The best American Express cards

Which Amex credit card will earn you the most cashback or rewards in the UK in 2024?

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.

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The best American Express for welcome offers

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 (we’ll share when this happens here).

Importantly you can only get these offers (on most cards – more on this in a bit) if you’ve not an an Amex in your name in the last two years.

Each offer also comes with a spending requirement to trigger the bonus, so make sure your normal spending will fit this.

The best first Amex card welcome offers

To keep you eligible for additional welcome bonuses, 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.

If you aren’t going to later for a second bonus with the Amex Platinum then you could also consider the Amex Preferred Rewards Gold – though I’d wait until it’s boosted.

CardFeeStandard welcome offerConditionValueOngoing cashback rate
Nectar American Express credit card Free in year one, then £30 a year20,000 bonus Nectar points (+ 2,000 points from spending)Spend £2,000 in the first three months£120 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%
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold card (review)Free in year one, then £195 a year20,000 bonus Amex points (+3,000 points from spending)Spend £3,000 in the first three months£153 in Nectar points (via Avios)1 Amex Reward point per £1, bonus points for every £5,000 spent (= 0.83% to 1% if swapped to Avios then Nectar)

Additional Amex welcome offers

After the Nectar or Platinum Cashback, there’s the chance to get another boosted offer on both the British Airways American Express Premium Plus (as long as you’ve not had either BA Amex card in the last two years) and the American Express Platinum credit cards (as long as you’ve not had the Preferred Rewards Gold or Rewards cards in the same time). I’ve written in more detail about this multiple Amex welcome offer hack here.

However, these cards come with big fees and the bonuses have large spending requirements, so I’d wait until they are boosted and you can earn more points.

If you are a member of Vitality health or life insurance then you will also be eligible for a £100 statement credit when you spend £2,000 in the first three months, even if you’ve got any other Amex.

Here’s what you could be looking at based on increased sign-up offers that have run in 2024.

CardFeeMost recent boosted welcome offerPotential conditionTotal valueOngoing cashback rate
British Airways American Express Premium Plus card£250 a year 50,000 bonus Avios points (see most recent promotion here)Spend £3,000 in the first three months (and earn 4,500 more points)£363 in Nectar points1.5 Avios per £1 (=1% in Nectar points)
American Express Platinum card £650 a year Up to 80,000 bonus Amex Reward points
(see latest promotion here)
Spend £10,000 in the first six months (and earn 10,000 more points)£600 in Nectar points (via Avios) 1 Amex point per £1 (=0.67% in Nectar points via Avios)

The best American Express card for spending

So what do you do once you’ve got bonus (or bonuses) and you’re faced with a fee at the start of the second year? Well, I’d be looking to ditch that card and find an alternative.

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 – as cash or points?

Depending on which card you went to for your first card (the Nectar or Platinum Cashback), I’d actually then get the other one next or look at the Amex Preferred Rewards Gold which is free in year one.

But after the first year on each of these, the annual fees on all three will eat into your cashback earnings, mean you’ll be better off using a 1% debit card like Chase for the bulk of your spending.

But if you want to keep an Amex, then there’s the Amex Rewards card or BA Amex which are both always free. Just don’t get these (or the Gold) if you haven’t yet claimed those additional Platinum and BA Amex Premium Plus welcome bonuses.

Amex cardAnnual FeeCashback/RewardEquivalent rate
NectarFree in year one, £30 after2 Nectar points per £11%
Platinum Cashback£25 (first year can be covered via cashback site)Up to 1.25% cashback (paid on year anniversary)0.75% on first £10,000, then 1.25%
Preferred Rewards GoldFree in year one, £195 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)
British Airways American ExpressFree1 Avios point per £10.67% (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
£195
PlatinumWorldwide family travel Insurance
£150 UK dining credit each calendar year (currently until end of 2024)
£50 Harvey Nicholls credit every six months
Airport lounge access all year
£650
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 the year which includes a welcome bonus.

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.

Best Amex to protect your Amex Reward points

If you decide to cancel the Platinum card at the end of your first year, make sure you protect any Amex Membership points linked to it before doing so. You’ll need to swap them or open up a different Reward card to ensure you don’t lose them.

There are two options here. The Reward card and the Preferred Reward Gold card. Remember, 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, £195 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 Amex for 2-4-1 flight vouchers

Two American Express cards can earn you British Airways companion vouchers. However, 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 detailed further up this article.

With the Premium Plus you’ll need to spend £10,000 in the first year you’ll get a BA Companion voucher. This gets you 2-4-1 flights or an upgrade and is valid for two years and in all flight classes. Remember there is a £250 annual fee.

But after this year you have two options. If you cancel completely you won’t lose your Avios as they’ll have been added to your British Airways Executive Club account. This resets the clock to enable you to (potentially) get another bonus in two years time.

Or 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.

If you choose to keep spending on it you need to hit £12,000 in a year for a BA Companion voucher to use in economy class, valid for a just one year.

With both companion vouchers, 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)

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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