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Credit & Charge Card Reviews (3): American Express Rewards credit card

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This is my review of the American Express Rewards credit card (ARCC).

It is part of my series of articles looking at the major UK loyalty credit cards and discussing whether or not they are worth applying for. These articles will be linked to the relevant sections of the ‘Credit Cards Update‘ page. My other UK airline and hotel credit card reviews can be found here.

If you want to check your credit record before applying for a new card, click here to get your free Experian Credit Score.

Key links:

There are three versions of the American Express Rewards credit card:

LOW RATE – 5,000 Membership Rewards points bonus and a representative APR of 9.9% variable (click here)

BASIC – 10,000 Membership Rewards points bonus and a representative APR of 22.9% variable (click here)

PURCHASES – NO sign-up bonus but 0% APR on purchases for 18 months and a representative APR of 22.9% variable beyond that (click here)

Key facts: No annual fee

About the card

The American Express Rewards credit card is issued directly by American Express.  It is the newest member of the Amex UK card portfolio, launched in Autumn 2017.

There are three versions, each of which comes with different features. All three versions are free and all earn Membership Rewards points on your spending.

The general American Express rule is that you can hold four cards at the same time. Platinum and Green are the most widely-held charge cards whilst the credit cards include the British Airways, Starwood SPG, Nectar, Costco, Preferred Rewards Gold and Harrods Amex cards.

Any American Express cards you may have which are issued by Lloyds Bank will not directly impact on whether you are accepted for this card.

This is an excellent card for anyone who currently has an Amex Gold or Amex Platinum card and is thinking of cancelling it due to the annual fee. Whilst you wouldn’t qualify for a sign-up bonus, getting a free American Express Rewards card would keep your Membership Rewards points alive. If you don’t do this, you would need to spend or transfer all of your Membership Rewards points before closing your Gold or Platinum card.

American Express Reward credit card review

What is the sign-up bonus?

American Express Rewards offers a sign-up bonus on two of the three versions of the card.

The LOW RATE version offers 5,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend £500 within three months.

The BASIC version offers 10,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend £1,000 within three months.

Membership Rewards points can be converted 1 to 1 into Avios. Click here to see what other reward programmes are Membership Rewards transfer partners. This means that you can receive 10,000 Avios points for free by applying for the Basic version of the Amex Rewards card, spending enough to trigger the sign-up bonus and then transferring the points to British Airways.

Any other benefits?

No.

What is the annual fee?

There is no fee for any version of the American Express Rewards credit card.

What do I earn per £1 spent on the card?

You receive 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent on the card.

Unlike Amex Preferred Rewards Gold, there is no bonus for foreign spend or airline spend.

What is a Membership Rewards point worth?

Anything from ‘not a lot’ to ‘a lot’ is the answer! I wrote this lengthy article on the subject here.

If you redeem your points for, say, an Amazon gift card then you will receive around 0.5p per point. This is a poor return compared to a typical cashback card or the value of an airline mile if used sensibly.

I tend to value airline miles at 0.75p – 1p each (this is conservative) so that is your valuation if you transfer to an airline programme.

Some of the hotel programmes also offer good value. Radisson Rewards (the Radisson, Park Plaza and Park Inn scheme) transfers at 1:3 from Membership Rewards, for example. Their top five-star hotels generally cost 70,000 points per night which would be just over 23,000 Membership Rewards points. This would usually get you over 1p per point of value.

The other hotel partners are Hilton and Starwood / Marriott.

You can take a look at the full list of Membership Rewards options here.

Is this a good card to use when travelling?

As Amex adds a 3% foreign exchange fee, you might want to get a separate free credit card to use abroad. Unfortunately there are no travel rewards card without a foreign exchange fee.  One option is to get a free Curve Card – see this HFP article – and link it to a miles-earning Visa or Mastercard.

If you want a dedicated credit card to use abroad, take a look at the Virgin Money Travel Credit Card (click here).  This card is free and charges NO foreign exchange fees.  It also offers 0% interest on purchases for 12 months and 0% interest on balance transfers for 12 months, with no fee.  Representative APR 19.9% variable.

Other points to note

You will not receive the sign-up bonus if you have held a Platinum, Gold or Green American Express card earning Membership Rewards points in the six months before you apply.

For clarity, you will definitely receive the sign-up bonus if you already have a BA Amex, SPG Amex, Platinum Cashback Amex or any Amex issued by Lloyds Bank.

You will also receive the bonus if you are currently a supplementary cardholder on someone elses Amex Green, Gold or Platinum card. Amex treats supplementary cards as belonging to main cardholder and you are not classed as an existing cardholder yourself.

American Express no longer has a minimum income requirement for any of its cards.

Conclusion

The American Express Rewards credit card is, in itself, a decent deal.

However, for one year, it would make more sense to take out the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold credit card which I review here. This has a far bigger sign-up bonus of 20,000 Membership Rewards points which is the most generous incentive available on a free UK charge or credit card.  You also receive two FREE airport lounge passes.  When your free year is up, you could switch to an American Express Rewards credit card.

For day to day spending, 1 point per £1 is an acceptable but not outstanding return.

The application forms for the American Express Rewards credit card can be found here (Basic, 10000 points), here (Low Rate, 5000 points bonus) and here (Purchases, no bonus but 18 months interest free credit).

(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. Are Amex referrals capped per calendar year or card year?

    • Genghis says:

      Calendar

      • Thx. And is it per card? So assuming I have Platinum (maxed out at 90k for referrals) could I still get 5 referrals on the BA card too?

        • Genghis says:

          Yes. Per account is probably a better description (ie one for MR, one for avios etc). It’s 90k MRs max on Amex Plat / Gold (so 5 referrals from plat) and 90k avios on an avios card account (so 10 referrals from BAPP, for example). All these answers are in the T&Cs.

          Is it now 90k new Marriotts max on the SPG card now (down from 90k SPGs = 270 Marriotts)? Bad idea anyway as only 9k new Marriotts per referral?

  2. There are repeated refs in Rob’s article to this replacing the Gold or Plat, but no mention of the Green. Is that just an oversight ? I would like to cancel my Green and move to the free card. Presumably that would preserve my points, just as if I currently had a Gold or Plat card, but can someone please confirm ?

    What is the process for transferring ? Do I just apply for the free card and my Green card will be cancelled and the points transferred automatically, or is something more required (e.g. manual cancellation of Green card and pro-active request to transfer points) ?

    • You only have 1 Membership Rewards account. Once you’ve got the new card and linked it to your existing Amex online account, you can happily cancel Green. Nothing is transferred.

  3. Apologies for asking again. I am sure what I am about to ask has been covered in another post but I can’t find it.

    I am currently the main cardholder for the Rewards Gold credit card and my wife a supp card holder. If my wife is to apply for the Rewards Gold CC and add me as a supp card holder, will I still be able to keep my reward points even if I cancel my Rewards Gold CC?

  4. So I can get this card and get rid of my Platinum card without having to transfer the points somewhere else…. will I also get my joining bonus if I rejoin Amex Platinum in 6 months time? or will having this card prevent it?

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