Five reasons to keep your Amex Gold card after the free first year

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I get quite a few emails from holders of the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold credit card asking what they should do after their first year.

With the recent changes to the American Express sign-up rules, which mean that you can no longer cancel your Gold card and reapply six months later (you now need to wait 24 months to get a fresh sign-up bonus), it is worth thinking about whether holding the card long term is a better approach.

This article was amended on 16th April to reflect the change to the sign-up bonus.

What are the benefits of signing up for Amex Gold?

The package you get for the first year of holding this card is excellent.  You can’t deny that.  Among the benefits are:

You don’t pay a fee for your first year

You receive 10,000 American Express Membership Rewards points after you spend £3,000 in your first three months.  These convert into 10000 Avios, 10000 Virgin / Emirates / Etihad / Flying Blue etc miles, 20000 Hilton Honors points, 15000 Marriott Bonvoy points, 30000 Radisson Rewards points or many other things.

You get two free passes to get into selected airport lounges – the directory is here 

Full details of the card, and the application form, are on the American Express website here.

In order to qualify for the sign up bonus, you cannot have held any personal American Express cards in the past 24 months.  Cards issued by MBNA or Lloyds Bank do not count.

I am legally obliged to tell you that the representative APR is 57.6% variable, including the annual fee (free in year 1), based on a notional £1,200 credit limit.  The interest rate on purchases is 22.9% APR variable.

Amex Gold 350

After the first year, you need to make a decision about whether to keep the card or not.

Many people baulk at the idea of paying the £140 fee, especially if they are not used to paying fees for credit or charge cards.  Whilst the easy answer to those readers who contact me would be ‘cancel’, it is worth looking objectively at the ongoing package – especially if you are not the sort of person who likes to churn his or her card portfolio regularly.

Good reasons to keep Amex Gold beyond Year 1

Reason 1:  the annual bonus of 10,000 Membership Rewards points

If you spend £15,000 on the card in your membership year, you will receive a bonus of 10,000 Membership Rewards points about four weeks after you renew.  In the most extreme case (ie you spend exactly £15,000 per year) this makes your earning rate on the card 1.6 Membership Rewards points per £1, made up of 15,000 base points and the 10,000 bonus points.  This is an impressive earning rate – in fact, it would be the best earning rate of ANY travel rewards credit card.

Even if you are determined to cancel the card, it would be madness – if you had spent £15,000 – not to wait a month until the bonus arrives.  You will get a pro-rata refund of the 2nd year fee when you cancel, which will only be about £12 by that point.

Reason 2:  two more free Lounge Club airport lounge passes

You receive another two airport lounge passes when you renew.  These are worth around £40.  It would be odd to cancel your card at renewal if you knew you were travelling in the next month or so and could use the Lounge Club cards.  Roll your Amex Gold over – you still have the option of cancelling later after your lounge visit.

Reason 3:  you don’t need to empty your Membership Rewards points account

You keep your Membership Rewards points alive.  If you cancel your Amex Gold, you will need to transfer your Membership Rewards points out.  This gets rid of the main benefit of Membership Rewards points – flexibility.  Keeping your Gold card means you can keep your Membership Rewards points account open and so keep all of your options for the points open.  (One option to get around this is to open a FREE Amex Rewards Credit Card instead – I explain why in this article.)

Reason 4:  you retain access to the Amex Gold hotel programme

You retain access to the other, often forgotten, Amex Gold benefits.  The most interesting is ‘The Hotel Collection’ programmedetails here.  This gives you an upgrade and up to $100 equivalent credit when booking a 2+ night stay at participating upscale hotels.  Chains taking part include Radisson Blu, Omni, Kimpton, Hilton, Sofitel and many more.  There is also a 10% Amex Gold Hertz discount, although I admit this can probably be matched by other deals you can access.

Reason 5:  if you have no other Amex, you retain access to Amex’s valuable cashback deals

If Preferred Rewards Gold is your only American Express card, you retain access to the wide range of Amex cashback deals which are permanently available.  Even if you do have other Amex cards, you can double up on deals which interest you if you have multiple cards available.

There are other smaller benefits too:

You retain access to the refer-a-friend programme which earns you 6,000 Membership Rewards points for each new American Express cardholder you sign up.  You will receive the referral bonus even if the person you refer does not qualify for a sign-up bonus.

If you spend a lot on flights, the ‘double points on all airline spend’ benefit will add up.  You don’t need to book via Amex Travel to get this, it is automatic for spending on all airlines.

There are other ways of accessing some of the benefits above, of course.  The Amex Rewards Credit Card will keep your Membership Rewards points alive.  I also accept that, if you don’t spend £15,000 per year to trigger the 10,000 bonus points, the maths probably doesn’t work unless you use ‘The Hotel Collection’ programme and the airport lounge passes.

