Which is the best American Express credit card?

11 min Read Published: 21 Sep 2020

American Express (often referred to as Amex) has long been associated with providing premium credit cards for high-rollers, frequent flyers and business users. While many of its cards fit that bill, there are also a range of options that make it increasingly accessible to the “average Joe or Jane” looking to benefit from its rewards and cashback offers. In this article, we help you find the best American Express card for you, highlighting options across a number of categories by comparing fees, interest rates, introductory offers and ongoing perks.

Best American Express Credit Card for Cashback

American Express Platinum everyday credit card Platinum Cashback Everyday Credit Card

  • Representative APR: 22.2% variable
  • Introductory offer: 5% cashback on purchases (up to £100) for the first three months, no annual fee and extra £25 referral bonus
  • Interest-free period: 56 days on purchases (22.2% APR variable on purchases)
  • Fees: No annual fee
  • Key information: Minimum £3,000 spend. Cashback paid after 12 months. Cashback forfeited if you miss two consecutive months’ payment
  • Pro: The card offers a punchy 5% cashback on purchases for the first three months of membership, up to £100, dropping to a still enticing 1% on purchases over £5,000 (0.5% on spending under £5,000) for the first 12 months.
  • Con: For bigger spenders, the American Express Platinum Cashback card offers 1.25% cashback on purchases if you spend over £10,000, albeit with an annual fee of £25. Arguably this makes it a better option if you are likely to spend more and are confident of being able to clear the monthly balance
  • Summary: A good all-round credit card that will be the right fit for most people. It has a generous introductory offer, no annual fee and cashback increases to 1% once you spend more than £5,000

Best American Express Credit Card for Rewards

American Express Preferred Rewards credit card American Express Preferred Rewards Gold Credit Card

  • Representative APR: 56.6% variable
  • Introductory offer: 10,000 bonus membership rewards points when you spend £3,000 in your first three months
  • Interest-free period: 56 days on purchases (22.2% APR variable on purchases)
  • Fees: £140 (£0 in the first year)
  • Pro: There is a range of perks and rewards you could enjoy, including two complimentary airport lounge visits per year, personalised offers from a range of shops and restaurants, access to events through American Express Experiences, the ability to transfer your points to a variety of airline loyalty programmes and being able to use your points to pay with merchants including Amazon and Ticketmaster.
  • Con: The annual fee, although this is waived in the first year
  • Summary: An excellent range of rewards and benefits including access to events. The card is free for the first year but after that, you'll pay annual fees of £140

Best American Express Credit Card for Travel

The American Express Platinum Credit Card The American Express Platinum Credit Card

  • Representative APR: Not applicable as this is a charge card
  • Introductory offer: Earn 30,000 reward points when you spend £4,000 in the first three months.
  • Interest-free period: No interest charges but you must pay the full balance each month
  • Fees: £575 annual fee
  • Pro: There is a long list of perks, ranging from complimentary lounge access across the globe through to exclusive access to premium events.
  • Con: The high fee
  • Summary: If you’re in the category of being able to shoulder the hefty £575 annual fee, as well as paying off the balance in full each month, the Platinum card offers regular travellers extras such as the Platinum Concierge service, complimentary access to 1,200 airport lounges worldwide, hotel upgrades, exclusive dining experiences, comprehensive travel insurance for you and your family, to name but a few.

Best American Express Credit Card for Frequent Flyers

British Airways American Express Premium Plus British Airways American Express Premium Plus

  • Representative APR: 74.7% variable
  • Introductory offer: Earn 25,000 bonus Avios when you spend £3,000 in your first three months
  • Interest-free period: 56 days on purchases (22.2% APR variable on purchases)
  • Fees: £195 annual fee
  • Pro: If you spend more than £10,000 per year, you qualify for a complimentary companion voucher on British Airways
  • Con: The relatively high APR
  • Summary: The central appeal of this card for frequent travellers is the prospect of a complimentary companion voucher, along with travel insurance that covers both inconvenience and accident. These factors, coupled with the potential to earn 1.5 Avios for nearly every £1 spent and 3 Avios for virtually every £1 spent with British Airways and BA Holidays, make it is easy to see its appeal to those looking for something more down-to-earth than the Platinum card experience.

