and Bond Payments;
  • on Tax Payments to the HMRC

I am sure that some enterprising readers will find an MS route that earns Avios on this card. But it’s also worth noting that the direct link to your British Airways Executive Club account could also get you into some hot water…

Is it worth it?

At £3 per month, you will likely want to earn 300+ Avios per month to compensate.  This means spending £600, €600 or $600 each month.

That doesn’t sound like a difficult hurdle to meet. But you would of course earn far more Avios, Membership Rewards points, Marriott points, etc. from putting that same day-to-day spend through an American Express card.

You might also have no-annual/monthly fee cards that earn you cashback, hotel points, etc.  and alternative ways of spending foreign currencies cost-effectively. (Curve, Wise, Revolut, etc.)

Exactly how will Foreign Exchange work?

Your prepaid Mastercard will have 3 different e-wallet currencies – GBP, EUR and USD. However, you can only top up in GBP.

You are highly incentivised to keep a balance in all three currencies. If you don’t have a sufficient balance in the correct currency, you will be charged a 1.5% conversion fee.

Perhaps the most important factor yet to be determined is whether you can convert from one currency to another at the actual mid-market exchange rate. (and whether there is a monthly cap on this)

For example, my Revolut card allows me to convert money between currencies at the actual mid-market exchange. (with a monthly cap on the amount that can be exchanged fee-free) Other so-called “no fee” options – such as Curve – actually use the Mastercard FX rate, which has a hidden commission imbedded in it.

Bottom line

Although the concept is intriguing, there are many similar options available to the “fintech”-savvy. And since those options come without a £3 monthly fee, it might be a struggle to make the numbers add up. But I suspect that some of you might try…  😉

 

Let us know your opinion in the comments section…

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