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American Express and the art of the useless promotion

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Amex sent an interesting offer around to its British Airways Premium Plus American Express cardholders last week. It is, apparently, their ‘hottest ever offer’. We can only hope that isn’t true.

Basically, if you spend £3,500 in November, December AND January (each month, not in total), you will earn 3,500 bonus Avios. Whoopee.

This promotion is so wrong in so many ways that it beggers belief that Amex is running it. Is it really so hard to get anyone with business or marketing skills to work in Brighton?!

British Airways American Express card

For the benefit of any Amex employees reading, here is the first rule of loyalty programmes. The point of a loyalty scheme is to drive additional business from a customer above what they would normally bring you. It is NOT purely about delivering a fixed amount of spending – if it was, airline loyalty schemes would be based on £ spent rather than complex mechanisms like tier points.

The internet and modern technology makes it even easier to target people properly, which is what makes this Amex promo especially inept.

Take me and my wife as an example. We both have a BA Amex. Both are currently sat in a desk drawer, because we have triggered our 2-4-1’s and we have cards which are more effective for day-to-day spending than the BA Amex (old BMI Mastercards earning 2 miles per £1).

Amex knows this. They could very easily have sent us a promo offering 3,500 Avios for spending £3,500 IN TOTAL over the next 3 months. That would, after all, have been £3,500 more each than we will otherwise be spending with Amex. I would definitely have got the cards out of the desk for that offer.

Or, perhaps, they could have asked for £10,500 of spending over 3 months CUMULATIVELY instead of £3,500 for each of 3 months. As we have a big holiday in December, I could have achieved that and may have dug my card out. It makes no difference to Amex after all, they still get the same commission. But they didn’t do that, so the card stays in the desk.

(Who spends £3,500 in January anyway, unless they are off on holiday?!)

Finally, the reward offered here in no way measures up to the effort required. 3,500 bonus Avios for spending £10,500? That is only a 20% bonus on the 16,500 Avios points I would have earned anyway.

Unless I was spending far above £3,500 each month, I would need to dedicate some time to making sure that transactions were posting in the right month and possibly moving spending from one month to the next. 3,500 Avios does not even begin to make the effort worthwhile.

And, of course, without wishing to state the obvious:

Spend £10,500 on the premium BMI Amex at 2 Avios per £1 and you get 21,000 Avios

Spend £10,500 on the premium BA Amex – jumping through all the hoops, balancing out your spend etc – and you only get 19,250 Avios!

The offer isn’t even good enough to make it worthwhile switching the BMI Amex for the BA Amex.

Really Amex … you must try harder.


Want to earn more points from credit cards? – January 2021 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are our January 2021 recommendations based on the current sign-up bonus

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here.

British Airways American Express card

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and a companion voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

BA Premium Plus American Express card BAPP

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

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

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

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

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and the most generous non-Amex for day to day spending 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:

American Express Business Gold card

American Express Business Gold

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

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

Earn both Avios and BA On Business points with your business spending Read our full review

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company Read our full review

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.

Comments (4)

  • David says:

    I’d be jolly tempted to ASA that claim. I’m not sure of any basis upon which they can attest it is their ‘hottest ever offer’.

  • Fly4fun says:

    Worst. Promotion. Ever.

    Got mine yesterday. Tempted to sign up, but not for the £3500 spend over 3 months, but the 3.99% interest rate only as insurance in case I miss the payment while I’m away on holiday in Dec/Jan.

    Really Amex, who ever thought of this promotion deserves firing. Unless there are a lot of mullets with cards that aren’t very points savvy, I can’t see many people doing this on purpose. I’d like to know if this was targeted in any way too. I haven’t used my BAPP much this year becase of the LTSB 10x prom for 3 months (and then another 3 months when my partner got a card too!). My BMI MC now gets me 1.5 miles per £ on BA, doesn’t have a fee and apart from the 2-4-1, I don’t know why I should hold onto the BAPP any more.

    • Raffles says:

      Because of the 241 ..! And the BMI cards will probably get closed down during 2013 anyway. Remember, BA doesn’t even own the BMI brand now, it was sold with BMI Regional.

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