American Express Sign Up Offers April 2013

by Continental Club on April 15, 2013

American ExpressHere’s this month’s overview of American Express current new cardmember deals, covering ‘house-branded’ and ‘co-branded cards’. House-branded cards offer frequent travellers the flexibility of being able to earn Membership Rewards, which can then be converted into a wide range of hotel and airline loyalty scheme currencies. Co-branded cards earn points or miles directly into the co-brand’s scheme.

Card Card Type Loyalty Currency Sign-Up Bonus
The Platinum Card Charge Membership Rewards 30,000
The Preferred Rewards Gold Card Charge Membership Rewards 20,000
British Airways American Express Prem Plus Card Credit Avios 18,000
British Airways American Express Credit Card Credit Avios 3,000
The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card Credit Starpoints 10,000
The Nectar Credit Card Credit Nectar Points 10,000 New!*
The Platinum Business Card Charge Membership Rewards 60,000
The Gold Business Card Charge Membership Rewards 40,000
The Nectar Business Credit Card Credit Nectar Points n/a
The American Express Corporate Card Charge Membership Rewards n/a

 

All of the above offers are currently scheduled to last until the end of April at least, with none of the bonus offers having changed from those running at the end of March. *The Nectar bonus is valid for applications made from April 16th 2013.

The relative value and attractiveness of the sign-up bonuses to a new cardholder depend on more than a few factors. Things to take into account include:

  • Do you plan to pay off the balance each month?
  • Do you need a fee-free card, or are the benefits of a paid-for card of sufficient value?
  • Do you already collect loyalty currency in a scheme that you wish to add to?
  • Are you clear on the value and availability of the rewards that you ultimately seek?

The nature of personal finance is such that almost everyone’s circumstances are unique, so it’s obviously important to look into all the features of a card before signing-up. This is particularly relevant since card issuers (like American Express) will often disqualify existing (or recently-lapsed) members from new card bonuses, even if a different product is being applied for. Pick the wrong card first, and it could be sometime before you qualify again for a bonus on taking out the right card!

Co-branded cards are also described as ‘affinity’ cards, and many of them are marketed to appeal to customers who feel ‘an affinity’ with the co-brand that they carry. Again, if you’re aiming to maximise your points-earning and, more importantly, your options for redeeming rewards, it’s critical to prioritise the practicalities of earning and redemption. More often than not, that will mean adding to your existing earning activities and accelerating your current redemption plans – rather than embarking on some new strategy.

So, if you’re based in the UK and you travel with British Airways (or at least the oneworld alliance, and earn points from alliance airlines into a BA account) most often, then one of the British Airways co-branded cards should almost certainly top your list to consider. Alternatively, if most of your travel is with Etihad, and in the absence of an Etihad credit or charge card in the UK, then a Membership Rewards-earning card from American Express could help bolster your existing earnings from flying with the Abu Dhabi airline.

The full list of carriers with which American Express offer points conversion from Membership Rewards is:

  • Alitalia
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Delta
  • Etihad
  • Finnair
  • KLM
  • Iberia
  • SAS
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic

The British Airways conversion from Membership Rewards is a useful additional option instead of earning Avios directly with a BA co-branded card. If you’re a frequent (or even exclusive) BA traveller though, then the ‘2for1′ companion vouchers and potentially higher earning rates of the BA cards will probably swing the balance towards the Avios-earning cards.

One other point to note when converting points to airline miles is that, whilst American Express Membership Rewards don’t expire as long as card membership is continued, some airlines’ currencies do expire – for example KLM Flying Blue ‘award miles’ are removed when a member does not earn miles from a qualifying flight for a period of 20 months. So, it can make sense to leave earned Membership Rewards in the American Express account until they’re actually needed; that way flexibility and longevity is maximised.

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