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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.

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?


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.

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.


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 – 30,000 points (TO 16TH JULY), FREE for a year & four airport ….. 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 (24)

  • Jimbo says:

    Is The American Express Rewards credit card a good card to jump to if I’m cancelling my BA Amex Premium to save and use my 1-2-1 voucher ?

    • Ben says:

      As long as the card paying for the flights is an Amex in some shape or form, you can also use your BA Companion voucher that you acquired via the BA or BAPP card.

    • Rob says:

      No. You should qualify for Amex Plat bonus so that and if necessary drop down to ARCC after a couple of months.

  • Matt says:

    Since the Amex 2 year rule and the loss of Creation IHG black card, I’ve gone with Amex ARCC as my primary card and the free Barclays avios card as my backup (and HSBC global money for foreign spend). It earns me points (minus foreign spend), no card fees and is no effort. I used to do the whole Amex churning approach, but I just don’t think it’s worth it since the 2 year rule change. Also the potential Amex pro-rata fee removal is a concern too.

    I’m open ears to better strategies though? I used to put the leg work in so not averse to some effort. However I’m not interested in earning companion vouchers as I don’t like flying BA anymore.

    Thanks all. Appreciate your input.

    • Rob says:

      You can still get a BAPP bonus every 2 years – little effort needed. Those Avios will always find a use.

      • Matt says:

        Ah good point. I think I’m well past 2 years since having a BA card. I forgot that makes me eligible for the BAPP bonus. Yes I will add that option to the mix. If two of us do that when there’s an enhanced BAPP bonus, then we’ll be up to enough avios for Qatar J to Asia in no time. Thanks Rob.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Doesn’t this card mean you can’t get the Platinum bonus? Wouldn’t holding the Nectar card have been better?

      • Matt says:

        Thanks. I’ll take a look at nectar. On the face of it, 2 nectar points per £ is worse earning rate than ARCC? My intended use for the points is avios for Qatar J redemptions. I know you’ve got to way that up with the Plat bonus so the maths probably does work in favour of what you suggest (assume I’d need to be spending way more than I do for the better earning rate to outweigh the Plat bonuses). I’ll take a look! Thanks.

        • CJD says:

          Nectar has a better earning rate if you’re going for Avios, unless my maths is wrong?

          £200 spent on ARCC=200 Membership Reward Points=200 Avios

          £200 spent on Nectar Amex=400 Nectar Points=250 Avios

          • Matt says:

            In which case I’m being a dummy! Does that mean that Nectar has the best avios earning rate of all the free credit cards? Unless I’ve missed it, that doesn’t seem to be widely publicised on this site.

            Also, do you get the same offers on Nectar Amex? The ARCC offers seem to be in line with what you get on the other paid for Amex’s.

          • Rob says:

            You need to factor in the £30 fee and, more importantly, ask why the heck you want to lock yourself out of other Amex bonuses when a free Barclaycard Avios card does roughly the same job and is accepted everywhere.

          • Sandgrounder says:

            It’s not free CJD, it’s £30pa. Still a decent deal if you spend enough.

          • Sandgrounder says:

            Sorry, Matt not CJD!

          • TGLoyalty says:

            Yup it’s the best one and free for the first year so costs £30 for 2 years.

          • TGLoyalty says:

            Consistently find nectar has the most offers

    • David says:

      Matt you come across as having spent time in this game but some of your decisions are baffling. You didn’t know you could still get a BAPP bonus? You didn’t know Nectar is 1.25? Are you trolling?

      • Matt says:

        Trolling!? No I just haven’t put as much effort in the “game” in the last few years as I used to, and was looking for some inspiration on different strategies. People are usually helpful on here, and I’ve received some really good ideas that I’m going to look into. I hope people don’t think I’m trolling! Thanks everyone for the advice.

        • Harrier25 says:

          For what it’s worth @Matt, I don’t think you’re trolling.

        • david says:

          Providing help is the backbone of hfp. Only reason I questioned is because theres been some suspicious comments and threads in forum in the last few weeks that are subtly trolling. Hope you are well Matt and all the best.

          • TGLoyalty says:

            Tbf I’ve had this debate on Nextar being the best Avios earning card before

            The breakeven point for the £30 fee over two years is really low if you value 1 Avios at 1p then it’s .25p per £ and £500 spend a month breaks even more more importantly you can be eligible for Platinum and BAPP without breaking your Amex relationship.

            Personally I’d keep the Bonvoy card but that’s because I really value the 15 nights 🙂

  • Rob says:

    Curve is far too complex now to promote.

    • Mikeact says:

      I personally disagree…it’s not that difficult to see each option available at all.

  • Rob says:

    Yes, you can refer out. Only Accelerating Business is exempt from referrals.

  • PH says:

    I preferred the clear plastic card, although admittedly many transactions are Apple Pay / online these days

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