Why Amex Gold is the ideal starter Amex for a miles and points newcomer

Today, as part of a few ‘beginner focussed’ articles running this month to cater to the new readers we always get at this time of year, I thought I would take a look at the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold charge card.  I mention this card quite a bit on Head for Points but if you are new to this hobby then it might not be fully clear why I recommend it as the best ‘starter’ Amex card.

Let’s get the boring bits out of the way first. Amex Gold is a charge card and not a credit card. This means that you MUST pay off your full balance at the end of each month. There is NO facility to roll over your balance and pay interest. Suffice it to say that that charge cards are only suitable for you if you always clear your balance each month.

(If you don’t always clear your balance, I don’t recommend ANY miles and points cards to be honest. The interest rates are usually around 22%, whilst specialist ‘low rate’ cards like this one can be as low as 6%.)

Secondly, whilst you may think that Amex has a slightly lofty reputation if you have never had one before, there is no longer a minimum income requirement. This doesn’t mean that they will accept anyone – it means that the gap between your income and expenditure is more important than your income alone.

Thirdly, forget the idea that ‘no-one accepts Amex’. B&Q is the only major retailer that does not take American Express. Every other big chain takes it. You will have issues in some smaller stores, and it is rare that you can pay a bill with an Amex, but acceptance (as a % of your shopping bill) is good.

With that out of the way, let’s look at why I rate the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold card.

Amex Gold 350

The card is free for the first year

Amex Gold has an annual fee of £140. This is waived in your first year, so you can have some time to see if it suits you or not. You can cancel at any point. If you continue after the first year, you can still cancel at any time and get a pro-rata refund on your fee. Amex is the only UK card company to do this.

The sign-up bonus is VERY generous

You get 20,000 American Express Membership Rewards points (worth 20,000 Avios) when you sign up and spend £2,000 within three months. This is a very generous deal because ….

The rewards scheme is a valuable convertible currency

You can transfer Membership Rewards points into MANY different things. Take a look at their website.

We tend to focus on airline schemes (1:1 into Avios, Virgin Flying Club, Flying Blue, Delta Skymiles, Etihad Guest, Emirates Skywards etc) or hotel schemes (1:2 into Hilton Honors, 1:3 into Club Carlson, 2:1 into SPG and so 2:3 into Marrriott Rewards.)

In reality there are lots of other options, including High Street gift cards. I wrote this article on how to get the best value from Membership Rewards points. It is possible, if you are smart, to get over £200 of value from your 20,000 Membership Rewards points sign-up bonus.

‘Convertible currencies’ are worth more to you. It is better to have 50,000 Amex points than 50,000 Avios points. Why? Because your 50,000 Amex points would get you 50,000 Avios points if you needed them – but they could also get you a heck of a lot more besides.

You get 2 free airport lounge visits per year

As an Amex Gold cardholder you receive free membership to Lounge Club, a global network of airport lounges. Each year you get 2 free visits – either 2 visits for yourself or 1 visit for yourself and a guest.

The Lounge Club website shows you which lounges you can use including many at Heathrow and Gatwick.  Additional visits after your two free ones are charged at £15 per person per visit. You receive 2 additional free passes each year if you renew your Amex Gold membership.

10,000 bonus Membership Rewards points for spending £15,000 per year

The earning rate on Amex Gold is 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent. This is OK but not exceptional – although you should put some value on having a ‘convertible’ currency rather than being forced into taking Avios, Virgin miles etc via a dedicated airline credit card.

However, if you can spend £15,000 per year on your Amex Gold, the maths changes. You would receive 10,000 bonus points at the end of your card year. If you spent exactly £15,000, this means you would have earned 25,000 points – a rate of 1.6 points per £1. This is very good going.

Those are the key perks as I see them. There are various other benefits attached to the card as well, including:

double points for foreign spending (but there is a 3% fee for FX charges, so this is only a good deal if you are spending money your employer will reimburse)

double points on airline transactions

10% discount and free additional driver on Hertz bookings

$75 in-hotel credit and an upgrade (based on availability at check-in) when booking 350 4-5 star hotels worldwide

Conclusion

The American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is a low cost (zero cost, actually, in Year 1) and high reward way to begin a relationship with Amex.

