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American Express upgrading Gold customers to Preferred Rewards Gold – a good deal?

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Reader Kim got in touch to ask my advice on a letter she received from American Express.  She has a Gold card  – the old style one, no longer available to new customer.  This is different from the ‘Preferred Rewards Gold‘ which has been the card they have been pushing for the last couple of years.

Amex is forcibly upgrading all Gold card holders to Preferred Rewards Gold from 1 October.  Kim wanted to know if this was a good deal or not.  Frankly, I was not impressed.

Fundamentally, you should not be paying an on-going annual fee for a credit card unless the benefits are easily worth the fee.  And the Amex Preferred Rewards Gold does not deliver. 

What are you getting?  OK, 2 Membership Rewards points per £1 on travel and foreign spend is good, but only 1 on most other purchases.  2 airport lounge passes is worth taking but hardly worth a fortune, especially as you can’t use them in Heathrow Terminal 5.  And the insurance offered is not a replacement for full travel insurance and seems very similar to what is offered by other credit cards.

Let’s compare the Preferred Rewards Gold to the BMI Amex.  If Kim cancels her Gold, she will save £125 a year on fees.  The BMI Amex has no fee, offers a 20,000 mile sign-up bonus (convertible to 20,000 Avios) and pays 1.5 miles per £1.  This is 50% more than the Preferred Rewards Gold on most spending, albeit less – but not much less – on travel and foreign spend.  The Preferred Rewards Gold card does offer a 7,500 point bonus if you spend £15,000 on it per year, but this is not an easy target.

Kim could also consider the £85 fee version of the BMI Amex.  This comes with an extra 4,000 miles for signing up, and earns 2 miles per £1 on all spending, instead of 1.5 miles per £1.  If you are spending £10,000+ a year on the card then this version may be better for you.

Assuming that Kim is using her Membership Rewards points for Avios, I would recommend cancelling – although she will need to empty out her Membership Rewards balance first.  If she is using her MR points to convert to a different partner which does not have its own UK credit card (eg Singapore Airlines) then it is a different question.

Despite the comments above, I DO strongly recommend the Amex Preferred Rewards Gold to new cardholders.  There is no fee for the first year, and you get 20,000 Membership Rewards points.  But Kim is in a totally different position, with no bonus and no fee waiver.

Want to earn more points from credit cards? – February 2023 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit card, here are our top recommendations based on the current sign-up bonuses.

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

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You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the best of the other deals currently available.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 21st February 2023, the sign-up bonus on the British Airways Premium Plus American Express card is increased to 35,000 Avios from 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

35,000 Avios (ONLY to 21st February) and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and unbeatable travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review

Earning miles and points from small business cards

If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these offers:

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers Read our full review

For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending.

Barclaycard Select Cashback credit card

1% cashback (3% for 3 months if you apply by 31st March) and no annual fee Read our full review

Comments (1)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Gibraltar Airport Flyer says:

    Regarding the Preferred Rewards Gold card, not that it is not actually “2 Membership Rewards points per £1 on travel and foreign spend”.

    Rather it is 1 extra MR point on:
    – Travel
    – Foreign Spend
    – Supermarkets / Petrol (in the first year)

    And these stack!

    Hence, if you do spend a lot on foreign travel (i.e. hotels while abroad or foreign booked travel) or supermarkets/petrol abroad then you are effectivly getting 3 MR per £1.

    Which (if convered direct to Avios) is twice what you get on the free BMI card, possibly more as you can hold in Memebership Rewards points for any conversion bonus to come along (or to top up any other scheme).

    If you are willing to put a value of 1p on a MR point, then you are effectivly covering your 3% fee on the card, and the possiblity for true positive earning comes when a good conversion bonus appears. [If you have no immediate need.]

    Indeed, as long as the foreign spend is travel or supermarkets (or petrol) I always put it through my Pref. Rew. Gold card rather than my no-forieng fees Visa Debit,

    Both I consider to initially be zero cost (+3MR but 3% fee vs nothing), but the potential to earn with a conversion bonus later.
    [Need to offset the fact that the 3% outlay at time of purchase could be earning interest/return somewhere else, but I still do it.] Or if the spend including fee can be reclaimed on expenses, etc.

    For people who spend a lot abroad, either travel or supermarkets and petrol, it can be worth having.

    But I do completely agree that Amex annual fees have got out of hand, especially for a card type that has lower levels of acceptance by merchants and sometimes higher usage surcharges for customers.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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