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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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


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:

    I’m about to complete my first free year on this card, if I was to now cancel it what’s the next best option for as far as Amex cards g?

    • Rob says:

      The only bonus you can get is BA Premium Plus or the small business cards.

      If you want to keep your MR points without being forced to convert (probably sensible) get an Amex Rewards Credit Card which is free for life and earns MR points.

    • Shoestring says:

      I should refer the wife/ girlfriend (6000 MR points pays the £60 fee in year 1) to Green and use it yourself as that’s a really good card for Amex offers, I reckon the Morrisons 10% (really 20% with the triple whammy Virgin miles + More points) has saved me £700 in the past few weeks – I ended up getting £3500 of M giftcards & Amazon credit

      nothing like 92p/ litre diesel, the good old days are back 🙂

      • The Original David says:

        Does your wife mind that you refer your girlfriend for Amex cards? 🙂

      • TGLoyalty says:

        all that diesel and no where to go …

        • Shoestring says:

          it’s only a mild (but deadly to 70+ with underlying conditions) epidemic

          nothing like as bad as – which is a great read by the way 🙂

  • Nigel says:

    Any idea about the AMEX companion voucher ? We’ve booked to use it in June and the 2 year expiry is in Aug this year. Clearly if we don’t travel in June (which will be likely due to the pandemic) we will probably end up not using it. Anyone with any experience ?

    • Polly says:

      Once you have booked it for use in the current crisis, if the flights are cancelled, BA are currently extending the vouchers, but you must phone in. It’s so not automatic. You are probably a bit too far out yet for any BA decision to be made on your flights.

  • Tom says:

    Agh – I only very recently applied for and was issued with my Amex Gold (my first Amex). This is so frustrating. Do you know if Amex will honour this for cardholders still in their 3 month bonus period?

    • Shoestring says:

      no chance though it’s always worth asking on Chat, costs you nothing to try

  • Cal says:

    Does the maths work out differently now with the 20,000 points when comparing it to the Plat now? I am 2 years without my own Amex so I can apply for either and then get the BA Prem, but not sure if the Plat is worth the extra cost. I already have Hilton Gold through my Barclaycard (at least for this year).

    • Rob says:

      Problem with Plat at the moment is that you are unlikely to be getting any value from the travel insurance, Priority Pass, hotel status etc.

  • Gary says:

    Can anyone clarify Amex Gold bonus qualification if you have held in last 12 months (or still hold) a BA PP card but have never held a Gold/Plat Amex.

    • Grant says:

      I’m not sure which bit of the following is unclear:

      “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.”

  • EwanG says:

    Lots of O/T discussions above about Insurance and whether existing bookings is covered.
    I want to flag something (hence starting a new item) about insurance for new bookings:
    Whilst checking the terms for my insurance (Nationwide FlexPlus bundled insurance) there is a term which makes me nervous about booking any new flights or accommodation:
    End Supplier Failure Cover:
    You are not covered for:
    2. Any end supplier which is, or which any prospect of financial failure is known by the insured person or widely known publicly at the date of
    the insured person’s application under this policy.

    If we are to believe that most airlines will be bankrupt by May, why would anyone take a risk booking a flight with them if their insurance won’t pay out at the (high) prospect of failure and no guarantee of bailout (or terms unknown)?

    • Lady London says:

      I believe any foreknowledge would have to be specific to the supplier that later failed rather than generic.

      I personally would play it straight anyway if I had feelings about a particular supplier. Life’s too short to suffer failures with anyone and chase money back. I’ve just recovered a bad debt that was overdue for 10 months – it was a significant sum to me so I had to spend the time – and I can tell you life’s too short to have stress for this kind of thing if you can choose elsewhere to buy from/sell to.

    • The Original David says:

      Because you’ll still have s75 credit card protection, so won’t need your travel insurance anyway?

      • jc says:

        For the item itself yes – insurance would be needed for the other losses of cancelling a trip (e.g. the hotel if the airline goes bust) assuming your policy covers that.

