Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

How a couple can earn 317,875 Avios if they are new to Amex

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There are complex rules around American Express sign-up bonuses.  Getting some cards blocks you from getting a bonus on some other cards, but not all cards block you from all other cards.

There are still some great opportunities out there, however, if you know what you are doing.

Until 2nd November 2021, American Express is offering some special bonuses:

It means that my strategy for maximising your Avios from credit card sign-ups needed to change.

How to earn the most Avios from American Express cards

It has changed for the better. My old strategy earned a couple 186,875 Avios.

Now, if you approach it in the right order, a couple can earn 317,875 Avios from American Express sign-up bonuses as long as neither of you has had an American Express card in the past 24 months.

How can you maximise your American Express sign-up bonuses?

Let’s run through the numbers.  In order for this strategy to work, you would need to be starting from scratch with no personal American Express cards. 

Corporate Amex cards don’t count.  Neither do any supplementary cards you may have on someone else’s Amex account.  You can also ignore any Amex cards you have had which were issued by Lloyds Bank or MBNA.

If you are currently a personal American Express cardholder, you couldn’t follow this strategy for another 24 months.  You need to close ALL of your existing personal American Express cards now in order to start the two year clock.

Here is the optimum Avios-earning strategy at the moment for a couple who have not had any Amex cards in the past two years.

The key to this is that the British Airways American Express Premium Plus card and The Platinum Card have different bonus rules from the other cards.  You are only blocked from a bonus if you have held another card in the same ‘reward family’ over the previous two years.

British Airways BA Amex American Express cards

What is the optimum Amex application strategy for a couple?

Both you and your partner will be getting three different American Express cards.  How far you spread out the applications should depends on how quickly you can hit the spend target on each card to trigger the sign-up bonus.  You have up to 90 days on each card to hit the target, except for The Platinum Card where you currently get six months.

This strategy will only work until 2nd November 2021. The Platinum Card bonus will drop to 30,000 points and the British Airways Premium Plus bonus will drop to 25,000 Avios after that. The bonuses for referring from these cards will also drop. From 2nd November, you need to use this strategy.

To start off:

Person A applies for the Nectar American Express card (apply here)

  • Sign-up bonus for Person A: 20,000 Nectar points which converts to 12,500 Avios, £2000 spend in three months required
  • Rule: You cannot have held a personal American Express card in the previous 24 months

Person A refers Person B for the Nectar American Express card

  • Referral bonus for Person A: 5,000 Nectar points which converts to 3,125 Avios

Person B applies for the Nectar American Express card 

  • Sign-up bonus when referred for Person B: 21,000 Nectar points which converts to 13,125 Avios, £2000 spend in three months required
  • Rule: You cannot have held a personal American Express card in the previous 24 months
HFP Amex American Express Nectar Card

Person B refers Person A for The Platinum Card

  • Referral bonus for Person B: 5,000 Nectar points which converts to 3,125 Avios

Person A applies for The Platinum Card

  • Sign-up bonus when referred for Person A: 65,000 Membership Rewards points which converts to 65,000 Avios, £6000 spend in six months required
  • Rule: You cannot have held a personal American Express card which earns Membership Rewards points in the previous 24 months

Person A refers Person B for The Platinum Card

  • Referral bonus for Person A: 24,000 Membership Rewards points which converts to 24,000 Avios

Person B applies for The Platinum Card

  • Sign-up bonus when referred for Person B: 65,000 Membership Rewards points which converts to 65,000 Avios, £6000 spend in six months required
  • Rule: You cannot have held a personal American Express card which earns Membership Rewards points in the previous 24 months

Person B refers Person A for the British Airways American Express Premium Plus card

  • Referral bonus for Person B: 24,000 Membership Rewards points which converts to 24,000 Avios

Person A applies for the British Airways American Express Premium Plus card

  • Sign-up bonus when referred for Person A: 42,000 Avios, £3000 spend in three months required
  • Rule: You cannot have held a personal British Airways American Express card in the previous 24 months

Person A refers Person B for the British Airways American Express Premium Plus card

  • Referral bonus for Person A: 12,000 Avios (or 24,000 Membership Rewards points, which converts to 24,000 Avios, if they still hold The Platinum Card at this point and make the referral from that – our calculation of 201,666 bonus points assumes the latter)

Person B applies for the British Airways American Express Premium Plus card

  • Sign-up bonus when referred for Person B: 42,000 Avios, £3000 spend in three months required
  • Rule: You cannot have held a personal British Airways American Express card in the previous 24 months

Person A or Person B spends £10,000 on their British Airways American Express Premium Plus card in order to trigger the 2-4-1 voucher and so maximise how far your 301,875 Avios can take you!

