UPDATE – MAY 2021: This article is now out of date, but don’t worry. We produce a monthly directory of the top UK travel credit card offers – please click HERE or use the ‘Credit Card Offers’ menu above. Thank you.
BEFORE WE GO ON …. Do you have a small business? Until 20th May 2021, you can receive a sign-up bonus worth 29,900 Avios with the Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa credit card. This offer is exclusive to Head for Points readers. Click here to learn more.
American Express has doubled the sign up bonus on the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold credit card.
(Rob’s note: Whilst it is unlikely that you are travelling anywhere in the next few weeks, we are carrying on and covering new deals as usual. Hopefully you can keep building your points on the ground to travel when things open up again.)
Until 29th June 2020, the sign-up bonus on Amex Gold is doubled to 20,000 points. You need to spend £3,000 in 90 days to receive it.
You can apply for the card here.
20,000 American Express Membership Rewards points would convert into:
- 20,000 Avios
- 20,000 Virgin Flying Club miles
- 40,000 Hilton Honors points
- 60,000 Radisson Rewards points
- 30,000 Marriott Bonvoy points
- 1,666 Club Eurostar points
…… amongst other things.
Let’s get the boring legal bits out of the way first. The card has a representative APR 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.
There is no minimum income requirement to apply.
Do you qualify for the Amex Gold sign-up bonus?
Before we go on, let’s look at whether you actually qualify for the 20,000 Membership Rewards points bonus.
Since American Express changed its rules last year, a lot of HFP readers will NOT qualify. However, think outside the box – could your partner apply? Perhaps your adult children? Your parents? If any of these people are in your British Airways Executive Club household account, you would still benefit if they transferred the sign-up bonus to Avios in the household account.
Remember that the cardholder could issue you with a free supplementary card on the account, so you could do the necessary spending to trigger the bonus.
Who does qualify?
If you have never held a personal American Express card before, you will definitely get the bonus. You can skip the rest of this section.
Here is the offical wording from the Amex website:
“This new Cardmember offer is only available if you have not held a personal American Express Card within the previous 24 months. If you have held a personal American Express Card within the previous 24 months, you will be entitled to all other Card benefits, excluding the welcome offer.”
You WILL receive the 20,000 bonus points if you 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, even if you receive Membership Rewards points from it.
You WILL receive the bonus if you are only a supplementary cardholder on someone else’s American Express card. As far as Amex is concerned, the 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. You still receive the other card benefits, including the two free airport lounge passes and ‘no fee in the first year’.
With that out of the way, let’s look at why we like the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold credit card.
The Amex Gold 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 offer pro-rata fee refunds.
The Amex Gold 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 £3,000 within three months.
20,000 points is a special offer which runs until 29th June 2020. The standard bonus is just 10,000 Membership Rewards points.
20,000 points is a good deal because ….
The Amex Gold 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, 2:3 into Marrriott Bonvoy).
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 £20 per person per visit. You receive 2 additional free passes each year if you renew your Amex Gold membership.
Get 10,000 bonus 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 of American Express Preferred Rewards Gold 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 flight bookings when booked directly with airlines – this could be very valuable if you spend a lot on flight tickets
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
The American Express Preferred Rewards Gold credit card is a low cost (zero cost, actually, in Year 1) and high reward way to begin a relationship with Amex.
If you were thinking about applying, it makes sense to do so now whilst the sign-up bonus is doubled to 20,000 Membership Rewards points.
You will still need a good Visa or Mastercard for places where Amex isn’t accepted of course. Here are my suggestions for the best miles and points Visa and Mastercard cards.
Over time your card needs may change. Many people move on to the British Airways Premium Plus American Express because of the hugely valuable 2-4-1 voucher – but Amex Gold is a good way to get started. You still qualify for the BA Premium Plus sign-up bonus stars a later date.
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 such as Amazon vouchers.
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.