Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Amex Gold doubles its sign-up bonus to 20,000 points (= 20,000 Avios) and is still free for a year

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UPDATE – JUNE 2021:  This article is now out of date, but don’t worry.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.

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.

Amex Gold

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.

Amex Gold 350

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

Conclusion

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.

You can apply for American Express Preferred Rewards Gold here.

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 (190)

  • Andy says:

    Rob – can I thank you and the team for carrying on 🙂

    Who knows what’s going to happen longer term. Lots of doom mongers here (see above) and on flyertalk, and the reality is things will change but we don’t know how.

    I for one still like to start my day with romantic dreams of travel….

    • Spursdebs says:

      I started my day with “ good news about your lottery ticket” … I savoured that and dreamt about 57 million for a couple of hours then reality kicked in £2.90 🤣

      • AJA says:

        Well someone in the UK won it! And it wasn’t me. I actually forgot to buy a ticket yesterday.

    • Novice says:

      I’m confused.

      I thought it was already 20k MR points. I’m sure of it.

      But I have not had the card for ages since I churn the gold business now.

      • Novice says:

        Or did the decrease the bonus when they changed the t&c so we couldn’t churn every 6 months?

        Well they aren’t doing anything special then. You can get same if you have small business or some family member has and you can reapply after cancelling and waiting 6 months.

      • jc says:

        Yes, it was reduced to 10,000 at that point last year

      • Rob says:

        Was cut to 10k last March.

  • Tom says:

    There seems to be a lack of advice from this site on helping people cancel their trips, claiming against their insurance etc.

    Seems that many insurers are refusing claims.

    People are asking for advice in the comments, but these are being ignored.

    Would be nice, given how much money this site makes, to have a topic offering guidance and assistance to people.

    Not just on insurance, but about what to do if the airline is still flying the route.

    This is especially important given the new FCO advice.

    Please!

    • Spursdebs says:

      There’s been nothing but advice that’s unfair Tom. If Rob and team haven’t done an article loads of people have tried to help in the comments, only you know what travel insurance you have bought and what the t&c are. Assuming you bothered to read them in first place.

      • Qwertyknowsbest says:

        +1

      • Polly says:

        Well said! People are actually adults on here, and just cannot expect to be spoon fed every bit of advice. Thank goodness for HFP frequent updates, a mine of info. But each traveller ultimately is responsible for seeking their own recourse either through their airline or OTA.

        What about those poor sods who don’t have access to an informative blog like Robs. They really have no idea where to turn. At least here, everyone pitches in with updates and as current advice as is possible at that particular moment.

        • Tom says:

          Not everyone can read all the replies.

          Very selfish attitude by some people.

          Very much ‘I’m all right, Jack’

          We all need to help each other.

    • jc says:

      1) How much money have you decided this site makes 😆

      2) In my opinion that topic has been done no-end this past week. Not sure what more you’d want. Detailed articles about the major airlines’ new flexible change policies, with links to the full terms. Article yesterday about FCO change. To summarize:

      – If airline cancels you’re entitled to your choice of reroute or refund. Some insurance would then pay for your hotel etc, or vice versa, many won’t. Check terms
      – If your airline is still flying and you DECIDE not to go without FCO advisory in place, many airlines allowing date change or voucher refund, depending on when booked. Check the airline website. If they aren’t, tough, no rights
      – For trips WHEN FCO ADVISING no travel, check insurance. It may offer cancellation cover in this instance. If they reject and you feel it’s unfair, complain then escalate to ombudsman/court
      – Use credit cards so if provider goes bust you have a like claim against card co who are less likely to go bust

      Also read the advice on moneysavingexpert, which will always have more detail about insurance than a points site…

    • Anna says:

      What utter garbage! If people bothered reading the comments (or even the articles in some cases) they would see that their questions have probably been answered many times over. Some of us have spent hours replying to people individually to try & give the benefit of our experience. As someone said, no-one can advise you on your own travel insurance policy, try reading the bloody thing!

      • Jill (Kinkell) says:

        Well said

        • Bagoly says:

          +1
          BBC Live has a firehose of descriptions with lots of duplication.
          FlyerTalk has forums.
          HfP has been a model of sufficient precision and outline solutions to be able to decide “Does this apply to me?” from which one can then look to comments here, airline website, FT etc for detailed solutions.

    • Rob says:

      We don’t know anything about insurance and, legally, are not licensed to advise on it. All you need to know about insurance is that good policies will pay out irrespective of what is in the document and bad policies will do all they can not to pay out despite what is in the policy document.

