American Express Preferred Rewards Gold (or Amex Gold, as we call it, to save our typing fingers from strain) is arguably the most mainstream Amex product in the UK. It’s the one that gets the ‘mainstream media’ TV and poster commercials, and is seen as an entry point into the Amex world.
Amex has, however, never quite settled on a benefits package that works. It is incredibly easy to sell Amex Gold to new customers – the card is free for the first year and you get a huge sign-up bonus of 20,000 American Express Membership Rewards points, worth 20,000 Avios, plus two airport lounge passes and £120 of Deliveroo credit.
(Apply here by 19th July and the sign up bonus is increased to a huge 30,000 points, worth 30,000 Avios or lots of other travel rewards stuff!)
After that, however, an annual fee kicks in and customers start to look for the long term value. I would love to know what percentage of cardholders pay for Year 2 and Year 3.
I should remind you before we go on that the representative APR is 61%, based on an annual fee of £140 and a notional £1,200 credit limit. The respresentative APR on purchases in 25.3%.
Amex Gold is changing from 12th October
American Express has just announced a card refresh from 12th October.
The net result is hugely positive for those in their first free year. It is positive for most people who pay the fee for Year 2 onwards too, although it depends on what you spend and how you use the benefits.
Let’s look at what is changing.
The annual fee from Year 2 goes up from £140 to £160
I wanted to mention this first so you can judge the other changes in context.
You will receive FOUR free airport lounge visits per year, up from two
All Amex Gold customers currently receive two free visits per year to any airport lounge in the Priority Pass network.
This will increase to four from 12th October. Existing cardholders who have already used their two existing passes for their current year will receive another two.
This covers 1,300 lounges globally, including the Club Aspire lounge in Heathrow Terminal 5. Most UK airports which have a lounge will have at least one which is in Priority Pass.
The problem, of course, is access. Getting access to Priority Pass lounges was tricky before covid and – with many lounges closing for good during the pandemic – it has got worse since. If you are travelling at a peak time your chance of getting into a Priority Pass lounge at a major UK airport is low.
(No1 Lounges gets around this problem by letting you pay £6 to guarantee a slot in advance via this page of their website. This only helps if you are travelling from Gatwick, Heathrow Terminal 3 or Birmingham.)
If you can use the passes, and it is usually far easier to get into lounges outside the UK, then the extra two passes easily justify the £20 increase in annual fee.
The annual bonus is changing
At present, you receive a bonus of 10,000 Membership Rewards points – worth 10,000 Avios for example – when you spend £15,000 in your card year.
Irrespective of how quickly you spend £15,000, you don’t receive the 10,000 bonus points until 30 days after your renewal date.
This is changing from 12th October. Instead of a flat bonus, it will be tiered:
- 2,500 points when you hit £5,000 of annual spend
- 2,500 points when you hit £10,000 of annual spend (5,000 points cumulative)
- 2,500 points when you hit £15,000 of annual spend (7,500 points cumulative)
- 2,500 points when you hit £20,000 of annual spend (10,000 points cumulative)
- 2,500 points when you hit £25,000 of annual spend (12,500 points cumulative)
Importantly, the bonus will be paid as soon as you hit each tier threshold. You do not have to wait until the end of your card year.
What happens during this transitional year?
On or around 12th October, all existing Amex Gold cardmembers will receive a bonus based on their spend to date in their current membership year.
It is important to note that, for a transition year, no-one will be worse off. Amex has committed that anyone who spends £15,000 in their current membership year will be guaranteed 10,000 bonus points, with an additional 2,500 if they hit £25,000 of spend.
Who wins and who loses here?
Do you spend under £15,000 per year on your Amex Gold? You’re a winner, because you previously received no annual bonus. You will now receive something, as long as you spend at least £5,000.
Do you spend exactly £15,000 per year on your Amex Gold at present, and then swap to other cards once you’ve guaranteed your 10,000 points? You will be worse off, because £15,000 of spend will now only get you 7,500 points.
Do you spend £25,000 or more per year on your Amex Gold? You’re a winner, because your annual bonus will now be 12,500 points instead of the current 10,000 points.
The only people who are worse off are those who currently spend between £15,001 and £19,999 per year. Your annual bonus drops from 10,000 points to 7,500 points, although once you hit £20,000 you are back up at 10,000 points.
You will receive Avis Preferred Plus status
I don’t put much value on car rental status, if only because it is offered via many different routes and few people rent enough to find it worthwhile.
Avis Preferred Plus offers a complimentary upgrade when available, as well as a dedicated phone number for reservations and customer support.
All other Amex Gold benefits remain
Nothing is being taken away from the Gold package. Your £120 of Deliveroo credit and hotel benefits via The Hotel Collection will continue.
Everyone wins from this new Amex Gold benefits package, I think.
- New cardholders win – they get four airport lounge passes during their free first year and will hit annual spend bonuses more quickly
- Existing cardholders who use the lounge passes will win – they get two more passes for an extra £20 fee
- Existing cardholders who spend under £15,000 or over £20,000 win – they will get a higher annual bonus than they do now
Virtually no-one loses out, except those who spend between £15,001 and £19,999 and who don’t use the lounge passes. Those people can adapt, however, by either pushing more spend onto Amex Gold or moving some away.
Remember that these changes kick in from 12th October so there is nothing to do yet.
You can apply for American Express Preferred Rewards Gold here. Remember that, at present, the sign-up bonus is increased to 30,000 points – worth 30,000 Avios – and the card is free for the first year.