You can get the sign-up bonus if you already have a BA, Starwood or Nectar American Express card or any MBNA or Lloyds-issued Amex.  That’s not a problem.  The only people who are disqualified are those who have had a Gold, Platinum or Green charge card, or the Amex Rewards Credit Card, in the last six months.

Tie it in with the Hilton Visa that I discussed here – for places where Amex isn’t accepted – and you’ve got the best two options to get your miles and points hobby started.

Over time your card needs may change, as I discussed in this article, but Amex Gold is a good way to get started. Even if you eventually decide that the miles and points hobby is not for you, there are still plenty of other valuable ways to use your Membership Rewards points.

The American Express Preferred Rewards Gold application page is here.

(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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Comments

  1. Philip Martin says:

    “However, if you can spend £15,000 per year on your Amex Gold, the maths changes. You would receive 10,000 bonus points at the end of your card year. If you spent exactly £15,000, this means you would have earned 25,000 points – a rate of 1.6 points per £1. ”

    Shouldn’t this be 30,000 points (20,000 + 10,000) if you spend $15,000 after 1 year – which is a rate of 2 points per £1?

  2. Was planning to sign up for a Gold in the next few weeks. Today had an emailed offer from BA offering a 30k sign up bonus for the Premium Plus Amex, before 31st January. Should I take the offer, hit 10k for the 2-4-1, then cancel and get a Gold?

  3. After Amex Preferred Rewards Gold which card would you suggest next?
    I am a bit confused about the 6 months waiting period for sign up bonus.
    Will I get a sign up bonus if I go for a credit card because this is a charge card?

    • Genghis says:

      The Amex Gold/Plat, BA cards (Blue and BAPP) and SPG cards are separate “families”, i.e. they earn different reward currencies, MR points, avios and SPG points respectively. You can’t get a bonus in a certain reward currency if you’ve held a card from Amex earning that reward currency in the past six months.

    • Genghis says:

      Which card next depends on what you want to achieve, where you want to go etc. Have a look around the site and do some planning.

  4. A question on MR transfers. Is it possible for say, my partner transferring her MR points into my SPG account?

    • Genghis says:

      Not sure exactly but why risk it when those living at same address can transfer SPG points for free?

    • In theory, no.

      In practice …. years ago I managed to move points into my wife’s (different surname) Carlson and Nectar accounts. Not sure if this is still possible or if it works for other partners. If you have the same surname on your accounts the odds of it working are even better. Be prepared for it to fail though.

    • May work if same surname and they have not already transferred to their own account.

    • Tried transferring from gf’s MR account to my Hilton as had a small number of stranded points and was about to close the account.
      Points got kicked back after a few days and ended up moving them to her nectar account.

      Could always give it a go with a small amount and see what happens…

  5. I have held the card for a year, and am now just into the second year. If I want to upgrade to Plat do I need to wait for the 10k points to post, or can I do that now?
    I realise it I want to cancel I’d need to wait for the points to be posted, but I’m not sure if the upgrade gives me a new MR account of it it stays the same.

    • PapaLazarou says:

      Moreover, does anyone know if you end up paying £140 (Gold renewal) then another £450 (for Plat upgrade) or do you end up paying £450 – a pro-rate refund?

      • roberto says:

        Wait until the 10k hits and then UG , you will get refunded on the gold pro rata and if your lucky you wont get the £450 plat fee for a few months either. I got it at month 10 once after a gold to plat UG. I cancelled the plat and got a pro rata refund ( against my closing balance) at that stage. YMMV of course.

  6. Rob,

    Sorry but I feel I do have to correct you on B&Q being the only major chain not to accept Amex.

    This is definitely also the case with both Aldi and Lidl (yes I know your wife probably doesn’t shop there for food and only goes to M&S, Waitrose or at a push Sainsburys), The Range (a new DIY store chain with quite a number of large stores on retail parks) plus lately also at B&M Stores (another aggressive discounter covering a rather wider range of goods than just food and who rather interestingly were taking Amex a year or so ago but now are not doing so), although it was still being accepted at Poundland and More a couple of months ago. Also Staples were another major national chain Amex non accepter before they finally went belly up but I haven’t even been in to one of their former stores since they relaunched as Office Outlet to check the current position. I have a feeling they possibly also don’t accept Amex too given that they clearly basically inherited the vast majority of Office World’s store IT and payment system infrastructure on a lock, stock and smoking barrel basis.

