The Rarely Covered British Airways On Business Programme
When purchasing British Airways tickets you may well have seen the option to input a British Airways On Business number. Today we’ll be taking a closer look at the alternative British Airways loyalty programme which was originally designed for small and medium-sized businesses.
Unlike Avios points which reward the individual for flights taken, the BA On Business programme rewards the company that books the travel. The individual will also earn Avios and tier points on the flight making it a win-win rewards programme.
With the ability to earn both Avios and British Airways On Business points on a flight, this opens up the opportunity for all small and medium-sized owners to earn even more reward points on their corporate travel. This review will explore the various benefits of the BA On Business programme as well as the pitfalls which can easily be avoided.
Let's break this post down...
BA On Business Programme – Signing Up and Restrictions
Unfortunately you can only sign up if you run a genuine business. As part of the sign-up process you’ll be asked to provide both a VAT number and the business name. As most companies with revenue below £85,000 opt out of registering for VAT, this clearly restricts the smallest businesses from joining.
With BA On Business points only rewarded to the company that signs up to the programme, the only way an individual can benefit is if they either own the company or have a particularly nice boss who is prepared to let employees benefit from the points accumulated (although I suspect this is rare!).
One further point to note at this stage is that you’ll qualify for a special sign-up bonus of triple points for your first six one-way flights within 12 months of joining. With points rewarded on a revenue basis and an option to enter your British Airways On Business number when purchasing a ticket, it may be beneficial to hold off allocating cheap short-haul flights for more expensive flights later in the year. Clearly you’ll need to do a little maths to work out what the best option may be. You can also retrospectively claim for flights taken in the 4 months before joining the programme.
How Many BA On Business Points Will You Earn?
Unlike Avios, which are based on the number of miles flown and elite status tier, the On Business British Airways points are purely revenue based. In a similar fashion to Avios, you have the ability to work your way up through various tiers, with each tier providing a higher earning rate.
There are a total of 3 tiers and you’ll be able to work your way up through the tiers based on the account’s annual spend. The spending is based on the ticket price however excludes taxes, charges and fees but includes fuel surcharges. The spending requirements are as follows:
- On1 up to £29,999 spend – 1 point per £1 spent
- On2 between £30,000 and £299,999 spend – 1.25 points per £1 spent
- On3 over £300,000 spent – 1.5 points per £1 spent
When you hit the spend threshold (even the first would be a challenge for most small companies) you’ll move up to the next tier. You’ll retain that tier for the rest of the calendar year and the following year.
As regular readers will know, it’s possible to earn Avios points across the 13 airlines within the oneworld partnership. Unfortunately this is not the same for British Airways On Business points. There are however a number of partners which include BA CityFlyer, Air Nostrum, Comair, Sunair and Iberia Express. Also eligible are British Airways marketed routes operated by Japan Airline, Qantas and Qatar Airways.
Another benefit is that to earn BA On Business points you don’t have to book direct so you’ll earn points even if you book through a third-party booking platform.
As BA On Business points are meant to be earned through business travel, I’m afraid to say that you will not earn points as part of a BA Holiday or package deal…
How to Spend On Business British Airways Points?
BA On Business points can be used for both reward flights as well as flight upgrades.
Using British Airways On Business points for rewards flights can only be booked with American Airlines, British Airways and Iberia.
There is generally better availability than ordinary Avios redemptions, however there is no ‘Reward Flight Saver’ option (capping European taxes) for On Business BA flights. This doesn’t generally create too much of a problem as BA no longer charge fuel surcharges on short-haul flights. As such taxes are usually not much higher than the Reward Flight Saver cap (£35 economy / £50 business).
There is no published spending chart for BA On Business points redemptions however a couple of examples are set out below (you can find the BA On Business calculator here).
|From – To||Economy||Business|
|London to Amsterdam||2,200 points return||10,400 points return|
|London to New York||9,000 points return||48,000 points return|
There are a couple of key takeaways from the above table. Booking a Business flight requires approximately 5 times more points than economy! The equivalent difference with Avios is only 3 times. As a result it rarely makes sense to use BA On Business points for Business Class redemptions.
The second takeaway is that you’d need to spend a staggering £48,000 on flights for a return BA Business Class flight between London and New York. This is a massive amount and isn’t particularly generous. Read my recent First Class review here where I used 2 credit cards and £14,000 of spending to earn enough for 2 First Class BA flights!
Upgrades using British Airways On Business points can only be used at the time of booking the flight and you’re restricted to either British Airways or Iberia.
With additional availability compared to Avios redemptions there should be a better chance of being able to redeem points for upgrades.
Again there is no published redemption table however taking the examples mentioned above and using the British Airways On Business calculator, the following points would be required:
- London to Amsterdam – Economy to Club Europe – 8,200 points return
- London to New York – Economy to Business – 26,000 points return
How Else Can You Earn British Airways On Business Points?
It’s possible to earn BA On Business points with two British-Airways-issued corporate credit cards. Details of each of the BA On Business credit cards is set out below:
These cards essentially offer the same Avios earnings rates as the free British Airways American Express (reviewed here) and the BA Amex Premium Plus card (reviewed here). You will however miss out on the sign-up bonuses offered by each of these cards which for the free version isn’t great at 5,000 Avios however the Premium Plus version does come with a sign-up bonus of 25,000 points. These can be increased by a further 1,000 Avios by using this link…
However with the BA Corporate card you will earn a further 50% BA On Business points when you book the flight and pay with the card. This would effectively increase the earnings rate of a tier-one member to that of a tier-three member. As regular readers will know, we think the 2-4-1 voucher offered with the personal BA Amex cards is one of the most generous credit card rewards currently in the market and as such we’d wouldn’t recommend the Corporate cards over the personal cards – read more in my review here.
Can you earn both Avios and On Business points for the same flight?
Yes. The one problem is that you’ll also need to own a VAT registered business to be able to sign up for a British Airways On Business account.
Can I track company spend and earnings with the BA On Business programme?
You certainly can. If you’re either the company authoriser, programme administrator or nominated travel agent you’ll be able to access custom reporting, giving your company an overview of all travel spend, points balance and redemption reporting.
Do On Business British Airways members benefit from discounts?
Erm yes, kind of. BA claim you’ll have access to ‘member only’ discounts of at least 5% off fares. In reality there only ever seems to be one offer at any point in time to a rather obscure place…