This is our review of the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold (Amex Gold) credit card.
It is part of our series of articles looking at the major UK loyalty credit cards and discussing whether or not they are worth applying for. These articles are linked to the relevant sections of the ‘Credit Card Offers‘ area in the menu bar. Our other UK airline and hotel credit card reviews can be found here.
If you want to check your credit record before applying for a new card, click here to get your free Experian Credit Score.
Key facts: No annual fee in year 1 and £140 thereafter. You can cancel at any point.
Interest rate: Representative APR 56.6% variable including the annual fee (free in year 1) based on a notional £1,200 credit limit. Interest rate on purchases 22.2% APR variable.
What is the Amex Gold sign-up bonus?
Amex Gold offers 20,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend £3,000 within three months. This is the most generous sign-up bonus generally available on any free UK loyalty charge or credit card – albeit that Amex Gold is only free for the first year.
Membership Rewards points can be converted 1 to 1 into Avios. Click here to see what other airline and hotel programmes are Membership Rewards transfer partners. This means that you can receive 20,000 Avios points for free by applying for this card, spending enough to trigger the sign-up bonus and then transferring the points to British Airways.
You can get an even higher bonus of 22,000 Membership Rewards points if you are referred by an existing American Express Gold cardholder. Please e-mail me at rob [at] headforpoints.com if you would like a referral.
What are the rules for qualifying for the sign-up bonus?
The bonus is only available to customers who 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 and you receive Membership Rewards points from it.
You will definitely receive the bonus if you are only a supplementary cardholder on someone else’s American Express card. As far as Amex is concerned, that 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’.
Any other benefits with Amex Gold?
You receive two free airport lounge passes each membership year with Amex Gold, valid at any airport lounge in the Priority Pass network. Heathrow (including the Aspire lounge in Terminal 5), Gatwick, Luton and Stansted – amongst many others – have participating lounges as do most major airports worldwide. After your two free visits, you can make further lounge visits for a £20 charge.
You will receive 10,000 bonus Membership Rewards points each year when you renew your Amex Gold membership if you have spent £15,000 in the previous year. These will post one month after your renewal date.
You will receive a 10% discount and free additional driver on Hertz bookings. There are also 350 4-5 star hotels worldwide which offer a $75 in-hotel credit and an upgrade when booked by an Amex Gold cardholder via the American Express travel service.
What is the Amex Gold annual fee?
There is no fee for the first year of Amex Gold.
For future years, there is a fee of £140. I would personally struggle to justify that fee in light of the benefits unless I was making heavy use of the $75 hotel credits. As the annual fee is refunded pro-rata if you cancel, there is no rush to cancel before the fee becomes due.
You may want to roll over your membership for a couple of months until you have used the two extra Lounge Club airport lounge passes which come on renewal.
What do I earn per £1 spent on the card?
You receive 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent on the card.
Foreign currency transactions and airline ticket purchases earn 2 points per £1.
(Much of the time, but not always, airline transactions which are paid for in a foreign currency earn 3 points per £1 as the offers double up!)
Travel bookings made via the American Express Travel website, and paid for online, earn an impressive 3 points per £1.
What is a Membership Rewards point worth?
Anything from ‘not a lot’ to ‘a lot’ is the answer! I wrote this lengthy article on what American Express Membership Rewards points are worth.
If you redeem your points for, say, an Amazon gift card then you will receive around 0.5p per point. This is a poor return compared to a typical cashback card or the value of an airline mile if used sensibly.
I tend to value airline miles at 0.75p – 1p each (this is conservative) so that is your valuation if you transfer to an airline programme.
Some of the hotel programmes also offer good value. Radisson Rewards (the Radisson, Park Plaza and Park Inn scheme) transfers at 1:3 from Membership Rewards, for example. Their top five-star hotels generally cost 70,000 points per night which would be just over 23,000 Membership Rewards points. This would usually get you over 1p per point of value.
The other hotel partners are Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy.
You can take a look at the full list of Membership Rewards options here. If you are strategic you should be able to get 1p per point of value when you use them.
Is Amex Gold a good card to use when travelling?
Yes, to the extent that you receive double Membership Rewards points when using the card abroad.
However, because Amex adds a 3% foreign exchange fee, you might want to get a separate free credit card to use abroad. Unfortunately there are no credit cards with a 0% foreign exchange fee which earn airline or hotel points. One option is to get a free Curve Card – see this HFP article – and link it to a miles-earning Visa or Mastercard.
Another option is to get a free card from Currensea. Currensea is a simple but clever idea. You pay abroad with your Currensea Mastercard debit card. Currensea translates the cost to Sterling with just a 0.5% fee (83% less than Amex charges) and withdraws the money from your bank account. You can find out more about Currensea by clicking here. Currensea is free so there is no risk in giving it a try.
Other points to note
After the first year, when the £140 annual fee kicks in, you can cancel at any time for a pro-rata fee refund. American Express is the only card issuer to offer such a pro-rata fee refund.
American Express no longer has a minimum income requirement for any of its cards.
Conclusion – is Amex Gold worth it?
The sign-up bonus of 20,000 Membership Rewards points (22,000 if I refer you) is EASILY the most generous incentive available on a free UK charge or credit card.
I strongly recommend signing up and giving the card a try, if only for the first free year.
For day to day spending, 1 point per £1 is middling, although the 10,000 point bonus for spending £15,000 in a year would increase your average rate sharply if you achieved it.
The application form for Amex Gold can be found here.
(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards? Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Card Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)
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.