    Also I recently came across some form of online PayPal transaction where Paypal would only give me the option to pay by either Visa, Mastercard or bank transfer, even though they normally accept Amex with most merchants you can make payments to. Also with PayPal if you want to use Amex you must make sure that it is your only currently valid card with them as if you have a Visa or Mastercard in your card wallet they will constantly default to trying to use one of those cards instead unless you go in and change over manually to using Amex for just that transaction.

    BUPA are also another well known national brand that refuses to take Amex if you pay them monthly over 12 monthly payments. They do have the capacity to actually take Amex if you complain that you are going to close your policy and agree to pay up front for the whole year instead in return for a discount for paying annually (normally 5%). I did actually mean to complain to Amex about this as they are clearly violating their merchant conditions by only accepting Amex selectively where they feel they may otherwise lose the customer’s business by not doing so.

    You will also find that most council and some private car parking charge operators do not accept Amex but only Visa and Mastercard and this includes all councils signed up with RingGo (eg Westminster City Council and most other) or other PayByPhone card payment operators. There are other examples of Amex non acceptance from retailers who are not one off small shops or restaurants (the most common kind of retailer to not accept Amex) I have come across in the last year but I can’t summon to mind just who they all were at this very moment. Oh yes one other recent example was Bucks County Council when we had to pay for a number of death certificates (well ok it was a total of 15 of them at £4 each as the charge is double if you go back and ask for more later and also lot of administrative bureaucrats have a very nasty habit of failing to return the ones you send to them in the post) following my mother’s sad recent death (they did however accept Visa and Mastercard credit cards and all debit cards). So that was another £60 that could not be paid by Amex.

    I would also add that in Southern European countries (eg Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece) Amex is generally not accepted in most retailers other than national chain branded petrol stations and MacDonalds restaurants (the only other major Amex accepters in Spain that I am aware of are the Eroski and the Carrefour supermarket store chains but surprisingly even Mercadona supermarkets, a chain that really occupies the same market niche as Waitrose, do not accept Amex), and this is clearly a significant consideration for any Amex only airline points card vs the Lloyds Avios Duo card or the higher 0.5% return Avios paying Mastercard only deals that are now available. All the more so given that there are also no Amex cards, other than the seemingly soon to be abolished Lloyds Duo one, on which you can avoid the nearly 3% Amex foreign exchange rate levy but there are most definitely a number of UK issued Mastercards and Visa cards on which this facility is provided.

    The thing that also really bugs me is that Amex doesn’t force their merchants to always clearly display the Amex accepted here sign on all their payment terminals (which seems ridiculous when it is clearly not a universally acceptable form of payment) and there is even one kind of contactless payment terminal where I have seen the Amex sign clearly displayed on the contactless card reader’s display but the card has then been refused just because it is an Amex.

    The further nasty issue is that if you try to pay Amex on a Contactless or slot based card reader and payment is not accepted firstly you aren’t then sure if that Amex non acceptance is in fact the issue (as there is no clear message that comes back saying Amex not accepted here and instead the machine just gives the same indication as if this was an expired or cancelled debit or credit card and/or you had exceeded your credit limit on the card) and secondly once you have determined that Amex non acceptance is the reason for refusal (most till staff are usually clueless that their employer doesn’t take Amex) it is then usually a huge kerfuffle requiring the summoning of a supervisor to clear down and reset the payment terminal so that it can then accept the Visa or Mastercard that you are now humiliatingly forced to fish out of your wallet. This could all be avoided if all points of sale were forced to carry stickers showing the cards they accept but sadly there is no such regulation and the only indication at all of which cards are taken are from the one kind of contactless card reader (that has also a slot) that can show the logos of the card types taken but where in some retailers this data still cannot be relied on.

