Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Six reasons why you could keep your Amex Gold card after the free first year

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

18 months ago I did a piece for the Daily Mail’s This Is Money about the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold credit card, to help a reader who was unsure whether he should retain the card after the free first year.

You can read the This Is Money article here but I turned the key points into a HfP article at the time and thought it was worth updating today to reflect changes to the package since.

American Express Gold card benefits

What are the benefits of signing up for Amex Gold?

The package you get for the first year of holding this card is excellent.  You can’t deny that.  Among the benefits are:

  • You don’t pay a fee for your first year
  • You receive 20,000 American Express Membership Rewards points after you spend £3,000 in your first three months.  These convert into 20,000 Avios, 20,000 Virgin / Emirates / Etihad / Flying Blue etc miles, 40,000 Hilton Honors points, 30,000 Marriott Bonvoy points, 90,000 Radisson Rewards points …. or many other things
  • You get two free passes to get into selected airport lounges – the directory is here 
  • You get £120 per year of Deliveroo credit (2 x £5 credits can be used each month)

Full details of the card, and the application form, are on the American Express website here.

In order to qualify for the sign up bonus, you cannot have held any personal American Express cards in the past 24 months.

Here is the interest rate information:

American Express Amex Gold

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Bonus: 20,000 points

Read our full review

Other information:

  • Amex Gold is our recommended ‘first card’ for a miles and points beginner
  • Get two free airport lounge passes when you sign up, and a further two each year
  • After your two free passes, you can visit further lounges for a small fee
  • You receive £120 of Deliveroo credit each year (24 x £5 credits)
  • Annual fee: Free for the first year, £140 from Year 2

Representative 61.4% APR variable.  Annual fee applies after the first year.

See if you qualify for the 20,000 points sign-up bonus +

You will receive 20,000 American Express Membership Rewards points as a sign-up bonus on the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold card if you spend £3,000 within 90 days of signing up.

Membership Rewards points are hugely flexible, which is why we recommend this as the best choice for your first miles and points card.  You can transfer them into Avios, Virgin Flying Club or other airlines (at 1:1) or into various hotels schemes, into Club Eurostar or use them for shopping vouchers.

To qualify for the bonus, you must NOT, currently or in the previous 24 months, have held any other personal American Express card.

You are OK if you had a supplementary card on someone else’s American Express account.

You are OK if, currently or in the previous 24 months, you have held a Business American Express card.

For clarity, you can still apply for the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold card even if you do not qualify for the bonus.  You would still benefit from the two free airport lounge passes and the ‘no fee in Year 1’ offer.

Learn more about the card benefits +

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold comes with two free airport lounge passes.  These allow either you and a friend, or yourself twice, to visit any lounge in the Priority Pass network.  You make additional lounge visits for £20 per person.  You receive an additional two free passes each year.

You earn double Membership Rewards points on all airline spend (made directly on an airline website) and all spend made outside the UK.

If you spend over £15,000 in a card year, you will receive an additional 10,000 Membership Rewards points when you renew.

You receive £120 of Deliveroo credit each year.  Amex will repay you £5 for the first two Deliveroo orders charged to your Gold card each month.

Other benefits include a 10% discount on Hertz car rentals and special deals at 350 selected hotels worldwide, where Preferred Rewards Gold cardholders receive a $75 in-hotel credit per stay.

What happens after Year 1?

After the first year, you need to make a decision about whether to keep the card or not.

Many people baulk at the idea of paying the £140 fee, especially if they are not used to paying fees for credit or charge cards.  Whilst the easy answer to those readers who contact me would be ‘cancel’, it is worth looking objectively at the ongoing package – especially if you are not the sort of person who likes to churn his or her card portfolio regularly.

Should you cancel American Express Gold?

Good reasons to keep Amex Gold beyond Year 1

Reason 1:  the annual bonus of 10,000 Membership Rewards points

If you spend £15,000 on the card in your membership year, you will receive a bonus of 10,000 Membership Rewards points about four weeks after you renew.  In the most extreme case (ie you spend exactly £15,000 per year) this makes your earning rate on the card 1.6 Membership Rewards points per £1, made up of 15,000 base points and the 10,000 bonus points.  This is an impressive earning rate – in fact, it would be the best earning rate of ANY travel rewards credit card.

Even if you are determined to cancel the card, it would be madness – if you had spent £15,000 – not to wait a month until the bonus arrives.  You will get a pro-rata refund of the 2nd year fee when you cancel, which will only be about £12 by that point.

Reason 2:  two more free Priority Pass airport lounge passes

You receive another two airport lounge passes when you renew.  These are worth around £40.  It would be odd to cancel your card at renewal if you knew you were travelling in the next month or so and could use the Priority Pass cards.

Roll your Amex Gold over – you still have the option of cancelling later after your lounge visit.

