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While we have no reservations in recommending the Amex Gold card as one of the top “travel hack” credit cards out there, it definitely used to be better. For example, back in the day you would get double points on all your “travel-related” spend. This is sadly no longer the case.
You will still get double Membership Rewards points (2 per £1) when you spend directly with airlines. So, for example (to the extent this needs an example…), book directly with Etihad and you’ll get the points on the spend doubled:
(You’ll also get double points on spend in a foreign currency, and 3 points for every £1 spent at American Express Travel Online, but the airline double points are likely to be the “easiest win”.)
How much is that worth?
Given that we value Membership Rewards points at around a penny each (their flexibility very arguably makes them worth more than this), you’re getting a total 2% rebate on your flights booked directly in GBP.
In my Etihad example above, that’s a £16 rebate, which is not bad. Add it to the cashback I also earned on the flight, and you can see how the rebates stack up.
So, the basic conclusion is, this is a nice little benefit of the Amex Gold card, and it’s therefore important that when you do book directly with airlines, you therefore give some thought to using your Amex Gold for the transaction.
Any reasons NOT to do this?
The only obvious exception to this is if you hold the BA Amex Premium Plus card and are flying BA, as you will get 3 Avios for every £1 spent with British Airways. That’s better value than 2 Membership Rewards points.