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American Express Preferred Rewards Gold announces big changes – here is what to expect

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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!)

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold announces big changes

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.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold announces big changes

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.

Conclusion

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.

Comments (158)

  • Pogonation says:

    Thanks for the write up. I just received the email from Amex gold. Of most interest to me was the statement “new regular bonuses means you could earn up to 1.5x your normal MR points”. I can’t see anything about this in your blog post… Do you have any details about this bit?

    • Rui N. says:

      It’s this bit:

      “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)”

    • Peter K says:

      So basically, if you spend £25k you earn 25k MR points on your spend, then you gain 12.5k MR points from the bonuses, so 1.5x your normal MR points.

      Of course, this is less than the 1.66 per £ you currently get for spending £15k exactly…

  • Elan says:

    Oh great, more people in the exec lounges.
    Buy a business class ticket occasionally will ya.

    • Rhys says:

      I doubt the majority of people in Priority Pass lounges are on business tickets…

      • Harrier25 says:

        Exactly, these days most of the people in airport lounges booked via onthebeach.co.uk!!

      • Mick S says:

        I’m on a Club World flight to US (MAN-LHR-LAS) this week, and expect the crap lounge at Manchester T3 to turn me away, and I’ll be sat with the riff raff in the main terminal 🙂

        • NorthernLass says:

          If you’re in CE from MAN, why would they turn you away from the lounge?

          • Mick S says:

            Happened last month – guy on the door looked at my boarding pass, Club World, but said the lounge was full, and would only let me in if I was BA Gold.

        • Ian says:

          Well that’s no different to sitting with the riff raff in a lounge! I honestly don’t see what all the fuss is about lounges, anywhere….these days very few of them are worth the effort. At MAN T3, buy yourself a Boots meal deal, walk down to the 50s gates and most of the time you’ll find that pier blissfully devoid of people. It’s a much better experience than fighting your way through a crowd to get yourself a free beer (and, perhaps, a misplaced sense of superiority).

          • Mick S says:

            T3 of all places is where you need a lounge, its utter chaos in that terminal all the time. Might take up your 50s gate tip if the Aspire lounge tell me to do one again, thanks.

            I liked the BA lounge in T3, and was gutted to hear it wasnt re-opening.

          • NorthernLass says:

            @Mick S, that’s rubbish, where does it say that golds have priority over other pax? If there was space and you had a CE boarding pass, they should have let you in. But there should be dedicated places for BA pax regardless if BA is paying them for the service.

          • NorthernLass says:

            It’s not really to do with superiority though; why should you get a worse level of service because you’re travelling from MAN rather than EDI or another regional airport?

        • Harry T says:

          Bit naff they wouldn’t admit you with a club boarding pass, sounds tenuous at best. I can see why they might prioritise BA Gold when the lounge is full, though, as you’d be pretty cross as one of BA’s more loyal customers if you couldn’t access the lounge.

          • Lady London says:

            Claim on BA. Travelling in entitled class which you were, is not the same as travelling on a generic pass. You had a right to the lounge entry as part of your ticket.

            Raise a formal complaint to BA. Submit any reeipts and in addition to inconvenience and the lounge apoarently being in breach of contract with BA? by refusing to accommodate you as a Business Class passenger.

            I’d want reimbursement of non-stingy alternative food and drink that you had to lay for instead if you have receipts,plus 5k avios per seat. If I didnt have food/drink recepts 7,500 avios per seat as a request feels right

  • Sussex bantam says:

    Interestingly the email version of this says the milestone bonus will be paid “within 90 days” of the spend. So, whilst you might earn it during the year it will still take bloody ages to actually arrive…

  • Lev441 says:

    They really need to improve the earning rates on the platinum after this change.. I’ll be downgrading once I get my Harvey Nichols credit next month.

    If i downgrade to the gold preferred rewards charge card (been offered this in the past) will the same benefits apply?

  • Ruralite says:

    To clarify my understanding my card renews on 28 June & the membership area is saying I have reached the 15k spend (which I know as once I reach it I then concentrate spend on my Creation/IHG card for the free night – yes I’m one of those who still has one 😀) & the 10k points bonus will be paid within 60 days of renewal – roughly 27 August. So am I correct in my understanding that I will get my 10k points as stated, renew at £140 for the coming year & then if I have spent £5k by October get another 2500 points? So far this year I have gained more than my membership fee back from cash back offers etc so if the above is correct I will keep for another year before deciding what do. I may manage another 5k spend to reach 20k on my Gold card but that mainly depends on travel. If they improve their offers in line with the fee that may sway me too, as long as I can recoup the £140/160 from offers it’s ok. The lounge access I’ve never used as either been flying long haul in business class & gone elsewhere or lounge so full of boozed up stag/hens it’s quieter outside!

  • Simon says:

    Quick one on last-minute cancellation from BA (I was flying this Friday)
    If I don’t like the alternative and cancel will I get my eVoucher back and could claim also EC261 compensation?

    Thanks!

  • Justin says:

    Hi Rob, although a bit late, I think it might be worth adding the New Gold Rewards Card Benefit page to your article:
    https://www.americanexpress.com/en-gb/campaigns/gold-card/new-benefits/index.html

  • paul-uk says:

    My Amex Gold is in my name, with my wife as a second cardholder.

    Does that stop her applying for a fee free card in her name with the bonus now? – presumably I can then be added when my card runs out in October?

    Thanks

    • Rob says:

      No problem (as long as she’s not had any personal Amex cards in her own name in the last 24 months) – she’ll get the bonus.

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