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Review: the American Express Rewards credit card

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This is our review of the American Express Rewards credit card (‘ARCC’).

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.

This article was updated on 1st October 2021, and all of the information is correct as of that date. Ignore the original publication date shown.

Key linkAmerican Express Rewards credit card application page

Key facts: No annual fee

Interest rate: Representative APR 24.5% variable

About the Amex Rewards credit card

The American Express Rewards credit card is issued directly by American Express.  It is the newest member of the Amex UK personal cards portfolio, launched in Autumn 2017.

The card is free and you earn Membership Rewards points on your spending.

This is an excellent card for anyone who currently has an Amex Gold or The Platinum Card and is thinking of cancelling it due to the annual fee. Whilst you wouldn’t qualify for a sign-up bonus, getting a free American Express Rewards card would keep your Membership Rewards points alive.

If you don’t do this, you would need to spend or transfer all of your Membership Rewards points before closing your Gold or Platinum card.

American Express Reward credit card review

What is the Amex Rewards sign-up bonus?

American Express Rewards offers a sign-up bonus of 5,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend £2,000 within three months.

Membership Rewards points can be converted 1 to 1 into Avios.  Click here for our article on what other reward programmes are Membership Rewards transfer partners. This means that you can receive 5,000 Avios points for free by applying, spending enough to trigger the sign-up bonus and then transferring the points to British Airways.

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.  Amex is only looking at any personal cards you own or have recently owned.

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 for the card.

Any other benefits?

No.

What is the Amex Rewards annual fee?

There is no fee for the American Express Rewards credit card.

What do I earn per £1 spent on the card?

You receive 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent on the card.

Unlike Amex Preferred Rewards Gold, there is no bonus for foreign spend or airline spend.

What is a Membership Rewards point worth?

Anything from ‘quite a bit’ to ‘a lot’ is the answer.  I wrote this lengthy article on what American Express Membership Rewards points are worth.

Realistically, Membership Rewards points are worth at least 0.8p. This is because you can convert 1 point into 1.6 Nectar points via the new Avios partnership as we explain here. 1.6 Nectar points are worth 0.8p when spent at Sainsbury’s, Argos or eBay.

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.

Is Amex Rewards a good card to use when travelling?

As Amex adds a 3% foreign exchange fee, you might want to get a separate free credit card to use abroad

Unfortunately there are no travel rewards cards without a foreign exchange fee.  One 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

American Express no longer has a minimum income requirement for any of its cards.

Conclusion

The American Express Rewards credit card is, in itself, a decent deal.

However, for one year, it would make more sense to take out the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold credit card:

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

This has a far bigger sign-up bonus of 30,000 Membership Rewards points which is the most generous incentive available on a free UK charge or credit card.  You also receive two FREE airport lounge passes.  When your free year is up, you could switch to an American Express Rewards credit card.

For day to day spending on a free card, 1 point per £1 is a good return – although Amex Gold beats it due to double points on foreign and airline spend, and the 10,000 points annual bonus for spending £15,000.

The best reason for getting the Amex Rewards credit card is to protect your Membership Rewards points if you are planning to cancel an Amex Gold or Amex Platinum card.

The application form for the free American Express Rewards credit card 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.

Comments (27)

  • jil says:

    Why pay 0.5% fee foreign exchange fee through Currensea while curve revolut etc charge 0 and you can put the spending on a reward credit card? Is their rate better?

    • Rob says:

      Curve and Revolut now have very complex rules over how you get free FX transactions. Currensea is a simple alternative for people who don’t want to bother getting their head around Curve etc.

    • Mikeact says:

      Jil..carry on as you are, and keep the Currensea in your back pocket for emergency use only. They take funds immediately from your Bank account. Not all bad news, but on here we are all looking to make the most of overseas expenditure and Currensea definitely does not help in that respect.

  • Rhys says:

    I know – I have one! It frequently gets comments when I use it.

