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American Express Preferred Rewards Gold Credit Card review 2020
A premium rewards card with a variety of enticing perks to suit big spenders and frequent fliers.
There’s no getting away from it: a gold Amex is quite a statement. In the Finder offices we call this one the “Am-Flex”. If you use your credit card heavily but don’t carry a balance from month to month, Amex’s Preferred Rewards Gold Card really can offer meaningful benefits – including airport lounge access and reward points by the truckload.
You say: ★★★★★We say: ★★★★★
Potential costs: 2.5/5
Doing its job: 5/5
In a nutshell:
Up to 10,000 points
Earn 1 point
per £1 spent
Earn 2 points
per £1 spent with select partners
|Rep. APR||57.6% (variable)|
|Annual/monthly fees||Year 1 - £0, Year 2 onwards - £140 per annum|
|Incentive||Earn 1 point for virtually every £1 spent. 2 points per £1 spent directly with airlines or in a foreign currency or 3 points for every £1 spent through American Express Travel. Earn 10,000 bonus points when you spend £3,000 in your first 3 months. Spend £15,000 or more during the year and earn 10,000 bonus points each year the card is renewed. Earn 6,000 points per friend/family member that successfully applies for the card or 12,000 points if they spend £3,000 in their first 3 months. Two complimentary lounge visits per year, available at over 500 airport lounges worldwide.|
|Additional Rewards Info||Access to dining benefits, such as discounts off of the food bill, or a complimentary bottle of wine or starter in more than 600 restaurants worldwide with Taste from American Express Experiences. Access to tickets for must-see music, theatre and film events, often before they go on sale to the general public with American Express Experiences. Travel accident insurance on public transport when tickets are charged on the card. Global Assist support 24/7 when you travel outside of the UK. Eligible for American Express Offers where cardmembers can choose offers from selected retailers to obtain discounts or cashback.|
|Lounge access||2 complimentary visits every year, plus membership of Lounge Club, allowing further access at £20 per visit.|
|Purchases interest-free period (days)||56|
What's in this guide?
How premium is it?
When we received this card at the Finder office, there were some murmurs of “I thought it would be more… gold”. It’s a sort-of deep gold – less bling than it could have been, but when it catches the light you’ll want your sunnies at the ready.
Plenty of card issuers throw the terms “gold” or “platinum” around without really meaning it, but Amex’s Preferred Rewards Gold Card does stay true to the original concept. It offers meaningful rewards for people who use their credit card heavily and aren’t deterred by an annual fee. This is the network’s preferred card: they’d prefer you to take this one over one of the more entry-level products.
New applicants will benefit from a waived fee in the first year plus a lump sum of Membership Rewards points (subject to a minimum spend) that could potentially be redeemed for a free flight. From then on, it’s points on all purchases, annual anniversary bonuses and ongoing benefits like American Express Experiences. Frequent travellers can take advantage of perks including hotel room or car hire upgrades and airport lounge access.
You can track your spending in real time and watch your points piling up (hopefully!) in Amex’s very respectable mobile app. The app also lets you turn on/off a range of handy alerts – you can get updates whenever a purchase is made, when you’re within a specified amount (you choose the amount) from your credit limit, when your statement’s ready and when a payment’s due (again, you get to specify how much notice you want). You can also browse and activate offers for nearby merchants.
You can also hook the card up to Apple Pay, or just use Amex Pay if you’re on Android, but in our opinion this is a card that deserves to be seen!
How does the lounge access work?
Within a few days of your new card landing you’ll be sent another – your Lounge Club membership card. This is the one you’ll need to get into a lounge (not your credit card – that won’t work). Lounge Club is a network of VIP lounges covering 300+ airports worldwide. Your first two lounge visits each year are on Amex. After that you’ll need to pay a small fee.
We put the lounge access deal to the test at Gatwick’s No.1 lounge and had no problems at all.
How do the points work?
Whenever you make purchases on the card, you’ll earn points – one for every pound. You’ll earn double points when you spend in a foreign currency (unfortunately the currency conversion fee of 2.99% will outweigh the effective 1% that you’ll earn in points) or directly with airlines and triple points when you spend though American Express Travel – the company’s in-house travel agency.
As well as all this there’s your hefty welcome bonus and anniversary bonus (both subject to a minimum spend requirement) plus a bonus if you refer a friend and they’re approved.
