American Express is offering its biggest ever sign-up bonus on its new Platinum credit card.
New customers who sign up for the Platinum Card by 25 October 2022 and spend £6,000 in the first six months will receive a whopping 60,000 membership reward points.
They will also receive £200 credit to spend online at American Express Travel, the company’s online travel booking portal, which can be put towards flight and hotel bookings – as long as they reach the £6,000 minimum spend.
One expert said: ‘Amex is turning Platinum into a coupon book for middle class people.’
Membership rewards points give American Express users the flexibility to make the most of their rewards in a way that best suits them – from shopping to gift vouchers to holidays abroad
While the card comes with benefits, it is vital to stay on top of paying off the bill as you go along. Failure to follow these rules will mean being charged sky-high interest.
The benefits don’t just stop at the bonus. Card membership also includes a £300 restaurant credit, travel insurance and lounge access.
Cardholders can earn one membership reward point for every £1 they spend, and two points for any purchase made on Amex Travel.
Amex recently announced that the Platinum card will change from being a charge card to a traditional credit card for all new cardmembers.
While existing cardmembers won’t be eligible for the sign-up offer, they will at least benefit from an improved ‘invite a friend’ referral bonus.
Customers will now receive 24,000 membership rewards points, double the previous 12,000, for a successful referral.
It is possible to accumulate a maximum of 90,000 membership reward points from referrals alone in a given year.
The invited friend will receive 5,000 bonus reward points, taking their total welcome bonus to at least 65,000 points, if they spend £6,000 in the first six months.
Although the points on offer are tantalizing, the card also comes with a hefty £575 annual charge.
Spend and save: Amex cardholders can now get up to £100 a year back when spending at Harvey Nichols – a new benefit announced in January 2022
What else does the card offer?
The Platinum Card, whether in its charge card or new credit card format, comes with a large range of benefits.
That includes worldwide travel insurance for the cardmember and their family, as well as the ability to add additional cardmembers.
However, in the case of the new credit card, this has been cut to just one supplementary cardmember.
It also gives £150 to spend in selected restaurants in the UK, a further £150 in restaurants abroad, up to £100 a year back when spending at Harvey Nichols and hotel benefits including complimentary room upgrades upon arrival.
Amex is turning Platinum into a coupon book for middle class people
Rob Burgess, headforpoints.com
Another popular benefit is having access to the world’s largest independent airport lounge access program, Priority Pass. In total, cardmembers have access to over 1,300 airport lounges in 140 countries.
Rob Burgess, editor of frequent flyer and loyalty points website headforpoints.com says: ‘Amex is turning Platinum into a coupon book for middle class people.
It is turning from a status symbol into something you can take a realistic look at on a pure value-for-money basis.
Is full travel insurance for your family, airport lounge access, status with four hotel chains, Eurostar lounge access, £100 of Harvey Nichols credit, £300 of dining credit and £120 of Addison Lee credit worth £575 per year or not? It’s now a simple yes or no question.’
Should existing Platinum cardmembers switch?
Existing Platinum cardmembers won’t get the signup bonus for switching from the charge card to the new credit card – but there may be an advantage in doing so.
Charge cards can help build credit and earn rewards just like traditional credit cards – but unlike credit cards, the charge card balance must be paid off in full each month, otherwise, the cardholder will incur a fee.
With credit cards, cardholders can carry over a large portion of their balance each month as long as they make the minimum payment each month as set by your credit card issuer.
Another difference is that charge cards don’t come with a set credit limit like credit cards do.
Instead, the issuer can set someone’s spending power based on their purchase behavior and payment history, and their charge card can be declined if a purchase exceeds it.
According to Rob Burgess, there are pros and cons for existing card members to consider before moving from the charge card to the credit card.
‘The good news is that purchases on the credit card have Section 75 protection which is legally binding, unlike Amex’s voluntary scheme on the charge card.
‘You can of course now roll over a balance on the credit card, but the interest rate is so high that you’d need to be a complete idiot to do that. With the charge card you had to pay it off every month.
‘The bad news is that they will now be limited to one supplementary card on the Platinum credit card, not the current five they enjoy.
This is a big deal for some people, because everyone who gets a supplementary card gets full travel insurance for their entire family.
‘I could, for example, give my brother a free Gold supplementary on my Platinum charge card and suddenly his entire family has travel insurance. You can’t do that now.’
Where to spend Amex points for the best deals
Amex allows you to convert points into rewards via a range of shopping, travel and lifestyle partners, but how valuable the points are will ultimately depend on how you choose to redeem them.
When redeeming points for gift cards at stores such as Amazon, Selfridges or Currys each point is worth 0.5p. For example, 60,000 points is enough for a £300 gift card from Amazon.
Meanwhile, you can secure up to 0.8p per membership rewards point if you convert American Express points into Nectar.
To achieve this you need to transfer Amex points into BA Avios points, and then again to Nectar. Each BA Avios point can be exchanged for 1.6 Nectar points.
As a Nectar point is worth 0.5p, you’re getting 0.8p per Amex point (ie 0.5px 1.6) if you do the transfer via Avios.
For frequent flyers, points can be transferred to any of Amex’s airline or hotel partners.
Jetting off: When it comes to travel, membership rewards points can be used with a number of airline partners including British Airways
The airline ratio is 1:1 meaning for every 10,000 points customers transfer, they’ll get 1,000 airline miles. Most experts believe that you should be able to get 1p per frequent flyer mile if used well.
Amex’s airline partners include British Airways, Iberia, Virgin Atlantic and Emirates.
You can also transfer points to the Hilton, Marriott and Radisson hotel programs and to Club Eurostar.
You can find out more about Amex’s travel and hotel partners here.
Burgess adds: ‘Frankly, for year one it’s a no-brainer if you can hit the £6000 spend target in the first six months,’ says Burgess.
‘If you kept it for a year, you’d get a minimum of £480 value from the 60k points bonus (convert them to Nectar and you get £480 of credit so this is the worse case).
‘Then you add £200 Amex Travel credit, £600 of dining credit (as it resets on 1st January), £100 of Harvey Nichols credit, travel insurance, airport lounge access.
‘If you’re living a typical middle class lifestyle with quite a bit of travel then – for the first year at least – its a no-brainer isn’t it?’
What should users be wary of?
The £575 annual charge is obviously the primary factor to be aware of when deciding whether the card offers good value.
Aside from that, the bonus offer is only available if you have not held a personal membership, rewards-enrolled American Express card within the past two years.
If you have held such a card within the past two years, you will be entitled to all other card benefits, excluding the welcome offer.
As with all credit cards, it’s important to pay it off each month in order to avoid being stung by high interest charges.
The purchase rate of the credit card is 25.7 percent, which is the interest rate charged when you use your credit card to make purchases, and only applies if the balance is not paid off each month.
The APR is a representative 437.9 percent, which is influenced significantly by the card fee of £575. APRs are calculated by adding the interest rate to the card fee.
In addition, it’s worth being aware that some UK retailers don’t accept Amex due to the fact that it charges them around 3 percent for each sale they make.
There are now more than 35,000 UK retailers that accept Amex. Amex also claims it has more small businesses on its network than ever before, having seen a 20 percent rise over the last year.
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