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Although the AMEX Gold card offers lower earnings potential than the American Express Premium Plus card, it still offers valuable benefits for those seeking greater flexibility. Although the British Airways Premium Plus Card rewards holders with 1.5 Avios per £1 of spend, spend only increases your Avios balance. There is no option to transfer points to another airline’s reward scheme.
The Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Credit card also offers you 1.5 Virgin Points for every £1 of spend but you have guessed it, it only allows you to transfer points to Virgin.
Both the American Express Premium Plus card and the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Credit card also have hefty annual card fees whilst the AMEX Gold card offers card holders one free year of membership, saving £140. The main benefit of the AMEX Gold card however is that it allows holders to transfer points to no less than 12 airline programmes. If you hate British Airways or Virgin, fear not, this card allows you to transfer points to Singapore Airlines, Etihad and Emirates amongst others. The AMEX Gold card offers the ultimate in flexibility. With this card you can fly business for less than economy in the airline of your choice. Well, you can if your favourite airline is one of the 12!!
Ok, let’s start with the dull stuff. The AMEX Gold card charges an annual fee of £140. In my opinion that fee is not worth it when you can earn 0.75 miles with Virgin Reward Mastercard (not the + version) for every £1 spent with no annual fee. The American Express Premium Plus card is expensive with an annual fee of £250 but it offers much more valuable benefits. These are 1.5 to 3 AVIOS per £1 spent and a companion voucher for any class of travel when you spend £10,000 in a card year. As for the Virgin reward card the annual fee of £160 is simply not worthwhile in my opinion. To see for yourself, check out my rreview of both Virgin cards and read the small print here.
Although the AMEX Gold card technically has an annual fee, you can easily avoid paying this. If you apply for the card and cancel before the anniversary you will not incur this cost. You can then apply again and get another free year. Pretty stupid in my opinion as surely it must cost more than that to cancel and reissue a card? Maybe other people simply keep the card and pay it but as I say I do not feel the benefits warrant the cost.
NOTE, if you do cancel the AMEX Gold card and reapply you will not earn a further sign up bonus it is within 24 months of cancellation. Note, also that if do wish to apply for the AMEX Gold card be sure to use this link. When you spend £3,000 in the first 3 months of membership you will earn a sign up bonus of 22,000 membership rewards rather than the standard 20,000.
Benefits of the AMEX Gold card
So, what are the key benefits of this card? In true marketing spiel American Express love to reel off a long list of benefits but I am just going to focus on the ones you might really use or value.
Boost your airmiles balance with a sign-up bonus
Remember this only applies if you have not held an AMEX card in the last 24 months!!
If this is you or your partner, use this link to sign up for the AMEX Gold card and you will earn a sign up bonus of 22,000 membership rewards rather than the standard 20,000. To achieve it, you need to spend £3,000 in the first 3 months of membership.
Changes to the sign-up bonus
WARNING! To stress, the sign-up bonus only applies if you do not currently hold or have not held any personal American Express Card in the past 24 months. Annoying right? Yes, it absolutely is but this does not mean that you should not sign up for the AMEX Gold card.
You can still earn rewards for every £1 of spend and enjoy the other benefits of the card. However, the sign-up bonus is the most valuable reward for most cardholders. It may be best delaying a sign up until the 24 months has elapsed to ensure you can earn it.
One other way to do this is to rotate membership between spouses/significant others. More on that to follow. This annoying change was introduced a few years back and makes the card less attractive for those seeking sign up bonuses. You can find full details of the changes in this post.
However, there is still one key incentive to recycle this card regularly, namely the annual fee.
Other opportunities to earn membership rewards
In addition to the 1 membership reward you will earn for every £1 you spend, you can boost the number you earn for specific types of spending. For every £1 you spend on your card with any airline, or for foreign currency, you will earn 2 Membership Rewards which is generous. If you book anything through American Express travel the number increases to 3 per £1.
If you retain the card beyond year one, you can earn 10,000 membership rewards when you spend £15,000. This is nothing like as attractive as it used to be when you could recycle and earn a new sign-up bonus of 22,000 rewards. However, although less than the sign-up bonus, you can only benefit from that every 2 years whereas you could earn these points every year.
Changes to the retention bonus
From 12 October 2022, the anniversary bonus will be replaced with bonus additions every time you spend £5,000. This is great for people who might struggle to spend £15,000 but bad news for those who easily surpass this annual spend. From October, you will get 2,500 bonus points for every £5,000 you spend up to a maximum of 12,500 points.
There is still a benefit for those who plan to recycle and that is that this option means you do not need to wait until the end of your Card membership year to receive your bonus points.
If you previously spent £15,000 on the AMEX Gold card you will now earn 7,500 membership rewards whereas before you earned 10,000 on the anniversary.
