It is now almost three years since American Express withdrew the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold charge card.
The good news was that it was replaced by the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold credit card. This was a virtually identical product except that – as a credit card – you now had the option to not fully clear your balance each month.
(We don’t recommend rolling over your balance due to the representative 22.9% APR variable interest rate but the option is now there.)
Do you still have the old charge card version of Amex Gold?
Existing cardholders were NOT automatically switched to the Gold credit card.
If you still have the Preferred Rewards Gold charge card, you will be paying the £140 annual fee. In my view, you should seriously think about switching to the Gold credit card. I explain why below.
Here are two reasons to switch
There are two good reasons why you may want to get the Gold credit card if you already have the Gold charge card. You can then cancel your Gold charge card.
But – and I want to be clear about this – you will NOT receive a sign-up bonus on the Gold credit card. This is because you already have a Membership Rewards account via your Gold charge card. If you want to receive a sign-up bonus, you would need to cancel your existing Gold charge card, close your Membership Rewards account and reapply after 24 months.
Here are the two good reasons to apply for the Gold credit card, given that you are paying £140 per year for Gold charge:
- You will still receive your first year on the Gold credit card for free. This is important. Instead of paying the £140 annual fee on your Gold charge card, you could apply for the Gold credit card and get a year of free membership. You would save £140 over the next 12 months. The fee on your existing Gold charge card will be refunded pro-rata when you cancel.
- You will receive a 2nd Lounge Club card with another two free airport lounge passes
Timing is everything
As an Amex Gold cardholder, you receive a bonus of 10,000 Membership Rewards points for spending £15,000 each card year.
If you swap from Gold charge to Gold credit, your existing ‘year to date’ spend on Gold charge does NOT carry over. You will be starting from scratch again towards your next 10,000 points bonus.
If you do spend £15,000 on your Gold charge card each year, the best time to apply for Gold credit and later cancel Gold charge is shortly after your 10,000 bonus points for the previous year have posted.
American Express released a PDF document here for current Preferred Rewards Gold charge card holders which explains this in more detail.
What happens to your Membership Rewards points?
Your Membership Rewards account exists separately from any of your credit or charge cards. If you apply for the Amex Gold credit card, having already got Amex Gold charge, the Membership Rewards points from both cards will flow into the same pot.
You do NOT need to empty out your existing Membership Rewards account before you cancel Gold charge.
A quick summary of what Amex Gold offers
All of the other benefits of the Preferred Rewards Gold charge card are retained when you swap to the Preferred Rewards Gold credit card.
This is as good a reason as any to run through them again and remind you why I think Amex Gold is the best miles and points card for the beginner.
Here are the core benefits of the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold credit card:
The card is free for the first year
Amex Gold has an annual fee of £140 BUT this is waived in your first year. A free first year means that you 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 credit card company to offer partial fee refunds.
As I made clear above, anyone who switches from Gold charge to Gold credit will still get the ‘free first year’. This saves you the £140 you would otherwise be paying to keep your Gold charge card.
The sign-up bonus is excellent
Assuming you qualify, you get 20,000 American Express Membership Rewards points (worth 20,000 Avios) when you sign up and spend £3,000 within three months. This is a good deal because ….
The rewards scheme is a valuable convertible currency
You can transfer American Express 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 American Express 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 you have a lot of other options too.
You get two 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 two free visits – either two visits for yourself or one 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 two additional free passes each year if you renew your Amex Gold membership.
As noted above, you will get a fresh Lounge Club card and a further two free lounge visits when you apply for Gold credit, even if you already have Gold charge.
You get 10,000 bonus Membership Rewards 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.
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 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 airline transactions
- 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
If you spend a lot of money on flights, the ‘double points for flights’ benefit is very valuable.
If you charge £15,000-worth of flights – and nothing else – to your Gold card each year, you would earn 40,000 Membership Rewards points.
Your 40,000 points comprises:
- 15,000 base points for spending £15,000
- 15,000 bonus points as airline spend counts double
- 10,000 bonus points for spending £15,000 in a card year
That’s a pretty decent return for spending £15,000 on airline tickets, and you can divert the rest of your annual card spend to other cards if you wish.
If you bought your flights in a foreign currency then you may do even better. Whilst you are not meant to double up, Amex may give you double points for foreign spend and double points for airline spend on the same transaction. As you are paying a 3% foreign exchange fee, however, this is not necessarily worth it unless you are spending someone else’s money.
It was slightly surprising when Preferred Rewards Gold transformed from a charge card to a credit card overnight.
If you already have the Amex Gold charge card and are paying the £140 annual fee, you should seriously consider moving to the Gold credit card. You get another ‘free first year’ and another two Lounge Club passes.
(For confirmation of this, read Amex’s own PDF here.)
Sign-up bonus and earnings rate:
- Get 20,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend £3,000 within 90 days
- Earn 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent
- Get a 10,000 points bonus if you spend £15,000 in a card year
- Earn double points on all airline and overseas spend
- Points transfer at 1:1 into Avios, Virgin and other airline schemes
- 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).
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.
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.