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Why you should swap your (now closed) Amex Gold charge card for the new Amex Gold credit card

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Overnight on Wednesday, with no advance notice, American Express withdrew the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold charge card.

The good news – with sighs of relief all round – is that it has been replaced by the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold credit card.

You can find full details of the new Amex Gold credit card here.

As it is now a credit card, I am obliged to tell you that it has a representative APR of 57.6% including the annual fee (free in year 1) based on a notional £1,200 credit limit, with a 22.9% APR on purchases.

IMPORTANT:  If you are currently paying the £140 annual fee on your Preferred Rewards Gold charge card because you are outside your first year of membership, you should seriously think about switching.  I explain why below.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Are existing Gold charge card holders being switched to the credit card?

No.

Can I apply for the new Preferred Rewards Gold credit card if I already have the Preferred Rewards Gold charge card?

Yes.  But – and I want to be clear about this – you will NOT receive a sign-up bonus on the Gold credit card.  This is because you already have a Membership Rewards account via your Gold charge card.  If you want to receive a sign-up bonus, you would need to cancel your existing Gold charge card, close your Membership Rewards account and reapply after six months.

However, there are two good reasons why you may want to get the Gold credit card if you already have the Gold charge card:

You will still receive your first year on the Gold credit card for free.  This is important.  If you are currently paying the £140 annual fee on your Gold charge card, you should seriously consider applying for the new Gold credit card in order to get a year of free membership.  You would save £140 over the next 12 months.  The fee on your existing Gold charge card will be refunded pro-rata when you cancel.

You will receive a 2nd Lounge Club card with another two free airport lounge passes (for some readers, this may be a reason to apply even if you will not receive a bonus)

You should note that the bonus of 10,000 Membership Rewards points for spending £15,000 on the Gold credit card does NOT combine with the bonus on your existing Gold charge card.  Each target is separate.  Spending £15,000 across both cards – but less than £15,000 on each – will NOT get you the bonus.

American Express has released a PDF document here for current Preferred Rewards Gold charge card holders which explains this in more detail.

Why has American Express done this?

This is only my guess but … as we covered many times on HFP, all Amex co-brand cards (BA, Nectar, Starwood, Harrods, Costco) now have their interchange fees capped under new EU legislation.  This restricts what American Express can charge shops for accepting them.

There are NO interchange fee caps on Amex’s own-brand cards.  It is substantially more attractive for American Express to have you take out an own-brand card rather than a BA or other co-brand card.

I think that many people in the wider population were put off applying for Gold because of the need to repay it every month.  Some may have thought that charge cards were a bit odd and ‘not for them’.  This move now makes Gold more accessible.

And, of course, American Express can make a few quid in interest income too …..

(It also offers Amex a fall-back product for customers if the British Airways or any of the other co-brand cards are closed in the future ……)

What has changed?

Obviously, as a credit card, you do not have to repay your balance every month.  The charge card required you to clear your balance in full.

All of the other benefits of the Preferred Rewards Gold charge card have been retained.  This is as good a reason as any to run through them again and remind you why I think Amex Gold – even in its new credit card format – is the best miles and points card for the beginner.

Amex Gold 350

Here are the core benefits of the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold credit card:

The card is free for the first year

Amex Gold has an annual fee of £140 BUT this is waived in your first year.  A free first year means that you 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 offer fee refunds.

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 Radisson Rewards, 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 you have a lot of other options too.

You get two 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.

You get 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

It was slightly surprising to see Preferred Rewards Gold transform from a charge card to a credit card overnight.  (It also caused us quite a bit of work in updating all of our HFP coverage of the card!)

The good news is that American Express Preferred Rewards Gold remains 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.

If you already have the Gold charge card and are paying the £140 annual fee – or will soon have it come due – you should seriously consider moving to the new Gold credit card.  You get another ‘free first year’ and another two Lounge Club passes.

The American Express Preferred Rewards Gold credit card 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.)

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.

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Comments

  1. How good are Amex re credit limits on their credit cards? I know credit limits depend on credit history etc. but are Amex typically willing to increase it if requested?

    Not a big spender/earner (student) but I find a £500 credit limit on my Lloyds Avios irritating with no option to request adjustment before 6 months. Having had the gold charge card before this (with view to reapply after 6mo) I’ll miss not having to worry about this!