        • The Original David says:

          You’d have be either very brave or stupid to book a non-flexible hotel right now for anything more than about 4 days in advance. I can’t see any other costs that would be lost at this point, so as long as I was comfortable with my s75 protection, I’d happily book a flight with Norwegian for October…

    • jc says:

      It is not in the general public’s belief that most airlines will be bankrupt by May.

  • Leigh says:

    OT: just received an email from Thai airline advising that two legs of my LHR-BKK-Mel trip (June) have been rescheduled (with flight number changes). My questions are 1) Do I have right to ask for cancellation and refund and 2) Should I contact Travelup (agent) or Thai airline to discuss the issue. Thanks

    • Lady London says:

      Does the part of the journey (outward or return that is affected depart from Europe? If so you have EU261 rights behind you. They may not prove easy to enforce but you are in s better position technically if so.

      I think you have to work out what you would prefer, then call them and ask what they can do for you on this.

      • Leigh says:

        Thanks Lady London. Both outward (LHR-BKK) and return (BKK-LHR) have been changed. I much prefer cancelling the trip but not sure if I’m entitled to a full refund. Also, can I call Thai airline to request cancellation or do I have to call travel agent?

        • Lady London says:

          Does the outgoing flight definitely depart from Europe. If so then you have right under eu261 to request a full refund. Other rights too but for this one no money extra compensation just full refund.

          Take a look at your terms for your purchase from travel up then call them. Airline will send you back to travel agent to handle it if you call them . You definitely have the right to a refund if airline cancels or significantly reschedules your flight if your first flight on the ticket is out of Europe. I think given comments about your parties involved in the past you will have to persist so you might as well start by calling travelup and request a refund mentioning eu261 if they don’t say they will process it immediately. Even if agreed keep following up to ensure you get the money.

          • Leigh says:

            Many thanks @Lady London. The outgoing flight is from LHR. All I want is full refund. Can’t get through to Travelup at all. Will try again later.

          • Lady London says:

            I believe travelup should not charge a cancellation fee as a “full* refund is due under statute eu261 and statute,by law, overrides contract which is what travelups terms would be classified as.

            Having said that if the fee they might try to charge is reasonably low, after one round of resistance after I remind them that regardless if their terms you are entitled by the EU 261 statute to a refund in *full*, personally provided they agree to reimburse me within, say, 3-7 days (whatever risk I am prepared to take) I think in the current en environment I would agree to this. Put it in writing that payment must be made within X days otherwise you will revert to demanding your statutory right to a refund in full.

            Be prepared to consider s.75 if you bought on UK credit card or chargeback if your money is not returned reasonably promptly. Travelup service? Not sure if I have seen any positive comments.

          • Lady London says:

            Ps keep a record/screenshots of your attempts to reach travelup. Will show evidence for s75/chargeback, if it turns out to be needed, that you couldn’t get what you are entitled to despite making efforts.

        • Aston100 says:

          The airline will almost certainly not want to talk to you and will direct you back to the people you paid for your airline tickets.
          Be aware that Travelup will charge an admin fee when processing a refund. If you can even get through to them that is.

    • Lady London says:

      PS you could also email Thai saying you do not accept their reschedule and in accordance with your rights under EU261 which apply to your ticket, you will not be taking the rescheduled flights and request a full refund for your ticket.

      If you don’t have an email then send it by snail mail recorded or fax if you have to.
      Doubltess Thai will send you back to Travelup but if you can;t get through to Travelup at least you will have recorded the fact with the airline that you do not intend to take these flights. Due to Travelups inability to be reached you do not want to look like you no-showed so send the same communication to both if you cant get through to Travelup.

      Btw I think Travelup has phone numbers in more than one country- see if trying those on Skype (to keep costs down) might get you through. Definitely put it in writing though and keep proof unless you get through quickly and get positive confirmation they are refunding you promptly.

      • Leigh says:

        Thank you so much for the valuable advice! Still no luck getting through to Travelup. Will email both Travelup and Thai airline.

  • Anna says:

    Seems to be an issue with the referral page of the Amex website.

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