American Express tips & tricks

Including bonus cashback offers, £5 back at local businesses & earn £150/year referring friends

New American Express or 'Amex' cardholders can get big intro bonuses, such as £100 in vouchers, and free airport lounge access. But once you've got your initial bonus (and importantly you're debt-free and pay off your card every month), there are lots of other ways to earn extra cashback, and boost your points. We'll take you through our top tricks below, plus what to watch out for.

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Top ways to make the most of your Amex

  1. Set up a direct debit to repay IN FULL every month

    Amex pays huge bonuses but you'll only reap the rewards if you pay off your card every month. Getting charged interest almost always scuppers even the very best reward schemes, which would dwarf the gain. So quite simply…

    If you want rewards, always set up a direct debit to repay the card IN FULL each month, so there's NO interest.

    By doing this, you've effectively made your credit card a debit card, but one that pays you every time you spend on it. Just make sure you stay within the credit limit or you'll pay charges.

    Amex also isn't accepted everywhere, so you'll need to carry a back-up card. But this doesn't mean you have to miss out on rewards – we've tips below on how to choose the best back-up card, plus a trick to get your Amex accepted at more online retailers.

  2. Get extra cashback with Amex offers – you could get £15 off £150 at Ikea, £5 off B&M, 15% off Disney+ and Krispy Kreme

    American Express regularly releases new cashback offers, which usually involve spending a set amount at certain stores. What's more, you can use these offers alongside discount vouchers, or in a sale, to maximise the savings – and you'll get your normal level of cashback or reward points as well.

    Some offers may even mean you get your purchase completely FREE. In the past we've seen cashback offers for cafés (such as Upper Crust, Millie's Cookies and Pasty Shop) where you could get your full spend back.

    Warning. This is NOT an excuse to overspend – only use the offers when making planned, affordable purchases. Check our money mantras before spending, and remember, cashback should be seen as a bonus – it shouldn't drive your purchasing decisions. 

    It's worth noting, most offers can only be used once per person, but some (such as the current 15% off Krispy Kreme), can be used as many times as you want within a certain time period.

    Not everyone will get the same set of offers – see below for how to check which you can get – but here are some decent ones a few of us at MSE Towers spotted on Monday 20 March that you may be eligible for:

    • Apple (iPhone purchases) - £80 cashback on a £800+ spend online only until 31 March
    • Avanti West Coast - 5% cashback until 6 April
    • B&M - £5 cashback on a £20+ spend online only until 10 May
    • Charles Tyrwhitt - £20 cashback on a £100+ spend until 15 April
    • Clinique - 7% cashback online only EVERY time until 19 April
    • Disney+ - 15% cashback until 19 April
    • Emirates - £100 cashback on a £800+ spend online only until 30 April
    • Heathrow Express - 10% cashback online only until 31 March
    • Hertz - £60 cashback on a £150+ spend until 30 April
    • Hussle - 30% cashback until 4 July
    • Ikea - £15 cashback on a £150+ spend in-store or online until 3 April
    • Krispy Kreme - 15% cashback EVERY time until 31 March, up to £5
    • MAC - 12% cashback online only EVERY time until 5 April
    • Pizza Express - 10% cashback until 28 April
    • Pumpkin Cafe - £10 cashback if you spend £10 twice, until 31 March
    • Pure - 20% cashback on a £20+ spend EVERY time until 31 March
    • Stitch Fix - £20 cashback on a £40+ spend until 10 June
    • Swarovski - £40 cashback on a £200+ spend until 31 March
    • Ted Baker - 15% cashback on a £125+ spend online only until 7 April
    • Upper Crust - £10 cashback if you spend £10 twice, until 31 March
    • WHSmith - £5 cashback on a £25+ spend online only until 27 March
    • YSL - 20% cashback on a £75+ spend online only until 16 April

    How to use the offers

    You'll need to log in to the American Express website or app (available for Android and iPhone). Here's how it works: 

    1. Select 'Offers' to see current deals. To be eligible for the cashback, you have to manually 'save' the offer to your card. 

    2. Spend at your chosen retailer – if you've met the terms (such as the minimum spend), you should receive an email saying you've used your cashback offer.

    3. Amex says you should see the cashback credited to your account within five days, but it could take up to 90 days from the end date of the offer.

    Anyone with a personal Amex card qualifies for cashback offers (including cards issued by Lloyds, TSB, MBNA and Barclays), but not corporate or prepaid cards.

    Previous retailer cashback promotions via the 'Offers' tab in the Amex app

    American Express told us the majority of offers are available to all cardholders, but a few may be tailored specifically to you. Some are only available for a limited number of cardholders, such as the first 38,000 to save them. To avoid missing out, it's worth checking for new offers regularly, and saving them to your card as soon as you spot one you want.

  3. Get up to £150 a year referring your friends to Amex – but some can earn more

    Refer friends to Amex to get up to £150 a year

    If you have the Platinum Cashback Everyday card, the standard bonus for referring a friend to Amex is £20. But occasionally you'll see it boosted to £30-£50 for a limited time. American Express says you can earn up to £150 each year from referral bonuses.

    If you have a different Amex card, you could earn even more from referrals. For example, the Preferred Rewards Gold card lets you earn up to 90,000 Membership Rewards points each year (worth roughly £450). See below for a list of each card's referral bonus.

    Here's how to find your unique referral link:

    • On the American Express website, the option to invite a friend should appear on the home screen.

    • On the Amex app (available for Android and iPhone), you'll need to go to 'Account' then scroll down the bottom where it says 'Invite a friend'.