Reason 3: you are making good use of the Deliveroo credits

When American Express added the £120 of annual Deliveroo credits as a card benefit in 2021, it hugely changed the economics of the card for many people.

Not everyone lives in a Deliveroo area, or uses it if they do. If it is available where you live and you use it, the £120 of annual credit basically covers the annual fee in one go. Remember that Deliveroo isn’t just food delivery these days – you can also order groceries via the app.

Reason 4:  you don’t need to empty your Membership Rewards points account

You keep your Membership Rewards points alive.  If you cancel your Amex Gold, you will need to transfer your Membership Rewards points out.  This gets rid of the main benefit of Membership Rewards points – flexibility.

Keeping your Gold card means you can keep your Membership Rewards points account open and so keep all of your options for the points open.  (One option to get around this is to open a FREE Amex Rewards Credit Card instead – I explain how to save your Membership Rewards points in this article.)

Reason 5:  you retain access to the Amex Gold hotel programme

You retain access to the other, often forgotten, Amex Gold benefits.  The most interesting is ‘The Hotel Collection’ programmedetails here.

‘The Hotel Collection’ gives you an upgrade and up to $100 equivalent credit when booking a 2+ night stay at participating upscale hotels.  Chains taking part include Radisson Blu, Omni, Kimpton, Hilton, Sofitel and many more.  There is also a 10% Amex Gold Hertz discount, although I admit this can probably be matched by other deals you can access.

Reason 6:  if you have no other Amex, you retain access to Amex’s valuable cashback deals

If Preferred Rewards Gold is your only American Express card, you retain access to the wide range of Amex cashback deals which are permanently available.  Even if you do have other Amex cards, you can double up on deals which interest you if you have multiple cards available.

There are other smaller benefits too:

  • You retain access to the refer-a-friend programme which earns you up to 90,000 Membership Rewards points each year for referring friends and family.  You will receive the referral bonus even if the person you refer does not qualify for a sign-up bonus.
  • If you spend a lot on flights, the ‘double points on all airline spend’ benefit will add up.  You don’t need to book via Amex Travel to get this, it is automatic for spending on all airlines. Whilst I charge all of my British Airways flights to my British Airways Premium Plus American Express to earn 3 Avios per £1, all of our other family flights go on my wife’s Amex Gold.
  • You receive double points on all foreign spend. This is not a great deal on personal spending due to the 3% fee on FX spend which is added by Amex. You can avoid this fee by getting a card which doesn’t charge FX fees. If your FX spend is repaid by your employer, however, this benefit is attractive.

There are other ways of accessing some of the benefits above, of course.  The Amex Rewards Credit Card ……

Amex Reward Credit Card ARCC

American Express Rewards

Bonus: 10,000 points

Read our full review

Other information:

  • Your best choice if you want a ‘free for life’ card which earns Membership Rewards points
  • A good choice if you want to close a Gold or Platinum card but keep your points intact
  • Annual fee: Free

Representative 25.7% APR variable

See if you qualify for the 10,000 points sign-up bonus +

You will receive 10,000 American Express Membership Rewards points as a sign-up bonus on the American Express Rewards card if you spend £2,000 within 90 days of signing up.

Membership Rewards points are hugely flexible. You can transfer them into Avios, Virgin Flying Club or other airlines (at 1:1) or into various hotels schemes, into Club Eurostar or use them for shopping vouchers.

To qualify for the bonus, you must NOT, currently or in the previous 24 months, have held any other personal American Express card.

You are OK if you had a supplementary card on someone else’s American Express account.

You are OK if, currently or in the previous 24 months, you have held a Business American Express card.

For clarity, you can still apply for the American Express Rewards card even if you do not qualify for the bonus.  You may want to do this if you are thinking of swapping your Preferred Rewards Gold or Platinum card for a free alternative, and would prefer to keep your existing Membership Rewards points balance alive.

Learn more about the card benefits +

American Express Rewards is the only ‘free for life’ American Express card which lets you collect Membership Rewards points.

We do NOT recommend this card if you would also qualify for the sign-up bonus on American Express Preferred Rewards Gold.  The Gold card is free for the first year, comes with two free airport lounge passes and has a higher sign-up bonus of 20,000 points.

The best reason to get American Express Rewards is if you are coming to the end of your free first year with American Express Preferred Rewards Gold, or no longer want to pay the fee on The Platinum Card, but want to keep your Membership Rewards points intact.

…….. will keep your Membership Rewards points alive. 

I accept that, if you don’t spend £15,000 per year to trigger the 10,000 bonus points, the maths on keeping Amex Gold probably won’t work. Unless you can use the full £120 of Deliveroo credit each year, you’d be relying on getting £140 of value from ‘The Hotel Collection’ programme, the airport lounge passes and getting double points on your flight spending.

If you do spend £15,000 to trigger the annual 10,000 Membership Rewards point bonus, however, there ARE merits for keeping your Amex Gold card open long term.