    So the bottom line is that for the kind of people who already find supermarket loyalty cards in general a fiddle (and even I don’t bother having one for Boots, B&Q, or WH Smith as I don’t shop there nearly often enough to justify the space taken in my wallet) or who have only just been converted to using debit/credit cards at all instead of cash that using Amex is actually often a significant hassle and sometimes downright embarrassing or humiliating. You have to enjoy negotiating complexity and jumping through hoops for extra rewards in order to bother with it. I believe in the USA that’s not the case and Amex is accepted everywhere but the last two times I was there I didn’t have a 3% exchange levy fee free Amex card and although I do currently have one with Lloyds no doubt it will have been replaced by a Mastercard or Visa only product by the next time I take a trip across The Pond.

    • Bit of an outdated assumption that only women do the shopping?

      • Hey I’m a single man and I should like to make it clear that I do my own supermarket shopping and can cook a wide variety of my own food.

        But I think you will find that in any male/female couple (married or not) that well over 90%+ of the time the woman is still in charge of the food shopping just as well over 90%+ of the time the man still mows the lawn and also does the DIY repairs or any home car maintenance. Of course there are exceptions and as it happens my Brother In Law is one of them but then he is an exception in terms of almost every normal stereotype of the average male.

        Also in Rob’s particular case my assumption was that he apparently didn’t do any regular supermarket food shopping given that he is frequently so keen to tell us that he is a married man with hungry school age children (who seem to lay waste to the pizza and ice cream stocks of almost any 5 star hotel restaurant they are let staying in) yet surely if he did do the supermarket shopping (which despite all the allegedly great step forwards in gender de-stereotyping do not seem to have extended as far as the average male partner doing the food shopping or the majority of the cooking and household chores or for that matter most single women being the ones who will take the initiative in inviting a potential partner to go out on a first date with them) he would at least have experimented with popping in to the occasional Lidl or Aldi (as most of us who regularly do a food shop will almost certainly have done at some point, even though we may still mainly shop at Tesco, Sainsbury, Asda, Waitrose, M&S or possibly even the gradually ever improving Co-Op) where he would still have found his Amex card resoundingly refused. This is despite Lidl and Aldi having moved on from their original Germanic based position of only accepting debit cards as they had presumably always only done back in their parent country (Germany) where credit rather than debit card use is still much less prevalent. But these days they do accept Visa and Mastercard credit cards.

        • No Lidl or Aldi in my neck of the woods 🙂 Anika recommends Lidl for German specialities though.

          For info, I don’t do any car maintenance (no car), mowing (no lawn) or DIY (Silver Saints). I buy the midweek food (M&S trip on the way home on Monday night) and my Mrs buys the weekend stuff on Fridays as she only works 4 days.

    • You must feel a lot better having got that off your chest!

      • Yes it certainly needed to be said that Amex is most definitely not a universally acceptable form of payment in the UK and that while it is fairly widely accepted in UK chain stores there are quite a few points of sale in the UK (especially those associated with local councils, who presumably must think that they occupy a monopoly position for many of their day to day services other than leisure and fitness centres) where it will definitely be often rudely refused.

        That also reminds me of the other national chain where my Amex card is currently being refused, which is at any of the sports centres run by Everyone Active (a private operator and not a council, even though the facilities it operates may well be leased from the local council in some cases).

        I would agree however that these are probably only a minority of day to day transactions (although that also includes nearly all utility bills plus council tax, which are either very difficult or often impossible to pay by any means other than direct debit) by value for most users of this website (who certainly tend to be rather more affluent higher spenders compared to the average UK citizen) whereas in most Mediterranean European countries Amex is also not accepted by most chain stores and the only place where it can be reliably and almost universally used is when buying petrol or diesel.

        Rob of course needs to make light of these problems both because he probably would say that the fringe benefits of using Amex outweigh the inconveniences and also because he clearly accumulates a very large pile of introducer bonuses each year from all the special introduction links he sends out to the BA Amex, Amex/Amex and/or certain other credit cards (eg the Lloyds Avios Duo card until that introducer bonus was withdrawn by Lloyds a few months ago).

        • I really don’t think that many people thought that Amex was a universally acceptable form of payment in the UK, surely that is only cash (probably).

        • Genghis says:

          Not on London buses now.

