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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)

  • paul-uk says:

    Have to say that our experience of the free lounge from Rome in May was horrendous – it was little more than a spare corner of the airport with some plastic dining chairs and very poor food offering – as you would expect, the reception desk was nice (to draw you in).

  • Georgi Aleshanov says:

    Is there a word on whether the metal card is coming to the Gold AMEX in the UK at all?

    • Rob says:

      No. It’s not beyond the imagination that they will introduce it in October – they may have deliberately not told existing cardholders to stop some of them demanding one on Day 1 rather than waiting for the natural expiry date.

      • Youllnever says:

        The fact that they haven’t updated the card design in Apple Pay might suggest they are holding out for this.

  • Paul says:

    My card renews Oct 15th and Im due the 10,000 points.

    Now things change Oct 12th and points are awarded immediately, is it likely i will get them before forking out for a new year (dont even want to pay pro rata if can avoid it lol)

  • David says:

    Hi Rob. A comment on your article section under the heading “What happens during this transitional year?”

    It states that “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.”

    However the wording of the email (I, at least, have received, and I assume it is standardised) is that “If by 12 October 2022 you have spent at least £15,000 in your current membership year, we will ensure that you receive at least 10,000 bonus Membership Rewards points in respect of that spend. This only applies to a current membership year ending after 12 October 2022, and is to ensure that you do not receive fewer points than you would have been awarded under the discontinued Anniversary Bonus.”

    If my understanding is correct, you have to hit £15k spend *by 12 October* (rather than in the “current membership year”) to get 10,000 MR points. Yes, if you spend £5k+ you get something, but a lot of people would hit their renewal date between now and October, and would previously have had 12 full months to rack up the £15k spend. And yes, of course they have the option to cancel, but many would have to spend 15k in just a few months to get the 1.66 multiplier.

    Not meaning to be picky at all, but if my understanding is correct, and 4x PP + Deliveroo is not a major incentive, it would push quite a few people to a 1.5x BA or Barclays card who might previously have hit 15k exactly?

    • Rob says:

      That’s a fair point. I am with Amex tomorrow and will raise.

      • David says:

        What was the verdict? (Impatient as my renewal is imminent!)

        • Rob says:

          The people who would know were not there. Unlike last year we were not with the commercial team and ended up with a bunch of journos from glossy household magazines!

          • Comrade Chag says:

            Interested in this as well, Rob! Could you possibly clarify this at some point with your contacts?

          • David says:

            Haha, you secretly love it, Rob. 😉 I’ve seen a lot more advertising for PRG recently (in London, at least) and that, plus your ‘glossy household’ experience at the event, coupled with the changes mentioned in this article, and recent comments by you and others, does seem to imply a more mainstream direction for Gold. Is the industry carving out more discrete niches, between different ‘card propositions’? (Or maybe they’d all like credit sign-ups before a potential pre-Christmas crash…)

          • Rob says:

            The women from the glossy magazines did make a change from the usual crowd of personal finance journalists 🙂

          • David says:

            I just spoke with Amex and the agent confirmed that £15,000 would indeed need to be spent by 12 October to guarantee the 10,000 bonus, and therefore the 1.66x earning rate. I’m not sure how many people of the type who retain a PRG after year 1 will spend that much in a few months, especially with the other products on the market…

          • Rob says:

            What no-one can tell me is what happens next. In my wife’s case, she will trigger the 10k for spending £15k in October. Does she get another 2.5k for hitting £20k and another 2.5k for hitting £25k (so 15,000 for the year) or does she get nothing at £20k – because that is the trigger the 10,000 points and she’s already got that – and 2.5k for £25k?

  • David says:

    If you don’t know, they probably don’t know…! 🙂

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