    • RussellH says:

      I have had my Rewards card for nearly two years now – and had two comments. One young woman – young enough to be my my granddaughter – asked to hold it and pronounced it “really cool”.
      The other comment was during shop small, when it was described as unusual.
      But with most transactions now being contactless or online, hardly anyone else actually sees my cards.

      • Rhys says:

        I find it often gets commented on when paying in restaurants. Good small talk whilst the waiter/tress stands there waiting for the card machine to fire up.

        • Nate1309 says:

          same as my experience. gets far more comments than any other card I have/had inc curve&plat metal.

        • PH says:

          Ditto – had a post office clerk ask to hold it (pre covid..) and call over another clerk to show them, and comments from friends about ‘how much does that cost’ ‘who do you have to know to get that’ etc – which is ironic as I’m pretty sure Amex intended it to look ‘cheaper’ and more youthful than their other cards, not more special / exclusive. I’d draw the line at using it to flirt with waitresses though 😛

  • AP says:

    Do you know if this card receives Amex Offers (it’s listed as a benefit on the Amex site I believe). If so, what sort of quality are they compared to the Gold Card? Thanks!

    • Rhys says:

      It does, but they are different. I didn’t get all the hotel offers on my ARCC for example, whereas I did on my BA Amex.

      • RussellH says:

        Yes, I have twice the number of offers on my Rewards Amex cf. my BA Amex at present, and yes, the hotel offers, all saved but never going to be used, are on the BA Amex only.

    • Peggerz says:

      Hi @AP,
      The card does receive Amex offers. I moved from Amex Preferred Rewards Gold after a year to ARCC and see no difference in the offers. Unlike Rhys, it feels like I have every hotel deal. I have the new PayPal deal and also have a lot of useless ones like everyone else.

      • jil says:

        vast majority of offers are the same, but there are card specific offers, e.g. 400-400 Marriott offers is not available on the free card

    • BuildBackBetter says:

      Generally fee paying card holders are expected to be high spenders – therefore get better offers like the Marriott and Waitrose ones with £100 off etc.
      Shop small is the only guaranteed offer for this card. All others are not that good.

      • PH says:

        Pretty sure your spending habits are factored in. I switched to this as my main card and get lots of ‘high value / high spend required’ offers – from memory more so than I did with gold when I was splitting spend between that and BA.
        Try putting 100% of your Amex spend through this card and I’m pretty sure the offers will come.

  • Max says:

    I took this card out over a month ago, it still has zero offers. Anyone else had this problem?

    • AP says:

      Same! That’s why I asked my question above… shame to be missing out!

  • Matty says:

    I got rejected for this card about a month ago. I checked my Experian report. It was ‘excellent’.

    • DJ says:

      Always take credit agencies’ assessment with a pinch of salt. I have accounts with all three main credit reference agencies, and they all have different metrics for rating.

      I only ever check the accounts in my credit report to make sure there’s nothing suspicious going on.

      It could be that you already have access to too much credit, I had that once and I just phoned Amex and agreed to move some of credit limit to the new account.

      • Matty says:

        I’ve have the Platinum card. I’m sure Amex have assessed what I’m safe with in terms of spending but I’ve no idea, as it’s a charge card. I have the Gold Credit Card. The limit on that is £15k. I have the Creation card, Halifax and MBNA cards with similar limits. I pay off the balance in full each month. The combined card limits are still below my annual salary.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          Sometimes you’re just not the person they are looking for for that particular product. Or that your risk profile is now too high for any new products.

          Best to ask Amex directly …

        • BuildBackBetter says:

          There are limits on how many Amex cards you can have at a time. I believe only 2 MR earning personal cards at a time.

  • Mikeact says:

    Best back up Amex card to have by far…..while the clock ticks down for the next application.

    • BuildBackBetter says:

      Only for BAPP. you won’t get sign up bonus on any other card

  • Jamie says:

    So by having this card I guess I will never be eligible for gold’s sign up bonus?

  • Nick Booker says:

    Such a great talking point I got chatted up at Xmas do last year over it!

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