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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 Cards‘ area in the menu bar. Our other UK airline and hotel credit card reviews can be found here.

Key linkAmerican Express Rewards credit card application page

Key facts: No annual fee

Interest rate: Representative APR 25.3% variable

American Express Reward credit card review

About the Amex Rewards credit card

The American Express Rewards credit card is issued directly by American Express. It launched in 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.

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.

Review American Express Rewards Credit 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. 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 75,000 points per night which would be 25,000 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.

Review American Express Rewards Credit Card

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 credit cards with 0% foreign exchange fees worldwide which earn airline or hotel points. (The Virgin Atlantic credit cards have 0% FX fees in the Eurozone.)  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:

American Express Amex Gold

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 20,000 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.

Until 19th July 2022, the bonus on Amex Gold is increased to 30,000 Membership Rewards points.

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 Cards’ 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 responsibly to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points. The site discusses products offered by lenders but is not a lender itself. Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as an independent credit broker.

Comments (28)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Martin says:

    It’s not obvious from the stock photos, but the card is translucent with a big blue hologram on the front. It’s long been one of the coolest looking cards in my wallet, which shouldn’t be your main consideration for getting a particular card, but I feel is worth a mention!

    • PGW says:

      In the great scheme of things, as you say, the appearance isn’t of much importance but I’ve had lots of admiring remarks from retailers when using it. It does make the card number a little hard to read at times but as I’m not paying a fee and use it pretty infrequently, I see no reason to dump it.

      • Rhys says:

        My ARCC gets way more comments than my Plat. It really is very cool!

        • Rui N. says:

          Do you really get that many comments on your cards? The only comment I usual get is “that failed, oh, we don’t accept american express, that is why”.

          • Harrier25 says:

            Same here, then out has to come my Virgin Atlantic card or Hilton Barclaycard! 🙄

            I wouldn’t have this card anyway as I feel the same as Rob does about Green regarding this card…pointless. At least with Green you get additional warranty cover which in my view is worth the small £60 annual fee on its own, so green will remain my base card to protect my MR points.

          • Rui N. says:

            Not lucky enough here to have a Hilton card 🙂 just Virgin it is.

          • John says:

            They usually just shove the terminal in my face and turn/walk away leaving me to find out they don’t take amex myself.

          • DevonDiamond says:

            I had a similar comment to Rhys on my ARCC yesterday. The first I’d had.

        • Jasdev says:

          I was surprised by the number of times people asked about my ARCC too, I did not think it looked particularly nice but other people seemed to find it very cool. I’m much more a fan of the Preferred Rewards Gold credit card.

          • Harrier25 says:

            …and don’t forget the large sigh of discontentment, John, when they realise they have to start the sale process with the terminal from scratch again, as you rummage around for your Virgin Atlantic card, Curve or similar.

  • TeesTraveller says:

    I’m going to ditch my Amax Platinum card as can’t justify the annual fee anymore and too many of the benefits are London centric. I guess this works for some but not me anymore.

    1) Before I call, does anyone know if Amex offers retention deals on the Plat card?
    2) If I downgrade to the Amex Rewards card, do the rewards offers become more “normal”? I was wondering that as this is a more mainstream card, are the deals for more mid-market brands rather than some pretentious boutique in Chelsea that specialises in papier-mâché snowshoes?

    I have just got the HSBC Premier World Elite MC so all my UK spend now goes on that, the annual fee is lower, the avios earnings are the same as Amex, you get Lounge Key which is almost as good as Amex Plat for airport lounge access and the Premier account – which I don’t really use – comes with the travel insurance.

    • Rob says:

      Huge thread in the forum on Amex retention offers …..

      Offers don’t seem to shift much across cards, execept by volume – Gold cards seems to get far more (my wife is often above 90 at once). If you want 5% off at Harvester then get an MBNA / Lloyds card 🙂

      • janolabs says:

        Interesting seeing the differences in the Morrison’s offer running since yesterday: it’s 5% back on BAPP, 5% on ARCC, 7% back on Platinum and 10% back on Gold! I expected the Platinum to have the highest, but no, Gold is the winner!

      • TeesTraveller says:

        As Harvester only has about 10 places North of the M62 and the nearest one to my house is a 40 minute drive, I would say that there is more chance of the Amex plat customer spending money there than me.

    • yorkieflyer says:

      I just went for the HSBC Premier Elite too for the same reasons. Also worth mentioning the much better travel insurance re included preconditions. Amex insurance so useless to both of us.
      Hotel statuses all extended anyway, only downside is paying for car excess insurance and no access to centurion and plaza lounges

  • Gustavo says:

    Hello,

    I currently have this card ‘ARCC’ and the BAPP. I have already got one companion voucher and I am thinking about getting the gold card instead and cancel the BAPP as I feel the other benefits from the gold card are more suitable to me as I also have the Barclays Avios Vouchers coming and I don’t earn loads of avios each year.

    I called the call centre and they said there’s not really a way to upgrade the free amex to the gold one. It has to be a new credit check and application. When I applied to the BAPP having already the ARCC, I didn’t see any hard search on any of my reports with credit agencies so I am not sure if the advisor is correct on this.

    Has anyone done the upgrade from the free ARCC to the Gold/Platinum card?

    Thanks

    • Rob says:

      You absolutely cannot upgrade to Plat because it is a charge card, so legally totally different.

      Technically they could do to Gold if they wanted do but I am getting more and more reports about them blocking upgrades now.

    • Jasdev says:

      I did recently (ARCC to Gold) and it appears to have affected my credit reports but they’ll go back to normal in a matter of months.
      I went from Gold to ARCC previously and there was no effect.

  • Bartinbrook says:

    I had an ARCC for a year, which I used to transfer MR points from a Platinum card. I didn’t use the card as I also have a BA Amex PP card. Out of the blue, I received a letter from Amex telling me the ARCC had been cancelled as I hadn’t used it and I now had limited time to move the MR points or lose them. Just a warning to others.

    • Harrier25 says:

      Always wise to use every card you wish to keep once in a while with small purchase amounts, just to keep them ticking over. My daughter at University is an additional card holder on my Green card which she uses for her grocery shopping and that keeps that card ticking over with a monthly balance.

    • Russ says:

      Something I’m guilty of, but to be fair, one can’t really expect credit providers to keep stuff open on the never never.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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