      • Terry says:

        Given that viewpoint it’s probably not a good idea for a HfP insurance article. It’s almost like you think there’s no regulation 🤦

        • Polly says:

          Actually, from experience, there is a very close relationship between the ombudsman and the financial institutions who fund it. Ie insurance companies. The number of times, people have to really push them for a better outcome is rising rapidly. You don’t even get to an actually ombudsman til very late in a dispute. Imagine being told your driveway was not actually part of your property! That’s what we had to contend with..nightmare. Us v the big guns. We lost..

          • Lady London says:

            Ombudsman decisions often perverse. And as you say @Polly, the relationship of the Ombudsman to their relevant industry is often observed to be far, far too close.

      • Bagoly says:

        If I read “insurance companies” rather than “policies” that seems more expected.
        Or does a given underwriter vary in how reasonable they are between different policies?

        • Lady London says:

          The underwriter is who determines if you get paid out not usually the brand that sold you the policy. This is useful when the variant of ts and C’s you’ve got on your policy could be subject to interpretation. Amex seems to provide significantly better coverage and pays out, anecdotally, over and above this. IMO you will only find this otherwise at the very top end of insuranice policies.

      • GeorgeJ says:

        Spot on Rob!
        I have friends who are having difficulty with a flight and holiday to New Zealand where the insurer and (non UK) airline claim they could still travel despite needing to quarantine on arrival. Clearly in the do all they can to avoid grouping.
        By contrast I had a flight due out today using a Lioyds voucher and FCO advice meant we had no real choice but to cancel under 24hrs to go. Got through to Avios who gave a full refund and extended voucher for six months. Frankly, more than I expected since my insurance would have covered it based on past experience with them.
        Always read the T&Cs before you buy and think about what could go wrong.

    • Aston100 says:

      I think it would be useful to have such an article.
      Reading through other forums and social media sites it does look like there are unexpected challenges with airlines and travel insurance not providing the anticipated outcome.

      • Aston100 says:

        Sorry that article is poor.
        The conclusion seems to be that you shouldn’t bother to chase a full refund for services not provided.

    • Mikeact says:

      @Tom ‘Given how much money this site makes’ ?
      This is not the Daily Mail.

    • Aston100 says:

      Part of the problem is the lack of proper forums and associated search facilities.
      This means that any helpful/useful/appropriate comments can easily get lost across 3 or more daily articles.

      • Peter K says:

        True, but that’s where the search function for a key word in a browser comes in.

    • Lady London says:

      With respect, there is more help given freely and voluntarily here than in any other travel website.
      Including to newbies who have never posted before – on most sites these get ignored.

      With further respect it does seem 90% of requestors would make better use of everyone’s time including their own if they would ensure to read the terms and conditions on the travel they purchased, and read the terms and conditions of their travel insurance as well, then post any remaining questions or possible conclusions they have reached, before posting.

      You will also have noticed that quite a few questions have been posted when that same question has been answered only a few posts above and quite likely many times previous.

      I think Robs quite generous letting CV panic and fear run over everywhere on this site. He doesn’t make money on that but has allowed his platform to be dominated by this right now. Haven’t seen much of you but I do recall you getting comments back yesterday Tom. How many readers here are using their hard -developed expertise to help others? Quite a lot.

  • Mike says:

    Putting a wash on……better make it the quick cycle

  • Mike says:

    All this virus stuff……to be honest I would rather be talking about BREXIT again

    • Spursdebs says:

      I can’t wait for whinge and ginge stories. Her daft comment “ you’ve got thrive not just survive “ seems even more trite now than when the narcissist was standing in a dirt poor South African Village.

      • Anna says:

        She’s got her staff wearing latex gloves and standing 3 metres from her or something similar! Don’t get me started – I am still frothing that the whole security bill thing is seemingly being swept under the carpet. Those officers should be protecting the people of England and Wales from domestic threats, especially at the moment. (Scotland and NI have separate police services, before anyone jumps in!)

    • Qwertyknowsbest says:

      Day 2: or is it 22, time has no meaning anymore. Should I rearrange the book shelf again, or the sock drawer. Maybe stripes first then spots, or blue before brown, what are socks for anyway. TV on all the time, someone thought that they recognised something on the screen, but no, what is the sea anyway.