American Express Membership Rewards Points are perhaps the easiest and most versatile credit card points to redeem that you’ll find. When you pay online using your card you’ll get the option to cash-in points or in the app you can just pick charges from your statement and pay them with points. Alternatively, you can even switch your points to partner programmes including those of British Airways, Hilton and Virgin Atlantic.
We were impressed with the card issuer’s customer service, which you can contact if you have any questions about earning, redeeming or converting points. Alternatively we’ve put together an in-depth guide:
What else can it do?
Rather a lot! You’ll be enrolled onto American Express Experiences (discounts on event and film tickets), American Express Offers (discounts and cashback with specific merchants) and American Express Dining (free starters or wine at various restaurants in European cities) amongst other things.
There’s also travel accident insurance – although you’ll need to opt in to this one, as it’s not automatic.
Is it right for me?
Whether or not this card is a smart bet for you will come down to how much you stand to benefit from the card’s introductory and ongoing rewards. If you anticipate carrying a balance from month-to-month, it’s possible that the interest and fees could outweigh the value of the rewards. Big spenders who travel frequently and clear their balance in full each month stand to benefit the most because they’ll hit the minimum spend requirements that lead to lump-sum points bonuses and will also be able to take advantage of the complimentary lounge visits. Realistically, merchant acceptance of Amex remains a bit of an issue (but this is getting better), so your Amex shouldn’t be the only means of payment you carry around day-to-day.
Getting the very best out of this card takes a bit of active engagement on your own part. There’s a fairly mind-blowing spread of perks to be unlocked, and some – like collecting points – don’t require you to do anything other than just use your card. Others – like getting a free bottle of wine on your next meal, cashback at specific stores or a discount on your next gig ticket – require you to have a mooch around the app or to visit the website once in a while. It’s quite fun actually, if you’re into that sort of thing!
Some of the more ruthless credit card users out there might choose to ditch their Gold Amex after the first year, but the ongoing anniversary points bonuses, the complimentary lounge visits in each cardmembership year and the ever-changing partner offers are pretty persuasive reasons not to.
What’s good or bad about it?
- It’s a gold Amex… enough said. OK, not enough said – a good credit card has to do more than just look the part – but it’s certainly a card that raises a few eyebrows.
- The array of benefits the card offers is enormous. This could be Amex trying to keep customers on board after year one, because there’s a decent chance cardholders will still be uncovering new benefits at 12 months in!
- Amex customer service is refreshingly good. When we put it to the test there was no waiting on hold and no being transferred from pillar to post.
- The app is better than many we’ve seen and gives you a good deal of control.
- Despite the network’s recent “Shop small” campaign, if you’re in the sticks and paying at a small independent merchant, Amex could well be off the table. To its credit, Amex is trying to fix this (you could earn cashback on your spending at participating small businesses), but it’s not going to change overnight. Carry a decent back-up option and it’s not really a problem.
- Some of the card’s perks take a bit of research and “activating” on your own part. It’s all about getting cardholders engaged.
- That annual fee… it’s not small. However you can use year one to try the card on for size, and to get an idea of the true value to you personally of all those perks, points and offers.
What can I do in the app?
How do I make repayments?
Easily! You can make manual repayments online or over the phone (0800 700 222), if you really want, or just set up a direct debit. A direct debit is a great idea because it protects you from forgetting to make a repayment and either damaging your credit score or getting hit with a penalty fee as a result. You can arrange a direct debit for repayments when you apply for the credit card – here are your choices:
|Minimum amount||Fixed amount||Fixed percentage||Full amount|
Where do I sign-up?
If you’re keen to start earning rewards with this Amex card, simply go to the Amex site where you can complete the secure application form, which takes less than ten minutes. Before you apply, you’ll be prompted to use the eligibility checker, so you can make sure you’ll get approved without hurting your credit score.
As you’d expect, credit limits are tailored to the individual applicant. You can apply for a credit limit increase (or decrease, for that matter) at any time, and again, this will be subject to Amex’s approval.
How does it compare to other Amex point-earners?
Frequently asked questions
Does this card offer airport lounge access?
Does this card come with travel insurance?
Does the balance have to be paid off each month?
Does this card have a credit limit?