New cardholders can get 5% cashback on all spending for three months, while new AND existing American Express cardholders can sometimes get a cashback bonanza, with short-term deals.
This is a guide to the best American Express credit cards to get, which retailers accept them, and all the current special deals.
Current top deals
What are the best cards?
American Express offers a range of cards with different functions. Some are cashback credit cards, some offer free flights or vouchers, and some allow you to earn loyalty points for schemes such as Nectar or Avios, which you can then swap for days out, flights or catalogue items.
5% cashback for new cardholders
Cashback credit cards pay you every time you spend on them - the best pay 5% (5p per £1 spent) for an introductory period. It's no-brainer free cash for many, but, there's an absolutely crucial golden rule to follow...
Set up a direct debit to repay the card in full each month, so you never pay interest, which would outstrip any gain.
By doing this, you've effectively made your credit card a debit card, but one that pays you every time you spend on it. Also, always stay within your credit limit, or you'll be charged.
Amex pays cashback once a year. You can choose to take it as money off your bill, or have it paid in vouchers. With the latter you get an extra 5% on your cashback balance in Currys/PC World, Boots, House of Fraser or Homebase vouchers, or 10% extra in Waterstones vouchers.
Amex Platinum Everyday* 5% intro cashback + up to 1.25% after
- Cashback: 3mths 5% (max £100) | Up to 1.25% after.
- Paid out: On card anniversary
- Max cashback/year: N/A
- Annual fee: None
- Min spend: £3,000
- Rate: 19.9% (see Official APR Example)
- Card issuer Amex
- Min income: £20k household salary
New American Express Platinum Everyday* customers get a huge 5% cashback, but only for the first three months and only on spending up to £2,000. After that, cashback's tiered up to 1.25%, depending on how much you spend.
After this, spending attracts tiered rates of cashback. Spend £0 to £3,500 and you get 0.5% cashback on that spend. From £3,500 to £7,500 and you get 1% on that portion of spending. All spending above £7,501 attracts the full 1.25% cashback.
However, you will get NO cashback if your total spending in a year is under £3,000. This card is also not available to existing Amex Cardmembers.
However, make sure you repay in full each month otherwise it's 19.9% representative APR. To get one you must earn £20,000 or more annual salary.
Amex Platinum* 5% intro cashback + 1.25% after (but £25 annual fee)
- Cashback: 3mths 5% (max £125) | 1.25% after.
- Paid out: On card anniversary
- Max cashback/year: N/A
- Annual fee: £25
- Min spend: N/A
- Rate: 18.7% representative APR inc. £25 fee - spending is charged at 14% (see Official APR Example)
- Card issuer Amex
- Min income: £20k household salary
The American Express* Platinum Cashback card pays new cardholders 5% intro cashback for the first three months on up to £2,500 spending. After this, all spending attracts a good 1.25% cashback. Also, apply before 10 Mar 2014 and you get a bonus £25 cashback. However, it also charges an annoying £25 annual fee.
If you spend over £10,000 in a year, you'll also get 2.5% cashback in your anniversary month. Ensure you repay in full every month to avoid the 18.7% representative APR.
While the flat rate after the intro rate is a bonus, the annual fee wipes away some of the gain. If you spend less than expected, you'd still be hit with the fee, making it less profitable.
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Freebie cards - get flights, Eurostar, gift cards
As opposed to cashback, where you should do as much of your normal spending as possible on the card, with freebie cards it's usually the opposite - you get freebies upfront when you spend a trigger amount. Yet only spend on items you'd have bought anyway.
Once you've spent the cash, it's crucial to pay off the balance IN FULL at the end of the month, to avoid interest and ensure the freebie is totally free. Full info on how to do it in Credit Card Freebies.
Free flight cards
Amex has a range of airline credit cards which will allow you to collect Avios points. The two best currently both have introductory bonuses which get you free flights.
BA Amex*Companion ticket on £20,000 spend
With BA Amex*, you earn one Avios point for every £1 spent. The big bonus, though, is if you spend a big £20,000 in a year, you get a free companion ticket . So it's good for big-spending couples wanting long-haul flights - though you must pay taxes and charges.
Apply now and you'll get an extra 3,000 Avios points if you spend £1,000 in the first three months, enough for a return on Eurostar, or a flight to Berlin, Paris or Milan (there's c.£30 in fees/taxes for flights).
For additional ways to earn Avios points, including converting Tesco Clubcard points, see Boost Your Avios Points. Be sure you repay in full, otherwise the gain will be eroded by the 19.9% representative APR.
To see how this compares, read the full Best Cashback Cards guide.
➕ Considering this card? See our extra info
- What airlines can points be redeemed against? Avios points can be redeemed on BA and other Oneworld airlines, including BA, American Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Qantas. See the Avios site for where you can go.
