The American Express Card: How Good are the Rewards?

The American Express Card: How Good are the Rewards?

The least rewarding Membership Rewards card.

Good for

  • Getting Accident and Inconvenience travel insurance
  • Those who want to earn Membership Rewards points without paying a high annual fee

Bad for

  • Those who want a free card
  • Anyone who can't pay their full balance each month

Editor's Rating

3.5/5.0

The guidance on this site is based on our own analysis and is meant to help you identify options and narrow down your choices. We do not advise or tell you which product to buy; undertake your own due diligence before entering into any agreement. Read our full disclosure here.

The American Express Card is one of Amex’s Membership Rewards cards, but it's the least interesting of the group in terms of rewards. In our opinion there are better Amex points rewards cards out there, such as the American Express Rewards Credit Card if you want a free card or the Amex Preferred Rewards Gold card if you're a big traveller. That said, the American Express card offers some perks that you may prefer to rewards, such as extended warranty and travel inconvenience insurance and Global Assist.

The American Express Card Review

The American Express Card charges an annual fee of £60 and cardholders can earn 1 Membership Rewards point for every £1 spent on the card—not the best Amex if rewards are your priority.

Depending on how you redeem your points, in most cases these points are valued at £0.005 to £0.01 per point, equating to a rewards rate between 0.5% and 1% on your purchases. You can get the same rewards rate from Amex on their free Platinum Everyday cashback card or their free Amex Rewards credit card.

As a charge card, you need to pay off all your purchases each month and the card requires an excellent credit history to be accepted.

So why would anyone would pay £60 a year for this card, iconic as it may be? You do get a few perks not found on their credit cards. For example, The American Express card gives you access to an Extended Warranty (one year beyond the manufacturer's warranty) on registered purchases up to £1,500 per item and also Purchase Protection. Do these features make the card worth £60? I guess it depends upon how you feel about getting an extra year of warranty and if you're willing to register your big, warranty-covered purchases with Amex as you buy them.

Bottom Line: The American Express Card charges a higher-than-average £60 annual fee for rewards estimated at 0.5% to 1% of purchases. While cardholders have access to features like the Extended Warranty and Purchase Protection, we're not sure they'll be worth the annual fee for most people.

The American Express Card Features

The American Express Card Features
Transaction Fees2.99% fee on non-Sterling transactions abroad
Earnings RewardsEarn 1 Membership Rewards point for virtually every £1 spent
Other Benefits
  • Can transfer your Membership Rewards points to a number of different rewards programs or buy gift cards
  • Travel Inconvenience Protection and travel accident and baggage insurance when you pay with your card
  • Extended warranties up to £1,500
  • Purchase protection up to £2,500
  • Access to Global Assist
  • Access to American Express Experiences
Annual Fee£60
APR (variable)As a charge card, you must pay the full balance each month

How Do Membership Rewards Points Work?

Membership Rewards is the American Express customer loyalty program. Cardholders earn Membership Rewards points when they spend on their cards. Membership Rewards points can then be used to pay for charges on your statement, shop at Amazon.co.uk, buy gift cards at Amex’s shopping partners, or pay for flights or hotel stays. Cardholders generally get the most value from their points by transferring them to one of Amex’s air, car and hotel partners.

The value of Membership Rewards points depends on how you redeem them. The best use of points is using them to pay for travel arrangements. After analyzing data on some popular uses of Membership Rewards points, we’ve compiled the following table that shows the approximate value you can achieve across some different categories:

Possible Use of Membership Rewards PointsPoints RequiredValue of Points
Redeem for statement credit£0.004
Shop with points at Amazon.co.uk£0.0045
Gift cards (e.g., Harrods, Net-a-Porter, Laithwaites Wine, etc.)£0.005
A night at Radisson Blu Hotel, Lisbon10,000£0.007
Five nights at the Royal Hawaiin in Waikiki100,000£0.013
Return economy flight from London to Dubai on Virgin Atlantic40,000£0.006
Upgrade from Premium Economy to Business on BA, LHR-NYC48,000£0.024

Purchase protection up to £2,500

Up to £2,500 to repair or replace an item you buy from new that is stolen or damaged within 90 days of purchase. Click here for full insurance details.

