Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Is the American Express Green card a viable alternative to cancelling an Amex Gold?

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

Many Head for Points readers find themselves in the following dilemma from time to time.  They want to close their American Express Preferred Rewards Gold or American Express Platinum card, but they do not want to empty their Membership Rewards account.

One of the great benefits of Membership Rewards, after all, is its flexibility.  You can transfer the points to a large number of airline partners and hotel partners or even redeem for something totally different.  If you don’t need to book any travel in the short term, you may find that you transfer them to the ‘wrong’ programme.

One option for Amex Gold cardholders is to downgrade to the little-discussed American Express Green card.

The home page for that card is here.

Amex Green

Amex tries to pretend that this card no longer exists, hiding it away at the bottom of its website.  The benefits are certainly not designed to excite, because there aren’t any.  There isn’t a sign-up bonus either.

You pay a £60 per year annual fee.  The marketing material suggests that you must also pay a £24 annual fee for being able to participate in Membership Rewards but the comments below from readers suggest otherwise.  You earn 1 Membership Rewards point for every £1 you spend.  That’s it.

When the annual fee on Amex Gold was £125 per year, it made little sense to downgrade to Green.  You were, admittedly, swapping a £125 fee for an £60 fee.  However, as you were giving up your Lounge Club passes and the other benefits of Gold, it didn’t seem worth it.

Now that the fee for Amex Gold is £140, you may want to reconsider.  An Amex Green card with Membership Rewards activated will save you (£140 – £60) £80 per year.  That is worth more than the lounge passes.

If you are in two minds about cancelling an American Express Preferred Rewards Gold, you need to choose between the following three options:

pay £140 per year for Gold, keep your Membership Rewards account open, keep the benefits of Gold

pay £60 per year for Green, keep your Membership Rewards account open, lose the benefits of Gold

close your account, transfer your Membership Rewards points to a partner within 30 days, restart the 6-month clock on being able to apply for another Preferred Rewards Gold or Platinum card

There is, of course, the little known 4th option.

Amex still includes the following language in its terms and conditions:  “If you end your Card Account agreement and there are no other Linked Cards on your Points Account, or if you end these Terms and Conditions, you will have 30 days from the date you request this to redeem your Points. You can also transfer them to another Points Account, including transferring to a Points Account held by someone else (for a fee that we will inform you of at the time).

I wrote this article about what happens if you try to request this – it isn’t pretty.  Legally, however, you should be able to enforce Amex, kicking and screaming, to do it.


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 (38)

  • What's the Point says:

    No mention of free breakfast in this article?
    Is that the next to go for Gold?

  • Roger Wilco says:

    Here the local AMEX changed the terms in a way that I would have ended up paying 100€ MORE than before for the main+partner cards. The only thing between the Gold and Green versions is a PP for the main card holder with 4 free lounge visits. With top tier at all 3 alliances it’s totally useless so it was a no brainer to go for the green card (real retro feeling). On the very rare occasion flying non-alliance airlines, Diners provides free lounge access

  • talltrader says:

    /! Simon, read the terms of the offer (easy to access via Amex app), vouchers are sometimes excluded. They were certainly excluded for the Argos offer I had (£10 off £50+)…

  • Stuart says:

    Raffles, I can’t find a general forum to ask my question, so hope it is OK to put it on here?
    I have just been awarded my second year bonus for my Amex Gold. I am a small collector. just for the odd flight to see friends. I am therefore thinking that now is the time to cancel the card for a pro-rata refund of my £125 fee and to reapply in six months from the date of closure. However, I cannot see the option for transferring my points to my Avios household account? Can you confirm that it is possible to do this still and how I should go about the transfer and closure procedure?? I plan to restart using my Lloyds Amex in the meantime whilst the 6 month clock is ticking. Thanks in advance.

    • Rob says:

      You can’t transfer Amex point to avios.com, only to British Airways Executive Club. Transfers take a couple of days to go through. You can move them from BAEC to avios.com via the ‘Combine My Avios’ function on either of the websites, instantly and free.

      If you don’t have a BAEC account, you will need to open one before doing the transfer.

      However, it gets worse. Under the ‘Combine My Avios’ rules:

      “Members of a Household Account under the Programmes may not use CMA other than (a) from a British Airways Executive Club Household Account to an individual account under the Avios Programme or the Iberia Plus Programme and (b) from the individual account under the Avios Programme to a Household Account under the British Airways Executive Programme. Any other Household account transaction will not be permitted under CMA.”

      So … you CANNOT move your points from BAEC to an avios.com account if that avios.com account is part of a household account. You would need to break up the avios.com HHA first (paper form online to post in) and then move your points from your ba.com account to your avios.com individual account when it is reopened. You can then reform the avios.com household account if you wish.

      (If you have a BA household account and not an avios.com household account, you are fine as the rules extract above shows.)

      • Stuart says:

        Many thanks Raffles. I have BA cards sat in the drawer and an executive club account. I transferred points from my BAEC account to Avios before – the call centre operator split my household account for me, made the transfer, and then reformed the household account. I remember him doing this for me a couple of years ago as I was relieved the ‘complicated’ process was completed by him in one go. That said, if things have changed, I am happy to split the household account and leave it in my name now (I only originally combined it to bring some of my wife’s Avios into the one account). Many thanks for the advice – I will transfer to BAEC now, and be back to you in 6 months for another Gold referral ! ! Regards, Stuart.

  • revlou says:

    I also used to have this card and can confirm I was not charged to have MR added when I downgraded a couple of years ago.

    They do charge £24 to add MR to the IDC Green but not the normal £60 one.