Choosing the right American Express Rewards Credit Card UK
With numerous American Express cards offering reward-based benefits, choosing the best card for your personal needs may feel slightly overwhelming. The chances are you’ve arrived at this page because you’re looking to know more about one of the three American Express Rewards Credit Cards UK available to UK residents.
As of the 14th October, American Express annouced that it would be closing two of the two Amex Rewards cards. Let’s take a look at how you may be affected by the changes and whether you’d be better off with an alternative American Express credit card. Spoiler Alert – There is an alternative card which offers a far better sign-up bonus and additional benefits which we’d recommend you sign up to initially. Read on to find out which card this is…
Within this American Express Rewards credit card review we’ll be looking at the following three cards (two of which are no longer offered by American Express):
- The American Express Rewards Credit Card
- The American Express Rewards Purchases Credit Card (Closed)
- The American Express Rewards Low Rate Credit Card (Closed)
The Amex Rewards credit card is the most recent card to be launched by American Express at the end of 2017. The main differentiating factors between the three American Express Membership Rewards cards was either the sign-up bonuses or the ongoing benefits which we’ll discuss and review in full later in this article.
All three Amex Rewards credit cards were offered with no annual fee.
Regular readers will know that there’s a trend in the UK for most newbie credit card points collectors to gravitate towards the British Airways American Express card. As I often highlight, this is a terrible mistake with the equivalent American Express Rewards card mentioned above offering a sign-up bonus with double the number of points and similar ongoing benefits.
However there’s an even better free card for newbies (and most seasoned points collectors) which offers a sign-up bonus worth four times the amount of the British Airways equivalent… Later on within this review we’ll compare the benefits offered by the Amex Rewards cards against our favourite credit card – The American Express Gold card.
Let's break this post down...
Amex Rewards Cards sign-up bonuses
Lets take a look at the different sign-up bonuses offered across the three different cards to see how the benefits have now changed:
- The American Express Rewards Credit Card
- Welcome Bonus: 5,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend £2,000 on the card in the first 3 months.
- Thrifty Points Thoughts: As we discuss in full here, we estimate the value of a Membership Rewards point to range between 0.5p and 1.5p depending on how they’re redeemed. As such the sign-up bonus of 5,000 points could be worth anywhere between £25 and £75 depending on your chosen redemption method.
- The American Express Rewards Purchases Credit Card (CLOSED)
- Welcome Bonus: 0% for 18 months on purchases.
- Thrifty Points Thoughts: This benefit was likely to be worth considerably more for those who are able to benefit from a higher credit limit. With an assumed credit limit of say £1,500 and a normal APR of 22.9%, 18 months interest free would save £515.25. However there are a couple of major points to highlight here. The first is that you should never (ever!) use a credit card to borrow money – I think this example highlights just how expensive they are! Secondly, to arrive at a sensible value for this Amex Rewards Purchases card benefit let’s consider two scenarios:
- Scenario 1: Tom is using the interest-free period to purchase a television. He does not have the money to pay for the TV now and would have taken out an unsecured, low-interest loan at 6% to pay for this. In this scenario the benefit was worth £135.
- Scenario 2: Sarah has the money to pay for the TV and wouldn’t have taken out a loan. In this instance she decides to invest the £1,500 in an ISA paying 1.5% and then use this money to pay off the American Express Rewards credit card at the end of the 18-month period. In this instance the benefit was worth £33.75.
- The American Express Rewards Low Rate Credit Card (CLOSED)
- Welcome Bonus: 2,500 Membership Rewards points when you spend £1,000 in your first 3 months.
- Thrifty Points Thoughts: Again with a points value in the region of 0.5p to 1.5p, the sign-up bonus of the Low Rate American Express Membership Rewards card was worth between £12.50 and £37.50.
As we’ve seen above, the value of the benefits offered by the three American Express Rewards cards varied from £12.50 to £135. We would always recommend paying back your credit card in full at the end of each month. As such based on the sign-up bonus alone, the continued standard American Express Rewards credit card appears to provide the best benefit with a value ranging from £25 to £75.
As we alluded to earlier, there is an alternative card which is free for the first year and offers a sign-up bonus of 10,000 points when you spend £3,000 on the credit card in the first 3 months. You can read our full review of the American Express Gold card here and also benefit from an enhanced sign-up bonus of 12,000 if you use this link. Based on the same metrics, this sign-up bonus could be worth between £55 and £165.
One further point to highlight at this stage of the Amex Rewards card review, is the recent changes to the American Express sign-up bonuses. If you’ve held either an American Express personal card or small business card in the last 24 months you’ll no longer benefit from the sign-up bonus of the American Express Reward cards. You can however still apply and use the cards for the ongoing points-earning benefits. Read our full review on the recent changes here which also includes a strategy to maximise the total number of points earned using two quirks of the new sign-up rules.
What are the other benefits of the American Express Rewards Cards?
The main, ongoing benefit of the American Express Rewards cards is the ability to earn Membership Rewards (MR) points on your everyday spending. With all three cards you’ll earn 1 MR point for every £1 spent on the card.