You will actually have more than 317,875 Avios because of the points from your daily spend.

There are also opportunities to add supplementary cards to each card as you go along, for additional bonuses of up to 3,000 points each.

Obviously this is an extreme scenario …..

If you’ve never had an Amex card before (or in the last two years):

If you do not have any American Express cards at the moment, you can try the strategy above with little personal risk.

Whilst all of the cards above carry annual fees, they are refundable pro-rata when you cancel.  The quicker you trigger the sign-up bonus, the more money you will get back.

If you were thinking of cancelling your existing cards to follow this plan:

This strategy will clearly not work in two years time, because the higher bonuses on the Platinum and British Airways Premium Plus cards drop on 2nd November 2021.

However, you could use the strategy here and still earn 186,875 Avios.

There is substantially more risk if you were thinking of cancelling all your existing Amex cards and following this strategy in two years:

  • there is no guarantee that sign-up or referral bonuses will remain unchanged
  • importantly, you need to go two years without a British Airways American Express Premium Plus card – and that means two years without being able to generate a 2-4-1 voucher
  • you need an American Express card, although you could use one from a friend, to pay the taxes when you redeem your existing British Airways American Express Premium Plus vouchers
  • you would miss out on American Express cashback deals, such as Shop Small, for the next two years
  • you would need to find other cards to use for your day-to-day spending for two years

Let me repeat – I am not recommending that you follow the strategy above.  It is an extreme example of what is possible. Most people would also struggle to do all of the required spending given that you would need to apply for all of the cards by 2nd November.

However, it does show you that there is still some merit in continuing to pick up American Express sign-up bonuses, even if you need to wait two years to earn another.  Perhaps you can amend the strategy for your own purposes – perhaps you keep your British Airways card open but cancel your Membership Rewards cards in order to get The Platinum Card in two years?

Remember that there is also further upside which we have not covered here.  You can earn additional sign-up bonuses by referring other friends and family for cards.

Got a small business?

If you have a small business, there is also the opportunity to take out the Business Gold and Business Platinum cards.  These have bonuses of 20,000 and 40,000 Membership Rewards points respectively.

More importantly, the only criteria for earning the bonus is that you haven’t held a Membership Rewards card, business or personal, in the past SIX months.

Until at least 2nd November, you can also earn 60,000 Avios for taking out the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card.

The criteria for earning this bonus is that you haven’t had an American Express Business card in the past twelve months.

(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 (32)

  • rosie keeper says:

    I have held the old Amex spg card which was closed around 2019 then I had the Amex gold rewards card for just under a year then I went to the BAPP card which I then downgraded to the free BA last year (to save paying the annual fee ) , can I still get the platinum card with the full bonus of 60k

  • Stephan says:

    Can I suggest an alternative option. Person A doesn’t get the Nectar card but goes directly to Platinum card. They then refer B to get the nectar card using the platinum cars thus getting 24,000 MR equivalent to 24,000. This would mean person A would forgoe 21,000 sub and 5,000 referral nectar points so 16,250 avios.

  • BT01 says:

    It’s a shame that Amex’s website is so rubbish when applying for a new card as you have to start all over again with the application as it does not show on my Amex log in, so no way of all of your information being pre-populated.
    I can’t understand why a global organisation makes it difficult to apply for a new card,
    it would seem as though they don’t want any new business, I gave up on apply for the business gold card.

    • CarpalTravel says:

      I may well be wrong, but I could imagine that there are issues with Amex presumptively populating application details for a credit product – regardless of whether you are then asked to review and submitted said details.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        No idea why because hsbc did it based upon my details when I applied for my current account.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          To be clearer

          Auto populated details for my credit card application based upon the details I entered when I applied for my current account including salary etc

  • Omar says:

    So slightly OT, I recently signed up again to BA Amex, got in before the price hike but still being charged £250 instead of the £195 but I’m not getting the new bonus. Do I have a leg to stand on?

    • Rob says:

      Yes. Amex has told me this is a mistake and the call centre has been told to put through a £55 refund for those who get in touch.

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