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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  1. Djouzif says:

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

  2. 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

      • 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

  6. 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.