Further benefits offered by the American Express Rewards Credit Cards UK include:
- Access to American Express Invites providing pre-release opportunities to purchase tickets to music, film and theatre events.
- Travel Accident Projection Cover up to £150,000. This is not travel insurance and covers the cardholder for loss of life, limb, sight, speech or hearing while travelling on a public vehicle if the ticket was purchased on an Amex Rewards card.
- Purchase Protection – if you’ve purchased an item using an Amex Rewards card and it’s either stolen or damaged within 90 days, American Express will either replace or repair it, or refund you up to £2,500.
What else to know about the American Express Rewards Cards?
There is now no minimum income requirement for either the Amex Rewards credit cards or any American Express issued credit card.
Alternatives to the Amex Rewards Cards
Throughout this American Express Rewards credit card review we’ve alluded to a couple of credit cards which we believe provide both superior sign-up bonuses and better ongoing benefits. Let’s take a look at some of the alternatives to the Amex Rewards Card UK and why these could be more attractive…
Best Free Alternative
This one’s a no-brainer. The 10,000 MR points offered by the American Express Gold card (reviewed here) is twice the amount you’d receive from the most generous of the Amex Rewards credit cards. This also ignores the potential to increase the sign-up bonus to 12,000 using this referral link. You’ll receive the same earnings rate of 1 Membership Rewards point for every £1 spent on the card and in addition to this you’ll benefit from 2 free airport lounge passes worth £40.
Best Premium Alternatives
There are two premium options which I believe are worth highlighting. I mentioned the free credit card offered by British Airways earlier within this article and mentioned most newbies turn to this as their first card.
The premium version of the card – the British Airways Premium Plus credit card – offers one of the most generous benefits in the UK market… the 2-4-1 redemption voucher when you spend £10,000 in a calendar year could be worth over 100,000 Avios points if used correctly. The voucher essentially reduces an Avios rewards redemption for two people by 50% and as such its value is dependent on the number of Avios you already have. This card is ideal for those who already have a healthy Avios points balance. You can read how Hannah and I used our 2-4-1 voucher for 2 First Class British Airways flights here. Whilst the card comes with an annual fee of £195 pa this is more than offset by the 2-4-1 voucher and sign-up bonus of 25,000 Avios points when you spend £3,000 in the first 3 months. The sign-up bonus can be increased to 26,000 points using this link.
The final alternative to the Amex Rewards cards comes with a whopping annual fee of £575 pa. However for some (me included) the number of benefits of the American Express Platinum card more than offset the cost of the card. The card offers a sign-up bonus of 30,000 MR points which can be increased to 35,000 points using this link. Further benefits include unlimited airport lounge access through Priority Pass (worth £369 if you were to purchase), free family travel insurance (worth £100+), free car-hire excess insurance (saves me £60 per year), elite status with various hotel chains (free breakfasts and room upgrades), Eurostar and Delta lounge access and more.
Ways to spend points from the Amex Rewards Cards
Whether you earn points through an American Express Rewards credit card or one of the other Membership Rewards cards we’ve mentioned within this review, there are various ways you can use your hard earned points.
A worst-case scenario would be to redeem the points against your credit card statement at a rate of 0.45p per point. An alternative would be to purchase retail vouchers at a rate of 0.5p per point. We would recommend avoiding the option of shopping with points on the American Express website – this usually provides a value of below 0.45p and as such you’d be better off purchasing the item on your credit card and using your points to settle the outstanding balance.
The next best option would be transferring your points to one of the 3 hotel partners of American Express. We estimate that you’re able to achieve a points value ranging from approximately 0.6p if redeemed with Hilton to as much as 1.2p if redeemed with Radisson Rewards.
One of the best options for those who travel a couple of times each year, would be to transfer the points earned to one of the 12 American Express airline partners. Transferring to British Airways Avios is likely to provide the most flexible redemption opportunities for most UK residents and should provide a value in excess of 1p per point.
FAQs – The Amex Rewards Card
Can you use the American Express Membership Rewards Card abroad?
Yes, but with a fee of 2.99% charged on all FX transactions on the Amex Rewards cards you’d likely be better off with the likes of a Revolut card for international spending.
Summary – American Express Rewards Credit Card UK Review
Historically there have been three options for potential American Express Rewards credit card customers to choose from and it’s no wonder people felt slight overwhelmed when deciding which one was likely to be the best suited to their personal spending habits. This decision has since been made easier with the closing of the low interest and Purchases credit card.
With sign-up bonuses ranging from £12.50 to as much as £135 and an ongoing earning rate of 1 Membership Rewards point for every £1 spent the Amex Rewards Card UK provides reasonable value for cardholders.
This said, for those who are seeking to maximise their points-earning possibilities we’d definitely recommend starting with the American Express Gold card and making the most of the first free year. Don’t forget you can increase the sign-up bonus from 10,000 to 12,000 points using this link.
We hope you’ve found this American Express Rewards credit card review useful. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the Amex Rewards card so please do reach out in the comments section below.