This is our review of the two Amex cashback credit cards, specifically the American Express Platinum Cashback and American Express Platinum Cashback Everyday cards.
Head for Points is primarily about earning airline miles or hotel loyalty points, and earning points via your credit card spend is an important part of that. Our UK airline and hotel credit card reviews can be found here.
It is important to take the occasional reality check, though. It is pointless (sic) collecting airline miles from a credit card if you could get a substantially better deal with a cashback credit card instead.
With that in mind, this article looks at the Amex cashback offering. This consists of two different Platinum Cashback credit cards.
Key legal information
American Express Platinum Cashback Everyday
Representative 25.3% APR variable
American Express Platinum Cashback
Representative 30.7% APR variable based on an assumed £1,200 credit limit and £25 annual fee. Interest rate on purchases 25.3% APR variable.
Which card is best for me?
As with all the credit cards we look at, you need to think separately about the sign-up bonus and the day-to-day return on your spending. There are actually two separate questions to consider:
“Is it worth getting the Amex Cashback cards just to benefit from the sign-up bonus?
“Is Amex Cashback a card I want to keep in my wallet for the long-term?”
What are the annual fees?
You can choose between a paid card and a less generous free card:
- the standard Cashback card comes with a £25 annual fee
- the Cashback Everyday card is free
What is the sign-up bonus?
Both cards have the usual generous American Express sign-up bonuses:
- the Amex Platinum Cashback card pays you 5% back on your spending in the first three months, to a maximum spend of £2,500 (so capped at £125 back)
- the Amex Platinum Cashback Everyday card pays you 5% back on your spending in the first three months, to a maximum spend of £2,000 (so capped at £100 back)
However, unless you are planning on spending over £10,000 per year on the card, I would not necessarily be tempted by the extra £25. As I will show, the free card is better in the long term for most people.
How much cashback do I earn?
The standard Cashback card (£25 fee) pays you cashback at the following rate:
- in year 1, 5% cashback on all your spending in the first three months, up to £2,500 of purchases
- 0.75% back if you spend under £10,000 from month 4 to month 12 (and annually thereafter)
- 1.25% back on your spend over £10,000 from month 4 to month 12 (and annually thereafter)
The Cashback Everyday card (free) has a tiered system:
- in Year 1, 5% cashback on all your spending in the first three months, up to £2,000 of purchases
- 0.5% on the first £10,000 of spend from month 4 to month 12 (but you get nothing if you spend under £3,000)
- 1% back on your spend over £10,000
Cashback is paid in a lump sum at the end of each card year.
In reality, you will receive less than the headline rate. American Express rounds down the commission on each transaction to the nearest 1p. For example, if you spend £3.99 on the Cashback Everyday card, Amex works out the commission at 0.5% (1.995p) and rounds it down to the nearest penny (1p). Your £3.99 transaction has earned you 1p rather than the 1.995p that the headline 0.5% cashback rate suggests.
Which is the best Amex cashback card to get?
Time for a quick bit of maths.
The break-even point for getting the £25 card is £10,000 of spending per year.
For modest spenders (ie those who would spend under £10,000 per year) you are better off with the free Platinum Cashback Everyday card.
- spend £9,000 per year and you will receive £45 on the free Platinum Cashback Everyday and £42.50 on the Platinum Cashback card after adjusting for the £25 fee – the free card wins
- spend £11,000 per year and you will receive £60 on the free Platinum Cashback Everyday and £62.50 on the Platinum Cashback card after adjusting for the £25 fee – the paid card wins
But, but, but ….
Here is the amusing thing. If you would be happy accepting Sainsbury’s, Argos or eBay credit instead of cash, you would be better off getting neither of these cards and applying for the free British Airways American Express card or the free Barclaycard Avios Mastercard.
Both of these cards earn 1 Avios point per £1 spent. 1 Avios converts into 1.6 Nectar points, worth 0.8p.
Going back to our two examples above:
- spend £9,000 per year on the free British Airways American Express card or the Barclaycard Avios Mastercard and you’d receive 9,000 Avios which convert into 14,400 Nectar points, worth £72 to spend in Sainsbury’s, Argos or eBay
- spend £11,000 per year on the free British Airways American Express card or the Barclaycard Avios Mastercard and you’d receive 11,000 Avios which convert into 17,600 Nectar points, worth £88 to spend in Sainsbury’s, Argos or eBay
Both of these examples smash the cashback you receive from the American Express Platinum Cashback cards, although Nectar points are clearly not as flexible as cash.
In addition, the free Barclaycard Avios Mastercard has the added benefit of being more widely accepted than an American Express card.
What are the rules for getting the Amex Cashback sign-up bonus?
Most HfP readers will not qualify for the sign-up bonus, unfortunately.
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. This article looks at which Amex sign-up bonuses you may still be eligible for.
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.
What more should I know about the Amex cashback cards?
You do not receive your cashback month by month. Instead, it is paid onto your Amex statement at the end of each card year.
However, this does not mean that it is more difficult to cancel the cashback card with the £25 fee. This is because Amex will refund your fee, pro-rata, when you cancel.
If you feel like dropping the card at any point, wait until the start of your next card year when the cashback from the previous year will arrive. You can then cancel, and should get back at least £23 of your £25 fee as a pro-rata refund.
American Express no longer has a minimum income requirement for its cards.
What alternative cards are worth a look?
The American Express Platinum Cashback cards are the highest paying cashback cards currently available in the UK.
However, American Express is not accepted everywhere, and you will need a Visa or Mastercard as a fall-back option.
Here are some typical earning rates for general spending, although you may earn more for spending at the company which issues the card:
- the John Lewis Partnership card pays 0.25% in vouchers
- the Amazon Platinum card pays 0.25% in vouchers
- the Barclaycard Rewards card pays 0.25% in cash and has 0% FX fees
- the Lloyds Bank Cashback card pays 0.25% to 0.5% in cash
- the Marks & Spencer card pays 0.2% in vouchers
- the Sainsbury’s Nectar card pays 0.1% in Nectar points
As we mentioned above, the best Visa / Mastercard solution is the free Barclaycard Avios Mastercard. Convert your Avios to Nectar and you are getting 0.8% back in Nectar points.
Where do I apply?
The application form for the Amex Platinum Cashback credit card (£25 fee) is here.
The application form for the Amex Platinum Cashback Everyday credit card (no fee) is here.
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.