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Review: what does the Harrods American Express credit card offer?

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This is our review of the Harrods American Express credit card.

The Harrods American Express card is a little-known product which is not freely available, a little like the new Vitality American Express card launched last year.

Historically, the Harrods American Express card was only meant to be available to Gold and Black members of the Harrods Rewards loyalty scheme.  I have my doubts about this, as you would often see leaflets on the tills in the store, but that is what the Harrods Rewards website says.

Over the last few days, Harrods has been emailing UK members of Harrods Rewards, irrespective of status, with an invitation to apply.  I thought it was worth taking a look at the card in case you received an invite.

The application for the Harrods American Express card is here, although you shouldn’t apply if you haven’t received an email directly and are not a Harrods Rewards member.

Harrods American Express card review

What does the Harrods American Express card offer?

The Harrods American Express card comes in a metallic shade of brown (bronze?) as you can see above.  I’ve never seen one in the flesh so I don’t know how classy the real thing looks.

Here are the headline features:

It is a charge card, not a credit card – you must clear your balance each month

There is an annual fee of £150

The sign-up bonus is paltry 1,000 Harrods Rewards points, worth just £10 – it appears that you receive this irrespective of other American Express cards you hold

This is what you earn when you spend on the card:

One Harrods Rewards point (1p) per £1 spent

Two Harrods Rewards points (2p) per £1 spent in Harrods – for clarity, this is on top of your usual points

I have no idea why the sign-up bonus is so low.  If Harrods and American Express are so keen to extend the cardholder base, I would have expected a substantially more generous bonus – potentially as high as 10,000 points (£100). 

Does the Harrods American Express card have any extra benefits?

The only guaranteed benefit is an ‘annual complimentary Discovery Hammam experience’. 

This takes place in the Moroccan Spa on the fifth floor.  To quote from the Harrods website:

“What is a hammam? The hammam is a traditional bathing ritual that uses heat, steam and stretching massage techniques to cleanse, polish and soften skin.

Involving intense exfoliation with a Kessa glove, the treatments boost mental wellbeing and circulation, as well as providing a host of other benefits. While hammams in Morocco are traditionally public baths, the Moroccan Spa by marocMaroc’s hammam is a semi-private experience where the full-body washing ritual is performed by an expert therapist, in your own marble booth.”

A ‘Discovery Hammam’ experience would usually cost £60, although the Moroccan Spa is currently closed due to coronavirus restrictions.

The other benefits are more nebulous:

“Invitation to By Appointment” (the personal shopping service)

“Early access to, and extra Rewards points during, Sale Previews”

“Invitations to members-only Harrods events”

Are these events any good?  We don’t know.  It is worth mentioning that, about 5 years ago, I was gifted top-tier Harrods Black status for a couple of years.  This usually requires £10,000 of spend in a calendar year.  During that period, we were invited to a fair number of exclusive childrens events, often held in-store on a Sunday morning before the shop opened.  I was also once invited to a dinner in the wine store hosted by Qatar Airways, which is where I met the Qatar Airways UK country manager and where our good relationship with the airline sprung from.

You also need elite status at Harrods now to book Santa’s Grotto for your children.

However …. it is not clear how credit card holders fit into the pecking order for events.  The card was, nominally, only for elite members of Harrods Rewards anyway, so holders would already be receiving these invitations.  If you are only a base level member of Harrods Rewards then you may not get offered much.

Harrods American Express card review

Have Harrods and American Express missed a trick here?

There would have been a very easy way to make the Harrods American Express card more attractive – make the points you earn from spending count towards status.

Alternatively, cardholders could be automatically upgraded to a higher tier.

The current levels are:

  • Green (base tier) – 1 point per £1 spent
  • Green (tier 2, £2000 – £4999 of spending) – 1 point per £1 spent
  • Gold (£5000 – £9999 of spending) – 2 points per £1 spent
  • Black (£10000+ of spending) – 3 points per £1 spent

Having two green tiers is a little odd but that is how it operates.  ‘Tier 2’ is the cut-off for receiving a free postal subscription to Harrods Magazine and getting free tea and coffee in the in-store cafes.

I’m not suggesting that Harrods should give you £1 of ‘spend credit’ towards status per £1 spent on the American Express card.  This would make it too easy to obtain Black status.  They could offer 1 status £1 for every £5 or £10 spent.

