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American Express removes the minimum income requirement from its cards

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I had advance notice on Tuesday that American Express was about to make changes to the minimum income requirements to apply for its cards.

To be honest, I assumed that they were going to go up.

Instead, Amex has removed minimum income requirements altogether.

American Express minimum income requirement

These were the previous HOUSEHOLD minimum income figures for the travel cards:

Preferred Rewards Gold (charge) – £20,000

Platinum (charge) – £40,000

British Airways (credit) – £20,000

British Airways Premium Plus (credit) – £20,000

Starwood Preferred Guest (credit) – £30,000

If we’re honest, these figures were probably too low.

Let’s take the British Airways Premium Plus card.  This comes with a £195 annual fee.  Someone on a salary of £20,000 will take home £1,397 per month.  That is not necessarily a good income base for shelling out a £195 annual card fee.

Similarly, a £40,000 salary gives you take home pay of £2,530 per month.  A £450 fee for Amex Platinum is a disproportionately high percentage of that.  I’m not sure that this works in favour of Amex when it comes to recruiting cardholders who will stick with it for the long term.

This is why I expected the minimum income numbers to increase.  Instead, they have gone.

I can see the logic here.  After all, a single person living at home on a £20,000 salary has a totally different disposable income profile to someone who is married with two kids and a mortgage taking home £20,000.  Taking a strict cut-off level is a blunt instrument.

It remains to be seen if American Express will, instead, make their application forms more complex and start digging deeper into your personal and financial situation before accepting you.

Do let me know if you decide to apply for one of the cards above, where you would previously have failed to pass the household income test, and are now successful.


Want to earn more points from credit cards? – November 2020 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are my November 2020 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 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 (91)

  • barnaby100 says:

    My parents are their 80s. My mother reports that her friends- all cash rich/ asset rich and most with public sector pensions – are having difficulties getting credit cards and/or decent limits when their spouses die- even when they have been supplementary cardholders for many years. So holding card independently would seem to be a good idea as you age.

  • Dannyrado says:

    Have amex stopped transfers to IHG?? I can’t find the option on the website

  • Thomas says:

    Anex never really make sense in their dealings.
    Been a member since 1991, US based at first. Back in the UK in 2000 and also between jobs, so not even working, I was offered the Black Centurion. Took it of course but stopped when they raised the annual fee.

    • Talay says:

      I was Business Gold on Amex which morphed into Platinum when you couldn’t apply for Platinum and then when Centurion came out I went over to that gratis for a couple of years. Like you I jumped when the fee jumped from £650 or so to ???? and never went back to the charge card.

  • Joe says:

    Slightly off-topic:
    I’ve had the BA premium AMEX for a little under two years now. However my income has been reduced massively since going to uni. I’m now considering signing up to the Gold Preferred card in order to get the 20,000 avios bonus. Will a problem occur due to discrepancies in my stated income or now, as of the change, it simply disregarded?

    Thanks in advance

  • Stephanie says:

    I applied for AMEX Gold when I got my first job, obviously my income was significantly lower than £40K…but shortly after I submitted the application, I received a phone call from AMEX say they would like to invite me to apply for Platinum card. It was a really tough choice, the £300 annual card fee was a rather large sum, especially if you use “available income” as a measurement (Net income less living expenses). That was probably around 8% of my available income.

    It took me a good minute being silent on the phone before I told the guy that I would accept the invitation. (I fear if I rejected the offer, they might never invite me again, as I was hoping to get Platinum card shortly in the future)

    I did wonder why AMEX invited me, given I was totally honest with my income. But if AMEX could see the spending on my Barclaycard, then it might make sense…I believe there was about 40K spending through my Barclaycard per year.

  • Jamil says:

    A friend of mine wants to start collecting Avios. Do you think as the first card, the Amex Gold card would be the best to join? How long does it take to transfer the Amex Reward Points to BAEC for example? Would transferring points from Gold Card to BAEC regularly keep the miles active in your account or do you need actual account activity on your BAEC account for any Avios to remain active?

    Thank you

    • Rob says:

      I would do Gold. No fee and, importantly, you have a year to decide if Avios is for you. If not, you can cash out for something else.

    • Genghis says:

      Amex Gold is a good first card. It’s free. Transfers from MR to BAEC take a few days. Set up the link to BAEC prior to when you actually want to transfer to ensure quicker transfer. Any account on BAEC keeps avios active for another 3 years

  • Thomas says:

    Anyone know how long it takes for the complimentary upgrade to HHonours Gold to process?