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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:
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.