Review: Amex Gold Card
I mostly attribute my point collecting addiction to the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold Card! This was the first rewards card I used where I felt that organising my spending gave me a genuinely worthwhile return. At the point I applied it was a charge card (requiring the balance to be paid in full each month), but it is now available, with the same benefits, as a credit card. This card was my introduction to American Express, and I have to say that (as you’ll see throughout the blog!) the benefits and customer service offered by Amex makes them one of my favourite brands, and this one of the best cards to start with. These are my thoughts as a card member.
The Basic Offer
– The card is free in year one (£140 thereafter, but can be cancelled with a pro-rata refund at any point)
– The bonus for a £2,000 spend in 3 months is 20,000 points (increased to 22,000 if you apply with my referral link). This could be worth anywhere from £100-200 (see my post about what 20,000 points can get here)
-It comes with two free airport lounge visits (generally worth about £20 each).
-There is another 10,000 points bonus if you spend over £15,000 in a year.
-There is a $75 (currently about £60) hotel credit for any bookings of 2 nights+ through the ‘Hotel Collection’
-1 point is earned per £1 spent anywhere, 2 points for £1 spent in foreign currency and 3 points per £1 spent with Amex Travel.
-You get all the benefits of being an American Express member, such as targeted offers and access to reserved tickets for gigs and events.
Interest: The representative APR on a £1,200 spend is 56.7% APR, this is inclusive of the fee (which is waived in year one). The purchase APR, without the fee is 22.9%. This isn’t a great offer if you’re looking to actually borrow on a card (i.e. not pay in full each month), and could quickly offset the benefits above.
Fees: £140 per year (but free in year one, and can be cancelled at any point). 2.99% transaction fee for foreign spending.
Who is this card for?
In my opinion, for people like me who are able to be pretty organised with their spending and to pay their balance in full each month, then it’s possible to get lots out of this card – just by putting everyday spend through it. However, conversely, for people who want a credit card because they need to use it for borrowing, then undoubtedly there are much better options out there.
How does this points stuff all work?
As you spend money on the card, the app/website shows your progress towards the £2,000 spend, and gives you the deadline for the end of the 3 months. Points for spending (1 point per £1) are added to your account as you spend, and then shortly after you reach £2,000 the 20,000 (or 22,000 with referral) points appear on your online account. American Express points can either be spent directly with American Express online, or you can easily link your account to an account you hold with a range of partners (e.g. Avios, Nectar, Hilton, Marriott) and transfer points at a set rate. Points generally transfer within a few days, and can then be spent on the partner website. The best returns normally come from travel schemes. For more detail about how you might use the points, see my post on spending 20,000 points here.
Is it difficult to spend money via American Express?
As you’ve probably heard, American Express isn’t accepted everywhere. This is largely to do with the cost to the retailer which, I guess, in turn, is the main reason it’s viable for them to offer deals like this. I wrote a post here about improving your chances of hitting the minimum spend target. It’s obviously completely dependant on how much you normally spend, but I’ve had several cards, and with a bit of organisation I normally find the targets achievable. As a (very generalised) rule of thumb, I find that I can fairly easily put around 2/3 of my monthly card spend through American Express. To spend the £2,000 in 3 months this means you’d need to be spending at least £1,000 via cards each month to hit the target. The spend target post also highlights ways you could increase this, especially if you’re getting close to the deadline.
Save to Card Offers
Amex ‘Save to Card’ offers are also a decent perk if you’re organised enough to keep an eye on them. These are targeted offers which you can see on the app/website, and need to opt in for. Sometimes they’re quite impressive, they are usually applied as a statement credit, although sometimes they offer bonus points. Recent examples I’ve saved to my card include a 10% credit for all transactions at Morrison’s, and a £200 off a £600 spend with Amex travel.
How does the Lounge Access Work?
After I was issued the gold card, a ‘Lounge Club’ card followed a few days later. This was loaded with 2 free visits (we also got another Lounge Club card with 2 additional visits, plus a points bonus, when we got a free supplementary gold card for my wife). You simply present the card at the desk for any applicable airport lounges (see list on Lounge Club website) and they scan this on entry. Any additional visits after those two are charged to your gold card. Airport lounges usually offer a comfortable seating area with premium facilities and complimentary food and drink.
How did I spend my Bonus?
I really went for it! I applied for further cards and ‘travel hacked’ a luxury honeymoon stay at the Conrad Algarve. The 20,000 points paid for some of this! See my post here.
What about the Insurance?
Perhaps not the most exciting perk, but the inclusive travel inconvenience insurance and purchase protection could be very useful. Generally American Express have a good reputation for paying out and supporting their card members. See the Amex website for full T&C’s, but currently this card has insurance which pays out £200 for a flight delay, overbooked flight, missed connection or baggage delay. It also provides up to £300 of purchase cover, in the event that a retailer will not refund an eligible item bought on the card and up to £2,500 purchase cover for an item damaged or stolen after being bought on the card (both apply only within 90 days of purchase).
So, in my experience – for the right person, this card is a great way to earn decent rewards particularly for travel. If you’re organised enough to use it effectively, hit the spend target in 3 months and pay off your statement in full each month, then you can earn back points worth 10%+ of your total spend, plus other benefits, without spending more money.
On the flip side it’s not accepted everywhere, doesn’t offer the best rates for borrowing and isn’t the cheapest card to use abroad. So if you need a card for any of those things, this probably isn’t it.
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Disclaimer: This is an amateur, personal blog and this review is based on my experience of using the card. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances, and that you access the full and up to date information.
I earn a points bonus if my referral link is used for an application.