Five reasons to keep your Amex Gold card after the free first year

You probably have, or have had, an American Express Preferred Rewards Gold charge card. If you haven’t, why not?!

Based on readership data for our articles, it seems to be the most popular card among Head for Points readers, even more so than the British Airways American Express cards.

It isn’t surprising, of course, because the package you get for the first year is excellent.  Among the benefits:

You don’t pay a fee for your first year

You receive 20,000 American Express Membership Rewards points after you spend £2,000 in your first three months.  These convert into 20000 Avios, 20000 Virgin / Emirates / Etihad / Flying Blue etc miles, 40000 Hilton points, 10000 Starwood points, 60000 Carlson points or many other things.

You get two free passes to get into selected airport lounges

Full details of the card, and the application form, are on the American Express website here.

Amex Gold 350

After the first year, you need to make a decision about whether to keep the card or not.

Many people baulk at the idea of paying the £140 fee, especially if they are not used to paying fees for credit or charge cards, and I get quite a few emails from readers asking what they should do.  Whilst the easy answer would be ‘cancel’, it is worth looking objectively at the ongoing package – especially if you are not the sort of person who likes to churn his or her card portfolio every few months:

If you spend £15,000 on the card in your membership year, you will receive a bonus of 10,000 Membership Rewards points about four weeks after you renew.  In the most extreme case (ie you spend exactly £15,000 per year) this makes your earning rate on the card 1.6 Membership Rewards points per £1, made up of 15,000 base points and the 10,000 bonus points.  This is an impressive earning rate.

You receive another two airport lounge passes when you renew.  These are worth around £40.  It would be odd to cancel your card this month, for example, if you knew you were travelling in August and could use the Lounge Club cards.  Roll it over – you still have the option of cancelling later if you change your mind.

You keep your Membership Rewards points alive.  If you cancel your Amex Gold, you will need to transfer your Membership Rewards points out.  This gets rid of the main benefit of Membership Rewards points – flexibility.  Keeping your Gold card means you can keep your Membership Rewards points account open and so keep all of your options for the points open.

You retain access to the other, often forgotten, Amex Gold benefits.  The most interesting is the Amex Gold hotel programmedetails here.  This gives you an upgrade and a $75 or equivalent credit when booking a 2+ night stay at participating upscale hotels.  Chains taking part include Radisson Blu, Omni, Kimpton, Hilton, Sofitel and many more.  There is also a 10% Amex Gold Hertz discount although I admit this can probably be matched by other deals you can access.

If Amex Gold is your only American Express card, you retain access to the wide range of Amex cashback deals which are permanently available.  Even if you do have other Amex cards, you can double up on deals which interest you if you have multiple cards available.  You also retain access to the refer-a-friend programme which earns you 9,000 Membership Rewards points for each new Gold member you sign up.

If you spend a lot on flights, the ‘double points on all airline spend’ benefit will also add up.  You don’t need to book via Amex Travel to get this, it is automatic for spending on all major airlines.

There are other ways of accessing some of the benefits above, of course.  I also accept that, if you don’t spend £15,000 per year to trigger the 10,000 bonus points, the maths probably doesn’t add up.  If you do trigger the annual bonus, however, there are merits for keeping your Amex Gold card open long term.

(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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Comments

  1. BigDave says:

    If I upgrade or downgrade to the gold card (i.e. by just phoning them up and making the gold my only card) how to I use a referral to get the referral bonus? (as I would miss out on the 20,000 new person bonus. as I do not want to be 6 months without a card or mr account)

    • You will have to wait at least 6/12 after you cancel your gold PRG. Before you qualify for anothe 20k bonus, am afraid. Get referred by Rob for the BAPP before you cancel the gold PRG. Then once you have banked the 26k avios, drop down to free BACC. Stay with that until you are well over the 6-8 month cancelled period. Then get referred again by Rob for your gold PRG again. Repeat process approx every 8/12. Or leave it longer to apply for the other card. Def not less than 8/12 tho, as it’s a less frantic churn.that only works if you want to collect avios and MRs.

      • Oh, and the pro rata fee will be refunded from the BAPP, when you drop down to the free BACC.

      • Michael Jennings says:

        Well, I suppose sending you the card is an answer. I think that a sequence of:

        – offering me the card at the top of the screen when I logged in to my account
        – taking an application from me, and telling me that I would have to wait up to 10 working days for an answer.
        – never contacting me again about it

        is slightly sub-optimal customer service. (I have had at least one Amex card at all times since 1999 and haven’t ever missed a payment, so I am a fairly known quantity to them). Not a big deal though.

  2. I have around 75k MR points but no hotel point accounts worth speaking of. Is avios the best destination for the miles (I do enough redemptions to use the extra avios) or am I missing a fabulous opportunity to do something else with them?

