Testing the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express Airline Fee Credit

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Key Link: Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express

I’ve been a Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express cardholder for several years. It’s been the strongest Membership Rewards-earning card. Now, they’ve added new benefits, made the earning more attractive, and I can really justify not just having the card but keeping and using it. Here’s why.

Why Premier Rewards Gold Has Been a Valuable Card for Years

For a long time the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express was the best Membership Rewards points-earning card, bar none.

Membership Rewards are one of the most valuable currencies because they transfer to a variety of different airline (and hotel) programs, in many cases instantly. That lets you accrue very flexible points, deciding where to put them later when you know what trip you want to book and which partner has award availability.

And the Premier Rewards Gold was much better at earning Membership Rewards points than the Platinum Card by American Express. That’s because of its spending category bonuses, especially triple points on airfare.

It’s been attractive as a points-earning card the first year with its $0 introductory annual fee, but after the first year the fee was $175 (now $195). That’s still cheap compared to the Platinum card, which doesn’t earn points as quickly, but expensive compared to strong earning cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card which earns double points on travel and dining (and is $0 the first year, then $95).

They’ve Improved the American Express Premier Rewards Gold Benefits!

The Premier Rewards Gold card has made some changes to be more competitive. It has added a $100 airline fee credit, a new category bonus double points on dining, and no foreign transaction fees. The annual fee has gone up $20 to $195 — but is still $0 intro the first year.

So spending category bonuses are — 3X for flights booked directly with airlines; 2X points at US restaurants; 2X points at US gas stations; 2X points at US supermarkets.

    The card becomes competitive on earning with Chase Sapphire Preferred by offering more points on airfare (though not bonusing other travel), matching double points on dining, and bonusing gas and groceries which Sapphire Preferred does not.

The $100 airline fee credit is available for your choice of:

  • Alaska
  • American
  • Delta
  • Hawaiian
  • JetBlue
  • Southwest
  • United

And because the benefit is based on calendar year, you can receive the $100 twice during your first cardmember year (that has no annual fee). In other words, get the card now and use the $100 fee credit before the end of 2015, and again at the beginning of 2016. You net $200.

Here’s the page to register your airline preference for the Premier Rewards Gold airline fee credit.

My Experience Using the Annual Fee Credit for Airfare

There’s no question that a $100 fee credit in 2015 and another in 2016 is a great benefit with a $0 the first year annual fee. That’s $200 on top of the signup bonus for the card.

Of course to be valuable you need to be able to use the annual fee credit.

I’ve had luck in the past with my Premier Rewards Gold was much better at earning Membership Rewards points than the Platinum Card by American Express at just buying American Airlines electronic gift cards online in $100 denominations and having American Express credit back the cost automatically.

I decided to test it on the Premier Rewards Gold with a $50 electronic gift card purchase. (The nice thing about American is that they sell gift cards online, deliver them by email, and you can combine more than one gift card as payent on a single ticket purchase.)

Here’s the $50 charge, and the credit back a few days later:

This isn’t how the fee reimbursement is ‘supposed to’ work, and there’s no guarantee that it will always work this way, but in my experience this is how it always has worked.

Two warnings: Larger purchase amounts may not look like fees that receive automatic reimbursement, and one reader reports not receiving reimbursement for a physical (shipped) American Airlines gift card he purchased with his Platinum card. Stick to e-mailed ‘virtual gift cards’.

I’ve seen some reports of difficulty with United gift cards, and you don’t necessarily want to reimburse those anyway. Gift cardholder and passenger names have to match and you can only attach one gift card per reservation. In contrast, I have no problem using two and even four gift cards on a single American Airlines reservation, and the gift cards can be used by anyone. I understand that Delta works similarly well.

I like the card for triple points on airfare. With double points on US dining, supermarkets and gas stations, no more foreign transaction fees, and a better annual fee value proposition after the $0 intro first year I’ll definitely keep the card.

During the first cardmember year? Get the card now and take advantage of two $100 fee credits with a $0 fee, the card’s 25,000 point signup bonus (after $2000 spend within 3 months) is pretty sweet.

Key Link: Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Editorial note: any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. Comments made in response to this post are not provided or commissioned nor have they been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any bank. It is not the responsibility of any advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either. Terms and limitations apply to all offers.

Pingbacks

  1. […] There is a $200 & $100 airline fee credit offered by Amex for the Platinum, Business Platinum, and Premier Rewards Gold. By now, you have probably heard that many are getting reimbursed for electronic gift certificates for certain airlines such as American Airlines. Not long ago many bloggers were posting that it stopped working but it was only temporary. See VFTW. […]

Comments

  1. I used my AmEx to buy 2 x $50 gift cards on Southwest and got both credits back within a couple days.
    I really question why AmEx doesn’t just do an airline credit like the Citi Prestige card- it’s so much simpler and limiting the credit to “airline fees” just seems like a dumb qualification to place on cardholders.
    Personally, I plan to cancel my PRG as soon as the annual fee comes due, since I just don’t see $195 in value with this card after the signup bonus is earned.