However, if you normally would spend around £10,000 on the card, then you will earn 5,000 membership rewards post October whereas currently you would earn no retention bonus. There are pros and cons therefore to these changes, however I recommend you recycle to avoid the annual card fee. On that basis, this change is positive. See section below for a proposed approach to maximising airmiles off the AMEX Gold card.
More tips on how to earn airmiles
Note, if you sign up to my newsletter you will receive regular features on how to earn more miles. Your introductory series of emails are packed with tons of tips to inspire you to quickly boost your balance.
Each membership year, you will receive two complimentary lounge visits at over 1,300 airport lounges globally. When you sign up, you will receive a Priority Pass Card. Note however that once you have used the two free passes, if you use the Priority Pass card the cost for lounge entry will be charged to your card.
Extra complimentary passes
Interestingly, from 12th October, members will receive 4 complimentary lounge access passes instead of the current 2. This presumably is to compensate for the reduced retention bonus but if your goal is to fly business class, you will not need these lounge visits. What you need is lots of membership rewards to allow you to travel in style.
Redeeming membership rewards and lounge access
Note, in my view, it is not worth using airline rewards in the UK to book economy class flights. As this linked post explains, the bulk of the ticket price is down to taxes and fees which you still need to pay when you book a reward flight. You might save a few hundred pounds which is not to be sniffed at. However, if you want to get great value from your membership rewards, you need to redeem them for business class flights. That way you will save thousands!
Value of the lounge access benefit
This benefit is currently worth around £70 but from October will double in value which would cancel out the annual cost if you decide to retain the card beyond year one. Remember however, if you follow all my tips and tricks on how to earn more airmiles, you should not need these passes. After all, if you fly business class, you get free access to a lounge included with your ticket and those lounges are much better quality than a Priority Pass Lounge.
Other less valuable benefits (in my opinion)
American Express offers
Once you apply for an AMEX Gold card you will receive various offers from American Express. If you sign up for any offers in the app and spend in the showcased stores during the offer period you can obtain money back which is credited to your statement.
I am notoriously bad at remembering to use these offers however they are really worthwhile. Not only do you support businesses but you typically receive a credit to your card for monies you would have spent anyway.
Deliveroo Benefit Exclusively for Gold Cardmembers
Ditch your Just Eat app and replace it with Deliveroo. If you pay using your AMEX Gold card you will be eligible for a £5 statement credit. You can take advantage of this offer twice a month so if you have a weekly takeaway this offer will save you £120 a year.
How to quickly earn tons of Membership Rewards
OK, so I know from experience that many people cannot be bothered with the administration of this approach. If that is you, simply skip this section and accept it will take you longer to earn enough rewards to fly business. If you are willing to invest a bit of effort however this is going to have you turning left sooner.
|Example date||Member||Minimum spend||Membership rewards||Notes|
|1/1/23||Person 1||£3,000||25,000 (22,000 sign up plus 3,000 for spend)||Use this AMEX Gold card link to sign up and earn 22,000 rewards|
|1/4/23||Person 1||N/A||Refer your partner for an AMEX Gold card and earn 9,000 membership rewards as a referral bonus.||Then transfer your rewards to your chosen airline and close the account|
|1/5/23||Person 2||£3,000||25,000 (22,000 sign up plus 3,000 for spend)||Use your partner’s referral link to earn 22,000 and achieve minimum spend|
|1/8/23||Person 2||Clearly if you can encourage other friends and family members to sign up, you can earn up to 90,000 referral points too.||Transfer your rewards to your chosen airline and close the account|
Please note these figures are for illustration only and the rewards you earn will depend on:
- how quickly you achieve the minimum spend and refer your chosen person.
- how quickly they apply for their card
- This also assumes that Person 1 and 2 are a couple of some description although I guess you could work with a friend to plan a trip together.
- Finally, this example also assumes that neither person has been an AMEX member in the last 24 months.
- You will lose the benefit of the lounges once you close the AMEX account if you do not use the passes prior to closing the accounts.
Now you will have to wait the best part of two years to be able to reapply and earn the sign-up bonus.
As you can see it is more difficult to earn membership rewards than it used to be but the AMEX Gold card still offers members valuable benefits. Namely, that the rewards you earn can transfer to several different airlines and if you are prepared to invest a bit of effort you can earn a bunch of miles by regularly recycling them (although you will have a fallow period while the 24 months pass). I would love to know if you have any other hacks for getting the most out of the card in its current guise. Do not be shy – feel free to share.
From Miles to Smiles is a travel blog. None of the above commentary should be regarded as financial advice, and it is your responsibility to ensure that a credit card you apply for is appropriate for your circumstances. You should read the full terms and conditions of any credit card offer and ensure that that you can meet monthly payments. Our review of these credit cards only considers the ability to earn airmiles and does not consider other factors, such as interest rates, service or the impact on your credit history. Nothing in this article should be construed as giving advice or making a recommendation.