- Companion ticket: The companion flight can be used to get the same ticket type as the cardholder (if you go first class, so do they), though only on BA. It's valid for 12 months. You'll also need to pay taxes and charges. You can continue to collect points after it has been issued, but ensure you leave enough time as seat numbers can be limited when redeeming miles.
- Additional cardholder: Those in trusting relationships can boost Avios further by adding a partner to their account. The points accumulated when your partner spends will also be added to your account, meaning it grows more quickly.
TWO BA Paris returns, or £100 gift cards*You pay taxes on flights. It's a CHARGE card, not credit card
- Representative variable rate: N/A (Charge card - fail to fully repay and get £12 fee)
- Min spend trigger: £2,000 in first 3 mths
- Taxes included: None
- Freebie: 20,000 Rewards points
- Annual fee: £125 (waived in year 1)
Accepted new Amex Preferred Rewards Gold* charge card holders get 20,000 Rewards points when they spend £2,000 in the first 3 months. It usually charges £125/yr, but for now it's fee-free in the first year. To avoid paying £125, diarise to cancel before year 2 starts.
What can 20,000 points get you? Two short BA return flights, including Paris, Milan and Berlin (you pay c.£30/person taxes) or one longer, eg, to Istanbul. Alternatively, £100 in gift cards for Amazon, M&S, Homebase, PC World and more.
Alternatively, just add the points to your current stash. They can be converted into 10 frequent flyer programmes (including Avios and Virgin Atlantic), or five hotel reward schemes, among other things.
How do CHARGE cards work? Charge cards allow you to spend on them, but require you to pay off in full at the end of EVERY month - set up a direct debit to ensure you don't forget. There's no interest charged, but there's a £12 fee - and a default on your credit file - if you fail to fully repay within 10 days of getting your statement.
You'll need an income of £20,000+ to be considered for this product, and you'll be credit scored. The charge card is accepted in all
retailers that take Amex (see our Who takes Amex? forum discussion). One supplementary card (for a partner/friend) is provided free, though any more will cost £45.
Free 20,000 Nectar points*Must spend £2,000 in first three months
- Representative variable rate: 25% APR incl £25 fee - spending is 19.9% Official APR Example
- Min. Spend Trigger: £2,000 in 3 months
- Freebie: 20,000 Nectar points
Sign up to the Amex Nectar* card, spend £2,000 on it in the first three months, and you'll get 20,000 points. These are worth around £100 and can be spent on anything in the Nectar catalogue. If you're just grabbing this for the freebie, don't forget to factor in the £25 annual fee.
A small selection of retailers give 1p per point, making this freebie worth £200 at theme parks Legoland, Alton Towers, Thorpe Park, Chessington, Madame Tussauds and Warwick Castle (read Loyalty Schemes for ways to max these).
As long as you spend the £2,000 on items you would have bought anyway (food shopping, for example), this is up to £75 for free after you've paid the fee. The 19.9% representative APR means you should make sure you pay the card of in full each month.
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Amex cardholder offers
For all personal credit card holders, American Express regularly releases a new set of cashback offers when you spend a set amount at certain stores. Below are the latest offers and how you can access them.
What if I don't have an Amex card?
If you don't have an Amex and want to access these deals, consider applying for one of the cards above. It'll take around two weeks for your application to be processed and you to receive your card.
Current cashback deals
No current offers
Cardholder promotional interest rates
Some card holders have reported special promotional interest rates of around 3% on spending. It's worth keeping an eye on email and mail offers from American Express to see if there's one you can benefit from.
Which stores accept Amex?
The only problem we have with Amex is that it isn't accepted everywhere. That said, it's less of a problem than it was 10, or even five years ago. This is because it charges higher fees to retailers when a customer uses Amex in their stores.
Therefore many retailers - especially smaller ones - don't accept them, preferring to stick with Mastercard and Visa and their smaller charges. We always advise carrying another credit or debit card while shopping, in case you find a retailer who doesn't accept Amex.
There's no official list of places that take American Express cards, but you can ask questions about particular retailers in the Who takes Amex? forum discussion.
Spending on credit cards gives extra protection
Credit cards are useful, especially if you are buying more expensive items, because of the protection that comes with them. If you spend more than £100 on a credit card, including the Amex credit cards listed above, then you get Section 75 protection.
This means if you buy something and it doesn't arrive or is faulty, then if the retailer won't help you get your money back, the credit card company has to.
However, Section 75 doesn't apply to chargecards, but there is also help available for these, and for purchases under £100 on credit cards, using chargeback, but this isn't a legal protection, it's part of Amex's (and Visa's and Mastercard's) rules, so it's not as strong. But it's worth a try for smaller amounts.