If you do spend £15,000 to trigger the annual 10,000 Membership Rewards point bonus, however, there ARE merits for keeping your Amex Gold card open long term.

(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. Frenzie01 says:

    The Amex Gold hotel programmis worthless, I am not sure why Rob hoghlighted this.
    To give you an example, booking HILTON AMSTERDAM JUNE 1-3 would be £570 via THE HOTEL COLLECTION, or £440 via trivago.

    • I guess it depends on how you value the $100 credit and room upgrade especially if you don’t have status.

      IIRC I think you get an extra 2MR pts / £1 when spending on amex travel too, on pre-paid bookings.

    • Or 480 euros booking directly… (£440 currently €510)

      • FHR is the same though. Some you win, some you lose, because the rates are contracted and do not move up or down as the hotel moves its rates up or down.

  2. Sussex Bantam says:

    OT – for those asking Friday about the BEER 52 /MSE offer I can confirm my beer was delivered yesterday. 18 bottles for £10. Happy days !

    • Likewise, although muppet here used the wrong Amex for one order. Ended up with 2 cases for £30 which is still a good deal. Hoping for them to email a free delivery offer in the next few weeks to use the other Amex discount.

    • Nick_C says:

      Yeah, but have you looked at the Best Before dates? 12 of my 16 are past the BB date! Maybe this was clear in the offer but I hadn’t spotted it. No snack or magazine in the box. Some of them will be used for cooking.

      • Beer should taste absolutely fine 6-12 months past best before date and probably longer if it’s stronger dark beer. However I think that’s pretty shocking customer service.

        • Crafty says:

          It did say on the MSE page you presumably ordered from – although I hadn t noticed either and was all geared up for a big complaint.

          This was a clearance stock deal.

          • Agree although must admit I’d forgotten! These are ‘best before’ not ‘use by’ so not a safety issue. Not getting the numbered ordered is a different issue though…

            “MSE Update on Tue 5 Mar at 4:30pm: This offer has now expired, but Beer52 has told us today that 300 orders have yet to arrive due to a technical issue. They’ve ensured us these will all be dispatched today with next day delivery.

            If you go via this MSE Blagged Beer52* link, you can get a box of 18 craft beers for £20 delivered (contents £48ish separately elsewhere). Each one-off box, which is not part of a subscription, will include the 18 beers we’ve listed below, plus a snack and a copy of Ferment magazine. The offer ends at 11.59pm on Sun 3 Mar.
            To get this deal you’ll need to go via the link above – there’s no code needed, the discount’s automatically added. Of course, this isn’t a ‘down it in one’ deal so please be Drinkaware.

            The beers are clearance stock, with some of them past their ‘best-before’ (see use-by vs best-before for the difference). Beer52 says about six in each case will be out of date, but told us the taste should be fine. Out of the two boxes we received, one had eight out of date beers and the other had nine. Even if you end up ditching a few, £20 is still a decent price when you think about the normal full cost of craft beer.”

      • Allycat says:

        Mine were delivered yesterday as well, with several past best before dates and a lot of them cloudy with crap floating in the bottom of the bottles. Some of them are wheat beer so *maybe* ok to be cloudy, but not all … I think this was a chance to clear their warehouse. OK, so £10 down, would feel worse if it was full price. Can’t be bothered to complain though. My teenager can drink it, he won’t notice …

        • Maybe they are bottle conditioned beers (with ‘crap’ in the bottom). Worth tasting, pour carefully.

    • I’m still waiting for mine – sadly they use Yodel. Sent a text yesterday saying due for delivery, 71 deliveries to be made by the driver. Got as far as 40 then ran out of time and went back to base. Still says due Sat 13th but presumably they’ll try tomorrow now. For the money not an issue but what sort of delivery company so massively works out their delivery routing?!

    • Crafty says:

      Mine was only 16 beers not 18, without explanation. 8 are out of date, 2 by more than 4 months.

    • Interesting. I got mine this week also. But there were only 16 beers (and no snacks) in the box. Ten were already out of of date. Anyone with a similar experience?

      • Would definitely push back re snacks and missing 2 bottles!

        • Good point – would ask for them to send more stuff rather than issue any refund!

          Will see what mine is like when it finally arrives 🙂

      • I ordered two boxes – one for myself and one for my brother in law. Both received yesterday and both with only 16 beers in the box. No magazine or snacks either. Several beers beyond the best before date which was expected as per the details of the offer.

  3. Chelseafi says:

    Does the Bus Gold Card give you an exra point when spending abroad?

  4. William Wood says:

    OT. When is a price guarantee not a price guarantee? Hilton refuse to pricematch amoma.com. Additionally hotels.com refuse to count a price matched night for the purposes of their reward scheme.

    • Generally if you can get through to the hotel’s own reservation department they’ll beat any online quote unless they are approaching full occupancy. And you don’t think hotels.com is funding the 9.1% rebate out of the goodness of their hearts do you?