  3. Michael Jennings says:

    Slightly related:

    Rob posted a piece several weeks ago about Amex offering holders of Gold cards being offered a companion Gold credit card. I logged in, found I was being made the offer, and applied for the card. At the end of the application process I got referred: “We cannot make a decision now on this application” and stating that I would receive a decision within ten working days. This sort of thing is normally nothing to worry about – and anyway I don’t care all that much whether they give me the extra card or not – but it is now more than ten working days and I haven’t heard anything. Did this happen to anyone else?

    (Yes, I know I could just call and ask them).

    • Happened to me but got the card within a few days (no email to confirm if successful). Spent the £500 but no sign of the 3000 MR points yet. It was weird that I wasn’t able to add the card to my existing gold online account. I was forced to set a new one up.

      • Andrew* says:

        My wife has spent the £500 for Plat Credit companion card – no sign of points and the most garbled message from Amex CS received early this morning…. unusually clueless and talking about the wrong card, wrong dates, wrong spend amount to date….

      • RussellH says:

        I too got the card within a few days, without any e-mail confirmation. I had the same experience with an SPG Amex at the end of last year. I had no difficulty merging the two initially separate MR points accounts.

        I recorded my experience of not (initially) getting the 3 000 bonus points here. The points were credited as “Cashback Credit” within 24 hours of my phone call.

        I have to say that I do not like the idea of paying an annual fee of £24, let alone £140. (The SPG card was only kept for about six weeks, costing around £12, and I really needed the SPG points for my niece’s wedding in California in three weeks time).

        My plan is to cancel the PRG Amex at the end of August and keep the Gold Credit card, at least for a few months, as it gives me somewhere to park and earn MR points while I consider things. Sadly you do lose the various double MR points offers (I was able to get one double points offer because I had an e-mail from Amex CS stating that points on the credit card were issued at the same rate as on the PRG card.)

        • RussellH says:

          The hfp URL I quoted above was removed. My comment is on the “Virgin Atlantic launches a status match for BA flyers – with strings” thread.

          I have seen others quoting hfp URLs in comments – how do others stop them getting deleted?

          • Genghis says:

            I quote HfP links all the time but don’t do anything special. Strange that the filters are blocking them.

        • Mzungu says:

          I was thinking of doing exactly that – cancelling the PRGC and keeping the Companion Gold Credit Card to keep the MR points alive. However – can you do this? As it’s called a *Companion* credit card, do you need to have an active PRGC to keep it – anyone know?

      • I had the same issue with my Plat supp CC, it wanted me to create a new online account.. however this is because the backend Amex system hasn’t had time to link your accounts together and if you wait a few days it’ll automatically pop up as long as you haven’t added it to another online account.

    • Mzungu says:

      My wife had the same response, so called them the following morning. Two minutes to check, and they confirmed the application was approved, card received 2-3 days later.

    • Standard reply. When I downgraded my wife’s BAPP to a blue she received the same reply.

  4. rowpott says:

    Another benefit is the double avios points on ba bookings and I think its triple if you book via Amex travel

  5. I was wondering if you can apply for the Amex Gold with these benefits if already a Platinum holder?

    Appreciate any info.

    • None of the benefits are as good as the Platinum so not sure why you’d want to?

      • Genghis says:

        Earnings are better than Plat

        • Better than Platinum?

          • Genghis says:

            Yes. Plat is 1MR/£ flat. Gold is 1MR/£ for ongoing spend, 1.6 if include the 10k £15k spend bonus and any double (airline) / triple (Amex travel) point spend.

          • Yes, there’s no bonuses at all on Plat, just straight 1 MR per GBP. Totally rubbish – I put almost nothing on the card and keep it just for the benefits with spend going on other ones instead! I must I do generally wimp out a bit on hire car booking and put it on Plat, I know you don’t have to but just suspect it would be easier to get help if issues down the line (and not just having and accident but also if the hire company decides to randomly apply some extra charges!)

      • Thanks all, I will keep Platinum, but wanted to know if Amex will also allow me a Gold card and pay the 20K joining bonus?

        Has anyone in the same position done this successfully?

        • I’m sure they’ll give you a card but I wouldn’t expect to get a sign-up bonus given you have an existing MR account.

  6. Does anyone know how long it takes for MR -> Hilton transfers, the first time you do it?

  7. BlueHorizonUK says:

    New offer emailed of Spend £100 at Selfridges and get £30 back. Only email as far as I can tell and can’t see it in the list of offers on my card or that of any additional cardholder.

    • yes, just got it too via email. Does not appear in my online account

      Any way to adjust the URL in the email to get it on my other Amex cards?

      “ge=en-gb&message=EM-0XXXX&offer=861XXXXSelfridges”

      Experts- please assist!!

