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Amex HALVES introductory bonuses on popular reward cards

American Express has revealed a raft of changes to its Membership Rewards cards, making it more difficult for new cardholders to earn big bonuses.

Amex has today halved the number of introductory bonus points you can earn on three of its reward cards, while also upping the spending trigger needed to qualify for the bonuses. 

The offers on its cashback cards, such as the Platinum Everyday, where you can earn cash rather than points, are currently unchanged. 

The news comes less than a month after Amex tightened other bonus rules, so that new cardholders now have to wait two years before being able to qualify for another introductory bonus (rather than six months previously).

Existing Amex cardholders are unaffected by today's changes, so any bonuses initially offered will apply.

For more on cards that earn rewards, see our Credit Card Rewards guide.

Which cards are affected?

Amex Membership Reward points can be transferred to airline schemes such as Avios, to get 'free' flights or upgrades, or redeemed as retail vouchers. For example, 10,000 Membership Reward points can be converted into £50 to spend at retailers including Amazon and M&S.

Membership Reward points can also be earned every time you spend on your card – usually at a rate of one point per £1 spent.

The Amex cards affected by today's changes include:

  • Preferred Rewards Gold. New cardholders will now earn 10,000 Membership Reward points if they spend £3,000 within three months. Prior to today, new cardholders could earn 20,000 points on a £2,000 spend.

    The refer-a-friend bonus has also been cut from 9,000 to 6,000 points. 

  • Rewards. New cardholders will earn 5,000 points if they spend £2,000 within three months. It was previously 10,000 points for spending £1,000 within three months.

  • Rewards Low Rate. New cardholders will now earn 2,500 points if they spend £1,000 within three months. It was previously 5,000 points for spending £500 within three months.

Is it still worth getting an Amex credit card?

While these changes will come as a further blow to those looking to boost their Membership Reward point balances, the Amex Preferred Rewards Gold and Rewards cards still offer a decent way of being rewarded for everyday spending. In addition, it's worth noting that the changes have had no impact on Amex's non-Membership Rewards cards, where you can earn cashback, rather than points. Here's a rundown of our top picks. 

  • Top pick for cashback is the Platinum Cashback Everyday. It pays 5% cashback on your first £2,000 of spending (£100 max) in the first three months, then 0.5% on up to £5,000/year and 1% above this. You need to spend at least £3,000 on the card in a year to get any cashback. Repay IN FULL each month to avoid 22.9% rep APR interest.

  • For those likely to spend over £9,000 in a year, the £25/yr Platinum Cashback card may be a better option as it gives the introductory 5% rate on up to £2,500 of spending (so max £125) in the first three months. It then tiers up to 1.25% in cashback. Repay IN FULL each month or it's 28.2% rep APR (incl fee).

  • Alternatively, if you want points, the Amex Nectar gives 20,000 Nectar points – worth £100+ to spend at Nectar retailers such as Sainsbury's – if you spend £2,000 within three months. Repay IN FULL each month to avoid 28.2% rep APR interest (incl fee).

  • If you want to collect Avios points, the British Airways Amex gives 5,000 bonus Avios points when you spend £1,000 in the first three months. And if you spend £20,000 in a year, you'll earn a companion ticket, which lets someone travel with you without using points – but this isn't a reason to overspend. Repay IN FULL each month to avoid 22.9% rep APR interest.

For more information on the cards above, including golden rules and non-Amex options, see Credit Card Rewards.

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