    • Am also a student, and have a £3000 limit on my Gold companion credit card (up from £1200 on a BA Amex from the start of the year).

    • I’m a student as well, got my AMEX UK cards by global transfer from US. Now the total limit is 27k across two cards.

  2. Hello, I’ve hit the £15,000 spend bonus in the first year but do I need to wait until I pay £140 for the second year before the points come through and then change to the credit card for a partial refund?

    • Yes. Bonus arrives 4 weeks after renewal.

      • I am also within this 4 weeks window waiting for my 10k bonus to arrive on my Gold card.
        I want to upgrade to the Platinum card. Should I wait until the 10k hits my account? or is it safe to upgrade to Plat now and the 10k will arrive later no matter what?
        Thanks

  3. if I invite someone that has a gold card now, would they still get the points bonus? and i will still get them as well?

  4. LocalLad says:

    Whether it was intended or not, this will help make charge cards be seen as even more of a premium product. Especially since Dinners pulled their personal charge card.

    Which begs the question, why is Amex keeping the basic and green personal charge cards?

  5. I think that changing to a Gold credit card will make it easier to persuade a friend to take one (and earn you points) as they probably understand credit cards but not charge cards.
    I see that it now appears as an option on the page where the person referred chooses their card.

    • indeed. like i have closed my card charge in January and wanted to wait 6 months to get the free year once again but without getting the 20,000 points for £2k.

      I have already 3 friends that want to open the gold amex credit card with my link.

  6. This is an interesting move. I’ve noticed over recent months the offers on my gold charge card have significantly reduce, while at the same time the offers on my gold companion card increased. Perhaps this is part of a major change in business model and the beginning of the end for the charge card?

  7. Does anyone else seem to have problems linking their Frequent Flyer account to their AMEX account. It never seems to accept my Virgin account. Had to phone them last time I wanted to transfer points (previous gold card) and I’m getting the same error message now. I can’t understand why a) it won’t accept the account number and b) why it hasn’t retained the details from my last Gold card?

    My wife had a similar problem when she tried transferring her points from her last gold card too. Is it just us?

  8. Bonglim says:

    I think this might cause some problems with the 2 credit card rule.
    My understanding is that Amex allows you to only have 2 of their credit cards at the same time. Is that right?

    Typically I have held the free gold charge card, then picked up the ba card, then just before hitting that target would get the SPG card. Then consider an upgrade for the gold card.
    I guess now it would be giving up the gold card once I have the BA card, or giving up the BA card before getting the SPG card.

    It is only a minor inconvenience, and I guess that keeping the gold card is less important as upgrading from gold to platinum is not an issue. It might be annoying for shop small as I liked to have a wallet full come Christmas time.

    • Genghis says:

      Not a rule. Still possible to have many Amex cards for SS though rumour has it that it won’t be happening again this year.

  9. Applied Friday for an Amex SPG. Already have Gold (old charge) and BAPP. For first time ever I was not approved immediately but pending review. Anything that I can do to “help” that review? Is it because of number of cards (have top credit score and always repaid Amex balance)?

    • I wouldn’t worry, happens from time to time. If credit score OK it should be fine.

    • I’ve got a perfect credit score with Experian and Equifax. I never get auto approved for amex cards. Not even companion cards, or the gold credit card that twins with the old charge card. No idea why. I always get referred and always get accepted.

      It used to be easy to check: in the old online messaging thing you could select which card you wanted to discuss, and normally a day or so after applying for the new card, a new card number would appear in the drop-down box. They’ve now done away with online messaging so that’s no longer possible but I wouldn’t sweat it. If you are really concerned you could give the call center a call and ask after progress.

    • Chris L says:

      A helpful AMEX call centre rep implied it was something to do with the time of day you apply. If it’s outside the hours that the relevant team are working then you’re much less likely to get auto-approved. This may mean that submitting an application Mon-Fri 9-5 means you have a better chance of auto-approval. No guarantees of course. Would be interesting to hear if anyone has any anecdotal evidence that supports this.

      • New Accounts dept is 8am to 8pm, but maybe they need someone at the back office, which is 9 to 5

      • But makes sense, could be why I’ve never been auto approved, but every time I’ve called them, my applications had been approved before 10pm the next day.

