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Here’s why you should be adding an Amex credit card to your wallet – and why recent changes mean you should do it sooner rather than later.

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Why you should get an American Express credit card

It’s easy to rant about a bad customer service experience or call out some dodgy dealings. But it’s a lot rarer that I can unequivocally rave about something positive.

Yes I like Apple, but there’s a lot that pisses me off about them too. My number one supermarket is Waitrose, but the online shopping leaves a lot to be desired.

Yet there is one company which I have hardly anything negative to say about – American Express. Or “Amex” as it’s often known. I think it’s the best credit card for cashback, rewards and customer service. 

Introductory cashback

The introductory offers alone are pretty much unbeatable – you can make £100 in cashback in the first three months.

Ongoing cashback

After your welcome bonus you can keep on earning cashback with every full pound you spend. I’m half expecting these rates to be cut, but right now you can’t beat the cashback offered by American Express. The top card can pay as much as 1.25% back.

Additional offers

Then there are the frequent “statement credit” offers. In the last year I’ve claimed £20 off at Laithwaite’s wine, £20 off dinner at top restaurant Hawksmoor, £5 at Amazon, 10% at Morrisons, £10 at Beer52 and much more from the annual Shop Small promotion.

Customer service

Customer service is also fantastic. If there’s a billing error they quickly fix it – and there’s no endless sitting on hold you get with other phone lines.

Downsides

Of course there are some downsides. Primarily you might find that not every shop or retailer will take your card. This happens less and less these days, but it is frustrating.

And in recent weeks, American Express has been making it harder to earn sign up bonuses. First, they altered how long you had to be without a card to get a new bonus, and then this week they’ve drastically reduced the value of the bonus Membership rewards points you can earn on some cards when signing up.

These changes could be a sign of more cuts to come – meaning if you don’t have one, now could be the time to apply and nab a big bonus just in case they disappear too.

How to boost your cashback earnings from American Express

Three things will help you make even more money from an Amex credit card.

1. Get extra cashback when you apply

First apply via Topcashback or Quidco and you can earn some additional cashback, currently up to £30 for the cards listed below.

If you’ve not already signed up to either of these cashback sites then you can get yourself an extra £10 or £18 cashback as a new customer. You probably can’t get this new member bonus cashback by applying for the Amex as there’s a minimum spend – but that’s easily rectified with your next online shop! Check out the latest new member deals here.

2. Get a supplementary card

Second, if you have a partner get a supplementary card in their name so they can earn cashback too. This is particularly useful in the first three months of a card when there are increased rewards available. Just make sure you trust them not to go crazy!

3. Spend as much as you can on the card

Finally, put every bit of everyday spending on the card that you can – as long as it’s more than £1. I hardly use my debit cards now.

Wait! Read this before you apply for ANY credit card

Any bonus you get is only worth it if you clear the credit card in full every month. If you don’t do this you’ll be charged interest, probably at something like 22%, which will obliterate your cashback savings.

Also, you’ll be credit checked when you apply for a card, so check your credit report before applying. A rejection could damage your credit score further. You’re given an option to check your eligibility on the Amex website which doesn’t affect your credit report – so it’s well worth doing this before applying. You’ll be given a figure showing the likelihood you’ll get the card – for example I was given a score of 9.5 out of 10 – so very likely.

The best American Express cards in the UK

I think the two Platinum cashback credit cards are the best options. You can only get the introductory offers if you’ve not had any cashback or reward card for two years, as I’ve explained here.

Platinum Cashback Credit Card

  • Tiered cashback for every full £1 spent
    • 1% cashback on spending up to £10,000
    • 1.25% on spending over £10,001
  • Intro offer: 5% cashback for first three months
    • Max of £125 in this time, which would require a £2,500 spend
  • £25 fee
  • Extra Quidco/Topcashback cashback: £30 (Quidco), £20 (TCB)

I think this is the best of the two Platinum cards. Though there is a fee to pay, you’ll earn that back from signing up via Quidco or TopCashback, and you’ll earn more in the first year with the increased introductory offer and higher cashback rates.

If you choose to keep it for the second year then you’ll need to spend £5,000 over 12 months for it to break even with the Everyday card.

Then if you spend more than £10,000 you jump up to 1.25% cashback, earning you even more.

 

Platinum Cashback Everyday Credit Card

  • Tiered cashback for every full £1 spent
    • 0.5% cashback on spending up to £5,000
    • 1% on spending over £5,001
  • Intro offer: 5% cashback for first three months
    • Max of £100 this time, which would require a £2,000 spend
  • No fee
  • Minimum spend of £3,000 in a year to get the cashback
  • Extra Quidco/Topcashback cashback: £5

If you don’t want to keep applying each year for a new Amex then this has the advantage of no ongoing fee – useful if you don’t think you’ll spend too much on it but still want it for those extra offers I mentioned above. Just make sure you spend at least £3,000 a year or you won’t get ANY cashback.

My second choice American Express credit cards

You don’t get actual cashback with these. Instead you earn points.

Nectar Credit Card

  • Two Nectar points for every full £1 spent
    • Equivalent cashback = 1%
  • Intro offer: £100 worth of points if you spend £2,000 in first three months
    • Equivalent cashback = 5%
  • £25 fee after year one
  • Extra Quidco/Topcashback cashback: £30 (TCB only)

You get the best cashback rate here – the downside is you’re paid in Nectar points – which can be a pain to use! Obviously you can use them at Sainsbury’s and other Nectar partners, and there are occasional deals to boost them further.

Preferred Rewards Gold Card

This is the card that has seen its intro offer massively changed making it far less appealing. Even so, you might want to consider it.

  • One “Membership Reward” points for every full £1 spent
    • Equivalent cashback = 0.5%
  • Intro offer: £50 worth of points if you spend £3,000 in first three months
    • Equivalent cashback = 1.7%
  • Points can be transferred to airline loyalty schemes
  • Two airport lounge passes
  • US$75 hotel credit
  • £140 fee after year one
  • Extra Quidco/Topcashback cashback: £10

This was the first Amex I got, but I obviously canceled it before the end of year one to avoid the HUGE fee. It used to offer the equivalent of 1%, but now it’s only 0.5%.

Still, it does have advantages over the Nectar as you can get your points paid out as credit to your account rather than have a bundle of Nectar points. Though if you do this the point value drops to 0.45%. You can also use it for vouchers to spend at Amazon, Boots, iTunes and many other retailers.

You can get double points when you spend at American Express Travel, and triple points if you spend direct with airlines. However I think you’re better off getting a deal at another travel retailer such as Expedia.

American Express Rewards Credit Card

  • One “Membership Reward” points for every full £1 spent
    • Equivalent cashback = 0.5%
  • Intro offer: £25 worth of points if you spend £2,000 in first three months
    • Equivalent cashback = 1.25%
  • No fee
  • Extra Quidco/Topcashback cashback: None

Why I’ve not included Avios credit cards

I don’t rate air miles for most people. If you travel with work and think you can earn a lot of miles, then it’s worth looking at the Amex Avios cards which have offers like free partner travel. 

But for most people I think you’re better off getting standard cashback and using that to buy your flights. Do this and you’re not restricted to certain flight times and airlines which I think work out a lot cheaper.

You can read more about the value of Avois over at the very good blog Head for Points.

Alternative cashback credit cards 

For those occassions when American Express isn’t accepted, I like to have a Mastercard cashback card in my wallet. Tandem offers 0.5% on every £1 you spend, while Amazon’s Platinum card gives Prime members 1.5% on Amazon purchases. You can read more about these here.

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