        • I have to reply here to Rob’s above reply to my comments on where he shops as we have sadly run out of allowed responses in that particular sub thread of this discussion page (since this is clearly something other than either a personal Blog or a regular internet discussion Forum). Thinking about it I suppose its most like the Comments section that some newspaper websites allow on their web articles but a little better structured than that but still a lot worse structured than a true HeadForPoints internet discussion forum.

          Anyway just to say firstly that I’m still really rather confused about who exactly is Rob’s wife and whether its Anika or not. I’m sure that when I said before that I thought that Anika was his wife (as we only see her name here as the other main poster of articles, although I note that she does seem to have been posting a lot less of late after her role had I thought supposedly been made full time on this website a little while ago) I was then pilloried for that comment by another HeadForPoints regular (probably Genghis or oldharry). So on carefully re-reading Rob’s post above I now see that he actually refers to a Mrs, who I suppose could be someone different from Anika (who seems to possibly be of German origin given both her name and also her knowledge of German Specialities)? I think the confusion probably all arose out of Anika being female and Rob saying that he had now been able to make her role on HfP far more full time and of course having a wife originally from Germany rather than the UK would have given Rob an obvious reason to travel more often by air than the average Brit. Also their family holiday trips very often seem to have involved three or four legged European one way flights that have included stays in Germanic and Spanish countries as part of the same trip, hence no doubt explaining why I probably wrongly thought his Mrs must be Anika.

          Anyway coming back to supermarkets I must also apologise for completely overlooking Morrisons, who while not as widely distributed Down South as Up North are certainly pretty good (more or less occupying the same market niche as Asda) when you can find them and do also take Amex. There was also Netto for a while (not that there were many in prosperous Bucks or Surrey where I mainly am) but they seem to have finally bitten the dust in 2016 and I suspect also didn’t take Amex. And also at one time rather a lot of Somerfields, who were then swallowed up by Co-Op, and I just don’t know at all about their Amex acceptance as I never shopped there. And of course we should not forget the current incarnation of the eternal mystery that is the Budgens supermarket brand and who also do take Amex cards. Previously when they used to have a Budgens in Stoke Poges (before the County Council’s redevelopment project left no supermarket or village centre at all for three years and they then also reneged on their firm promise to rebuild the library) or also before that a much older branch in Wexham it seemed to be a normal national supermarket chain but now they seem to operate more like a Spar does (although are rather better quality and value than Spar offer) where they are all self run franchises doing their own thing with their own prices but they do seem to buy in to a range of core centrally supplied and sourced goods (also I’m pretty sure that Spars don’t take Amex). And lastly we also shouldn’t forget about Iceland or Costcutter. Actually I take it back and the very best thing to do with Costcutter (which is a kind of nightmare vastly inferior version of Spar if it still exists as I only ever remember seeing them in particularly down at heel parts of larger inner cities) is to totally forget about it and avoid ever shopping there unless you are completely and utterly desperate because you are extremely hungry or thirsty, also on foot and there is no other supermarket anywhere near by. Iceland on the other hand does now have some quite interesting things (including very cheap frozen lobsters and also a remarkably nice frozen seafood pasta mix ingredient pack) and also once again does take the Amex card.

          So anyway if you need to go the supermarket you certainly can’t rely on Amex to always feed you just as you also can’t rely on it to pay for some DIY part, paint, plaster or lightbulb or fitting to urgently repair your home. Also the other problem with Amex was that it has often been surcharged at a higher rate by some airlines although I see that the legislative ban on all surcharges for credit card payment is due to take effect on 13th January. See http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/cards/2017/07/credit-debit-card-fees-to-be-banned

          But once the Lloyds and BA Avios cards both disappear (as they seem very likely to do now their charge to retailers will be capped at 0.3% rather than Amex’s historically customary 3%) and the remaining Amex issued Centurion cards all start costing retailers a fortune in charges I would have thought it was highly likely that most other ordinary high street retail chain will follow B&M’s lead by no longer taking Amex. I’m sure that Harrods, Selfridges and Liberty and probably also John Lewis will all still take Amex to fleece the tourists but it seems to me that if Amex insists on a high commission only model for its UK card business then twinned with the EU ruling on co branded cards that its extremely likely acceptance of Amex will relatively soon be as sparse in the UK as it is in places such as Spain or Portugal.

