I wrote a post about the American Express Gold card a few years back when I was just starting my blog. Since then a lot has changed in my life and this blog, as cheesy as it sounds, is the one thing that remained stable, and it was “my love” for Amex Gold.
I do get asked quite often how I find Amex and why i chose it. Especially because Muslims want to start the travel card earning opportunity. I have to say in the Middle East they are more widespread than in Europe even for Muslims.
So I thought I would write about it again after three years of using the card.
So what is Amex Gold
When I am talking about Amex gold I am referring to the American Express Gold Charge card which is a card that needs to be paid off every month in full; it doesn’t have a set limit and every time you spend on the card you earn points towards hotels, airlines and other activities.
Now, I have to say. First, miles and points have given me the opportunity to fly in business class, save over £18,000 of a five star Umrah. I just wish I had started 10 years ago when I was a student.
Second I want to mention if you are regular reader you know I don’t advocate ranking up credit cards as Muslims, I know interest is not permissible, and I have seen the devastating effects it can have on families and fortunes. What I advocate is enjoying as much as possible without going into the “dark side”. This Amex lets me do that, and I will explain how below.
So if you are new to this site keep reading around before you pass judgment as a Muslim. I also don’t agree with Muslims having 30 open credit cards, and I know few of them, but everyone does what they feel OK with, and for me, Amex does the trick with the occasionally maybe opening another card for the bonus. But that is super rare.
Now that we have cleared this out-of-the-way let’s talk about what the card is and why I still love it and happily pay the annual fee.
Amex is one of the oldest banking institutions in the world and the most popular choice for charge cards. If you have watched movies you know they show the Amex cards as an exclusive privilege especially with the Amex Black card which is only given by invitation only. There was a Chinese collector a few years back who paid with Amex for an antique. Well for those who are not uber rich there is still the Amex Gold and Platinum. Personally, I prefer the Gold card because it works for my lifestyle and I think it will suit the majority of Muslims.
Why use a charge card and how it’s different from a credit card?
With a credit card, you get a limit and also you have interest charge on the remaining balance if not cleared monthly, in many cases you also don’t get any benefits from it. With charge cards, you don’t have a limit but the balance must be paid in full every month, plus you get benefits and also have an annual fee after the first year (as the first year is free).
Here is what American Express gets you:
- 20,000 points if you are a new member – 22,000 if I refer you since we both get some extra points if you want to me to refer you let me know and I will happily do it. These 2,000 points do make a difference as usually £1 spend is equivalent to one point.
- Lounge access
- The first year is free, and after that, you have to pay £147 a year.
- Travel insurance
- Access to special offers and deals
Now why pay the fee?
I value the points I earn much more than 147 since I know that I can redeem these for 10x that. So paying a fee to collect points and keep them active is valuable to me. I see miles as a currency, and one of the strongest currencies is Amex. Because you can transfer those points to British Airways, Etihad, Emirates, Hilton, Virgin and much more. But once you transfer them to a particular airline you can’t move them back out. So I prefer to keep them there and use as needed.
The easiest way to think of Amex points is like a form of currency, some are stronger than others, and although all are called similar names, their value is different.
Amex also has membership offers within their dashboard where you can get exclusive deals and also cashback and first-hand sales. For example, recently they had spent £800 on tickets with Emirates and get £100 back. If you are booking flights for a family holiday and you fly Emirates, then it’s a great deal you just got 100 off your membership money back. On average a year, I would use at least 5-6 offers which in the first year alone saved me about £300. So I see value in this that otherwise, I wouldn’t have.
Their offers are not only travel related they have high-street offers as well. Not all of them might work for you, but sometimes I enjoyed shopping in places I wouldn’t have normally done.
They have insurance. Insurance is not something I considered important until I needed it and trust me sometimes it can break the bank. Funnily during our Umrah, they lost my bags but because I had paid the flights with Amex and I also had an Amex travel insurance I could claim it back. However, my Amex Gold card insurance covered bigger costs than my Amex travel insurance which I had bought separately. So this is another bonus since we got £400 extra pounds as the delay was more than 48hrs. It would not have been possible without the Amex card.
Also, I used it when I fell sick in Dubai, and my hospital bill came close to £5000 that was also covered by the insurance. Though part of it I claimed under my travel insurance I had the option of both.
Use of card
I use this card as my debit card. I don’t over spend on it because I have unlimited funds – which technically you don’t, it increases with your membership and how much you spend on your card, so it’s intuitive. I pay it off every month, but I put everything on my card in every single store that takes Amex.
The points I collect every month or year might not seem a lot, but they do add up. I then use these points to offset flight costs that otherwise would be too expensive. Or accumulate points for business class tickets that I usually wouldn’t be able to afford. Plus it’s fun.
Where can you spend it:
You can spend your points plenty of airlines and options. As I said before not every one of them offers value but many of the do!
For example one of the options which for me don’t offer value is booking flights let’s say to Dubai with British Airways. A trip these days to Dubai can cost you as little as £300 in cash but if you were to redeem your Amex points into British Airways and book on miles the taxes alone could be £350.
So, in this case, it wouldn’t be a wise choice in my books.
However, let’s say there is a conference you need to attend (happened to me), and the flights direct was £800 I wasn’t flexible and had to book specific flights and times, the redemption and paying the taxes saved me quite a bit of £350.
Another example for me is a flight from Dubai which we took with Virgin in Upper class (business class) one way for 25,000points each and £150 in taxes. It would have cost us over £2,000 per person if we were to book it cash.
These are experiences and savings that are worth it in my books.
Overall I find that American Express Gold works best for Muslims when it comes to travel as it offsets their spend and also doesn’t carry interest. If you pay it off every month and never overspend then it is the same principle as a debit card, as with everything you have to be responsible for it.
I would be happy to refer you if you UK based you will earn 2,000 extra points. I cannot refer you unfortunately if you live outside the UK.