    • Nick_C says:

      “OT. When is a price guarantee not a price guarantee?”

      When its Hilton? There have been some good articles about this worthless promise on other sites, which support my own experience over the last 7 years that it is always cheaper not to book through the Hilton Web Site.

      Yes, I know you can contact the hotel directly and haggle, but it’s so much easier to use an OTA. The last time I haggled with Hilton was over 20 years ago. It was in Cairo, so haggling was part of the experience. But in this digital age, it shouldnt be the way to deal with a large multi national business.

      I used to be loyal to Hilton. Not any more. I’m sure if you are a frequent business traveller it’s different, but as an individual leisure traveller spending my own money, I don’t feel valued.

      The only downside of using an OTA is getting to get a refund when things go wrong.

    • You have to compare all terms of booking, room type, cancellation date etc.
      Managed to get approval for Conrad New York next week with $700 for 3 nights.

    • the_real_a says:

      Whats so special about amoma.com and how can they get inventory thats priced less than direct or other consolidators?

    • It’s not a price guarantee when a) the other site requires you to log-in before it shows the price (because those are ‘membership sites’) and b) when there is the slightest difference in room descriptions, even if the cheaper room is better, eg 2pm check-in vs 3pm.

  5. Alex G says:

    Am I correct in saying that you do not get the welcome bonus if I currently have the BA AMEX? I’m sure this wasn’t the case in the past? Thanks

    • If you have held any personal amex as the main cardholder between the date of application and 2 years prior you will not get a welcome bonus on the amex gold.

  6. OT but Amex cards. Do you get any points for adding a supplementary card to the SPG? I’ve decided to hang onto mine now as Marriott has properties in GCM but Hilton doesn’t, so it makes sense for us to collect SPG points on Amex spend.

  7. Nick_C says:

    No bonus for a supplementary card on SPG. Get your partner to apply for their own SPG card if they qualify for a sign up bonus, then pool the points. Or maybe just get the supp card as it might allow you double dip on special offers.

    • Ahead of you – we’ve done that already! Just formulating our next strategy now the rules have changed, will keep one SPG for the reasons stated above and looking at ways to maximise the points.

  8. RussellH says:

    Amex Rewards Credit card for me when my free year on a Giold Credit card runs out in about three months runs out.
    I have spent about £5500 on it (most of that being £3246 for two flights from GLA to HKG in J/F on their BOGOF offer last summer).
    That might go over £6000 for the year before I cancel, but no way will it be much more. £15K per year? That is more than a years income, I woulod reckon!

    • Freddy says:

      With that level of spend per year I’d be looking at churning the BAPP and plat card along with another amex rather than just one card

      • BobTod says:

        That is terrible advice.

        • Freddy says:

          And keeping one card earning 6000 MR points per year is a good idea in comparison?

      • RussellH says:

        You are joking about the BAPP? The price of £195(?) is extortionate and the £3000 spend to get the bonus is, under normal conditions impossible. £2000 for the Gold is hard work, £1000 doable at Christmas.
        I am happy with my Blue fee-free BA Amex, thanks.

        • Freddy says:

          I’m certainty not trying to sell the BAPP to you – I’ve got little interest in BA flights.

          However what I’m saying is that if you have limited spend through an amex card, the only way of getting any real redemptions is to time your applications and nab the sign up bonuses when eligible. The £195 is refundable pro rata so would get the vast majority back.

  9. Waddle says:

    OT: Got a offer on my Plat yesterday – £100 back on £400 spend at Microsoft. Might be worth a look.

    • Freddy says:

      I had a look and the surface go looks good if you add the keyboard – not a bad price with the £100 off

    • I am interested to, especially to find out if you can buy gift vouchers…have the offer on a couple of cards so was thinking of using the gift voucher to purchase a phone. Anyone any experience of buying gift cards frm Microsoft store – would they trigger the amex and can they used for hardware purchase?

      • Can’t promise it works for this one, but the last time Amex ran this promotion online gift cards did trigger the bonus. Had some problems with security issues on the Microsoft account and buying £400, but once this was cleared it worked.

  10. Shoestring says:

    Upgrade to plat from Gold charge card re-appeared on my online Amex offers – it was there then disappeared with the 2 year changes so I thought aha! – but now it’s back – and I got emailed the upgrade offer a few weeks ago as well

    • I did it this week from Green.
      The process has changed: no longer a full application form; you log in to the current card and answer a couple of questions.

  11. Wally1976 says:

    Slightly OT – wanted to get my wife to refer me from her Amex Plat card this morning but can’t see where to get the referral link!? I’ve done this loads of times before but can’t see the link this morning for some reason!

    • Wally1976 says:

      Managed to get to it through the Help center but a bit strange it wasn’t more obvious.

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