American Express Preferred Rewards Gold Card Review: How It Got Me 20,000 Free Avios

This is a brief overview of the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold Card. In this post I’ll be discussing why I chose it as my first Credit Card, how I used it to earn 20,000 free Avios, and why it could be rewarding for you.

If you’ve been following this blog recently you’ll have seen my rundown of the American Express Platinum Card and how I’ve already offset the annual fee through its various benefits.

However, when I was first starting out with the credit card and points game, I couldn’t justify the £450 annual fee, and started out with a free card. This card was the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold Credit Card.


The main things that appealed to me about the Preferred Rewards Gold Card were:

  • Free for the first year (£140 per year thereafter, can cancel at any time and get a pro-rata refund)
  • Earns Membership Rewards points for day-to-day spend on the card
  • A sizeable Membership Rewards points bonus (20,000 points – uplifted to 22,000 if referred by an existing card member) after spending £2,000 on the card within the first three months
  • A Lounge Club airport lounge access card with two free airport lounge visits
  • Amex offers and member-exclusive benefits such as Amex Invites
  • Travel insurance benefits
  • Gold shiny shiny!

Note that the representative APR is relatively high – 57.6% – and so it’s important to pay off the balance in full to avoid what could become sizeable interest charges. This could be done relatively easily by setting up a direct debit to settle each month’s statement in full, either on the Amex website or through the Amex app. This product will not be suitable for everyone, and so you need to consider it carefully and apply for it only if you think it’s right for you. You may benefit from the advice of a qualified financial adviser in this respect.

The three key features which made it a hugely rewarding first credit card for me were Membership Rewards pointsAirport Lounge access and Amex Offers

1. Membership Rewards points

Membership rewards points are the loyalty currency of a number of Amex cards. Your day-to-day spending on the card earns you Membership Rewards (MR) points, at the rate of £1 = 1 MR. In addition to this, Amex offer frequent points bonuses for shopping at certain retailers, referring others to Amex cards, and reaching a certain spend threshold.

American Express Membership Rewards Logo

I personally choose to convert most of my Membership Rewards to avios. By combining this with other ways of earning avios, I have accumulated a nice pile of avios indeed. It’s worth noting that you are by no means limited to converting them to avios – MR points are highly versatile and can be redeemed for credit towards your card bill, other loyalty points such as Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles, and shopping vouchers for a wide range of retailers including Amazon, M&S and Curry’s PC World. To get more of an idea of this, I would encourage you to check out the full Membership Rewards catalogue here.

Bearing in mind the generous points bonus of 20,000 Membership Rewards points when spending £2,000 within the first three months (or roughly £666.67 per month), I made sure to time my application close to some large purchases I was planning (flights and Christmas shopping). In doing so, I was able to hit the spend threshold for the 20,000 bonus points with ease, and without the need to spend any more than I was planning to anyway. It’s worth noting that if you are referred by an existing card holder you get 22,000 points – do get in touch if you would like a referral.

The 20,000 points bonus can be redeemed for:

  • Two return flights to several European destinations on British Airways
  • One return flight to Dubai or New York City on Virgin Atlantic
  • a £100 Amazon gift card

It’s worth mentioning that taxes and fees are payable on redemption flights. They can be as cheap as £17.50 each way to Europe on BA, but are more expensive on long-haul redemptions. Furthermore, only a limited number of seats per flight are made available for points redemptions. Nevertheless, I consider these to be fantastic added perks to your daily spending (which you simply wouldn’t get if you made the same purchases on a debit card or non-points earning credit card).

2. Lounge Club Airport Lounge Access Card

Alongside the Gold credit card, you get a free Lounge Club membership card. This comes loaded with two free airport lounge visits, which can be redeemed at many airport lounges around the world. After you’ve used the two free visits, you can still use the Lounge Club card to get into the lounges for £20 per subsequent visit.Lounge Club Logo

Given that lounge access is usually reserved for those travelling in business or first class (and paying thousands of pounds for the privilege), as a predominantly-economy traveller I have savoured this particular card benefit. It has allowed me to experience a key benefit of premium-class travel without the price tag associated with it. Most recently I have used my Lounge Club card to visit Abu Dhabi’s Al Dhabi Lounge (where one visit retails for $49 or £37.60 on LoungeBuddy) and the London Heathrow Terminal 5 Aspire Lounge (which retails for £34.99 on the Heathrow Website). The visits are likely to cost even more if you pay on the door. This makes the two free visits worth at least £70, which is a phenomenal return on the Gold card’s first year fee of exactly £0!

Heathrow Terminal 5 Aspire Lounge Press Photo

Aspire Lounge at Heathrow Terminal 5

3. Amex offers

Over £100 saved through Amex Offers

Screenshot showing my cumulative savings through Amex Offers

Amex card holders are entitled to an exclusive range of offers with partner retailers. These include decent discounts at a range of online and high street retailers. Amex card holders can browse through the offers on the app or the website and save them to the card. Then they are automatically redeemed once the relevant purchase is made at that retailer. These include money off or extra membership rewards points after spending the relevant amount.

I recently got £5 off my pizza at Domino’s, £10 off Heathrow Express train tickets, £5 off petrol at BP and £50 off a recent Hilton Hotel stay. Through Amex Offers I’ve saved over £100 so far.

I’m looking forward to saving even more money during the upcoming Shop Small promotion. This is an Amex Offer which they’ve held every year for the past few years. From 1st – 16th December, Amex will be giving its cardholders £5 credit on a £10 spend at thousands of local businesses, including restaurants, newsagents, cafes, etc.

Chances are there are at least a handful of ‘Shop Small’ retailers within your vicinity. The great thing is you can redeem this offer at an unlimited number of shops (once per retailer). Full details are on the American Express Shop Small page here.

Summary

This are just some of my personal highlights of how rewarding I’ve found the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold Credit card. Through my everyday spending and without having had to pay an annual fee yet, I’ve earnt over 20,000 Avios, got £70 worth of airport lounge access, and saved over £100 through Amex offers.

If you are interested in this card and would like a referral (which would get you 22,000 rather than 20,000 Membership Rewards points) please get in contact.

Do you have an American Express Gold Credit Card? Has it been rewarding for you? Please share your experience of it in the comments below.

Disclaimers:

  • The information provided above is the personal opinion of the author, and should not be construed as financial advice. It is your responsibility to ensure that the product featured above is suitable in your circumstances.
  • The American Express Preferred Rewards Gold Credit Card is free in Year 1 and has an annual fee of £140 from Year 2 onwards. Applicants must be 18 years old or over, UK residents and approval is subject to status

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