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 facts: No annual fee
Interest rate: Representative APR 25.3% variable
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.
Any other benefits?
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.
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.
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:
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.