I thought that it would be useful to have somewhere to talk about Amex. Share your general thoughts or feedback here - or to talk about integration with Monzo pop over to this thread!
Here in Portugal we don’t have amex anymore, but when we did, until December 2018, amex always came with “twin” cards. Basically you always got a Visa or MasterCard with your amex exactly for when you couldn’t use amex
If we could do that here, I’d probably give up my Tandem card.
I think MBNA used to do that iirc by the way
It was a thing in the UK when Amex used to allow banks to issue their cards. Due to some regulation or other it’s not viable to do that anymore - that’s what seems to have happened in Portugal, but unlike the UK Amex isn’t issuing cards directly over there at the moment.
Edit: here’s a link:
Most likely suspect is the interchange fee cap.
Maybe that will be removed after Brexit!
In the letter sent to amex cardholders in Portugal they say amex is ending all bank card issuing partnerships in all of mainland Europe and for most countries that means the end of amex as they don’t issue cards themselves.
The letter specifically mentions the interchange fee cap starting to apply to amex in 2019 as the reason behind it. Apparently there just wasn’t enough money for amex after giving the bank its cut. It’s a shame as the amex Platinum card issued by Millennium BCP had a 75€ annual fee and pretty much the same benefits as the American Platinum before the metal refresh, with the added value of being able to use the twin Visa and enjoy the same benefits. It probably was something under the radar as I don’t think amex would like to know you could use a Visa to earn membership rewards, etc
I don’t know about the rest of Europe, but American Express has started rolling out their own cards in Norway in 2019. Previously they had partnered with banks who were licensed to give them out.
Amex’s partner closes are probably linked its failed court case where the use of branded Amex cards (such as the British Airways American Express Card) meant they were liable for the interchange cap and thus put pressure on their bottom line.
Under EU rules that took force in October 2015, credit card transactions which involve four parties - the cardholder, retailer, card provider (such as Mastercard or Visa) and the issuing bank (such as Lloyds Bank or NatWest) – have limits on the level of so called ‘interchange fees’ that can be charged to retailers by the card companies.
However, these rules do not apply to cards where there are three parties involved in the transaction, such as those offered directly by American Express. This is because Amex acts as both the card provider and issuing bank. In practice, this means it can charge higher fees to retailers and subsequently give cardholders better rewards.
But [a 2018] European-wide ruling has judged that in cases when a card is co-branded, such as with an airline, this counts as a fourth party and thus fees charged to retailers must be capped.
I think Amex are great. App is simple and the customer support has always been superb.
I’m hoping they will notice what some apps are doing and make further inhancements.
Rarely come across somewhere that doesn’t take it either. If I do it’s usual some small independent store.
Been with Amex for 5 years now, specifically Amex Platinum Cashback. It used to be £12 fees per year, which has recently increased to £25 a year. I got 5% cashback for the first 3 months (upto £125), and thereafter it’s tiered. 1% upto £10000 and 1.25% thereafter. I manage to spend up to 75-80% on AMEX, and then i fall back onto my Barclaycard VISa (0.5% cashback). Since you can also use AMEX via Paypal, if a merchant does not accept AMEX but accepts Paypal, I use that route. Overall, I manage to get over £200 cashback annually.
However when I travel, I use Transferwise debit card with it’s borderless account on the app.
Edit: Contrary to the popular opinion that AMEX is not accepted widely, I have found that I rarely encounter such a situation. I suppose it depends on your lifestyle. If you are a poundshop type of shopper, then you probably won’t find much use of your AMEX. However if you shop a lot online (Amazon, Ebay etc), you will find plenty of use.
I used to be obsessive with the whole air-mile collecting thing and Amex was at the centre of my universe. Worked well as long as I paid off the bills every month and I would still recommend the British Airways Black card (you can turn those 2 for 1 vouchers into something very valuable). Like the poster above you can use them in almost every location and their customer service is exceptional.
By putting almost all payments through the card and taking advantage of generous and weird bonuses (I once rented a car I didn’t need) I’ve accumulated over half a million miles which you can turn into first class travel. You can redeem from 7,500 points and start making big savings.
The best website for getting up to speed is headforpoints.com. I can refer for mutually beneficial referral bonuses, DM me if interested.
Amex is a fine company, but I decided to move all my spending to my Starling Debit card earlier this year for the live budgeting features. Haven’t regretted it yet.
Amex fully integrated with Monzo (or Starling) would be ace.
The thing with airmiles though is that it only saves you the ticket cost, but you still have to pay taxes and surcharges. Great for business travel, but rubbish for economy class. Please correct me if I am wrong. That’s the only reason I went for Platinum Cashback card instead. Plus availability of seats that can be booked with airmiles is smaller than those that can be booked normally using credit cards.
Speaking for BA airmiles (as other schemes vary) -
You can get any economy fare in Europe for £35 plus 7,500 miles. This can be very good value in, for example, school holidays.
The best deals are, as you say, for long haul business and first class redemptions. You pay tax etc but it can be, for example, £500 to travel first-class to Australia. These are the sweet spot redemptions. With 2-4-1 vouchers you get two times this.
The problem with redemptions is just about planning really. BA guarantee a certain number of seats on every flight in every class. Flights are released 355 days before the flight so you can, for example, guarantee flights in the summer holidays if you book in the previous summer holidays.
I’ve had some great trips paid for with miles. Booking ahead is the key. I’d never normally go business or first class (especially with my millions of kids) but this makes it viable. As I say, it’s also a fun hobby!
I got an Amex a few months ago (coming to the end of my introductory 5% cashback offer)
I’ve found that it’s generally well accepted in larger stores, but it’s quite rare with the smaller or low cost ones (Home Bargains don’t accept it, neither does a local Costa franchise).
The only really annoying thing is the shops that accept Amex, but their payment terminals don’t accept Amex Contactless (including Apple Pay) - these include Asda and Wilko… they really need to start shouting at these companies.
I’ve just signed up to a AMEX charge card because if membership points and I think it’ll look good on my credit report if I use it responsibly. It has no preset limits, but I have something called ‘spending power’ which is the max I can spend on the card but I must pay it back in full at the end of the month. My spending power is unbelievably high, but I know I can’t spend the max because I won’t be able to pay it back in one month! Also using Siri Shortcuts and IFTTT to seamlessly transfer money to my AMEX pot as per another discussion.
Once my cashback dropped to 0.5%, it was just easier to go for a Mastercard cashback card instead…
Just a quick bit of advice, I’ve been told not to use the ‘spending power’ tool too much. Rumour has it that Amex use ‘enthusiasm’ for it as a signal to trigger one of their financial reviews.
I don’t have any real evidence for the above though, so feel free to ignore entirely!
I’ve got the American Express British Airways Premium card and to be honest it’s what I used every day for anything that I can. I use British Airways for work maybe 30-40 times a year so my air miles rack up quickly. Spending them I usually do smaller, European flights for £35 return (I’m a Gold member so I get lounge access so I don’t see the need to fly business on short haul flights) and I think it’s really worth it.
I even put some bills through it where I can - phone bills for example. That way I get nearly 200 air miles a month JUST from that, and it takes me closer to the 2 for 1 voucher after £10,000 spend (which is easily done).
The app is great, and the customer service has always been amazing. Never had any issue. The places that don’t accept it, particularly in London, is small. They run some great offers too, such as “Shop Small” in December where you spend £10 and get £5 back in smaller shops (some of which aren’t really very small and are chains and pubs!) - I managed to get £85 back this December! (Mostly using pubs - two pints for £5 is good!)