        • Why do you need someone in the office to be auto-approved?
          Seems counter-intuitive to me.

        • It was 2pm on Friday when I applied. I’ve been auto approved in the past outside of business hours.

  10. Quick question: I’ve got the gold charge card and I have applied for the credit card that accompanies it for 5k extra points. What happens to that credit card when I upgrade to plat?

    Thanks!

    • Good question. I always cancel before upgrading in case it gets upgraded too. That way I can get another 5,000 for Platinum companion.

      • Thanks, but i am even more confused now! The gold credit card that accompanies my gold charge card is in my name – it is not a companion voucher. I didn’t realise there was a 5k bonus for issuing a plat companion? If so then great, but i don’t see how having the gold credit card (the old one attached to the cjharge card, not the new one) would matter? My question was really more that i appled for the gold credit card attached to my charge card a few days ago. It will take a week for Amex to accept my application, a few more days to arrive and at least a week or three for me to hit the spend target. And I want to upgrade to plat now, while that offer is still live. But I don’t want to give up on the 5k bonus for the gold credit card in the meantime.

        • As it says on the application page ‘Your Preferred Rewards Gold Card has a
          rewarding companion Credit Card for life’s big events’. I use the name to distinguish from supplementary cards.
          As I said I would cancel before upgrading so am unable to advise.

  11. JSorHd says:

    I presently hold the Gold Amex Chargecard. I’m liable to spend over £15k in my first year.

    I understand that if I go into a second year I would get 10000 bonus points but have to pay a £140 fee. I also believe that the fee is pro rata.

    Does this mean that I could keep the card for just long enough to collect these bonus points, then cancel card and get the vast majority of the fee returned to me?

    That’s my understanding of the terms and conditions but is it really as simple as that?

    • johnny_c-l says:

      Correct

    • Firstly, have you obtained all the possible supplementary cards @ 3,000 points and a companion credit card @ 5,000. You can also upgrade to Platinum for 20,000.
      I would suggest that having done the above, the other £10,000 would be better spent on an Amex British Airways Premium Plus which will give you 26,000 + 15,000 Avios and a 241 voucher.
      If you are not interested in Avios spread it across a number of other cards.
      Don’t forget referrals and other half’s cards whichever you choose.

    • I’m in the same position, so out of interest does anyone know how long this period is typically between the second year starting and the 10,000 points being credited?

      • Usually 1 month.

        The 3k points for 1st supp is granted, sometimes not! If you add the supp after you have opened the card. Just don’t add it at the applications stage.

  12. Anyone know if the 90,000 MR limit on referral bonuses per calendar year is reset if you churn plat within a year? For example, can you earn 90,000 in January and then another 90,000 in August?

    • You can IF your original MR account is closed and then you get a fresh one when you get your new Plat.

  13. George says:

    Is it possible this change is in part to provide a recovery route when the SPG and BA cards reach end of life? Presumably moving credit to credit is fairly easy but credit to charge impossible without actual consent?

  14. Dave says:

    As this is a credit card, does this now mean the payment date is 28 days after the statement, unlike the 14 or whatever it is for the charge card?

  15. Elle says:

    Hi, I cancelled my Gold chargecard a few years ago and was offered the Gold credit card as well, so I have held the credit card for a number of years already. Do you know if I would get these new benefits, or is it for new applicants only? The information on the Amex website doesn’t make it very clear.

  16. Elle says:

    Hi, I cancelled my Gold chargecard a few years ago and was offered the Gold credit card as well, so I have held the credit card for a number of years already. Do you know if I would get these new benefits, or is it for new applicants only? The information on the Amex website doesn’t make it very clear.

    • If you still have the Gold companion card then you don’t get a sign up bonus. You would get the free first year and lounge passes.

  17. Casey says:

    Hello,
    This article says you should swap your gold charge card for a gold credit card but if you apply for the new credit card and cancel the old charge card, won’t you lose all the points built up on the charge card? It doesn’t state anywhere that it’s possible to transfer points over, so is it a case of using up all the points on the charge card before cancelling the card?
    Would appreciate any thoughts on the above. Thanks!

    • Your Membership Rewards account is separate to your Gold charge card (your MR account has a number, not sure if you noticed). All your Amex cards link to it. You therefore don’t lose your points if you swap around the Amex MR-earning cards you hold.

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