It is possible, for example, that having the card is not enough to get you access to the Santa’s Grotto invitation list.  This could be fixed by automatically giving you a certain level of status in Harrods Rewards.

Anything else worth knowing?

According to HFP reader reports, the Harrods American Express can be used in place of a standard Harrods Rewards card.

This means that, in theory, you could ask a cashier to swipe your Harrods American Express in order to credit your base points but then pay with a different card.

This feature is not confirmed anywhere on the card website, however.

Conclusion

The Harrods American Express card is a bit of a missed opportunity, I think.

In terms of day to day rewards, there are free American Express cards which can get you an equivalent 1% return on your spending (British Airways American Express, American Express Platinum Everyday Cashback, American Express Rewards Credit Card) .  You don’t need to spend £150 in annual fees.  The three cards above also have more generous sign-up bonuses.

The additional 1% back at Harrods, giving you a total of 2% cashback, is clearly a decent deal but you would need to be spending large sums in the shop before you came close to covering the annual fee.

Overall, there isn’t much to get excited about with the Harrods American Express card.  The biggest benefit is probably having a novel card to show your friends, for a far lower cost than American Express Platinum or Centurion!


Want to earn more points from credit cards? – January 2021 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are our January 2021 recommendations based on the current sign-up bonus

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here.

British Airways American Express card

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and a companion voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

BA Premium Plus American Express card BAPP

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review

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

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and the most generous non-Amex for day to day spending Read our full review

Earning miles and points from small business cards

If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these:

American Express Business Gold card

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

Earn both Avios and BA On Business points with your business spending Read our full review

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company Read our full review

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 (55)

  • Lumma says:

    For anyone who cares about these things, it does look impressive in the flesh. Definitely looks premium

    • Andrew says:

      Yes that was the only reason I was vaguely tempted – imagine the looks you’d get using in the States!

      • Lumma says:

        I’ve worked in various restaurants for the last 15 years or so and I’ve probably seen fewer than 20 of these cards. Always wondered what the perks were

      • Anna says:

        Lol. An American lady once asked if she could keep the empty tin from the Harrods biscuit collection we’d taken on holiday with us! (We’d been asked to bring something English for a get together and tins of biscuits travel well).

        • DB2020 says:

          LOL I have been asked a few times by Americans in New York and California if I would sell them the Harrods carrier bags they happened to spot me carrying! On a couple of occasions, I just took the contents out and handed the bag over at no cost.

          The little shrieks of joy by the recipients was payment enough.

        • Lady London says:

          They are collectible. Obviously popularity of various designs vary. Some years they do a plonker like BA did with the tailfins. Same as Fortnum’s tins. £1 of biscuits in a tin coating £5-£10 so clearly it’s the tin you’re paying for.

          Tea tins the same. Harrods started to do that with coffee tins but I havent been in there so no idea if those became sought after too.

      • paul says:

        But with chip and pin and contactless it really doesn’t matter. My metal platinum card is primarily used for purchases below £45 and is never seen!! LOL

    • James says:

      It looks hideous in the pic above.

      • Sandra says:

        +1 I would say it looks tacky rather than upmarket in the photo!

        • DB2020 says:

          It looks very premium in real life.

          • TimTam says:

            Having a quick Google for a picture of the card in the wild, it doesn’t look premium. But rather naff and dated.

  • Andrew says:

    Thanks for the HT Rob. I agree it’s a missed opportunity and despite spending a lot of money (and time) at Harrods (I was there just yesterday making the most of Eat Out to Help Out), I’ve never bothered to apply for the card. The card is billed as being quite events focused and the events you describe I think are more aligned to this list – I’ve been a Black member for many years and only been invited to a handful of events, so you might have had a hybrid gifted membership. There is also a secret membership tier a bit like BA Premier which very high net worth individuals are offered. The Harrods Amex *used* to offer the benefit of any time rewards redemption, regardless of your tier, and this used to only be for Black card members, other members used to have to wait for their points to be converted each February for use until May – this is no longer the case and all members have any time point reception. To be honest I don’t know why they don’t just make the card free – I would definitely apply then and like the John Lewis Partnership card, would encourage me to use it in Harrods due to the extra points earned.

