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EXCLUSIVE: No more pro-rata fee refunds for UK American Express cardholders

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American Express has traditionally offered one feature which other UK credit card companies did not.

If you took out a card with an upfront annual fee, you would receive a pro-rata fee refund if you cancelled your card part-way through the year.

This is now ending for most cards.

It isn’t ending today. The change will take place on 2nd October 2023.

From that date, you will no longer receive a pro-rata fee refund after cancelling certain American Express cards. You will still be allowed to cancel your card but you won’t get any portion of the annual fee back.

Anyone who took out a card before 31st May 2023 will receive formal notification of the changes in the next few weeks.

Anyone who took out a card from 1st June 2023 will not receive any notification, because the option to receive a pro-rata refund was quietly removed from the T&C for new applicants on that date. However, you are still allowed to request a pro-rata refund before 2nd October 2023.

Does this change apply to all American Express cards?


The change only impacts credit cards.

If you still hold a charge card – although all personal charge cards have been withdrawn from the market over the last couple of years for new applicants – then nothing changes. You will still be able to cancel it at any point for a pro-rata fee refund.

What happens if American Express cancels your card?

You will still receive a pro-rata fee refund if your card is cancelled by American Express for any reason.

No more pro-rata fee refunds for UK American Express cardholders

How will this change the card market?

That’s a good question, especially as you also need to factor in the appeal of competing products – the Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard, for example, has a fee of £20 per month and so can be cancelled at any time without penalty.

Let’s look at a few of the cards:

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is free for the first year, so the appeal of this card (you currently receive an increased 25,000 Membership Rewards points bonus, £120 of Deliveroo credit, four airport lounge passes) is unchanged.

The Platinum Card from American Express

The Platinum Card is more complex, but at a non-refundable £575 for the first year it remains a good proposition (30,000 Membership Rewards points bonus, £300 of dining credit, £100 of Harvey Nichols credit, two Priority Passes, travel insurance etc).

During special offers such as the recent ‘60,000 points + £200 of Amex Travel credit’ promotion it becomes exceptional value for the first year, even at the full £575.

British Airways Premium Plus American Express

The British Airways Premium Plus card becomes less attractive for a quick pump and dump, with the 25,000 Avios bonus equalling but not exceeding the £250 annual fee on our valuation.

However, because of the value of the annual 2-4-1 companion voucher, it is by far the most common card for HfP readers to keep for the long term. I doubt many people who read HfP cancel this card quickly.

Marriott Bonvoy American Express

Most HfP readers who have the Marriott Bonvoy American Express card will have it because of the 15 free elite night credits you receive. This is an annual benefit, and anyone who gets the card purely for the elite nights is probably in it for the long haul.

The 15 elite nights even count towards lifetime status.

No more pro-rata fee refunds for UK American Express cardholders


My gut feeling is that American Express will see an improvement in the ‘quality’ of cardholders who sign up for The Platinum Card and – for non-HfP readers who don’t understand the value of the 2-4-1 voucher – the British Airways Premium Plus American Express card.

The acceptance criteria for The Platinum Card has already been quietly tightened up this year to improve ‘quality’ but this move goes further.

It remains to be seen if blocking British Airways Premium Plus refunds will make the Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard more attractive for people looking for their first Avios credit card.

These changes probably won’t make much difference during special promotions. The offer of 70,000 Avios for getting the British Airways Premium Plus American Express card which ran earlier this year remains astonishing value even when you are locked in to a £250 first year fee. The same goes for the ‘60,000 Membership Rewards points + £200’ offer which recently ran on The Platinum Card.

What interests me is whether some people will still choose to cancel their cards quickly even when they don’t get a fee refund. This would make sense in some scenarios, since the quicker you cancel, the quicker the two year clock for reapplying comes around.

There is some upside too. It is possible that American Express will increase sign-up bonuses further on its paid cards because it knows that cardholders are committed to a full year.

Want to earn more points from credit cards? – September 2023 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit card, here are our top recommendations based on the current sign-up bonuses.

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £20,000 Read our full review

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the best of the other deals currently available.

SPECIAL OFFER: The sign-up bonus on the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard is doubled to 30,000 Virgin Points if you apply by 2nd October. You receive 15,000 Virgin Points with your first purchase and a further 15,000 points if you spend £3,000 within 90 days. Apply here.