Extended warranties up to £1,500

Not available on most Amex rewards cards, the extended warranty gives you an additional 1 year of warranty beyond the manufacturer's warranty on items that you purchase with the card in the UK. Purchases must be registered by calling +44 (0) 20 3126 4133 within 90 days of purchase. ITems that stop working due to an electrical or mechanical problem are eligible for £1,500 of cover for repair or replacement. Click here for full insurance details.

Global Assist

The American Express Card gives cardholders access to American Express’s Global Assist program. If all goes well, you will never need it! But in case of trouble while you abroad, Global Assist provides access to an English-speaking doctor or lawyer, 24 hours a day. They can also put you in touch with an embassy or consulate, if necessary; or provide local medical assistance by arranging hospitalization, finding a specialist, or delivering hard-to-find supplies (e.g., contact lenses or prescriptions).

Purchase Protection

Purchase Protection is another perk of the American Express Card that you will hopefully never need. If anything you buy on your card is damaged or stolen within 90 days of purchase, American Express will repair it, replace it, or refund you (up to £2,500 per item). This affords a level of protection especially to larger purchases.

American Express Invites

American Express Invites gives you access to pre-sale tickets and reserved tickets. Whether you taste leans to the National Theatre or Justin Bieber, you have the chance to get tickets before they go on general sale.

How does The American Express Card Compare to Other Credit Cards?

To better understand the value of The American Express Card you need to look at it in the context of other available options. We compared this card to other rewards cards so you can see which has more earning potential for you.

The American Express Card vs Platinum Cashback Card by American Express

The Platinum Cashback Credit Card from American Express is a solid, straightforward cashback credit card that delivers between 1% and 1.25% across all categories, depending on how much you spend. Cashback on the Platinum Cashback card is distributed once a year in the form of statement credits.

Quick Takeaway: We think the comparison between these two cards will be a no-brainer for most people, with the Platinum Cashback card coming out ahead because it charges a lower annual fee and offers higher expected rewards rates. Both cards are issued by American Express and provide access to benefits like American Express Experiences, Travel Inconvenience insurance and Global Assist. That said, the American Express Card may be better for you if you place a high value on two features not available on the cashback card: Extended Warranty and Purchase Protection.

The American Express Card vs The Amex Preferred Rewards Gold Credit Card

The Preferred Rewards Gold credit card is the American Express card on which you can earn the most Membership Rewards points. A welcome bonus, annual bonuses, and bonus categories on travel spending all contribute to a card with a great value proposition, not to mention the travel perks like lounge access. The card's £140 annual fee is waived the first year.

Quick Takeaway: The American Express Card has a cheaper annual fee, but it is lighter on earning power and benefits. You will pay more for the Preferred Rewards Gold card, but we think the extra earning potential and travel perks make it especially worthwhile for frequent travellers.

The American Express Card vs The Platinum Card

The Platinum Card is a premium card tailored to attract those who like to travel in style. Although you do earn Membership Rewards points on the Platinum Card, the real attraction is the suite of features like unlimited Priority Pass airport lounge access and the Platinum Concierge service. The Platinum Card does charge a whopping £575 a year, but those who make use of the benefits can easily get that value back.

Quick Takeaway: If you will make use of the high-end perks on The Platinum Card, it may be worth the high fee. It depends what you are looking for in a card.

Erin Yurday

Erin Yurday is the CEO, Co-founder and Editor of NimbleFins. Prior to NimbleFins, she worked as an investment professional and as the finance expert in Stanford University's Graduate School of Business case writing team. Read more on LinkedIn.

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The guidance on this site is based on our own analysis and is meant to help you identify options and narrow down your choices. We do not advise or tell you which product to buy; undertake your own due diligence before entering into any agreement. Read our full disclosure here.