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American Express changes its refer a friend scheme without telling anyone

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American Express appears to have made a quiet change to its refer a friend scheme without telling anyone.  This only impacts anyone who holds a Preferred Rewards Gold card.

Until recently, a Gold or Platinum charge card holder could refer a friend for:

Preferred Rewards Gold (and receive 9,000 Membership Rewards points)

Platinum (and receive 18,000 Membership Rewards points)

Amex Gold 350

Green (and receive 5,000 Membership Rewards points)

Gold Business (and receive 9,000 Membership Rewards points)

Platinum Business (and receive 18,000 Membership Rewards points)

The person you refer will also receive a higher sign-up bonus than if they apply directly.

Some people don’t know that you can refer for ANY of these cards as long as you hold one of them already.  The link you generate to give to your friend only takes you to the application page for the card you hold.  However, if you scroll down the application form you will see that you can toggle it to the other four cards.

At some point in the last few weeks, Amex has changed the referral policy for Gold members.  This has not been put down in writing anywhere.

This is now the new rule, it appears:

A Preferred Rewards Gold cardholder will only receive 9,000 Membership Rewards points per referral, irrespective of whether their friend applies for a Gold, Platinum, Gold Business or Platinum Business card.

The terms and conditions do, technically reflect this:

“You will receive 9,000 Membership Rewards points if your friend applies using the referral programme and is approved. However you will not receive any points if they are approved for the Basic [Green] Card.”

…. but they are not specifically clear that Platinum referrals only generate 9,000 points.

Nothing changes for Platinum cardholders.  They will continue to receive 9,000 points for referring a new Gold member and a higher 18,000 points for referring a new Platinum member.

I don’t have a huge problem with what Amex has done here, to be honest, but not telling anyone – or making it clear during the link generation process for new referrals – isn’t so cool.

There has not been a similar change to the British Airways cards (so far?).  Someone holding the free British Airways American Express still seems to receive 4,000 Avios for referring a friend for the free card but a higher 9,000 Avios for referring them for the Premium Plus card.

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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

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Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

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

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Comments (42)

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

  • Pascal says:

    I have just ‘suffered’ from this last week. My girlfriend (gold) referred me to platinum. She only received 9k. I wanted to call because of the mistake (as I thought) and I think I’ll still do it.

    • John Peden says:

      I’ve spoken to them twice this week and the reps aren’t clear themselves on the terms for this referral.

      I’ll just take the 9k points and be done with it myself!

  • Ben says:

    What does this mean for someone who holds the green card and wants to refer someone to gold or platinum?

    • Rob says:

      Not sure, you need to check the new terms which are a link on your referral link page.

  • Pete says:

    Didn’t you used to be able to refer someone with a cancelled card too ? This seems to of changed as Amex only show cards you are currently holding as possible referrals. In the old days I could just put in my cancelled (Gold/Plat) card number and it would allow me to refer.

  • Nick says:

    Rob – could you please refer me for the Amex Gold Preferred Rewards card? Thanks.

  • aliks says:

    I hold the Amex green card and will be referring the wife for a Platinum in Feb.

    I just checked the Ts and Cs for referral and there is a very clear table showing what get and what the wife gets.

    No changes that I can see, I will still get 18,000 for the referral.

    • Rob says:

      Odd. They are clearly just targetting Gold members then.

    • Bryan says:

      So if you hold the Gold Card (like me) – you might be better to downgrade to the green card, then refer your partner for a platinum card…. then cancel the green card.

      It makes the whole situation a little odd.
      I suspect green card will change T+C very soon.

      • aliks says:

        There is a £60 pa fee for holding on to the Amex Green Card – maybe they think that is penalty enough to dissuade too many from downgrading

        • Bryan says:

          The fee might dissuade some people – but if you are planning to cancel (after referring your partner)- it is just £5 per month for 1 or 2 months.
          Really not that bad.

          • John says:

            Why not refer before the free 12 months is up?

            If waiting for the 7500/10000 bonus points for spending £15000, these usually post within 30 days of the anniversary, and will cost you max £10.27/£11.50 of gold fee. Downgrading to green seems a bit risky.

  • Leo says:

    A beginners one – you can’t refer from BA to Gold and vice versa, or can you?

