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

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)

  • Rob says:

    O/T

    Have an expensive hotel booked for July in Greece. Very worried the way things are going.

    I booked a non refundable rate through Hotels.com

    What are my options if flights are cancelled or the county goes in to lockdown?

    Or if the hotel goes bankrupt.. which is definitely possible.

    FWIW I paid for it on an American Express so have no cover from them.

    • Rob says:

      If the hotel closes you will get a refund. If it’s open then, technically, you have to show up. Even in Greece won’t let you in, it isn’t arguably the fault of the hotel.

      • The Original David says:

        After the US shutdown last week, Hotels.com emailed me to say that they’d make sure anyone unable to travel to the US would get a refund. Perhaps they might do the same if Greece is sealed off in July…? (Or perhaps not)

    • jc says:

      If it’s open and you can’t get there – travel insurance (or nothing, depending on policy)

      If it’s closed or bankrupt – you’d pursue refund from Hotels.com / card provider / insurance as last resort

    • Nick_C says:

      Hotels.com are allowing free cancellation of many non refundable bookings.

      “Due to COVID-19, we are waiving change fees for many hotels based on where you are traveling to or from. For international bookings in the following countries (and domestic bookings, where noted), you are eligible for a full refund. Please click the blue Contact Us button above to speak to an agent….. ”

      https://service.hotels.com/en-gb/?intlid=SIGNIN+%3A%3A+header_help_section#/myTrips/25634

      • jc says:

        Greece isn’t on the eligible list. (Though yes OP could keep an eye on the list for changes)

  • AndyK says:

    OT but Amex. Can one still get 20K for Green to Plat upgrade?

  • N Murray says:

    I currently hold the BA Amex Premium Plus only, not other amex in the last 2 year. Am I still eligible for this sign up bonus?

    • Rhys says:

      Yes – MR and Avios earning cards are counted separately

      • Genghis says:

        Erm, no they’re not. It depends on the card now.
        If you currently hold BAPP you’re NOT eligible for a sign up on the Gold personal.

  • Harry T says:

    OT:
    I have a holiday to Munich booked for the Easter weekend. Given the FCO advice to stop non-essential travel until mid-April at least, I’ve accepted this isn’t happening. However, Lufthansa have not cancelled are flights to and from Newcastle, and are only offering people the opportunity to cancel and rebook – as I have no idea if they will be solvent by the end of the year and would prefer flexibility, I think I will need to claim the money from travel insurance. Likewise, our hotel is a Sofitel and Accor have been fairly draconian and are not offering refunds either.

    I have travel insurance from Amex Platinum and LV Premier. Both policies should cover cancellation of a trip due to FCO advice. Can anyone help me decide which policy might be best to claim on? I’ve never had to claim with either.

  • Clive says:

    Looks like refer a friend has increased to 9000 points at least thats what the banner is telling me.

    • Rob says:

      Yes it has. Not clear if the 90k referral limit has reset or not – in the past, during promos like this, the 90k limit was reset during the promo period.

      • Cal says:

        Rob, do you think this a indication that Amex cut back too much? In terms of the amount of points awarded for the welcome bonus and referrals?

        • Rob says:

          Amex is probably more profitable after the changes but US management may be nervous about the sharp drop in applications ….

      • Peter K says:

        I wonder if the loss of business by people cancelling cards and waiting 2yrs, plus all the refunds for holidays, is starting to come back and bite Amex UK on the bum!

    • TGLoyalty says:

      No increase on plat yet.

    • Anna says:

      But there’s some sort of glitch and referral link not working currently!

  • Stu N says:

    OT – refunds for cancelled BA Holiday came through today. I cancelled trip over the phone 15/3 and refunds hit cards today so impressively quick.

  • Ryan Gill says:

    Hi. I booked a family holiday through Emirates Holidays on the 5th February choosing to pay only the deposit. The balance of over £4000 is due tomorrow. I think I should pay this as we are not due to fly until the 28th May and if it is cancelled or the company went bankrupt, I would be reimbursed as per my ATOL agreement. Any ideas?

