If you are looking for an Amex for business use, American Express offers two products in the UK. Today I am reviewing the American Express Gold Business charge card. My review of the American Express Platinum Business charge card is here.
(EDIT: This review was updated in November 2016 and all the information is correct as of that date)
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About the card
The American Express Gold Business charge card is issued directly by American Express.
The card is aimed mainly at small businesses and sole traders. The criteria for applying are fairly lenient:
- You have been in business for over 1 year
- The business has a UK bank account
- The business has no County Court Judgements against it
- You are over 18
There are no turnover or profitability requirements for the company itself.
Note that the American Express Gold Business card is a charge card, not a credit card. You MUST clear your balance in full at the end of each month.
What is the sign-up bonus?
20,000 American Express Membership Rewards points when you spend £3,000 within 3 months. This is a very generous incentive.
The card is also free for the first year. The annual fee for the following years in £125.
Membership Rewards points can be converted into a range of goodies. The most valuable options are converting into frequent flyer miles (including Avios points and Virgin Flying Club) at a ratio of 1:1. This means that the sign-up bonus is worth 20,000 Avios points or 20,000 Virgin miles.
There are also a lot of non-travel redemptions including retailer gift cards – Amex is a partner with Tesco, M&S, House of Fraser, Amazon etc.
Membership Rewards points are awarded to the individual and NOT to the company so you can spend them however you wish.
Any other benefits?
You can apply for supplementary cards for your employees at no extra cost.
You will receive one consolidated statement showing the spend on your card and all of the supplementary cards. All of the Membership Rewards points earned on the supplementary cards will flow into your personal account.
Depending on when in your monthly cycle you make a payment, you will effectively receive up to 54 days free credit on your spending.
American Express statements provide more underlying transaction detail for flights and certain other transactions than Visa or MasterCard statements, making it easier to reconcile transactions.
What is the annual fee?
There is no fee for the first year.
For future years, there is a fee of £125.
What do I earn per £1 spent on the card?
You receive 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent on the card.
What is a Membership Rewards point worth?
Anything from ‘not a lot’ to ‘a lot’ is the answer! This article outlines my view on the most valuable transfer options.
If you redeem your points for, say, an Amazon gift card then you will receive around 0.5p per point. This is a poor return.
I tend to value airline miles at 0.75p – 1p each (this is conservative) so that is your valuation if you transfer to an airline programme.
Some of the hotel programmes also offer good value. Club Carlson (the Radisson, Park Plaza and Park Inn scheme) transfers at 1:3 from Membership Rewards, for example. Their top hotels generally only cost 70,000 points per night so just over 23,000 Membership Rewards points. This is easily over 1p per point of value. That would make your sign-up bonus worth £200.
Gift cards generally get you 0.5p per Membership Rewards point so this is less attractive than using them for travel rewards.
Other points to note
American Express states on the Gold Business website that “you will not receive the sign-up bonus if you have held a Membership Rewards enrolled card [ie Platinum, Gold or Green American Express card] in the six months before you apply.”
For clarity, you will definitely receive the sign-up bonus if you already have a British Airways Amex, SPG Amex, Platinum Cashback Amex or any Amex issued by Barclays, Lloyds or MBNA.
In my experience, whilst the wording on the Gold Business website is not clear about this, I have found that people DO receive the sign-up bonus even if they already hold a PERSONAL Gold, Green or Platinum American Express card. This is not guaranteed, of course.
You will definitely NOT get the bonus if you already hold, or have held in the last six months, a BUSINESS Gold, Green or Platinum Amex.
The only major issue with Amex Gold Business is the lack of Amex acceptance by some suppliers.
Realistically, you will need to have a Visa or MasterCard as well to ensure that you can always get a card accepted. You will not find a Visa or MasterCard corporate card with a good rewards scheme, however, so it is worth using your Amex Gold Business wherever possible.
The Head for Points verdict:
If you are a sole trader or own a small business (even a service company) then the American Express Gold Business card is well worth a look. The 20,000 Membership Rewards points for signing up are an excellent incentive, and with no fee for the first year you have nothing to lose.
How to apply
Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points and do not consider interest rates, service levels or any impact on your credit history. By recommending credit cards on this site, I am – technically – acting as a credit broker. Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as a credit broker.