My heart was in my mouth early last week when I learned of some changes coming to the American Express Gold card. Thankfully, it quickly became clear that the product as a whole seems to have survived intact and there are no changes to the welcome bonus, free first year and earning rates.
What has changed?
This card has traditionally been a charge card – Platinum and Green being the other products in the charge card family.
For those of you not familiar with the difference between a charge card and a regular credit card – you must clear the balance on a charge card in full, every month.
The Preferred Rewards Gold Card has now become the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold Credit Card.
If you currently have the Amex Gold card – here’s what you need to know
While you can no longer apply for the charge card version of the Gold card, existing cardholders have nothing to worry about. Your card will retain all of its existing features and benefits.
Existing Amex Gold charge cardholders are also free to apply for the new credit card at any point. While you wouldn’t be eligible for another welcome bonus you WILL receive a further complimentary ‘first year’.
Assuming you’re still in your first year of card membership, the best strategy would be to continue using your current Gold card as normal for the rest of the ‘year’. Then apply for the new card just before the start of the second year. This would give you two ‘free first years’.
Alternatively, if you’re already paying the £140 annual fee on this card, apply for the new card for a partial refund plus a further complimentary first year.
Note: If you will trigger the bonus 10,000 Membership Rewards mentioned below for spending £15,000 in a year – make sure these are in your account before cancelling/changing product – you won’t retain any progress towards this target on your new card.
For more info on these changes, Amex has produced this PDF for existing cardholders.
Is the Gold Credit Card worth having?
What is now the Amex Gold Credit Card tends to be the product I recommend when people ask me which card they are best off applying for to start earning miles and points.
Here’s a quick recap of the main features and benefits of the Amex Gold Credit Card.
Sizeable welcome bonus
This card currently offers 20,000 Membership Rewards points – equivalent to 20,000 Avios points or other miles – when you sign up and spend £2,000 within your first 3 months of Cardmembership.
Membership Rewards points convert at a 1:1 ratio to various frequent flyer programs including British Airways Avios, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, Emirates Skywards and Etihad Guest miles. Alternatively, these points transfer to hotel loyalty programs such as Hilton and Starwood. They can also be ‘cashed out’ for numerous retailer gift cards including M&S or Amazon.
What is the welcome bonus worth?
You have plenty of options available when it comes to redeeming your points:
British Airways Avios
Your 20,000 Membership Rewards points are worth 20,000 British Airways Avios. That alone is enough miles for a return trip for 2 people to Paris, Amsterdam or Geneva!
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles
20,000 Virgin miles is enough for an off-peak return to New York. Or more than enough for one way in Premium Economy to the Carribean.
MR points transfer at 1:2 ratio to Hilton. This means that your sign-up bonus is worth 40,000 Hilton Honors points. That is enough for a free night in the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel London – Docklands Riverside for example.
Your points also transfer at 1:3 ratio to Radisson Rewards (formerly Club Carlson). This makes your sign-up bonus worth 60,000 Radisson Rewards points. That is enough for a free night at the Park Plaza Riverbank London for example.
You could choose to cash out your points for a range of gift card options. 20,000 Membership Rewards points can be exchanged for a £100 voucher at the likes of Amazon, M&S, Harrods or House of Fraser.
This card is free for the first year.
Thereafter the fee is £140 a year. However, the fee is refundable pro-rata if you chose to cancel the card at any point during the year. This is a feature unique to Amex. This means if you did decide to keep the card for the second year you need not consider the £140 fee a sunk cost.
Representative 57.6% APR variable. Based on purchases rate 22.9% p.a. variable and a £140 annual fee.
Other card benefits
- Free airport lounge access – You’ll receive two complimentary passes per year. These can be used in any lounge that participates in the ‘Lounge Club’ network worldwide. Further visits cost £15 per person.
- 10,000 bonus Membership Rewards points – after spending £15,000 on your card in a year. These will typically post to your account 3/4 weeks after your account renewal date.
- $75 in-hotel credit plus an upgrade – This offer can be redeemed multiple times at over 350 4* and 5* hotels worldwide when booked via the Amex Travel service.
Day-to-day earnings rate
Cardholders generally receive 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent.
You can earn bonus points for the following types of transactions:
- Foreign currency transactions and airline transactions will earn a bonus point, for a total of 2 points per £1.
- Transactions made with Amex Travel will attract an additional bonus point for a total of 3 points per £1.
To work out whether this is a good card for your day-to-day spending, you will have to analyse your key spending areas:
If you are spending a decent amount directly with airlines or plan on booking a good amount of travel through Amex Travel, earning two or even three points per £1 is an excellent return.
Alternatively, if your focus is on building a large Avios balance, you may be better off putting your daily spending on something like the British Airways Premium Plus card (review here) which earns 1.5 Avios per £1.
You should also pay attention to the new Virgin Atlantic Reward+ card which earns a similarly impressive 1.5 Virgin Flying Club miles per £1 – and it’s a Mastercard!
Am I eligible for the Gold Credit Card welcome bonus?
You are eligible for the sign-up bonus UNLESS you hold or have held one of the Amex Green, Gold or Platinum charge cards or American Express Rewards credit cards in the last six months.
You WILL still receive the sign-up bonus on this card if you hold/have held any of the BA Amex cards, SPG card, Platinum Cashback card or Nectar Card.
Anecdotal evidence suggests Amex will generally allow you to hold two of their charge card products and two of their credit card products at any one time. Platinum and Green are the charge card options while credit cards include the two British Airways cards and the Nectar credit card.
The above isn’t a hard and fast rule. I’ve held the British Airways Premium Plus, Starwood and Nectar credit cards at the same time without issue. It is one to be aware of though, as some have reported being declined for cards after exceeding those limits in the past.
There are NO minimum income requirements for any cards issued by American Express. This restriction was removed a number of years ago.
I’m pleased and relieved that Amex has opted to leave the Gold card features untouched when making this change.
The welcome bonus on the Amex Gold Credit Card remains the most lucrative offer available on any ‘free’ rewards card in the UK.
If you’re just discovering the world of loyalty points this card is an ideal place to start. A ‘free’ return trip to Paris or Amsterdam should definitely whet your appetite for more miles and points shenanigans.
Alternatively, this bonus is worth at least £100 at Amazon or House of Fraser if you opted to cash out via gift cards.
Disclaimer: The information provided by Tricks of the Trade is intended solely as a helpful guide to relevant travel rewards card products and their various features and offers. You should always conduct your own research as recommendations provided within may not be suitable for your personal financial circumstances.