  • Stu R says:

    I had a text from my friend yesterday asking if I’d got a 5,000 Avios bonus on my statement (BAPP) – I asked him what it was for an apparently it was a initiative for spending £5K in between Sep – Nov. This was obviously targeted as I’d not seen mention of it or received the bonus. I rang Amex and asked about it and sure enough it was targeted – the kind person I spoke with then saw I’d spent £7K in 3 months and awarded the bonus anyway – 5,000 Avios for a 2 minute phonemail …. Merry Christmas!

    • jamie says:

      if you ever needed an excuse to stop churning the gold (22+22+9) and instead churn the platinum (35+35+18), you now have it.

      • Mr(s) Entitled says:

        Gold is 53k MR
        Plat is 88k MR

        Difference of 35k MR but with Plat you are paying an effective monthly fee (assuming churn and thus pro rata refund) of £37.50. Assuming it takes a min of 2mths that is £75 vs £0.

        I miss the days of the upgrade from Gold to Plat when the MR points were marginally better than going straight to Plat but the fee was never charged because the system maintain the ‘free in year one’ from the Gold.

        Happy days.

        • jamie says:

          yeap exactly.

          you are “buying” 35k mr points for 75 pounds

          I would challenge you to find a HFP reader who would not extract 75 pounds of value from 35k MR points!!

          • Genghis says:

            On my recent Plat churn, cost for Mrs G was £41 and for me £37. So £78 for the marginal 35k MR. I’m happy with that…

          • Mr(s) Entitled says:

            That is an easy challenge to accept due to the subjectivity of the extraction of value and the age old debate of an actual saving vs. a cost that you wouldn’t have otherwise incurred albeit at a potentially reduced rate.

            Point being, it is not a no-brainer to always exchange cash for points when there is the option to accumulate points without the outlay.

            I’m going to keep churning the gold.

          • John says:

            Gold gets 3x avios at Amex Travel and 2x with airlines. And 10000 MR for spending £15000. The majority of my spend is on airline tickets, so 12 months of Amex Gold gets me around 70k MR (15×2.6=39 +22+9) for a fee of £140/12=~£11.50.

            The plat would get less than 68k MR (15+35+18) for the same spend so the Gold fee already makes up the difference and we haven’t even counted the Plat fee yet. However I wouldn’t actually keep the plat for the whole year.

            Out of the £15k, some of you would spend £4k on Gold/Plat twice and the remaining £11k on the BAPP. But I don’t have use for 241 because my leave is unpredictable. Plus redeeming longhaul makes it difficult for me to retain BA Gold (opportunity cost of achieving Gold etc etc) so I only have the free BA which I use for the occasional offers.

            Plus this way I only have a new Amex every 2 years, not sure whether it really makes a difference to credit institutions, but I also open other CCs quite often.

    • knifehandchop says:

      I just noticed that 5,000 bonus Avios on my December statement. Had no idea I had been targetted for it, nor indeed that I’d even spent £5,000 on the BAPP specifically in the timeframe, but what a nice little Christmas present to have just found out about!

      Any ideas why Amex weren’t in touch to say this offer was being run? Do they often just dish out bonus points for secret reasons?

  • Adrian says:

    Merry Christmas Rob and all.
    I have to say Amex are the best company I deal with. I’m just a normal punter (no company). Had a disputed charge, they removed the charge from the account immediately and recovered the money. They let you have a gold card for free, wait 6 months and give you another one for free! With the referrals for my wife and vice versa it’s been fantastic. I cancelled my Hilton card as I’d had my free night, the person I was dealing with in their Indian call centre I could barely understand so I even appreciate Amex’s call centre, and I hope BA keep what they have left!

    Rob do you think there will be a BA ex-eu sale as we haven’t seen one in ages.

    • jamie says:

      agreed, fantastic company to deal with. a country mile ahead of anyone in the travel industry

      if any company wants to learn how to do CS they should look at how amex does it.

      • Genghis says:

        +1. Reps all v friendly. Had a good chat yesterday as I was cancelling my Plat. I kinda feel a bit bad that I take the Michael a bit with the churning…

        • jamie says:

          ditto…but overall I think amex make money from our relationship, and I make a shed load of points..

          plus I push their products hard to all my colleagues and friend (for referral bonuses!) so that helps me sleep at night 🙂

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

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