Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Review: the American Express Rewards credit card

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

This is our review of the American Express Rewards credit card (‘ARCC’).

It is part of our series of articles looking at the major UK loyalty credit cards and discussing whether or not they are worth applying for. These articles are linked to the relevant sections of the ‘Credit Card Offers‘ area in the menu bar. Our other UK airline and hotel credit card reviews can be found here.

This article was updated on 2nd November 2020, and all of the information is correct as of that date. Ignore the original publication date shown.

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

Key linkAmerican Express Rewards credit card application page

Key facts: No annual fee

Interest rate: Representative APR 22.2% variable

About the Amex Rewards credit card

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

The card is free and you earn Membership Rewards points on your spending.

This is an excellent card for anyone who currently has an Amex Gold or The 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 Amex Rewards sign-up bonus?

American Express Rewards offers a sign-up bonus of 5,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend £2,000 within three months.

Membership Rewards points can be converted 1 to 1 into Avios.  Click here for our article on what other reward programmes are Membership Rewards transfer partners. This means that you can receive 5,000 Avios points for free by applying, spending enough to trigger the sign-up bonus and then transferring the points to British Airways.

What are the rules for qualifying for the sign-up bonus?

The bonus is only available to customers who have not held a personal American Express card in the previous 24 months.  Cards issued by MBNA or Lloyds Bank do not count.

You WILL receive the sign-up bonus if you have a Corporate or Business American Express card via your job and you receive Membership Rewards points from it.  Amex is only looking at any personal cards you own or have recently owned.

You will definitely receive the bonus if you are only a supplementary cardholder on someone else’s American Express card. As far as Amex is concerned, that card belongs to the primarily cardholder and does not make you an ‘existing cardholder’.

If you do not qualify for the bonus, you can still apply for the card.

Any other benefits?


What is the Amex Rewards annual fee?

There is no fee for 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 what American Express Membership Rewards points are worth.

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 Honors and Marriott Bonvoy.

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

Is Amex Rewards 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 cards 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.

Another option is to open an account with online bank Starling. It comes with a debit card which charges no fees on FX cash withdrawals up to £300 per day and no fees at all on overseas transactions. You can fund Starling by moving money to and from your existing bank account via their app. Our review of Starling Bank is here and you can apply here.

Other points to note

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


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:

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

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 on a free card, 1 point per £1 is a good return – although Amex Gold beats it due to double points on foreign and airline spend, and the 10,000 points annual bonus for spending £15,000.

The best reason for getting the Amex Rewards credit card is to protect your Membership Rewards points if you are planning to cancel an Amex Gold or Amex Platinum card.

The application form for the American Express Rewards credit card can be found 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.

Comments (8)

  • M Corrêa says:

    Not totally true that there are no benefits. You have some purchase and travel insurance.

  • Mike says:

    I’m a current Amex Gold holder, planning to cancel before my year is up. Does anyone know if applying for this card will mean a new credit check? Trying to avoid too many in a short period.

    • The Original David says:

      I think every new Amex involves a credit check, but what are you worried about? I had no problems getting a mortgage after opening about 25 credit cards over the previous 3 years…

    • Anna says:

      I applied for a First Direct cc a few months ago to take advantage of a good balance transfer offer. The CSA going through the application asked me why I had opened and closed so many Amexes; I told her they were all for sign up bonuses and she laughed and approved my application.

  • Grimz says:

    How much free supplementary cards can you have?

  • Andrew says:

    My gold card first year is coming to an end soon and I just wanted to understand how this would affect applying for a platinum card in the future. Even though I have this would I be eligble to get a sign up bonus in two years time?