Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

NEW: Amex Gold sign-up bonus doubles to 20,000 points – should you apply?

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

This morning, American Express doubled the sign-up bonus on the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold credit card.

If you meet the bonus criteria, you now receive 20,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend £3,000 within 90 days.

This is an exceptionally generous deal for a card which is FREE for the first year.  Remember that 20,000 Membership Rewards points convert into 20,000 Avios, amongst other things.

You can apply here.

20,000 points with American Express Gold

The legal bit ….. 

Let’s get the boring legal bits out of the way first: 

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Read our full reviewApply here

Other information:

  • Amex Gold is our recommended ‘first card’ for a miles and points beginner
  • You receive two free airport lounge passes when you sign up, and a further two passes each year if you renew
  • After your two free passes, you can visit further lounges for a small fee
  • Annual fee: Free for the first year, £140 from Year 2

Representative 56.6% APR variable, from Year 2, based on an assumed £1,200 credit limit and £140 annual fee. Interest rate on purchases and in Year 1 22.2% APR variable (representative example).

See if you qualify for the 20,000 points sign-up bonus +

You will receive 20,000 American Express Membership Rewards points as a sign-up bonus on the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold card if you spend £3,000 within 90 days of signing up.

Membership Rewards points are hugely flexible, which is why we recommend this as the best choice for your first miles and points card.  You can transfer them into Avios, Virgin Flying Club or other airlines (at 1:1) or into various hotels schemes, into Club Eurostar or use them for shopping vouchers.

To qualify for the bonus, you must NOT, currently or in the previous 24 months, have held any other personal American Express card.

You are OK if you had a supplementary card on someone else’s American Express account.

You are OK if, currently or in the previous 24 months, you have held a Business American Express card.

For clarity, you can still apply for the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold card even if you do not qualify for the bonus.  You would still benefit from the two free airport lounge passes and the ‘no fee in Year 1’ offer.

Learn more about the card benefits +

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold comes with two free airport lounge passes.  These allow either you and a friend, or yourself twice, to visit any lounge in the Priority Pass network.  You make additional lounge visits for £20 per person.  You receive an additional two free passes each year.

You earn double Membership Rewards points on all airline spend (made directly on an airline website) and all spend made outside the UK.

If you spend over £15,000 in a card year, you will receive an additional 10,000 Membership Rewards points when you renew.

Other benefits include a 10% discount on Hertz car rentals and special deals at 350 selected hotels worldwide, where Preferred Rewards Gold cardholders receive a $75 in-hotel credit per stay.

What is the Amex Gold sign-up bonus?

From today, the sign-up bonus on Amex Gold is doubled to 20,000 Membership Rewards points. I don’t know of any end date.

You can convert 20,000 American Express Membership Rewards points into:

  • 20,000 Avios
  • 20,000 Virgin Points
  • 40,000 Hilton Honors points
  • 60,000 Radisson Rewards points
  • 30,000 Marriott Bonvoy points
  • 1,666 Club Eurostar points

…… amongst other things.

You need to spend £3,000 to earn the sign-up bonus on Preferred Rewards Gold. This has to be done within three months of your application being accepted.

Amex Gold

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.  This article explains which sign-up bonuses you are still eligible for, depending on the cards you hold/have held in the past 2 years.

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.

What are the exact rules for getting the bonus?

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.

For everyone else, 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’.

You could also consider another Amex card. This article looks at which sign-up bonuses you could still be eligible for.

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.  There is no fee for 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 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.

Amex American Express gold

You get two free airport lounge visits per year

As an American Express Gold cardholder you receive free membership to Lounge Club, a global network of airport lounges.

Each year you get 2 free airport lounge visits – either 2 visits for yourself or 1 visit for yourself and a guest.

Whilst these aren’t a lot of use at the moment, they are valid for 12 months.

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 Points etc via a dedicated airline credit card.

(Amex Gold is better than the free British Airways American Express card for the first free year, assuming that you won’t trigger the companion voucher on the BA card. Whilst the BA Amex earns 1 Avios per £1, Amex Gold earns 1 point which is worth 1 Avios OR a lot of other things, if your plans change.)

If you can spend £15,000 per year on your Amex Gold, it becomes very attractive. 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.

What other benefits does Amex Gold have?

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.