    • Andrew says:

      Many years ago, Harrods did have a free store card, it was issued by GE Capital finance (who at the time were big on store cards and also did House of Fraser, Debenhams, Burton etc).

      A key perk was that cardholders got to use the Harrods lavatories for free, when tourists were charged £1. There was also the 10% discount weekends

      Always mindful that Harrods, particularly on the discount weekends, often has far keener prices than elsewhere.

    • Jemima says:

      I had a christmas job at Harrods a couple of decades ago. Short of decorations, I was tasked with going to several Woolworths and buying their stock. I then spent the best part of three days unpacking the boxes of Woolworths decorations and individually wrapping them. The mark up was exactly 1200%.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        I can believe it.

        A fool and their money …

        However, there are certain items where harrods is as competitive as anywhere else.

  • WillPS says:

    I’m surprised Amex are pushing this scheme at all. Not only because it’s a bit rubbish, but because the interchange fee will hurt (although this will be offset considerable by the annual fee).

    Are they confident that they can win this appeal regarding interchange fees?

  • Thomas says:

    Years ago I had this card. Correct, it could be used as loyalty number allowing use of another card to pay. Secondly and more fun was the annual free night at The Ritz in Paris that was given as a treat each year.

  • KBuffett says:

    I’ve been Black Tier for over five years, and I’ve can’t think of any good events that I’ve been invited to (other than the early sales events).

    It would be interesting to hear what the ‘Premier’ tier offers.

    Andrew – which restaurants are open and taking part in the government eat out incentive scheme?

    • Andrew says:

      All the restaurants which are open are taking part – which are all those in the Dining Hall; the Brasserie; the Tea Rooms (which has replaced Ladurée including the outside terrace) and Tiffany & Co cafe. You can only get your free tea and coffee in the Brasserie (on LG) now.

    • Chris Heyes says:

      KBuffett @ Go to Government web-site eat out for less
      Type in your Postcode (or any Postcode) a list comes up with available places to eat for less
      within 5 miles of Postcode
      Just above where you type your Postcode is another list (LINK) where the chains are that are taking part ie Whitbread (Beefeater) owned by ect

      • Andrew says:

        But for Harrods it just lists “Harrods Ltd” on the government website and not which particular establishments inside are taking part (and not all of them have reopened yet).

  • mutley says:

    The two hours free parking is useful, when visiting clients in the West End. Its not strictly enforced, I have stayed up to four and not been charged.

  • George K says:

    I’d be very interested to find out the methodology of opening this card up to non-elite members. Did all UK members get an invite? Or was there a bit more thinking than that….?

    I received an invite with very little information. The Discovery Hammam costs £60 according to their beauty site.

    This card is certainly a shadow of its former self, without the silk box presentation, Paris’s Ritz and Raffles hotel nights offerings etc, but if exclusivity is the only thing going for it, it might swing it for some (but not if everyone and their mom has been invited to apply!)

    • KBuffett says:

      AFAIK the card has been available to anyone who wants to apply for a couple of years now. They just don’t market it much. There have been leaflets in store and adverts in the Harrods Magazine relatively recently.

      I do think the 3% in points is quite generous for Black Tier, and their sales are genuine sales (unlike John Lewis). I’m also a fan of the Dining Hall.

      • George K says:

        I agree on the sales, and the return on spend.

        I might drop by the store and inquire as to a complete list of benefits. Both the invite and the Amex site have some vague points like ” • Hair & Beauty Salon ” listed under benefits, with no more information to go with it…

        • Rob says:

          The ‘Hair & Beauty salon’ line was meant to be attached to be bullet point above about the hamman I think

          • George K says:

            Gosh. How’s that for an exclusive product?

            If Amex is in need of good editors who read their stuff before it goes out, I’m available…

  • Alan says:

    What a rubbish card – must be a contender for worst one in their portfolio surely? 😂

    • KBuffett says:

      I wouldn’t be surprised if it costs AMEX more to administer this co-brand of card than they make from it, due to low number of members. Perhaps it’s a last push to see if they can get numbers up before the contract is up for review?

      • Tim Tam says:

        Rather than a “last push” isn’t this more a legacy product from the boom days of Harrods. That has been allowed to continue, long after it’s expiry date.