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Review: the American Express Rewards credit card

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This is our review of the American Express Rewards credit card (‘ARCC’).

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 Rewards credit card application page

American Express Rewards credit card review

Key facts: No annual fee

The representative APR is 31.0% 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.

This article was updated on 1st February 2024, and all of the information is correct as of that date. Ignore the original publication date shown.

About the Amex Rewards credit card

The American Express Rewards credit card is free – not just free in the first year, but permanently free.

You earn Membership Rewards points on your spending.

This is an excellent card for anyone who currently has an Amex Gold or The Platinum Card and is thinking of cancelling it due to the annual fee. Whilst you wouldn’t qualify for a sign-up bonus, getting a free American Express Rewards credit card would keep your Membership Rewards points balance active.

If you don’t do this, you would need to spend or transfer all of your Membership Rewards points before closing your Preferred Rewards Gold or Platinum card.

What is the Amex Rewards sign-up bonus?

American Express Rewards offers a sign-up bonus of 10,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend £2,000 within three months.

Membership Rewards points can be converted 1 to 1 into Avios.  Click here for our article on what other reward programmes are Membership Rewards transfer partners.

This means that you can receive 10,000 Avios points for free by applying, 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.  Amex is only looking at any personal cards you own or have recently owned.

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 for the card.

Review American Express Rewards Credit Card

Any other benefits?

No.

What is the Amex Rewards credit card annual fee?

There is no fee for the American Express Rewards credit card.

What do I earn per £1 spent on the card?

You receive 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent on the card.

Unlike American Express Preferred Rewards Gold, there is no bonus for foreign spend or airline spend.

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 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. You can choose from Hilton Honors, Marriott Bonvoy and Radisson Rewards.

You can take a look at the full list of Membership Rewards options here.

Review American Express Rewards Credit Card

Is Amex Rewards a good card to use when travelling?

As 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

You can apply for the card with a minimum personal income of just £20,000.

Conclusion

The American Express Rewards credit card is, in itself, a decent deal.

However, for one year, it would make more sense to take out the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold credit card:

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

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

This has a far bigger sign-up bonus of 20,000 Membership Rewards points which is the most generous incentive available on a free UK charge or credit card.  You also receive four FREE airport lounge passes.  When your free year is up, you could switch to an American Express Rewards credit card.

For day to day spending on a free card, 1 point per £1 is a good return – although Amex Gold beats it due to double points on foreign and airline spend, and the annual spend bonus of up to 12,500 points.

The best reason for getting the Amex Rewards credit card is to protect your Membership Rewards points if you are planning to cancel an Amex Gold or Amex Platinum card.

The application form for the free American Express Rewards credit card 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.

Comments (19)

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

  • Jonty says:

    This review mentions the gold cards 10,000 points for spending £15,000. Hasn’t that benefit been replaced by a tiered bonus structure?

  • DavidC says:

    Currently giving £100 back for £300 spend at Marriott Hotels on my card.

  • Jonathan says:

    For the purpose of earning MR points only, there’s absolutely no difference between this card and Platinum, Centurion and the now closed to new applications, the Classic Iconic Green card, and the the ICC USD/EURO cards

    Amex do definitely need to make their Platinum card more attractive for day to day spending, since in the ideal world, a lot of HfP readers would permanently have a Platinum, Gold and BAPP in their pockets (or bedside drawer, only using Platinum when there’s offers that can only be obtained using that piece of metal, it’s not a piece of plastic any longer !

    • lumma says:

      Why would anyone have Platinum and Gold?

      • Icewhite says:

        Going by YouTubers solely to flex.

      • JDB says:

        Good to have one of each in a household as Plat and Gold do very different things; wife of course has the Plat while I slum it with Gold.

  • Jasdev says:

    I added this card to my account before cancelling my first Preferred Rewards Gold credit card; I didn’t like the look of this card as much as my Gold card but this card unexpectedly got a lot more people interested when I whipped it out, probably because it was see-through.

    It’s a good card and I made use of the member offers while I had it, if you don’t need the lounge passes, Deliveroo credit or any other Gold benefits, this is a fine card to have.

    • VALittleRed says:

      I did the same to retain my MR Points. Problem is of course I’ve had the ARCC card so long which has prevented me from any sign-up bonuses on either Gold/Plat but I’m really not sure what to use my MR points for to reset the 2 year time limit.

  • pigeon says:

    Can I keep this card if moving abroad? I want to keep access to a UK rewards account. Must it be tied to a UK address or can I use the new one abroad?

    • Rob says:

      Not sure, but you don’t need to tell Amex of course. As long as you don’t use it much they may not pick it up.

      • pigeon says:

        Problem is I want to open an Amex up in the Netherlands and transfer my credit history with the “Global Card Relationship” scheme (if I can) so I don’t start from nothing. The Netherlands seems awkward – officially only HSBC lets you keep your current account.

  • CombatJohnny says:

    Is this card better than having a free BA card? Thinking of switching to this as it can transfer points to other programmes too

    • MarkZ says:

      It depends on your annual spending amount. If you spend less than £10,000 per card year, then “Yes”. If you spend more than £10,000, then the paid-for BA card comes into play. But, if you prefer to be fee-free, and have transfer flexibility, then “Yes” again.

    • Harrier25 says:

      The big difference I’ve noticed between the MR points cards and BA Avios cards is that if you spend say £16.57 on the MR points card it is rounded down to the nearest pound, but rounded up with the Avios earning cards!

      • Jonathan says:

        I really do wish Amex would change that on the MR cards, it’s the only reason I keep my BA Blue alive along with the feature card of this article

    • Rob says:

      If you have no interest in the 241 voucher on the free BA card, or don’t spend enough to trigger it, then yes it is far better than the free BA Amex.

  • TalC says:

    Hey Rob, just checking if the free Amex rewards card still allows you to use your Membership points to transfer to Airline points as the Amex website is not that clear that it can do?

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

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