The best American Express cards

Which Amex credit card will earn you the most cashback or rewards in the UK in 2023?

There are a number of different American Express cards, so which is the best?

In this best buy guide, I’ll take you through my top picks whether you want to get your first card or change the one you already have.

The best cards if you’re new to American Express

There are a number of great welcome bonuses from American Express that could earn you more than £100 extra in your first few months. They are often boosted too, making them even more profitable.

But there are catches. First, you can’t get most bonuses on most cards if you’ve had a personal Amex in the last 24 months.

Next, the cash isn’t free. All welcome deals require you to spend on the cards, and sometimes there’s a minimum you need to hit to trigger the bonus in a short space of time usually three months. So your choice of card may come down to what you think you can afford.

The best ongoing one is the Amex Preferred Rewards Gold, which will earn you 20,000 points for a £3,000 spend in three months, and it’s often boosted to 30,000 points. The latter can be worth a huge £230 when converted to Nectar points via Avios.

However, I’d actually only consider one of these two cards, even though you’ll earn less from the bonus. They rarely have boosted welcome deals so I’d go for them at any time, though do this via refer-a-friend links or cashback sites for a little extra.

CardFeeStandard welcome offerConditionValueOngoing cashback rate
Nectar American Express credit card Free in year one, then £25 a year20,000 Nectar pointsSpend £2,000 in the first three months£100 in Nectar points2 Nectar points per £1 (=1%)
American Express Platinum Cashback card £25 a year5% cashbackOn the first £2,500 spent in the first three monthsUp to £1250.75% on the first £10,000 spent a year, then 1.25%

Best Amex for a second or third sign-up offer

The reason I’ve gone for the above two cards is that they are the main ones that don’t rule you out of a second and third welcome bonus after this.

These extra offers only apply to the British Airways American Express Premium Plus and the American Express Platinum credit cards, as long as you’ve not had the BA Amex or the Preferred Rewards Gold or Rewards cards respectively. I’ve written in more detail about this multiple Amex welcome offer hack here.

However, I’d always wait for these extra cards until their sign up offers are increased. Both come hefty fees, so even if you cancel for a pro-rata refund after triggering the bonus, you’ll struggle to earn a profit on the standard welcome deals. They also have large spending requirements so you’ll need to ensure you can meet those.

Here’s what you could be looking at based on increased sign-up offers that have run in 2022 and 2023.

CardFeePotential boosted welcome offerPotential conditionValueOngoing cashback rate
British Airways American Express Premium Plus card£250 a year (can be refunded pro-rata once bonus triggered)70,000 Avios pointsSpend £3,000 in the first three months£496 in Nectar points1.5 Avios per £1 (=1% in Nectar points)
American Express Platinum card £575 a year (can be refunded pro-rata once bonus triggered)60,000 Amex Reward pointsSpend £6,000 in the first six months£440 in Nectar points (via Avios)1 Amex point per £1 (=0.67% in Nectar points via Avios)

The best card if you’re already with American Express

If you can’t get a welcome bonus you want to go for the Amex card which offers the best regular return for the money you spend.

But the headline cashback/reward rate isn’t the only thing to consider. You need to take into account whether there’s a fee or minimum spend.

And you also need to decide how you want to receive your money back. If you want ‘cash’ paid to your card (usually once a year), then the Platinum Cashback is still probably the best card.

However, if you are happy with Nectar points then the following is your top choice as you’ll get more for every pound spent.

Best for ongoing cashback

If you opted for the Nectar as your first card then stick with it. You’ll get 1% back (in Nectar points) and it’s free for the first year. Even in year two, the better return will likely cover the £25 fee.

If you went for the Platinum Cashback card instead then you’ll need to keep it for a year to get the cashback payment. After this, and as long as you’re happy with Nectar points, It could be worth ditching it and applying for the Nectar card for the better rate and free first year.

Amex cardAnnual FeeCashback/RewardEquivalent rate
NectarFree in year one, £25 after2 Nectar points per £11%
Platinum Cashback£25Up to 1.25% cashback (paid on year anniversary)0.75% on first £10,000, then 1.25%

Best after you’ve received the Platinum bonus

Assuming you get a welcome bonus from the Platinum card, you’ll probably want to then close it to get a refund on the rest of the annual fee. But before you do you’ll need to open up a different Reward card to ensure you don’t lose your points.

There are two options here. The Reward card and the Preferred Reward Gold card.

I’d wait to go for the Preferred Reward Gold card until you’ve also managed to get the BA Amex Premium Plus bonus as it’s only free for one year, and you’ll want spend at least £5,000 on it in that year to trigger bonus points.

Do not open up either of these cards before the Platinum if you think you’ll try for the boosted welcome offer on that card at some point.

