Credit & Charge Card Reviews (3): the NEW American Express Rewards credit card

This is my review of the new American Express Rewards credit card (ARCC).

It is part of my series of articles looking at the major UK loyalty credit cards and discussing whether or not they are worth applying for.  These articles will be linked to the relevant sections of the ‘Credit Cards Update‘ page.  My other UK airline and hotel credit card reviews can be found here.

If you want to check your credit record before applying for a new card, click here to get your free Equifax credit report and score. Your first 30 days are free then it’s £14.95 per month. You can cancel at anytime.

Key links:

There are three versions of the American Express Rewards credit card:

LOW RATE – 5,000 Membership Rewards points bonus and a representative APR of 9.9% variable (click here)

BASIC – 10,000 Membership Rewards points bonus and a representative APR of 22.9% variable (click here)

PURCHASES – NO sign-up bonus but 0% APR on purchases for 18 months and a representative APR of 22.9% variable beyond that (click here)

Key facts:  No annual fee

About the card

The American Express Rewards credit card is issued directly by American Express.

There are three versions, each of which comes with different features.   All three versions are free and all earn Membership Rewards points on your spending.

The general American Express rule is that you can hold two charge cards and two credit cards at the same time.  Platinum, Gold and Green are the most widely-held charge cards whilst the credit cards include the British Airways, Starwood SPG, Nectar, Costco and Harrods Amex cards.

Any American Express cards you may have which are issued by Lloyds or MBNA will not directly impact on whether you are accepted for this card.

This is an excellent card for anyone who currently has an Amex Gold or Amex Platinum card and is thinking of cancelling it due to the annual fee.  Whilst you wouldn’t qualify for a sign-up bonus, getting a free American Express Rewards card would keep your Membership Rewards points alive.  If you don’t do this, you would need to spend or transfer all of your Membership Rewards points before closing your Gold or Platinum card.

American Express Reward credit card review

What is the sign-up bonus?

American Express Rewards offers a sign-up bonus on two of the three versions of the card.

The LOW RATE version offers 5,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend £500 within three months.

The BASIC version offers 10,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend £1,000 within three months.

Membership Rewards points can be converted 1 to 1 into Avios.   Click here to see what other reward programmes are Membership Rewards transfer partners.  This means that you can receive 10,000 Avios points for free by applying for the Basic version of the Amex Rewards card, spending enough to trigger the sign-up bonus and then transferring the points to British Airways.

Any other benefits?

No.

What is the annual fee?

There is no fee for any version of the American Express Rewards credit card.

What do I earn per £1 spent on the card?

You receive 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent on the card.

Unlike Amex Preferred Rewards Gold, there is no bonus for foreign spend or airline spend.

What is a Membership Rewards point worth?

Anything from ‘not a lot’ to ‘a lot’ is the answer!  I wrote this lengthy article on the subject here.

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 compared to a typical cashback card or the value of an airline mile if used sensibly.

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 five-star hotels generally cost 70,000 points per night which would be just over 23,000 Membership Rewards points.  This would usually get you over 1p per point of value.

The other hotel partners are Hilton and Starwood.  Remember that, as Starwood Preferred Guest points can now be transferred at 3:1 into Marriott Rewards points, you can now use Amex Gold as a way of earning Marriott points.

You can take a look at the full list of Membership Rewards options here.

Other points to note

You will not receive the sign-up bonus if you have held a Platinum, Gold or Green American Express charge card in the six months before you apply.

For clarity, you will definitely receive the sign-up bonus if you already have a BA Amex, SPG Amex, Platinum Cashback Amex or any Amex issued by Lloyds, MBNA or any other bank.

You will also receive the bonus if you are currently a supplementary cardholder on someone elses Amex Green, Gold or Platinum card.  Amex treats supplementary cards as belonging to main cardholder and you are not classed as an existing cardholder yourself.

American Express no longer has a minimum income requirement for any of its cards.

Conclusion

The American Express Rewards credit card is, in itself, a decent deal.

However, for one year, it would make more sense to take out the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold charge card which I review here.  This has a far bigger sign-up bonus of 20,000 Membership Rewards points which is the most generous incentive available on a free UK charge or credit card.   When your free year is up, you could switch to an American Express Rewards credit card.

(Note that Amex Gold is a charge card and not a credit card, so you must pay off the card in full every month.  If you think that this could be a problem, you should get the American Express Rewards card instead which is a credit card.)

For day to day spending, 1 point per £1 is an acceptable but not outstanding return.

The application forms for the American Express Rewards credit card can be found here (Basic, 10000 points), here (Low Rate, 5000 points bonus) and here (Purchases, no bonus but 18 months interest free credit).

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.

Bits: 500 Avios from Deliveroo, interesting flight auctions, £25 off SWISS to Geneva
Is the Costco TrueEarnings Amex the most generous UK travel credit card?
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Comments

  1. OT: I called Hilton reservations in the US last night to redeem a free night certificate. After the call, I was transferred to Hilton Grand Vacations Club where I purchased the following deal for $749; 4 nights at a Manhattan Hilton (select hotels only), 15 000 Hilton points, $200 food and drinks voucher, King Suite upgrade. I have 12 months to decide my dates and the deal is fully refundable if I change my mind. I will have to go on a a 1 hour time share presentation to get the deal once in Manhattan (but I will refuse anything they try and sell me). Do you guys think think this is a good deal? Wondering if I would have got a better deal had I kept haggling. Anyone here who has experience with a similar offer?

    • I got the offer last time booked (in July IIRC) but didn’t go for it as won’t need it (I’ll be going on Co dime). Is it a decent offer? At a high level perhaps but depends where you can use it. Hilton midtown for example is a bit of a dump isn’t it?

      • I am awaiting the email confirmation and will check the Hilton’s are available. However, If I was to book most Manhattan Hiltons, the points for 4 days would be circa 250 000 points/ $1 500 and that doesn’t include the points in getting or the food vouchers. So still seems an intriguing deal. Hopefully others can share their experiences as well. Thanks for reply Genghis.

    • Re the timeshare presentation, I got rid of a persistent rep at our resort this summer by pointing out that you’d have to be crazy to buy a timeshare in US dollars at the moment with the dismal exchange rate – there was no arguing with that!

      • Yes, this is a great line. I will use this. Should bring to a close the timeshare presentation quickly.

    • Yes good offer, mine was similar but without the 15000 honors points and I had to endure 2 hour presentation instead of 1 hour. Beware they might ask for more money if you want to go over a weekend or peak holidays, and there is a fee if you want to extend the validity period.
      The presentation is an endurance test with aggressive sales tactics, make sure to warn your partner and keep a sense of humour. You both have to do the full presentation otherwise you don’t get all the benefits.

      • Yes I also didn’t get the points either! Thinking now if I would have resisted a bit more at the beginning, I would have got that deal too. Wonder how far you can take this deal? $449 or $549? I know the Americans get some outrageous deals for Orlando etc.

      • If you really want to mess with them, you can tell them that you know that Americans have been desperately offloading their timeshare weeks since the recession hit, and you can get a week in a decent resort for $500 on Ebay and similar! At the resort where I won, they’ve had to start offering special incentives for customers to buy direct from them instead of picking up cheap re-sale weeks.

        • Should say “own”, sadly I didn’t win it!

        • Hilton also try and do this by making the option of changing your HGVC credits into Hilton points only an option for timeshares bought directly from them. Exchange rate for them poor though, so not worth the extra cash.

    • Had this offered before, think it will be the rooms at 57 West. Think its an okay deal, Hilton Midtown is okay, good location for central park and Times Sq.

      Also had Orlando offered.

      And Ballater, Royal Deeside, which led to my first guest article for HFP…
      http://www.headforpoints.com/2014/06/15/what-happened-when-a-hfp-reader-was-bribed-to-take-a-hilton-timeshare-marketing-trip/

    • Hi HGVC,

      I purchased a similar package in 2016 which we used for the US Open. Paid USD $744.79 (or USD $186 per night) for 4 nights at the Hilton Club Midtown (located on floors 36 – 38).

      This included a USD $200 credit for Elevated Rewards (with a range of restaurants in New York – some of the included restaurants are very nice) & the package included something like circa 10,000 Honors points.

      The sales presentation took 2 hours in the Penthouse at the Hilton Midtown. It was a high pressure environment and the best strategy is not to say anything to them. The more you engage and give excuses the longer it will take as they come up with reasons why you should purchase the timeshare.

      The saleswoman was a former Opera Singer and tried various strategies to get us to purchase – guilt tripping you into a purchase, calling it a great investment and pressuring us all the time. We waited the minimum time (2 hours) as per T&C’s of the offer and then I had to be rude to escape the place.

      Would I do it again? Possibly. The timeshare presentation is the worst bit and you really have to be firm with them. Stand your ground (never buy in these environments but only ever on the resale market) and leave after the minimum time is up.

      The Hilton Midtown is an enormous hotel/like a zoo. The Hilton Club rooms are dated and not worth the money. We had Executive Club access through the Club package which was nice, with breakfast included, drinks through the day and happy hour in the evenings. I think the Hilton Hotel has nicer rooms than the Club rooms.

      I’ve done these packages twice now (the other time at the Hilton Hilton Craigendarroch. That was a beautiful property (freshly renovated) and the hard sell there was similar to the one in New York. The Midtown one is more “American” in its approach (if that makes sense) and the Saleswoman put my back up immediately on meeting her.

      Any other questions feel free to give me a shout.

      1DES1

  2. Looks interesting – if I only held this card, could I refer people to the PRG/platinum and still receive the bonus?

  3. Any plans to discuss your financial relationship with Amex? Or to disclose how much you make from Amex? Hence the extra content. Just curious.

    • Because MasterCard and Visa have a huge selection of cards with great earning rates that we’re missing articles on…?

      Diners Club also available…

    • Rob runs an enterprising website that people find useful. Of course he benefits from Amex and no one will truly know what incentives he gets from them (it’s between nothing and what the US bloggers receive) other than him. We are all adults here and no one has a gun against the head when applying for credit.

    • This series of articles kicked off with the American Airlines AAdvantage Visa card.

      The fact that Amex offers the best earning potential may be a reason that Rob puts a lot of emphasis on them

      Its probably none of your business what Rob’s financial relationship is with Amex just as its none of Rob’s business what you earn from whoever.

    • We’re doing all 23 travel credit cards – it’s just that, alphabetically, the Amex and BA Amex cards come at the front!

      These articles have run once per year for the last 4 years.

  4. So if I switch from gold rewards I will still have to wait 6 months after closing the gold to get this new card to ensure I get the bonus? Thanks

    • Yes, so if you are only after the bonuses you would be better off getting another gold card

    • It look like it, which makes me think people will just churn the gold or platinum instead for the higher bonus and referral points.