  8. This may be a dumb question (if so, sorry!) but can I apply for and hold this while I have a BA Amex Premium Plus card? I’d like the 20K Avios bonus for £2K spend in the first three months.

    • Optimus Prime says:

      Yes

      • Great- thanks!

        • I started applying for it and it said that as I was a current cardholder, I “may not” be eligible for the welcome bonus. Does anyone know if Amex enforces this? I don’t want to get the card unless I’m sure I’ll get the bonus

          • Genghis says:

            If you currently hold a BAPP, you can apply for an Amex Gold / Plat and get a bonus no problem.

  9. Agree with loads of the comments on here. In terms of churning cards, I personally would recommend d keeping one card stable with Amex, and maybe churning the other.

    Amex are really into “card member since” loyalty. I’ve held an account continually for 18 years, and nothing is ever too much trouble for them. Any issues with any charge, it’s refunded no questions asked.

    • I got my first amex card in 2006, which is the project (red) charity card. it’s largely unused as there’s no reward for using it (unless you count the donation to charity), but it does seem to have the occasional amex offer that doesn’t appear on my BA card and seems worth keeping hold of to keep my average length of accounts up.

  10. Mark1980 says:

    Any news on the good to play upgrade for 20k MR points – is it still live?

    • Mark1980 says:

      *Gold to Plat – stupid autocorrect!

    • Nope its gone.

      Your only hope is telephoning CS asking if they will offer anything – I’m not sure you’ll get the undocumented first year ‘benefit’ of upgrading the Gold card in its first year if you do this though.

  11. Djouzif says:

    Nah… better refer wife, get secondary card and repeat…

  12. O/T but Amex related. I will be hiring a car in Majorca in July. I booked and paid for the car in January. and the booking is in my name. I am the supplementary card holder on an Amex Platinum card. My wife is the primary cardholder. I paid for the car hire using a different card. My question is whether I can use the Platinum card to cover the excess for the car hire, or does the car hire have to be in my wife’s name. ?

    • Strongly recommend looking at the insurance docs (linked via the Amex Plat application page on the Amex website) for certainty.

    • John W says:

      Kipto ,
      I asked Amex this question last month for a trip to Cyprus ( phoned them to check )
      They said that even though I was the supplementary card holder I was still insured to drive the car and for the excess . The card had to be used though for the booking which maybe not the case in your example .
      If you want peace of mind, give them a call like I did and take the persons details
      John

      • Rob’s previous article on the benefits of the Platinum card said you didn’t need to pay the car hire with the card to get the insurance cover. We will be in the same position in Aug for our next car hire where the hire in my husbands name but I will be the main cardholder and he will be the supplementary cardholder. Think we need further clarification from Amex.

        • Liz, we are in that position now, the car hire do didn’t accept Amex at all, so we paid with mc. Amex says you just have to have a card in your name to be covered. But always good to read the docs anyway. If in doubt worth buying one of those Wowcher one off annual card excess policies for £10 ATM. Covers one person for one year.

          • Genghis says:

            I read the policy the other day – just for fun – and found no requirement to pay on the card

          • Yes Genghis, l actually read it again “just for fun” too but also did remember you just had to be in possession of the card. Amex knows not all car hire co accept Amex, esp abroad, smaller firms. Worth knowing, but car hire is a minefield these days, so it pays to be armed with knowledge.

          • Although a retailer not accepting Amex is a clear allowable exception for the other clauses of the insurance where (unlike car hire) payment on an Amex-issued Amex IS required. Of course the issue is the number of retailers that do accept it but at a much higher fee, which you’re then stuck paying…

          • Genghis says:

            Being frank, the Amex Plat travel insurance seems like quite hard work given all the hoops. I’m pleased I have an excellent policy through work.

  13. Remember that you get triple points on gold when booking with American Express travel, but check that you get them especially with a cruise. Ours was booked through their website but the actual booking with the cruise line was through a third party and I had a battle to get the extra points.
    This may have been fixed now, three months later.

  14. Eli Gold says:

    You don’t need to book via Amex Travel to get this, it is automatic for spending on all major airlines.

    is this new?

    is there a list somewhere of qualifying airlines?

    • Lev441 says:

      No it’s a listed perk – any direct booking with an airline earns double MR points.

      It replaced the more generic double points on travel spend which the previous gold card had.

  15. Claire says:

    Hi all,

    I was thinking about upgrading to platinum to get the bonus but when I called I was told there is no offer going on. Do you know how often the 10k MR to upgrade offer happens?

    thanks everyone and thanks Rob for the website!

  16. Hi all,

    Is there a way to transfer my Dad’s gold amex mr points to my Skywards account? I would like to get 2 arsenal tiks when they become available, he will not be able to attend the game.

    Thanks in advance

    • No, but you can order tickets via a Skywards account in his name and give your name as the attendee.