You can apply for American Express Preferred Rewards Gold 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.


Want to earn more points from credit cards? – August 2022 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit card, here are our top recommendations based on the current sign-up bonuses.

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the best of the other deals currently available.

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

American Express Amex Gold

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points, £200 travel credit and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review

Earning miles and points from small business cards

If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these offers:

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,500 points bonus – the most generous Avios Visa for a limited company Read our full review

For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending.

Barclaycard Select Cashback credit card

1% cashback (3% on business travel for four months) and no annual fee Read our full review

Comments (29)

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

  • blue_wolf says:

    Spending £15k a year to get 10k MR could also be spend towards other cards for their various sign-up bonuses too. For me, the Amex Gold is the ‘endgame’ card which you hold once you’ve exhausted sign-ups bonuses from as many other cards (Amex as well as others) as you can.

  • Froggee says:

    Reason 7 – you phone up Amex to cancel and they give you a retention bonus and you’re not shameless enough to cancel via chat two days later.

    • Vit says:

      haha! exactly — or you can call up twice within a month and get another retention bonus. So far 30k. 🙂

  • John D says:

    Does the same “retain” comment ms apply to the business gold reward card

  • patrick says:

    For me, the referral system makes the decision very easy. 90,000 points a year for £140 is a price I`m happy to pay.

    • John T says:

      You must have a lot of friends!

      • Blair Waldorf Salad says:

        Indeed. I find referral sign-ups incredibly sluggish. Even by people fully aware of the spoils of my points game.

        • Reney says:

          having several players in the game with you helps!

        • patrick says:

          Really? I find it an easy sell – free money and virtually no downside.

          • Maples says:

            I guess it depends on how big of an audience you have for these referrals. None of my friends are interested, sadly.

          • pbcold says:

            I make a point of posting lots of travel photos on social media which generates questions regarding costs etc

  • Mouse says:

    What about the third way of cancelling after the first year and taking a new one a few months later?

    • Harrier25 says:

      ….and what if they decline your application a few months later?

    • Jonathan says:

      I don’t know how long it’ll take, but I’m sure Amex’s senior management are aware of people who regularly try type of tactic, just look at what happened with their shake up on rules on sign up bonuses…

    • Reney says:

      you won’t get the spend £15k get 10k points bonus. No sign up bonus. The reason to do that is to not pay the fee year on year. Doubt HTP can publicly recommend that.

      • Rui N. says:

        Why wouldn’t you get the 10k bonus for £15k spend?

      • Mouse says:

        You wait to get the bonus then cancel for a pro-rata refund so you pay one or two months instead of twelve.

        True there’s a possibility they’ll decline your application but in my experience they’re quite liberal as long as you are within the rules. Would be interested to know how many people have been declined trying this strategy.

        And according to the article “ Head for Points is a journalistic website” so I don’t see why they couldn’t advocate the best strategy……..

        • Rob says:

          You’d be surprised how many complaining emails we get if we ever suggest anything which is not completely morally above board. If you want to operate at the sort of levels we operate at (we hit 500,000 unique visits in March, don’t have the April number to hand) then you need to operate 100% on the straight and narrow because that’s where the market is.

          • Mouse says:

            Fair enough Rob, I guess you can never please everyone. I think I’m just nostalgic for when you were a one man band writing about bananas and printer cartridges (amongst other things). Probably because that’s when I first got into the hobby and therefore have the happiest memories. But the world has moved on.

          • Rob says:

            We didn’t leave the bananas and printer cartridges, they left us! We used to be able to sell £50,000 of Tesco Wine when there was a flash 48 hour Clubcard points offer on and we’d bank £2,500 for that. Grossing up for the size of the site now vs then and we’d probably be shifting £200,000 of wine from one article and banking £10,000. Tesco Wine / Tesco Direct are, of course, no more however …. and paying out huge chunks of Clubcard points plus affiliate commission whilst trying to match Amazon on price was probably the reason.

          • Mouse says:

            That’s really interesting, I had no idea you made anything like that from those offers!

  • Boon says:

    I have an Amex Gold Business. When I rang up last July to cancel after the first year, they offered me a free second year.

    So worth ringing up at the end of the first year, see if they’ll let you have a second year free. Especially for the Amex Biz Gold, while you wait for your Personal amex 24 month wait to complete.

  • David says:

    Anyone else having problems loging into the forum? Keep getting told I must solve the captch correctly, but I’m not being served a captcha to complete.
    Have cleared cookies, etc.

    • Rob says:

      A couple of people mentioned this last week. We are looking at it but no fix yet, mainly because we’re struggling to work out where the problem sits.

      It’s NOT the Captcha we put on the registration page. It is being triggered by Cloudflare because it thinks you’re trying to infiltrate the site. Why the Captcha doesn’t actually show is another issue. Give us another couple of days …

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

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.