Our credit cards directory lists 13 different personal credit cards in the UK which offer travel rewards. For the beginner to this hobby, however, there is one obvious piece of plastic to start with – the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold credit card.
In return for taking out this card (FREE for the first year, cancel at any time) and hitting a £3,000 spending target, you will receive 20,000 American Express Membership Rewards points. These will convert into 20,000 Avios points.
Key legal information:
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold
Sign-up bonus and earn rate:
- Get 20,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend £3,000 within 90 days
- Earn 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent
- Get up to 12,500 bonus points each year based on your total spending
- Earn double points on all airline and overseas spend
- Points transfer at 1:1 into Avios, Virgin Points and other airline and hotel schemes
- Amex Gold is our recommended ‘first card’ for a miles and points beginner
- Get four free airport lounge passes when you sign up, and a further four each year
- After your four free passes, you can visit further lounges for a small fee
- You receive £120 of Deliveroo credit each year (24 x £5 credits)
- Annual fee: Free for the first year, £195 from Year 2
Representative 88.8% APR variable. Annual fee applies after the first year.
You will receive 20,000 American Express Membership Rewards points as a sign-up bonus on the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold card if you spend £3,000 within 90 days of signing up.
Membership Rewards points are hugely flexible, which is why we recommend this as the best choice for your first miles and points card. You can transfer them into Avios, Virgin Flying Club or other airlines (at 1:1) or into various hotels schemes, into Club Eurostar or use them for shopping vouchers.
To qualify for the bonus, you must NOT, currently or in the previous 24 months, have held any other personal American Express card.
You are OK if you had a supplementary card on someone else’s American Express account.
You are OK if, currently or in the previous 24 months, you have held a Business American Express card.
For clarity, you can still apply for the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold card even if you do not qualify for the bonus. You would still benefit from the four free airport lounge passes and the ‘no fee in Year 1’ offer.
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold comes with four free airport lounge passes. These allow either you and up to three friends, or yourself four times, to visit any of the 1,400 lounges in the Priority Pass network. You make additional lounge visits for £24 per person. You receive an additional four free passes each year.
You earn double Membership Rewards points on all airline spend (made directly on an airline website) and all spend made outside the UK.
You will receive up to 12,500 bonus Membership Rewards points each year, based on how much you spend.
You receive £120 of Deliveroo credit each year. Amex will repay you £5 for the first two Deliveroo orders charged to your Gold card each month.
Other benefits include a 10% discount on Hertz car rentals, Avis Preferred Plus car rental status and special deals at 350 selected hotels worldwide, where Preferred Rewards Gold cardholders receive a $75 in-hotel credit per stay.
You need a minimum personal income of £20,000 to apply for the card.
How do I earn 20,000 free Avios points with Amex Gold?
American Express has its own loyalty currency called Membership Rewards points.
The American Express Preferred Rewards Gold card 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 (or free for the first year) UK loyalty credit card.
Membership Rewards points can be converted 1 to 1 into Avios points. This means that the 20,000 points you receive for signing up to American Express Gold will become 20,000 Avios points.
You aren’t restricted to Avios points. You can also convert to Virgin Points, Emirates Skywards, Hilton Honors (at 1:2), Radisson Rewards (at 1:3), Marriott Bonvoy (at 2:3) and many more programmes. Click here to see what other reward programmes are Membership Rewards transfer partners.
Do I qualify for the sign-up bonus?
You qualify for the 20,000 Membership Rewards points sign-up bonus as long as you have not had a personal American Express card in the past 24 months.
If you do NOT qualify for the sign-up bonus, you can still apply for the card. You will still receive your first year for free, receive four airport lounge pass vouchers, receive £120 of Deliveroo credit and earn 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent.
It is not a problem if you have a Business or Corporate American Express card. This will not impact your ability to receive the bonus points.
Any other benefits?
Four free airport lounge passes:
You receive FOUR free airport lounge passes each year with Amex Gold, valid at any airport lounge in the Priority Pass network.
Heathrow (including 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. You can see which airport lounges accept Priority Pass cards on their website.
£120 of Deliveroo credit:
You receive 2 x £5 Deliveroo credits each month.
American Express will refund you £5 when you make any £5+ purchase with Deliveroo and charge it to your Preferred Rewards Gold card. This is worth £120 per year if you make the most of it.
You will receive a 10% discount and free additional driver on Hertz bookings.
You will receive Avis Preferred Plus status.
There are also 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.
Is there an annual fee on Amex Gold?
There is no fee for the first year of Amex Gold.
There is a £160 annual fee from Year 2 if you choose to continue after the first year. You receive four further airport lounge passes and another £120 of Deliveroo credit each year when you renew.
What do I earn per £1 spent on the card?
As well as receiving 20,000 Membership Rewards points for signing up, you will receive points for all of your spending.
You receive 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent on the card.
Foreign currency transactions and airline transactions earn DOUBLE points – 2 points per £1 – as do travel bookings made via the American Express Travel website.
Is there an annual spend bonus?
Yes. On top of your standard earning rate of 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent, you will receive an additional 2,500 bonus points each time you spend £5,000.
There is a cap of 12,500 bonus points per membership year, which would require you to spend £25,000.
The bonus points are added to your Membership Rewards points account as soon as you hit each £5,000 target.
What are the criteria for getting Amex Gold?
There is a personal minimum income requirement of £20,000.
This applies to all American Express cards, except for The Platinum Card and the British Airways American Express Premium Plus card which require a £35,000 personal income.
Can my partner apply too so we can both get the sign-up bonus?
Yes. American Express is happy to issue separate Gold cards to different people in the same household. This means that, if your partner shares a British Airways Executive Club household account with you, you could both receive 20,000 points as a sign-up bonus and so earn 40,000 Avios points in your BA household account.
We recommend American Express Preferred Rewards Gold as a very low risk introduction to American Express.
You don’t pay any fee in the first year (and can cancel at any point), you get 20,000 points as a sign-up bonus and you get four free airport lounge passes and £120 of Deliveroo credit. You can’t argue with that.
The application form for Amex Gold can be found here.
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.