Amex cardAnnual FeeCashback/RewardEquivalent rate
Preferred Rewards GoldFree in year one, £160 after1 Amex Reward point per £1, bonus points for every £5,000 spent0.83% to 1% if you spend at least £5,000 (if converted to Nectar via Avios)
RewardFree1 Amex Reward point per £10.67% (if converted to Nectar via Avios)

Best after you’ve received the BA Amex Premium Plus bonus

Don’t get the free BA Amex card before the BA Amex Premium Plus if you want to try for the higher welcome offer with the latter card.

After you get your bonus, you can downgrade to the free BA Amex easily via a call or live chat and this will mean you keep an Amex without a new credit check but get a pro-rata refund on the Premium Plus fee.

This could be a good card to keep spending on as if you hit £12,000 in a year you’ll get a BA Companion voucher to use in economy class, valid for a year.

Alternatively you could keep the Premium Plus, and keep paying the fee, to earn a better voucher. This one is valid for two years and in all flight classes. You also only need to spend £10,000 in the year to get it.

With either option, bear in mind you need to have enough Avios points saved up to cover the cost of one ticket before adding the 2-4-1 voucher, and you still pay tax and fees on both tickets.

Amex cardAnnual FeeCashback/RewardEquivalent rate
British Airways American ExpressFree1 Avios point per £10.67% (if converted to Nectar)
British Airways American Express Premium Plus£2501.5 Avios point per £11% (if converted to Nectar)

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Best Amex for extra offers

There’s a final category to consider when choosing your Amex – are there extras that come with the card? And if so, how much will they cost?

This table shows the main additional card benefits you might want to take advantage of.

Amex CardKey additional benefitsAnnual fee
Preferred Rewards Gold2 x £5 Deliveroo credit every month
4 Priority Pass airport lounge visits each year
PlatinumWorldwide family travel Insurance
£150 UK dining credit each calendar year
£50 Harvey Nicholls credit every six months
Airport lounge access all year
British Airways Premium PlusBA Companion voucher if you spend £10,000 each year (lasts 24 months, and valid in all classes)£250
British AirwaysBA Companion voucher if you spend £12,000 each year (lasts 12 months, and only valid in economy)Free

I wouldn’t keep the Gold card once the fee kicks in after the first year. I’d also avoid the Platinum after you’ve triggered the welcome bonus – unless you’re close to the start of a new year. If that’s the case I’d keep it and claim the £150 UK restaurant credit as soon as you can and then cancel.

It’s a harder call with the BA cards. If you opt for the free BA card, it’s only valid for 12 months and only in economy, which might make it hard for you to find a flight you want to use as tickets are released 12 months in advance on the BA site, so you could well miss out on big destinations.

The Premium Plus voucher lasts longer, but you will be paying £250 to get it. From my experience it’s hard to get that back on economy flights, so you’d want to aim for Business.

But, to use a 2-4-1 Companion voucher you need to have enough Avios points to pay for the first flight AND you have to pay for taxes and fees on top. If that’s unlikely then neither are worth it. And you also need to weigh up whether you’ll be able to get a cheaper flight shopping around.

Before you apply for any American Express credit card

Hopefully you’ve identified which American Express card is right for you, whether you’re a new or existing customer. But before you click apply, make sure you follow my credit card rules, including the following:

Check your eligibility

You can do this on the American Express website for each card, or go via a comparison site to see if there are different chances of acceptance across the different cards. This is vital as if you apply and get rejected it’ll have a negative effect on your credit report.

Apply via a cashback site or referral link

Most American Express credit cards are listed on Quidco and TopCashback, earning you between £5 and £30 extra if you’re accepted. The actual rate varies between each site so it’s best to check them both.

It’s also worth making sure there’s not a better offer in place via referral links from existing Amex customers. You can use the same link to see what you’d get for all the different cards, not just the one your friend has. These are using lower than the cashback sites, but are sometimes boosted.

Once you’ve got your Amex card

Get a supplementary card

This is a great way to earn more money back and reach that welcome bonus threshold faster. You can order a card for a family member to use. Though it appears in their name, it’s still your responsibility to pay the bill – so only do this if you trust they won’t overspend.

If you do this after you’ve got your card (rather than during the application) you’ll often get an extra cash or point bonus.

Make sure you clear the balance every month

That’s also true for yourself. These cards should only used for everyday spending that you know you can afford. If you don’t have enough to clear the borrowing every month you’ll get charged interest which wipes out any cashback you’ll earn.

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One thought on “The best American Express cards

  1. This is such a great summary thank you. I didn’t realise I could downgrade by BA plus after the bonus. With the companion voucher, can it be applied to any regular flight you use avios points on or does it have to be a reward flight? I won’t have the companion voucher by the time reward flights are released and I think they’ll be gone for the dates we need to go (school holidays to Tokyo!)


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