American Express Platinum Cashback: what's on offer?
WHEN this card was launched in September 2011, it offered the UK's highest cash back returns over the first two years.
More than five years later, it may have outlasted one of its biggest rivals but only by reducing what's available - so is the American Express Platinum credit card still one of the UK's best cash back deals?
We aim to find out in this review by taking a close look at both versions of the card - the one that charges an annual fee, and the "everyday", fee-free, one.
Read on to find out more about how the cash back works and how well it compares. For full details of the cost of the credit and how to apply see below.
What's on offer?
Briefly, these credit cards offer:
- 5% cash back for 3 months (up to £100 or £125 depending which card we have)
- 3% cash back for three months on purchases from Amazon.co.uk (up to £15 cash back)
- Purchase and refund protection insurance
- American Express services, including worldwide assistance
- With the Platinum Everyday card: From 0.5% up to 1% cash back, depending on spend
- With the Platinum card: From 1% to 1.25% cash back, depending on spend
Let's look at each of these features in more detail.
Cash back earnings
This is the most important reward. Both cards offer tiered rates depending on how much we spend, with the Platinum card (the one that charges the annual fee) offering higher rates. But it's not just the rates that differ between cards. Here's how they work.
Platinum Cashback card (£25 annual fee):
The American Express Platinum card comes with a £25 annual fee and two rates of cash back, depending on how much we spend:
- Annual spend of £0 - £10,000: 1% cash back.
- Annual spend of more than £10,000: 1.25% cash back
A previous version of this card used to offer the higher rate on all spending, with no minimum threshold; those who managed to spend more than £10,000 a year on their card benefited from double cash back (2.5%) for a month on the anniversary of account opening.
Like other rewards credit card providers, however, American Express have become rather less generous in the past year or so.
The £10,000 threshold for triggering the higher rate means that anyone spending less than an average of £833.50 a month on their card will only ever earn 1% cash back.
The good news is that cardholders need to spend an average of just £210 a month to start seeing returns that more than cover the annual fee for having the card.
Note that as with most reward cards, cash back won't be awarded on balance transfers, cash advances, American Express traveller's cheques, foreign exchange, interest, fees and any purchase over the credit limit.
Here are a few examples of how much it's possible to earn using the Platinum Cashback card, ignoring any introductory or bonus rates:
|Monthly Spend||Annual Cash back||Less Annual Fee|
We mentioned above that at present it's possible to earn up to 5% cash back on purchases made during the first three months of having each of these cards; with this version new account holders can earn up to £125 at this rate during those first months.
That ability isn't reflected in the table above; see the next section for that.
Platinum Everyday card (no annual fee):
Avoiding an annual fee with the Everyday version of this card used to mean losing a lot of earning power, but for low and moderate spenders this is actually the more generous card. Here's how the reward rates break down:
- Annual spend of £0 - £5,000: 0.5% cash back
- Annual spend of more than £5,000: 1% cash back
Let's look at how that works out in terms of actual earnings.
|Monthly Spend||Annual Cash back|
Do note that, unlike many reward card providers, American Express pay cash back annually, in the month after our account anniversary.
Those who don't spend at least £3,000 a year - equivalent to £250 a month - won't receive any cash back.
So while there's no fee for having the card, those who don't spend at least that will effectively be paying one via their lost earnings.
Beyond that, however, the rate of return may be lower than with the standard Platinum card, but everything we earn is ours.
Making the most of rewards cards
That makes a small but significant difference for lower spenders, and even for those spending as much as £750 a month on their card - as long as they follow the golden rule of rewards cards
Cash back bonuses
Both American Express Platinum deals come with a couple of introductory incentives.
Each offers 5% cash back on most purchases the first three months of having the card.
As with most introductory offers, there's a maximum earning limit, as follows:
- American Express Platinum Cashback card: £125 (equivalent to up to £2,500 in purchases in first three months)
- American Express Platinum Everyday Cashback card £100 (equivalent to up to £2,000 in purchases in first three months)
In both cases, this is a competitive deal when the cards are compared against their closest rivals.
At the time of this update, there's also an additional 3% cash back (that is, on top of the usual 5% introductory rate) on purchases from Amazon.co.uk, worth up to another £15 (equivalent to spending £500 with the retailer), with both cards.
The cash back offer is the American Express Platinum credit card's biggest selling point, but there are a few extras worth a look too.
A purchase protection policy covers items up to £2,500 bought with the card against theft or accidental damage for up to 90 days after purchase (note that some exclusions apply, and the protection offered is separate from that given by section 75).
The policy is worth a look, but according to American Express it means we're covered if our new coat is missing a button (always a typical moan) or if a new carpet is stained (again, no quibbles).
What is worth noting is that electronic and second hand goods are not covered.
American Express also offer a refund protection policy - which is a curious one, but will basically refund the cost of an eligible item costing between £25 and £200 if it is bought from a UK-based retailer and they refuse to take it back within 90 days.
The policy has all the standard exclusions we'd expect regarding refunds and, of course, eligible refunds are a statutory right under the Consumer Rights Act (explained in detail here).
Find out more about how good insurance from credit card providers is in this guide.
Services when travelling
American Express are well known for catering to frequent flyers and business travellers, so it's no surprise that both American Express Platinum credit cards come with additional services as standard when we're abroad.
Global Assist offers a 24-hour helpline for emergencies anywhere in the world. The service claims to offer help with anything from replacement prescriptions to finding an English-speaking doctor or hurrying urgent messages back home.
American Express will also be on call if customers ever lose their cards, and will hurry them an emergency replacement whilst also being on hand to help with hotel check-ins and emergency cash advances.
American Express remain hard to beat when it comes to offering a little bit extra in the way of rewards, by combining cash back with extended cardholder protection and services, particularly now that one of their biggest rivals, the Santander 123 Credit Card, is no more.
There are still higher rates of cash back out there, but these days they're only available with certain types of spending, like buying fuel or shopping with particular retailers.
Combined with the up to 5% cash back both cards offer for the first few months, that makes the American Express Platinum Cashback cards some of the UK's highest paying cards once more - if we use them properly.
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