    To get the cashback, your friend will need to apply for an Amex (excluding the 'Basic' card) using your referral link, be accepted and spend at least £1 on the card.

    Got a different Amex card? You could earn even more

    These are the standard referral bonuses for each card, though you may occasionally be offered a higher bonus for a short period of time:
    • Platinum Cashback Everyday Card – £20 cashback per friend, up to £150 a year
    • Platinum Cashback Card – £30 cashback per friend, up to £150 a year
    • American Express Card – 5,000 Membership Rewards points (worth roughly £25) per friend, up to 90,000 (about £450) points a year
    • Preferred Rewards Gold Card – 6,000 Membership Rewards points per friend (worth roughly £30), up to 90,000 points (about £450) a year
    • Platinum Card – 12,000 Membership Rewards points per friend (worth roughly £60), up to 90,000 points (about £450) a year
    • British Airways American Express Card – 4,000 Avios per friend, up to 90,000 Avios a year
    • British Airways American Express Premium Plus Card – 9,000 Avios per friend, up to 90,000 Avios a year
  4. Earning Membership Rewards? Boost your Nectar points by swapping to Avios first

    This trick used to give you a bigger boost, but the conversion rate changed on 16 November 2022, making it a little less exciting. Here's how it works now:

    Amex doesn't advertise this but there's a trick to manipulate its Avios and Nectar partnership, so 300 Amex points could be worth 400 Nectar points, if you swap them the right way.

    While 300 Amex points is worth just 300 Avios or Nectar points, if you swap them for Avios points first, THEN swap them for Nectar points, the conversion rate is higher (300 Avios = 400 Nectar).

    Here's how to do it:

    1. Swap your Amex points for Avios via the American Express website.

    2. Link your Nectar and British Airways Executive Club accounts, which can be done at the Nectar or British Airways Executive Club website. Both are free to join if you're not already a member. 

    3. Convert your Avios to Nectar points via the British Airways website. You can also choose to have your points swapped automatically in the future.
  5. Get about £5-£25 when you add a trusted additional cardholder to your account

    Depending on the type of Amex card you have, you could earn cashback or points worth £5-£25 for adding a supplementary cardholder to your account – so it's worth considering if you have a partner you trust. 

    Here's what you'll get based on the American Express card you have:

    • Platinum Cashback – £5 cashback
    • Preferred Rewards Gold – 3,000 Membership Rewards (worth roughly £15)
    • BA American Express Card – 1,000 Avios
    • BA American Express Premium Plus – 3,000 Avios
    • Platinum Card – 5,000 Membership Rewards (worth roughly £25)

    Remember, with credit cards there's no such thing as a joint card – it's your card and you're giving them permission to spend on it. Any spending is yours to pay off, not theirs.

  6. Get £5 back on up to five £15+ spends at local pubs, shops, hairdressers & more in June and December

    American Express runs its 'Shop Small' promo a couple of times a year, which gets you £5 cashback when you spend £15+ at participating local businesses.

    In 2022, you could get the offer between Monday 20 June and Sunday 26 June, and then again from Saturday 3 December until Monday 12 December, so we're expecting it to happen at similar times again this year.

    Like the cashback offers above, you need to save the Shop Small offer to your card via the Amex app or online before you spend during the promotional dates. Here are some key need-to-knows for when the offer returns:

    • It's valid at thousands of independent businesses. Including shops, pubs, restaurants, cafés, hairdressers and more – but not the big chains. Use the Shop Small map to find locations near you. However, it’s not an excuse to overspend, and as it’s a credit card, make sure you pay it off IN FULL each month to avoid interest.

    • You'll be able to get the cashback on top of existing offers.

    • It's in-store only. So purchases made online – even at a participating retailer – won't work.

    • You can earn a maximum of £25 cashback. You'll be able to use this offer up to five times in total, but only once per location.

    • Corporate and business travel cardholders aren't eligible.
  7. Retailer won't take Amex? Check if it accepts Paypal instead

    One of the downsides to having an American Express card is that it's not accepted everywhere. This can be frustrating if you want to earn maximum cashback on all your spending.

    A trick to get around this when shopping online (and spending under £100), is to check whether the retailer accepts Paypal instead. If so, you can add your Amex card to your Paypal account, use it to pay, and you'll earn cashback as normal on your purchase.

    Important: You won't get Section 75 protection via Paypal. Section 75 law means your credit card provider must protect purchases over £100 for free, meaning you could get your money back if there's a problem. However, you WON'T get Section 75 protection if you use a credit card to pay via Paypal. For full details see Warning! Don’t use PayPal to pay on a credit card.

  8. You'll need a 'back-up' card for when Amex isn't accepted – make sure it gives you cashback too

    As your Amex won't be accepted everywhere, it's important to have a back-up card (such as a Visa or Mastercard). Ideally, this should earn you cashback too, so you get rewarded every time you spend.

    Your back-up doesn't need to be a credit card either – the Chase bank account pays 1% cashback on spending for a year. See our Credit card rewards guide for full info and options.

  9. Get early access to concert tickets, extra perks at events & more

    American Express sometimes offers early access to concert tickets, or 'reserved tickets' for certain events. You can also get the odd perk, for example, last winter it was offering cardholders a free hot chocolate and handwarmer when skating at Somerset House in London.

    A number of MSE staff have managed to get early access to events using their Amex cards. MSE Ben got tickets for Elton John's tour, and MSE Helen S has nabbed tickets for the London Film Festival in previous years. New offers pop up all the time, so it's worth keeping your eye on the Experiences section of the Amex website.

    Here are some of the perks we spotted on Monday 20 March:

Spotted out of date info/broken links? Email: