Review: American Express Preferred Rewards Gold (Amex Gold) credit card
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This is our review of the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold (Amex Gold) credit card.
It is part of our series of articles looking at the major UK loyalty credit cards and discussing whether or not they are worth applying for. These articles are linked to the relevant sections of the ‘Credit Cards‘ area in the menu bar. Our other UK airline and hotel credit card reviews can be found here.
Key link: American Express Preferred Rewards Gold application page
Key facts: No annual fee in year 1 and £160 thereafter. You can cancel at any point.
The representative APR is 73.3% variable, including the annual fee. The representative APR on purchases, and in the first year which has no fee, is 29.4% variable.
Reward credit cards generally have high interest rates and are not suitable for anyone who does not pay off their full balance each month. If you do not clear your balance, you should look for a non-rewards credit card with a low interest rate instead.
What is the Amex Gold sign-up bonus?
Amex Gold offers 20,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend £3,000 within three months. This is the most generous sign-up bonus available on any free UK loyalty credit card – albeit that Amex Gold is only free for the first year.
Membership Rewards points can be converted 1 to 1 into Avios. Click here to see what other airline and hotel programmes are Membership Rewards transfer partners.
This means that you can receive 20,000 Avios points for free by applying for this card, spending enough to trigger the sign-up bonus and then transferring the points to British Airways.
What are the rules for qualifying for the sign-up bonus?
The bonus is only available to customers who have not held a personal American Express card in the previous 24 months.
You will receive the sign-up bonus if you have a Corporate or Business American Express card via your job and you receive Membership Rewards points from it.
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 outlined below, including the four free airport lounge passes, £120 of Deliveroo credit and ‘no fee in the first year’.
Any other benefits with Amex Gold?
Four airport lounge passes:
You receive four free airport lounge passes each membership year with American Express Preferred Rewards Gold, valid at any airport lounge in the Priority Pass network. Heathrow (including the Aspire lounge in Terminal 5), Gatwick, Luton and Stansted – amongst many others – have participating lounges as do most major airports worldwide. After your four free visits, you can make further lounge visits for a £20 charge.
£120 of Deliveroo credit:
You receive £120 of Deliveroo credit each year.
This arrives in the form of 2 x £5 credits each month. You receive £5 cashback each time a Deliveroo order for £5+ is charged to your Gold card, up to £10 of credit per month.
Up to 12,500 bonus points each year:
You will receive up to 12,500 bonus Membership Rewards points each year based on your total spending. The first 2,500 points arrive after £5,000 of spending and a further 2,500 points are earned after each incremental £5,000, up to a total of 12,500 points.
You will receive a 10% discount and free additional driver on Hertz bookings. You will receive Preferred Plus status in the Avis car rental programme.
There are 350 4-5 star hotels worldwide which offer a $75 in-hotel credit and an upgrade when booked by an Amex Gold cardholder via the American Express travel service.
What is the Amex Gold annual fee?
There is no fee for the first year of Amex Gold.
For future years, there is a fee of £160. I would personally struggle to justify that fee in light of the benefits unless I was making heavy use of the $75 hotel credits, the airport lounge passes and the Deliveroo credit.
As the annual fee is refunded pro-rata if you cancel, there is no rush to cancel before the fee becomes due.
You may want to roll over your membership into the second year for a couple of months, even if you intend to cancel, until you have used the four extra Priority Pass airport lounge passes which come on renewal.
What do I earn per £1 spent on the card?
You receive 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent on the card.
Foreign currency transactions and flight tickets bought directly from the airline earn 2 points per £1. This is a valuable extra benefit for anyone who buys a lot of flights.
Much of the time, but not always, airline transactions which are paid for in a foreign currency earn 3 points per £1 as the offers double up.
Travel bookings made via the American Express Travel website, and paid for online, earn an impressive 3 points per £1.
What is a Membership Rewards point worth?
Anything from ‘quite a bit’ to ‘a lot’ is the answer. I wrote this lengthy article on what American Express Membership Rewards points are worth.
Realistically, Membership Rewards points are worth at least 0.66p. This is because you can convert 1 point into 1.33 Nectar points via the Avios partnership. 1.33 Nectar points are worth 0.66p when spent at Sainsbury’s, Argos or eBay.
I tend to value airline miles at 0.75p – 1p each (this is conservative) so that is your valuation if you transfer to an airline programme.
Some of the hotel programmes also offer good value. Your options are Hilton Honors, Marriott Bonvoy and Radisson Rewards. Club Eurostar is also a decent deal given that Eurostar ticket prices have risen sharply since the pandemic.
You can take a look at the full list of Membership Rewards options here. If you are strategic you should be able to get 1p per point of value when you use them.
Is Amex Gold a good card to use when travelling?
Yes, to the extent that you receive double Membership Rewards points when using the card abroad.
However, because Amex adds a 3% foreign exchange fee, you might want to get a separate free credit card to use abroad.
Unfortunately there are no credit cards with 0% foreign exchange fees worldwide which earn airline or hotel points. (The Virgin Atlantic credit cards have 0% FX fees in the Eurozone.) One option is to get a free card from Currensea. Currensea is a simple but clever idea. You pay abroad with your Currensea Mastercard debit card. Currensea translates the cost to Sterling with just a 0.5% fee (83% less than Amex charges) and withdraws the money from your bank account. You can find out more about Currensea by clicking here. Currensea is free so there is no risk in giving it a try.
Other points to note
After the first year, when the £160 annual fee kicks in, you can cancel at any time for a pro-rata fee refund. American Express is the only card issuer to offer such a pro-rata fee refund.
American Express no longer has a minimum income requirement for any of its cards.
Conclusion – is Amex Gold worth it?
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is our recommended ‘first’ miles and points card for someone who is new to all this.
The sign-up bonus of 20,000 Membership Rewards points is EASILY the most generous incentive available on a free UK loyalty credit card.
I recommend signing up and giving the card a try, if only for the first free year.
As well as the bonus, the four free airport lounge passes and £120 of Deliveroo credit are well worth having.
For day to day spending, 1 point per £1 is middling, although the 12,500 bonus points you can earn each year based on your spending increase your average ‘points per pound’ rate sharply.
Because American Express Membership Rewards points can be transferred to so many partners, you have time to learn more about which airline and hotel programmes would work best for you. In time, you might move on to a dedicated airline or hotel credit card.
The application form for Amex Gold can be found here.
(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards? Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)
Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility 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.