  2. Does Delta work in $50 denominations also? I’ve used AA for my Amex Plat in the past, but would like to shift that to Delta GCs instead…less reports of DL working for the reimbursement.

  3. There is a better offer of 50k with $1k spend out there…

    Hopefully purchasing GCs works at the beginning of next year too. Bought SW GCs a few months ago with no issue

  4. @Matt E – I have never tried it myself. And of course it isn’t SUPPOSED TO work. I have read reports that $50 gift cards do work with Delta though (but not higher denominations). That’s second hand.

  5. Gary – you would be the first person I know that’s not able to replicate the offer. Did you follow the instructions carefully? Chrome incognito, paste in link. No 50k offer? Close out and repeat.

  6. Gary,
    For my work travel, I have to use Carlson Wagonlit Travel portal. In the CWT Portal, I can use only an Amex card. Which card is the best to maximize since these charges are not being counted as direct airline purchases?

  7. I tried it out recent with United and charged $25 to be deposited into my travel bank… This was last week. Three days after the charge, a reimbursement was processed.

  8. I purchased a physical gift card from Southwest for $100 and was reimbursed within a few days. (There is a $2.95 charge for them to mail you the physical card).

  9. so before the change you were paying $95+$175 for the everyday preferred And the gold? How is that justifiable? That’s $270.

  10. For United “gift cards,” just use the Travel Bank. Essentially the same as gift cards but more flexible (you can use more than one and use them for other people).

  11. Another data point here for the PRG: set my airline to AA on 8/17. Bought 1 x $50 AA e-gift card on 8/18. Bought another $50 AA e-gift card 8/19. Reimbursed for both on 8/21. I saw some chatter on flyertalk where people recommended spacing the GC purchases out by a day so they look more like legit fees instead of buying all at once where maybe it looks like a ticket purchase. Probably just superstition, but just FYI. Also keep in mind that if you see a fare that you want to jump on ASAP, don’t count on doing this gift card thing as the AA e-gift cards take 72 hours after purchase to activate (according to them on the website).

  12. @Stvr before the loss of the annual bonus points for $30k spend I was doing $30k of airfare spend on the card, the 15k bonus more than covered the $175 fee

  13. @PhatMiles if the purchases don’t count as airfare/travel then Everyday Preferred… used the card 30 times per month and you’ll earn 1.5x on the purchases

  14. Does anyone know if charges for upgrading to economy plus or preferred seating will qualify, as long as I purchase the upgrade in a separate transaction after buying the airfare? For example I pay for the airfare with my respective airline charge card and after the fare is paid, I go back and upgrade to economy plus seating and pay with the AMEX gold reward card. do you think the credit will be awarded?
    thanks in advance!

  15. Is the $100 AmEx credit just for new cards, or existing cards as well?

    I assume there is not any expiry date on your AA e-gift cards?

  16. Lots of discussion of the offer there — whether someone with other amex cards can get it, how the airline fee credit works, complaining that the slickdeals thread is a repost — but very few people actually reporting success getting it to come up. It could be just about when I was trying to pull it up (both when writing the post, and after your comment to see if it was still an issue). Or could be me. Don’t know!

  17. Gary, I’m just wondering how you split up your spend amongst multiple cards that have the same bonus categories (in a way that justifies paying the annual fee on all of them). I currently have a Sapphire Preferred, an Amex PRG, and a Citi TY Premier, all of which more or less have the same category bonuses. I use my CSP for all dining and non-airfare travel purchases (train tickets, taxis, rental cars, etc), because I value UR points higher than the other transferable currencies. That leaves just airfare for the PRG and nothing(?) for the TY card. So what’s the point of keeping all of them? JUST to be able to transfer to partners?

  18. @Andrew G – Citi TY Premier would be gas and entertainment, of course you have to hit enough spend for the incremental value to be worth it after year 1 [do you buy things at gas stations other than gas?]. I’d only keep that card without enough spend to justify the fee if I uniquely valued transfer partners like Etihad that weren’t duplicated by Chase and Amex.

  19. @Shawn of course it is. For some reason this still shows me only a 25,000 mile offer. I *want* these comments and feedback from readers. Thank you!

  20. Using it for upgrade fees? I like that idea that @old
    Manbob brought up. I would also love to know if that is possible.

  21. Yes, to answer @Oldmanbob, it worked for me.

    I was very close to reaching the spending minimum on Delta to renew my Silver status for next year but I’m not planning on flying Delta for the remainder of the year. So I decided to use my Amex Premier Rewards Gold card to purchase a first class upgrade on Delta in the amount of $141.00. This should put me over the edge to reach the spending minimum and renew my status for next year.

    I wasn’t expecting to get reimbursed for it, but to my pleasant surprised I logged onto my Amex account this morning and found out that I did get $100 reimbursement!

  22. FYI: You cannot purchase gift cards from AA if you live in New Jersey. I just attempted a modest $50 virtual gift card purchase and got an error message saying that AA will not sell gift card to be shipped or sold to residents of New Jersey. The reason given is that a new state law makes the documentation necessary for gift card sales too cumbersome.

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