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 British Airways Premium Plus sign-up bonus of 25,000 Avios in the future despite having already had Amex Gold.

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.  Your 20,000 Membership Rewards points sign-up bonus converts into a £100 shopping voucher.

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 (79)

  • Crafty says:

    Presumably very few who read this website are eligible for an Amex sign-up bonus, though!

  • Dave says:

    My wife is eligible now for Amex Platinum. I currently have one and the membership fee goes out at the end of this month. I can’t cancel it until late November due to the Marriott Amex Offer.this is making me wonder whether I keep it and refer my wife for a gold card instead and bank the bonus without having to pay another £575.
    Can you still upgrade a gold card to platinum later on or is that route now dead?

    • dave says:

      Ah just reread this, my wife has held a free BA Blue Amex for the past few years. Never uses it really but hasn;t cancelled it. I thought that meant she would be eligible for this but i guess the changes earlier this year have totally nixed that? what a shame if so just for holding a free card for a number of years!

  • Tom says:

    Website says “Earn 20,000 bonus points when you spend £3,000 in your first three months”. Am I missing something?

  • GW says:

    To clarify, does having a BA Prem Plus card in the past 2 years mean you don’t qualify for this bonus on the Gold card ? My wife cancelled her Gold card on 19th Oct 2018 and her BA Prem Plus card on 8th Dec 2018. Keen to know if she can apply now or does she need to wait until after 8th Dec ?

    • Grant says:

      She needs to wait

    • Cuchlainn says:

      GW – 2 different “currencies” : BA Premium earns Avios, whilst Gold Card earns MRs. Almost certain but your other half can apply for new Gold Card with bonus, post 19th Oct 2020 as it will be 2 clear years since she had a MR earning card ( presuming she didn’t have an Amex Plat card ! )
      Rob – am I correct re above ?

      • Super Secret Stuff says:

        They changed the rules. Suggest you both read robs article. As BAPP was the most recent card, im fairly sure you wouldnt qualify for anything

  • AJA says:

    I would be interested except I have the BAPP card so am ineligible. The fact that Amex is doubling the bonus suggests they are having more people cancelling after the first year than new customers signing up.

    I have never held an Amex rewards card. I wonder how many others are like me? I think that Amex should consider offering a one-off bonus to those who have never held an Amex rewards card even if they hold another Amex card. Sort of the reverse of getting the sign up bonus for the BAPP while holding the rewards card.

    • Dave says:

      Yes I definitely agree and that was where we were before the most recent changes.

      It seems a bit crazy that my wife now can’t get the platinum card with it’s high fee and benefits she can’t really use solely because she’s held a free BA Amex for the past 8 years

      • Genghis says:

        But she can. Plat rule is to have not held an MR earning card in last 2 years. Gold is any Amex…

      • Super Secret Stuff says:

        Different schemes, should be ok i think?

        Remeber to use a reffer a friend link!

  • Vivian says:

    “20,000 points is a special offer which runs until 29th June 2020.”

    Does this need updating?

  • rob says:

    Luckily for me I’m pretty much at my two year gap now from having an MR card. I was intending to apply for the Platinum but given it’s a big fee and only 10,000 extra points I’m in two minds. Particularly the fact that I’m probably not going to be able to use the travel benefits again for a long while.

    So my thought process is currently to wait until my two years are up, apply for the Amex gold, hold that until the covid situation has hopefully improved and then upgrade to a platinum. If that’s still something you can do from an Amex gold? I did it back in the past but then thought that was some loophole where the gold card wouldn’t let you do that anymore?
    or am i totally mistaken?

    • TGLoyalty says:

      You can not upgrade from gold credit to Platinum. You could sign up for the Green at some point in the future after you’ve got the gold and upgrade that (for now)

  • Andrew says:

    Is there a reliable a way to find out exactly when a previous card was cancelled? I had a Gold card until about two years ago but can’t remember the exact date I got rid of it.

    • Rhys says:

      Check your last direct debit? That should pinpoint it -+ a few weeks

    • Rob says:

      Easiest way is to ring Amex. They are happy to tell you. Getting it wrong is a huge problem because you’d need to wait 2 years before trying again!

      • lcylocal says:

        If you have another Amex login (for example to see details of a secondary card that you have on someone else’s account) you can you use online live chat to get this information too. Login then go to the help tab.