Best American Express Credit Card with No Fees

British Airways American Express Premium Plus British Airways American Express Credit Card

  • Representative APR: 22.2% variable
  • Introductory offer: Earn 5,000 bonus Avios when you spend £1,000 in your first three months
  • Interest-free period: 56 days on purchases (22.2% APR variable on purchases)
  • Fees: No annual fee
  • Pro: You have the ability to earn 1 Avios for nearly every £1 spent, alongside a complimentary companion voucher on British Airways when you spend £20,000 per year.
  • Con: It seems a little light on non-travel related perks compared to some of the other cards in the range.
  • Summary: In terms of Amex cards without an annual fee, this has stiff competition from the Platinum Cashback Everyday credit card. However, the British Airways American Express card pipped its rival to the post because of the companion voucher, albeit that it requires a relatively high annual spend.

Best American Express Credit Card for Business

Best American Express Credit Card for Business British Airways American Accelerating Express Business card

  • Representative APR: 80.3% variable
  • Introductory offer: Earn 2,200 'On Business' points if you spend more than £3000 in the first three months
  • Interest-free period: 56 days on purchases (22.2% APR variable on purchases)
  • Fees: £210 annual fee
  • Pro: As well as allowing you to earn Avios (1.5 for every eligible £1 spent), this card also means you can collect On Business points (1.5 for every eligible £1 spent), which you can redeem against business travel on British Airways, Iberia and American Airlines. It also allows travellers a great deal of flexibility, including booking last-minute flights and changing or cancelling flights with more than 24-hours’ notice free of charge.
  • Con: The eye-watering APR if you don’t pay the balance in full each month.
  • Summary: This card is well-suited to larger companies with multiple offices and a requirement for frequent travel among card holders, as well as the capacity to swallow the £210 annual fee. It is vital to ensure the balance is paid off on time each month to avoid facing the high APR.

What is American Express?

American Express (often referred to as Amex) enjoys a reputation as a high-quality brand with a broad range of cards and good customer service. It is probably best known for its rewards and cashback offers, which are typically generous, exclusive and desirable.

On the flipside, it attracts criticism for not always being widely accepted, particularly in smaller stores and restaurants, although Amex is trying to remedy this with its 'Shop Small' initiative, which aims to support small, local businesses by encouraging card holders to shop there. However, it is still rare that people have an Amex as their only credit card.

How does Amex work?

Most credit cards work on the basis of payment networks such as Mastercard or Visa managing the transactions between the retailers you use your card with and your bank. American Express, meanwhile, works differently, providing its own cards, funding transactions and transferring the money. This is funded, in part, by charges made to the retailers, with the knock-on effect that not all places choose to accept the cards.

Pros and cons of Amex

Pros

  • Amex is second-to-none in the quality of rewards and incentives it offers to cardholders
  • It now has four cards within the range without annual fees, which opens it up to more people

Cons

  • It is not universally accepted by retailers and, in some instances, stores will require a minimum spend
  • Some of the most attractive offers and rewards are for new customers only and only last for a limited period of time, after which it reverts to being a 'normal' credit card, sometimes with a higher-than-average annual fee
  • The fees and interest rates on some of the cards can be off-putting

How to apply for an American Express credit card

The basic eligibility requirements for an American Express card are that the applicant is aged 18 or over, has a current UK bank or building society account, has a permanent UK home address and has no history of bad debt.

If you meet these criteria, the next step is using the Eligibility Checker tool on the American Express website, which will give you an idea of how likely you are to be approved. The benefit of using the checker rather than simply completing the online application is it does not leave a footprint on your credit report, stopping it from being impaired if you are rejected for the card. All being well, the online application itself only takes a few minutes to complete, with the potential for a response in as little as 60 seconds.

 

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