      • Shoestring says:

        you’re not going to catch anything or spread anything by going for a nice long walk on your own

        planning on a 12 miler today, my eldest son goes stir crazy if he’s cooped up – I think people in lockdown countries are generally allowed to walk the dog

        my wife’s French designer said he loaded the car with supplies and family to decamp from Paris to his place in Brittany a day ago and you can imagine once you’re out of the big city, the lockdown rules don’t matter so much/ not such a worry because you are automatically a bit isolated, though he said he was going to do no more than let the kids run around the garden for the next couple of weeks

        we’re up to 40 confirmed cases in Cornwall (vs only 4 in Plymouth where my kids go to school) – but you’d imagine that’s partly a factor of the big older demographic/ retired population actually getting the tests done

        • Anna says:

          That’s what I’m planning as and when the school closes. Lots of gorgeous countryside near me where you’re only really going to encounter sheep and cows. Try and get the teenager out for some fresh air and exercise!

          • Jill(Kinkell) says:

            I’m surrounded by sheep and cows. Nearest neighbour 200 m away. I’ve been self isolating for years!

        • Spursdebs says:

          I miss long walks hell I miss short walks, I even have to pay someone to walk dog these days. But on plus side I can look across my garden fence to all the fields and remember the good old days lol

          • Colin MacKinnon says:

            In Granada, Spain, my godson’s father takes the dog for a walk – then gives it to his neighbour so he can go for a walk too.

            Walks good for dogs, but not for people – unless they have a dog!

            Dog never been healthier!

          • Lyn says:

            What a lovely story, Colin. Good for your godson’s father.

      • Peter K says:

        If you are self isolating for 7 / 14 days because you think you have the virus you current government/Public Health England (&Wales) is to not to go for walks.

        If you are in lockdown because you do not have it but you’re in an at-risk category then walks are okay “for exercise” but to avoid social contact with others.

        I sympathise with you though @quertyknowsbest, I’m in day 6 of self isolation due to symptoms and it is boring. It does get better after a few days though.

        • Shoestring says:

          but just decide on the logic of staying cooped up indoors vs getting a healthy walk in

          sure, if I were in self isolation because I’d been exposed to CV I wouldn’t actually talk to anybody or get closer than a couple of metres away from them or touch anything public

          I certainly wouldn’t lock myself away because of official advice which is bunkum

          eg I just got back from my 12 miler – I deliberately didn’t get close to anybody though of course you exchange words in passing – so tell me how if I were infected I could have spread it to somebody else? impossible, it doesn’t go out of my breath and stick around in the air waiting to be breathed in by somebody else

    • Alex M says:

      Careful with your wishes- soon you’ll be talking about brexit and virus.

  • Henry says:

    OT got through to flying club this morning.
    6am phone call was in hold for 45 mins but managed to speak to a very helpful lady.

    • Spursdebs says:

      That’s it’s Henry a positive comment. Did you get a good outcome under the circumstances ?

    • Polly says:

      Tnx Henry. Maybe the info you got could help others on here. Flight change? Cancel, voucher etc etc? Good to know someone is answering a phone out there….

  • Anna says:

    It’s got to be 60 degrees or above lol Debs! We braved Tesco yesterday, no pasta, beans or tinned tomatoes but everyone was extremely civilised and courteous, nothing like what’s been reported in the big cities. We got some of our crisps confiscated at checkout – only here would they be classed as essential 😂. Though the cashier had a nice stash of beans, cereal etc she had clearly taken from customers, I don’t know whether that’s official Tesco policy!!

    • Spursdebs says:

      My Son works for Tesco I’ll ask him lol
      All 24 hr Tesco are shutting at 10pm so the poor sods can restock the shelves without being abused.
      Anna being a carer for someone with Dementia I do a lot of washing at 60c I won’t go in to details 😱
      My Mum just asked me for Chipolatas what’s the one thing I’ve not got in freezer lol
      It seemed quite civilised up our little high street in North Bucks yesterday everyone was quite cheerful just trying to make best of situation. My friend who lives in Barnet North London tells a different story fights in Aldi the normal stabbings etc etc

      • Anna says:

        It’s madness – my sister in law has a medical condition and specifically needs paracetamol but says there is none to be had where she is in Manchester. I’m going to try and go down there at the weekend and take her some if they still can’t get any.

      • Spursdebs says:

        I have morphine😱 my friend who works for NHS doing something with prescriptions and drugs said not to worry there is loads stockpiled in warehouses somewhere.

  • Liz says:

    The only problem with this offer is there is nothing to spend your money on at the moment. I now have to re-spend the £2000 from our cancelled flight and hotels to earn the next 241 voucher on our BAPP – who knows if we will be able to use it going forward but don’t want to give up on it at this stage. Council tax bill just arrived so there is that….