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

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

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

30,000 bonus points (SPECIAL OFFER TO 2ND OCTOBER) and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review

Earning miles and points from small business cards

If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these offers:

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers Read our full review

For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending.

Barclaycard Select Cashback credit card

1% cashback and no annual fee Read our full review

Comments (220)

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

  • polly says:

    We always kept our cards for 6-8. Months anyway. The BAPP we will have one ongoing every year. Worth it for one LH Asia trip annually, if we are lucky enough to bag a SIN or HKG return in J or F. Very hard as we know, currently.
    Bonvoy we keep going, both of us annually anyway, as those points go to our annual stay at the Sentosa W. And we get the fee back x 3 times over with offers, note their most recent one 200/75 bk, plus the meal offer, bagging a few k points for 100 spend. Ate at Gilrays.
    Am not surprise at all, amazed Amex took so long, actually to initiate this policy.
    Our WE HSBC covers our smaller inter Asia lounges, and great when l use Paddy air (sorry, Ryan Air) bk and forth to Dublin. So, will keep that going too.
    Plat, not so useful, as both silver, but has value if we think we can use the perks in autumn and spring trips. Used dining credits in Singapore,Phuket, and France last time. So, not the end of the world for us, and all still manageable ongoing. With BJ on his points plan too.

  • Bluebirdnick says:

    Meh. This seems logical. I was never one for churning cards anyway.

    We have 2 plats and 2 BAPP accounts in our household. The BAPP is value at £250, but TBH I am churning the Plats for the first time – the 60k points made it a no-brainer to take it for a few months. But I completely understand why Amex are doing this and in the long run I prefer it as I suspect it might allow them to enhance the plat card, hopefully to the point where it is something that I could hold long-term again.

  • S879 says:

    Just been on Amex chat and it seems you can only refer once you have held the card for 6 months! That’s the reason being given to me for having my referral option removed. Agent is adamant the option wasn’t there and I need to hold the card for 6 months. I will be looking at non-Amex cards. Have spend over £12k on BA Premium card, only have about 15 offers in total, no referral provision although I haven’t even made one. Not for me.

    • NorthernLass says:

      This probably needs a discussion thread, though the removal of the pro-rata refund will probably mean more people holding the card 6+ months anyway.

    • Sloth says:

      They are telling you porkies…I took out the plat in April and have referred two people from it, all worked ok. They even promoted it with an increased referral fee which I received. It has now gone, although I saved the link

      • S879 says:

        I have experienced the same, but was updating about this ‘new’ line they are using and perhaps going forward, will not allow referrals in first 6 months.

  • Ross says:

    Can you cancel your platinum before the 6 months, providing you’ve hit the target spend?

  • Xav says:

    Hi. I can see that anyone who took out a card from 1st June 2023 can still request a pro-rata refund before 2nd October 2023. What is the best way for this to be requested? Is there any way they can refuse this? Many thanks!

  • Alex says:

    I’m a bit stuck if someone can help me decide (and maybe send me a referral link!).

    I’ll be travelling for five months and I’m tempted to get the Platinum Amex mostly for the free lounges and travel insurance.

    I currently have the free BA Amex and the Barclays Avios plus which I’d like to cancel. When I phoned up Amex today they said I’m eligible to upgrade to the BA Premium Plus, which would make me need £200 of spend to trigger the 241 voucher.

    My question is:
    – Can I upgrade, trigger the 241 voucher and cancel before Oct for a pro rata discount
    – Can I simultaneously apply for the Platinum card and try and hit the bonus?
    – Will the travel insurance work even if I used my BA card to book all flights so far?
    – Is the Gold card a better shout considering costs and it being free for a year?

    Hard to get UK based advice on this!

    • Rob says:

      1. Yes
      2. Yes
      3. Yes, any personal Amex card in your name validates the insurance (and only certain small things require Amex payment, medical etc is automatic)
      4. You won’t get a bonus on Gold due to holding a BA card. Even if you do want Gold long term, it’s better to get Platinum, earn the bonus, trigger the £300 of dining credit and £50 Harvey Nicks credit for H2 2023 and then swap to Gold.

      If you want a Plat referral link let me know and I can email one.

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

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