          Unless of course Amex rethinks things and decides that being the third major European card payment system is actually more important to it than being a niche product for a small but elite band of airline loyalty points collectors???

        • Genghis says:

          I spoke to both Anika and Rob’s wife at the HfP Xmas party and can confirm they are separate people.

    • This is headforpoints, I think you were looking for headfortherapy.

      • No I’m only looking for HeadForAccuracy and for HeadForFullDisclosureOfHiddenCommercialFactorsInfluencingTheSite’s Editorial

    • Tom Cook says:

      I always thought AMEX was a unlikely to be accepted in most places, until I read this site and took the plunge and actually got one.

      I use mine in Tesco’s for my weekly shop and fuel (along with Esso), Co-op take it for my top up shop if I’m out walking the dog and need a few bits, and then yes in Waitrose when I’m basically looking for something different / posher.

      My local retailers and restaurants take it where I live, these are a mix of chains and independents. I’ve not found any issue with using it to be honest, I think I can recall a couple of incidents where I’ve asked and been told no. Wasn’t a major issue to be honest. Even my local independent pet shop takes it. As a data point I live in Leeds, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by who does take it more so than not being able to use my Plat / BAPP.

    • Jumble Tales says:

      Spot on Julian. I agree. If I were to look back over my credit card purchases over the last few decades, I would find that the larger the CC transaction eg. medical fees, car deposits, building work, legal fees etc. then the more likely it would have been using Visa/MC (as well as many small purchases) . Amex simply would not have been accepted by the merchant. My Visa/Mastercard monthly statements have nearly always been higher than my Amex statement purely due to non-acceptance of the card, probably because I’ve spent most of my life outside of the South East.

      • Jumble Tales,

        Many thanks for your support on this point.

        I certainly agree that the problem with Amex non acceptance is a lot wider than Rob and his fan club here are willing to own up to and its also a pain that the staff in many organisations aren’t even clear whether they take Amex or not until you go through the humiliation of trying to use it and then being turned down.

        I suppose if I start to think further about it then the majority of my UK monthly spend is not Amex chargeable due to the large amounts going out in monthly apartment service charges, council tax and all the various utility bills and insurances etc. If they could all be Amexed or even Mastercarded then another £7,000 or more per year could be going through my card account and earning Avios points.

    • Scallder says:

      I visited a number of the Cyclades Islands as well as Athens in late 2016 and very rarely couldn’t use Amex so you should take Greece of your list…

  7. Ok little OT:

    Looking to refer a friend from my platinum. He currently holds the Amex Gold business card. Is he still eligible or the same six months rule still apply? If so could he use gold to platinum upgrade link or is this only for personal gold cards? Finally if none of these what is referral from Platinum to either BA Card? Many thanks

    • roberto says:

      I held the Biz gold and the plat concurrently and got bonuses on both but Rob suggests it not the norm.
      The gold to plat UG link is only for personal cards.
      You can refer from plat to BA but the water is muddy of how many points you get for it. Others here have suggested its both 9k or 18k for the BA Premcard from a plat. Its 9k from a gold. SPG is 5k from everything.

  8. O/T

    Is churning still possible on this card and if so how long must I wait to reapply after cancelling?

  9. Shaun Mills says:

    Hi Rob

    A quick question on moving down, after 3 years with my amex gold I’ve decided the value isnt there for me to cover the £££ annual cost each year. When it expires in 6 weeks I plan to renew until I get my bonus points, but then wanted to downgrade to the everyday card. But two concerns I’m unsure about:

    – Will I get a pro-rata refund for the £140 annual cost I will have just paid? I know other cards do but not sure about the Gold card
    – Can I transfer my AR points to the everyday card? If not is there another AR card where I can keep them that does not cost. I don’t really want to continue paying £140 per year just to store my points rather than transferring them to avios (or similar) and losing the flexibility of AR points.

    Thanks a lot

    • Yes to Q1 and No to Q2. However, you can apply for one of these – https://www.headforpoints.com/2017/09/25/how-to-keep-your-membership-rewards-points-when-cancelling-amex-gold-or-platinum/ – for free which will keep your MR points alive.