    • Shoestring says:

      you can overpay council tax then either leave it there on account or ask for a repayment (by cheque, down our way)

    • Polly says:

      Liz, get that credit refunded fast to bank account, and keep on earning for future trips, if we ever get to that stage again!

      • Liz says:

        If you move the money to the bank does that remove the negative points too? I assume you still have to re-spend the £2000 as the target bar has gone backwards. I haven’t received the £1200 taxes/fees yet but got some of my hotel bookings back.

    • Anna says:

      Council tax, online shopping which is still operating. Use some of the extra time to look where you can move payments to Amex (e.g. car payments). B & Q vouchers for those home improvements. Amazon credit. Start early for next Xmas!

      • Secret Squirrel says:

        Anyone see their IHG Spire target reduce down yet?
        Please No -“oh what’s the point, your not going to be able to use” them B.S. please.

        • The Original David says:

          Nope, still on 75 nights for me.

        • Lady London says:

          They may operate then new lower limit but not actually display in their systems.

      • Harry T says:

        @Anna and co
        Regarding paying council tax at coop, do you normally pay the whole whack in one go or do it in chunks? I have £1500 to pay. I want to use it to hit a platinum upgrade bonus and maybe a surprise Bonvoy bonus.

        • Genghis says:

          Assuming you’ve a target to hit and you really want to pay cash out, I’d suggest you pay it over a few days, especially given a new card. I’ve done £600 a time before. They may say that max is £200 or whatever but these can be racked up and then one payment of £600 or so can then be made.

        • Anna says:

          My council accepts PayPal (so far) so it’s very easy for me. Amount depends, this year I was going to pay in full to help trigger a 2 4 1 sooner but it looks like we are going to be awash with the damn things once we get our refunds from BA so I may just move the spending to my Gold Amex and hold off on the voucher for a bit. If they still exist by the end of the year of course!

        • Polly says:

          Harry, glad you got back.
          Re the co op, they usually have limits of sometimes 200 or so at a time. Mine is 99 for BT and Affinity. Ask BJ, he does this regularly at his near by Co op, so has to make several trips to pay it off. Sadly my council won’t issue PP card, so we use curve instead.

          • Harry T says:

            @Polly thanks! I’d rather be in Australia but it would have gotten expensive if we had been marooned there!

          • Anna says:

            My in-laws have been touring the outback with only a patchy phone signal. We’ve been seeing them messages telling them to come home while there are still flights, they have finally agreed to make their way to Perth and try and bring their return flight (QR but only transiting through Doha) forward.

          • Shoestring says:

            @Polly yep but as G said, you can beat any PayPoint limit by asking the cashier to do £200 + £200 +£200 (ie they input £200 and scan the payment barcode 3x) – then you pay £600 in one go

      • Genghis says:

        I’d suggest caution and to tighten your belts.

        • Anna says:

          Agreed, but the things I suggested are what people would be doing anyway, plus vouchers and credit are similar to money.

          • Genghis says:

            Vouchers and credit are not similar to money given counterparty risk

          • Polly says:

            Ok, let’s agree on supermarkets and amazon gift cards the, just to play it safe for now. And not £1000s just a few £100s worth…we have JL, Amazon, Morrisons of course…a few WH Smith’s which we will use up for our lottery tkts. Gotta keep playing that one!

          • Doug M says:

            Agree with Genghis, they’re absolutely not.

          • Doug M says:

            @Polly. JLP is sinking in debt. Amazon if different, but eventually Euro govs will hinder the tax angle they play. Know nothing of Morrisions, but WH Smith is not a business I’d be placing a lot of trust in. A few vouchers may not impact you, but I don’t accept they’re the same as cash.

        • Harry T says:

          @Ghenghis agree strongly regarding caution.

        • Secret Squirrel says:

          Really good advise as usual Genghis. Cautionary spending at present with all the bad news flying around like people losing their jobs etc.

  • Anna says:

    OT but Amex. Once you get the 15 Bonvoy nights from the SPG, do you keep them even if you cancel the card? Now we’ve cancelled our 2 Easter Marriott stays there’s nothing we’d really use the card for for the rest of the year.

    • Grant says:

      In my experience, yes. So far…

      • Rob says:

        Never heard any US card reports of nights being removed.

        • Anna says:

          I didn’t get my gold status revoked when I cancelled my Platinum Amex so I’m hoping that the account is now fixed until the end of the status year.

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