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Is American Express Gold The Best Air Miles Credit Card In The UK?

American Express Gold v BA Premium AMEX

If you are new to the air miles game in the UK, you might find the selection of cards a little overwhelming. However if you want to earn big, it really comes down to a choice between the American Express Gold and the British Airways Premium card. This post gives you the rundown on both, so you can decide card which is best for you.

decisions
Source: Pixabay

Initial fee

The American Express Gold card carries an annual fee of £140, whilst the British Airways Premium card charges £195 annually. However, Amex Gold waives their fee for the first year, so if you follow my churn and burn strategies, you will never pay a penny for this card.

Sadly, there is no way to avoid the BA fee.

Winner: Amex gold

Sign up bonus

The Amex Gold rewards members with a 20,000 sign up bonus after spending £2,000 in three months (22,000 if you use this referral link). The BA Premium card rewards with 25,000 (26,000 if you use this referral link), giving this card the slight edge over the gold card.

Winner: BA Premium Card

Berlin Reichstag
Your sign up bonus is enough for a reward flight to Berlin! (Source: Pixabay)

Annual rewards

The BA Premium card is the hands down winner here. For every £1 spent, you earn 1.5 AVIOS, compared to 1 membership reward for the AMEX Gold. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that this is a whopping 50% more!

In addition, for every £1 spent on British Airways, you earn a magnificent 3 AVIOS on the BA Premium card. The AMEX Gold offers no such uplift. Just 1 point for every £1

Winner: BA Premium Card

Other perks

The BA premium card rewards holders with a companion ticket once they spend £10,000 in a year. Amex Gold has no such offer, and this perk is a gem! This voucher is what allows Jason and I to fly business for less than economy. Using only enough AVIOS for one flight, you can book seats for two people to travel. You still have to pay the extortionate fees and taxes, but this is the way to bag flights in Business and First for less than what you would pay for two flights in economy.

The AMEX Gold does not offer a companion voucher, but does offer access to Lounge Club. It also grants members two free passes to a lounge of their choice. I estimate the value of this to be at best £100, yet I have saved thousands using the companion voucher so that perk wins the day here. Plus, if you use it to fly in style, as I do, you won’t need Lounge Club access anyway. You will be sipping champagne in style!

Champagne glasses
Source: Pixabay

Winner: BA Premium Card

Flexibility

The downside to the BA Premium Card, is that it can only be used to collect AVIOS, which can be redeemed in the OneWorld alliance. Furthermore, the companion ticket can only be used for redemptions with British Airways.

On the other hand, the American Express Gold membership rewards can be transferred to a variety of Amex airline partners. This provides much greater flexibility when you decide to redeem. Of course, without the companion ticket you may need many more points to book for two.

British Airways plane
Source: Pixabay

Winner: Amex Gold

Charges

Now, here’s the thing, if you pay off the balance in full each month, you don’t need to worry about charges. In fact, the AMEX Gold is a charge card, and therefore you MUST pay off the balance each month.

That said, the APR for the BA Premium Card is a whopping 76%, so you should always pay off the balance in full each month.

Winner: none

If you pay both in full each month, the situation is neutral. One downside might be that you have to pay off the AMEX Gold each month, but you really don’t want to allow a balance to remain on the BA card either.

Overall winner

Now this is a hard one to call. I would be likely to say the BA Premium Card by a tiny margin simply because I can save so much more money if I use a companion ticket to fly Club or First class.

Sign up now

But why choose?

However, in reality you don’t really have to choose. Using my churning strategy, to achieve maximum sign up bonuses, you could apply for the American Express Gold card now, satisfy the minimum spend and then close the account. Assuming you spend £1,000 a month, you could close the account after just two months. Don’t forget to transfer your American Express reward points before closing.

The Idiot’s Guide to Bagging Your First British Airways Business Class Upgrade

Churn and burn

Then you can apply for the BA Premium Card, satisfy the minimum spend and bag the sign up bonus. Once you have obtained the companion ticket, downgrade the card to Blue which is free. You will then obtain a partial refund of the annual fee. You can then continue using this card to accumulate points on a 1:1 basis until six months have passed since you closed the Gold account.

Now apply for another Gold, and earn a further 22,000 on their card. My churn and burn post (above) explains this in more detail.

I almost always have both of these cards on the go at one time. My husband and I regularly open and close the Gold account and refer one another before closing. This is how we managed to earn over 332,000 miles in a year. That’s enough AVIOS to fly First Class to any global destination!

Glacier in Argentina
Fancy flying to Argentina with airmiles?(Source: Pixabay)

Admittedly, if you think you are limited in what you can put on the cards, I recommend the BA card first, but if you can spend enough to achieve the sign up bonus on both cards, and earn the companion ticket, go for both.

What do you savvy bunch think?

Maybe you have one of these cards. If so, what do you think?

About Anne

Anne is the founder and editor of TravelTheGlobe4Less. If she isn't travelling, she is thinking of travelling or planning her next trip. She has visited over 80 countries on six continents and sampled everything from backpacking to bank bursting travel. Her mission is to help you enjoy more luxurious travel without the luxury price tag through the use of airline and hotel rewards and other money saving travel tips

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12 comments

  1. Don’t you get 2 amex points per pound with the gold card when spending directly with airlines?

    Also if you do pay interest on the BA card (which you should avoid) it’s not 76% interest, it’s 22% but government regulations make them include the cost of the annual fee in the stated Apr.

    Finally, the gold amex is no longer a charge card in the UK, it’s now a credit card

    • Thanks for your comment. Yes you do get double points on airline purchases which makes it quite attractive as there are a number of airlines you can transfer to.

  2. I guess this must be quite useful for getting the perks like the lounge access and the upgrades. Unfortunately, I do feel that it is a tad bit more expensive than the other cards and also, is not as widely accepted in the smaller towns that I tend to visit. I guess, I might just pass over the perks. However, I do appreciate your honesty about laying down both the sides of the coin

  3. Blair villanueva

    I use Amex card for my international travel and yeah I got many good rebates and rewards. It is very interesting to study these many credita cards!

  4. This post would be very useful for any traveler from UK. I’m not from the UK, but your post still gives me quite a few ideas to explore further. Thank you.

  5. Choosing the right card is really very difficult these days as u have so many options to choose from. I do have serveral cards but not sure which to run with as a primary

  6. I admit that I’m new to the world of credit card bonuses and such. However, I liked how clear and informative this post was. It seems like the BA has a touch better benefits. I like the idea of the companion ticket option!

  7. This is such a detailed post, thanks for thoroughly assessing this card and taking the time to share your insight. I’m not from the UK but I’m still trying to find the best card for me and quite a few of the points you made have given me food for thought!

  8. This is a great review, choosing the right card can be really difficult! Those BA Premium’s annual rewards and sign up bonus make it a winner!

  9. As an American, the AMEX card is definitely the best. I do not fly BA much these days, and while I have several airline cards, they are not my primary card.

  10. Unfortunately I don’t spend that much a month to qualify for the benefits of either card. However, I agree that that the BA seems to win it just for the chance to save money using the companion ticket option. A useful and helpful post.

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