  • Shoestring says:

    O/T breaking on Bloomberg – UK expected to close schools soon

    yep we all expect that, just waiting for the date

    sounds like it might be announced today, with effect from??? Thursday/ Friday/ Monday?

    • James H says:

      But it’s just a pussyvirus…

      • TGLoyalty says:

        I think you have COVID19 confused with something else

      • Lady London says:

        Anyone know why Germany’s rate of losing people is only 0.2%. Some speculation that Germany has a proper widespread testing plan and that this figure might be the true rate in the general population if enough apparently healthy population members are tested too.

        • Nick_C says:

          I suspect they are a couple of weeks behind us in the rate of infection.

          Different travel patterns? Germans less likely than Brits to visit the Far East? Or ski in Italy instead of Bavaria?

          But then again, why is Spain so far ahead of the UK in infection rates? (While Portugal is a long way behind).

          • Shoestring says:

            Germany – far better ICU care

            look at the stats for Sweden and Norway – plenty of cases (maybe better testing, true) but very few deaths

        • Nick_C says:

          Infection rates are pretty meaningless given the wide disparity in testing in different countries. I think the mortality rate is the only one worth looking at.

          • Shoestring says:

            but mortality rate depends on tested numbers and testing strategy (look at USA where nobody much has been tested given the population)

            otherwise you are just calculating mortality based on who’s admitted to hospital with something serious

          • Nick_C says:

            People in hospital with Covid19 symptoms are being tested. So I think the death rate per capita is the best indication of prevalence. The age demographics will skew this a little.

          • Shoestring says:

            different countries are at different stages of the epidemic

            so death rate per capita is not reliable as an indication

            particularly if certain regions eg Hubei are hotspots but the rest of the country is ‘fine’

            eg look at Italy – death rate per capita in North Italy or Lombardy will be horrendous, but death rate in Italy as a whole a lot less

            much better to test, test, test and work out a real % of who is being infected and who is dying (dying % something under 0.1% of the general population and then nearly always weaker 70+ people or people with underlying health conditions)

          • Mr(s) Entitled says:

            But if 1000 people have it and only 100 go to hospital to get tested from which 10 die, the mortality rate is 10%. In actual fact, it is 0.1%.

            The mortality rate will be much lower than official data suggest. But then my extension, the rate of infection will be much higher.

          • Shoestring says:

            @Entitled – exactly

            unless you know the top number, you can’t extract the bottom number so any ‘mortality rate’ is just meaningless/ a guess

          • Cat says:

            Erm, if 10 die out of 1000, the actual rate is 1%.

          • Cat says:

            Also, Germany’s 29.2 ICU beds per 100,000 can’t hurt (compared to our 6.6, Spain’s 9.7 and Italy’s 12.5).

      • ChrisBCN says:

        He still doesn’t know what he is talking about

    • Anna says:

      Closed from Friday, as I think you predicted!

      • Shoestring says:

        anybody could predict that 🙂

        actually my son’s school closed down tonight with a short message – it’s staffing issues and ensuring a safe environment for the students

        pregnant female teachers and worried others self-isolating

        • Shoestring says:

          @Anna – no GCSEs or A levels this year

          they’ll give out the grades according to some yet to be decided method

        • Optimus Prime says:

          Should we take bets on how long till they order a full lockdown because kids and their families are hanging out in parks?

          • Nick_C says:

            Yep. You can’t isolate kids. The little darlings will be going to Asda with their parents at 7 am. Single shopper, 3 packs of pasta. Mum, dad (if there is one) and three kids, 12 or 15 packs. To be sold on eBay at ten times the price. Then the kids will be in each houses with the same spread rate as if they went to school.

          • Blue Mountains says:

            That’s what is currently happening currently in Greece. People flood the parks, squares, the promenades by the sea and the odd ex-royal palace (Tatoi)! And the police has to tell them off but apparently some of them get angry because they want to get some fresh air… They are already predicting Greece will have to take more draconian measures/laws.

        • Cat says:

          Pregnant teachers, asthmatic teachers, diabetic teachers, teachers over the age of 65, teachers with caring responsibilities for elderly relatives, teachers with heart conditions, hypertension, teachers who have partners or parents that they live with who have any of the above, teachers who are self isolating so as not to infect your children…

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