    • Re the pro rata refund on the Preferred Rewards Gold card in subsequent years you seem to have missed the above part of Rob’s article that states:-

      “The card is free for the first year

      Amex Gold has an annual fee of £140. This is waived in your first year, so you can have some time to see if it suits you or not. You can cancel at any point. If you continue after the first year, you can still cancel at any time and get a pro-rata refund on your fee. Amex is the only UK card company to do this.”

      • If you read carefully you will see that the poster is referring to the beginning of the second year when the £140 fee will be paid.

        • Yes I understood that was the case but Rob’s original article quite clearly states that “after the first year, you can still cancel at any time and get a pro-rata refund”, which I think fully answers the OP’s question on this point.

  10. So this post is to continue the discussion on the acceptability of Amex as a form of payment in the UK and also the more recent sub discussion on whether or not cash is still King as a means of payment.

    On the cash question I would say that cash is very much on the way out in the long run and that the signs are already on the wall such as both Norwegian Airlines and now also British Airways short haul refusing to accept anything other than cards as a means of payment for food and drink on their aircraft. Also throughout Scandinavia cards are widely preferred over cash and anyone wanting to pay in cash is now widely regarded with suspicions as a potential fraudster or money launderer in those countries.

    In the longer run black market fraud dodging of both income and sales taxes is costing all the world’s governments a fortune so I’m sure in the long run the use of cash is going to become more and more restricted and only allowed for small value transactions of under £20 or so now that the technological means to do away with case are ever more omni present. I even had a friend who worked on a major project called Mondex (smart chip card based) 20 years ago that was supposed to completely replace cash and although it didn’t work out back then I think with the whole use of phones as a payment means in much of the third world we are getting much closer to that stage we are getting much closer to that happening.

    The recent Indian withdrawal of large denomination bank notes to stop black market tax dodging is just another shade of exactly the same phenomenon.

    • Genghis,

      Thanks for the useful info on Anika and Rob’s wife (or his Mrs as she may or not be pleased to be referred to) having been sited by you personally and definitely being two different people.

      One can only hope that given the site’s clearly growing popularity that next year the HfP Xmas Party is held at a somewhat larger venue or alternatively that additional drinks parties are perhaps held quarterly so that the demand for tickets for the xmas party is not quite so overwhelming.

      Failing that I will simply have to devote my entire life to watching this site and responding to posts on it (as some of its most regular contributors would already appear to do) so that when the xmas party ticket sales open I can manage to bag one in the 10 nanoseconds that are available before they have all gone.

      Alternatively if someone told me the venue then I suppose I could always try gatecrashing 🙂

      • Been away traveling Julian? Any (on topic) tips you want to share?

        Or was your keyboard broken? It looks to be working perfectly now!

        The venue was never a secret! Perhaps you should sign up for the daily emails!

        • Ewan,

          I get the three HfP emails a day but only read the ones with seemingly relevant subjects to my interest. I also saw one on the HfP Xmas Party but when I checked it all the tickets had already sold out, seemingly to the people who read the emails between 3am and 5am in the morning UK time! However possibly there was an earlier email for the first batch of tickets (this email related to a second later batch) which may have not sold out quite as quickly. It appears I missed that email as I don’t always get to them all given that Rob sends us so many each week.

          As to staying on topic I feel that my original post in this thread (if one can call it that) about the actual acceptance of Amex cards by UK retailers was directly relevant to Rob’s article on the benefits of the Amex Preferred Rewards card. Of course things digressed somewhat from that in later posts but that was largely assisted by Genghis, who as ever has seemingly zero respect for making even his first post in many of the discussions here on topic as well as seemingly posting in almost every single HfP discussion article’s comments section.

          As to travelling I went to Prague ultra last minute on New Year’s Eve (booking complete via BA Exec Club redemption just 50 minutes before I had to get out of the house to get to Heathrow for the flight) but only stayed until the 6.30pm return on New Year’s Day due to a commitment I already had in the UK the next day. The point of the last minute booking was that I hadn’t been to Prague before and as my sister her family had pushed off home at 3pm on New Year’s Eve afternoon I didn’t want to be sitting there on my own in the living room at home thinking about my mother who died only very recently on October 19th after a 3 year long struggle with breast cancer.

          As to my general stance on Avios I have been collecting the things seemingly forever since the scheme started in the last 1980s but as I don’t get sent on Business long haul by an employer I am reliant on my own credit card spend, Clubcard voucher conversion and petrol buying with Shell etc to generate more of them. As a result I am not able to make several redemption bookings a year in to Club or 1st class long haul (often seemingly using 2 for 1 vouchers) as various lucky forum contributors are.

          As I collect my Avios slowly I therefore have a more jaundiced view on dodgy BA/IAG practices such as in the past having no availability on many of the routes I wanted to travel on and/or on the dates I wanted to travel or stupid policies like making Avios redemption near worthless long haul in Economy by stupidly not having a Reward Saver option for flights to places any further away than Cairo.

          But obviously collectors who generate millions of Avios per year rushing around the world in Club or Business class at their employer’s expense and who can then take their whole family on a long haul holiday in Club Class for only Economy fare level taxes tend to have a rather different view from mine on the overall benefits of the Avios scheme.

          Also things such as the continued separation of avios.com and BA Exec Club collection accounts (not to mention Iberia Plus or the schemes with Aer Lingus etc) appear to be plain bloody stupid and ought to be sorted out by the senior management of IAG if they were even vaguely on the ball.

      • You could have just popped along at 8 when the bar reopened to the public. You would still have got a goodie bag and people were still around until nearly midnight!

        • Rob,

          I wasn’t aware of any of that but now that I know I might as well give it a try next year, especially as whatever arrangement replaces the current Lloyds Avios Duo Amex card will cause me to do a big review of my Avios collection strategy.

          Or if I’m really attentive I might manage to buy a ticket in time for next year’s party before they are all sold out.

        • It will be done differently next year, either one bigger event (not my preference) or multiple smaller ones.

        • Waribai says:

          See you at the next HFP bash Julian!

  11. You also get extra MR points when you book using Amex Travel website: 3 per £. Worth checking for a price comparison before booking flights with an airline. Last night, I got an identical price on Amex Travel as VS we’re offering on their own website.

    • Graham Walsh says:

      If you have the Blue BA Amex then worth using the gold. If you have the BAPP, then that is also 3 points per £ on BA flights.

  12. Alberto says:

    Did someone used the Hertz free driver? It is difficult to find info about it, the only thing I found is that I should ask at the desk. Is it because of the Amex gold or because I applied also for the Hertz Gold Plus Reward? I’ll rent abrod and I wonder if at the desk they’ll be aware of the free driver. Thaks

    • Alberto:
      One of the American Express Gold benefits:
      Receive complimentary membership to Hertz Gold Plus Rewards and enjoy 10% off car rental, a one car-class upgrade on bookings of five consecutive days or more (if available), and the additional driver fee waived.

      You can find details on the Amex site on what you need to do, and yes additional driver added at the rental desk for no cost

  13. Lucinda says:

    Julian
    FFS use full stops and paragraphs!

    90% readers on here are not cash strapped so don’t shop sensibly, just go to where AMEX is accepted (M&S, Waitrose, Harrods.)
    They rack up the AMEX spend by buying airline\rail\hotel tickets (and claim expenses back)

    Rob pushes Amex because of the kick backs he gets.

    It would be useful if he published a list of places that accepted AMEX, though i cannot see him doing that TBHO .
    Too embarrassing and would show that AMEX is not widely acceptable for “normal” purchases.

    BTW
    My Nanny mows the lawn and the Butler does the shopping.

  14. This month I cancelled my Amex Gold having gained the 20000 avios sign up bonus. Miles safely transferred to BAEC first. If my wife applies for a Gold card next month will I be able to have a supplementary card despite my individual membership within 6 months?

  15. I have just referred my girlfriend for a gold charge card. I was thinking of downgrading to a Amex credit card so that I keep my reward account open until the referral points post but in the meantime can she add me as a supplementary card holder so I can to help her reach the spend target even though I already have a main Amex account or is that against the terms?