About American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card

By J.R. Duren
HighYa Staff Published on: Dec 26, 2017

The American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card is AmEx’s middle-ground credit card for consumers who want to earn travel rewards but also have a taste of what it’s like to own a premium credit card without the $450+ annual fee.

The card’s direct competitor would be the Bank of America Premium Rewards card and, for that reason, we’ll do some comparisons between the two during our review.

Now, since you’ve come here to learn more about the Premier Rewards Gold, we’re going to focus on the features and benefits the card offers as well as the rates and fees you can expect to pay.

Our information comes straight from American Express’ website, which means we’ve pored through the facts and figures and read through the fine print to present you with a comprehensive understanding of the card.

In addition to the basics of the card, we’ll add in some of the reviews that consumers have written about the card, as the real-life experience of others is an important indication of how effective, in a practical sense, the cards rewards and customer service are.

The American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card’s Rewards

For the purposes of our review, we’re going to define rewards as the things AmEx offers you when you use the card to make purchases. And, at the time of publishing, those rewards consisted of two main features: an up-front bonus and a per-dollar bonus.

25,000 Points

Right off the bat, AmEx offers you 25,000 Membership Rewards points if you can spend $2,000 in the first three months of owning your card. It’s pretty straightforward in the sense that you’ll hit that spending mark quickly if you’re a household of more than one person.

In the case of my family, we put about $3,000 a month on our rewards card, so we’d hit that spending requirement after a few weeks.

We read through the fine print and found that your purchases have to clear in order to count. What that means is that, if you put $300 on your card the last day of the three-month deadline and those payments post to your account two days later, they won’t count.

The fine print goes on to say that AmEx might invalidate your bonus if you made purchases to hit the limit then returned them at a later date. If they suspect that this is what you’re doing, they may freeze or cancel your points or they may close your card altogether.

With all that being said, once you hit the $2,000 mark your Membership Rewards points will show up in your account within 8-12 weeks.

A Quick Note About Membership Rewards

When we use the phrase “Membership Rewards” we're referring to American Express’ loyalty program. If you don’t already have an MR account when you sign up for the Premier Rewards Gold, AmEx will create one for you if you’re accepted for the card.

Your rewards balance can be accessed from your credit card account page. The points you have can be redeemed or a variety of things ranging from travel to merchandise (more on that in a few minutes).

3x on Airline Purchases

The second main way you get rewards points with this card is through everyday spending. You’ll earn Membership Rewards points almost any time you use your card to purchase something. What’s great is that certain purchase will earn more points than others.

When you use your card to book airline travel through an airline's website – buying Delta tickets through Delta.com, for example – you’ll get three points for every dollar you spend. A $700 round-trip flight from New York to the Bahamas will earn you 2,100 points.

2x on Gas, Groceries and Restaurants

Now, when you use your card to make purchases at restaurants, gas stations or grocery stores, you’ll earn two points for every dollar.

Based on our research, we believe this is a pretty lucrative bonus because it’s so expansive – it covers some of the biggest yearly expenditures in the average American household. Here’s some data to back that up, as provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • Groceries and eating out: $7,203
  • Gas and oil: $1,909

Those two spending totals combine to account for $9,112 a year, which equals 18,224 rewards points at the 2x rate.

1x on Everything Else

Purchases that don’t fall into the previous two categories will get one point per dollar. Those BLS numbers we mentioned earlier indicate the average family can spend at least $25,000 a year on their card.

When you subtract the 2x bonus spending and, for example’s sake, $350 for the purchase of one airline ticket a year, you’re left with $15,538, or 15,538 points.

In all, we believe the average family can earn around 40,000 Membership Rewards each year. In the first year, that number jumps to 65,000 because of the 25,000-point up-front bonus.

We believe that the real value of the Premier Rewards Gold card lies in what you actually get for those 65,000 points you earn in the first year of owning the card.

For starters, it’s important to know that 65,000 points have a value of $650 that you can redeem for cash or be redeemed for gift cards and merchandise through AmEx’s shopping portal.

You can also transfer your points to the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) program, through which you can book nights at a variety of hotel brands including W, Westin, and Sheraton. The downside is that it’s a 2:1 transfer and not 1:1 (1,000 Membership Rewards points are equal to 500 SPG points).

We did some research and found that 65,000 points can get you the following hotel stays:

  • W Times Square, New York: 2 nights
  • Westin Moana Surfrider, Waikiki Beach: 1 night
  • W Barcelona, Barcelona: 2 nights
  • Sheraton Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco: 2 nights
  • Sheraton Grand Chicago, Chicago: 6 nights, 3 nights

The Membership Rewards program has partnerships with airlines, too. You can do points transfers at a 1:1 clip for multiple international airlines including British Airways and Alitalia.

The big difference between this card and the B of A Premium Rewards card is that you can use your points for travel, whereas the B of A card doesn’t have any travel partners to which you can transfer points.

The American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card’s Benefits

Whereas we classify rewards as something you get that’s dictated by the type and amount of purchases you make, benefits are those non-rewards perks you get that include travel reimbursements, insurance-type coverages and more.

$100 Yearly Airline Incidentals Reimbursement

One of the hallmark benefits of a premium card is the travel reimbursement. Sometimes that reimbursement is limited to airline incidentals and with a card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, it’s applied to any travel-related purchase.

The Premier Rewards Gold card will reimburse you up to $100 for any airline incidentals you purchase with the card. According to AmEx, “airline incidental” includes baggage fees and “other incidentals” but does not include seat upgrades, duty-free purchases, on-board internet service purchases or airline tickets.

Once a qualifying purchase posts to your account, it will take 2-4 weeks to receive your reimbursement.

Insurance and Protections

AmEx will provide you with reimbursements for luggage lost during air travel, complimentary car rental insurance and several other travel-related perks that kick in if you use your card to purchase said travel.

The exclusions and restrictions on these programs can be pretty intricate, so make sure you read the benefits guide that comes with our Premier Rewards Gold card.

Rates and Fees of the American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card

The first thing you need to know about this card is that it’s a charge card and not a credit card. What that means is that you have to pay off the card in full every month or American Express will charge you a late fee every month that you don’t pay the balance in full.

The Premium Rewards Gold’s late fees are $38 for balances above $250. If you don’t pay your balance off two months in a row, you’ll be charged 2.99% of the balance or $38, whichever is greater.

This is different than credit cards, which only charge you a late fee if you don’t pay the minimum payment by the due date.

Aside from the late fees, the only other fee you’ll have to pay is a $195 annual fee, which is waived the first year.

The card has no foreign transaction fee.

Public Opinion About the American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card

The consumer reviews we read are on the above-average side. Many of the positive reviews we read were more an expression of excitement that the person was approved for the card and not so much for the customer service or the rewards.

As for negative reviews, a customer recently complained that it took time for her up-front reward to show up, but, as we mentioned earlier, AmEx says it takes 8-12 weeks. Another customer complained AmEx’s customer service isn’t as good as it used to be.

Our Final Thoughts About the American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card

This card is unique in that it’s one of two credit cards trying to fill the gap between premium credit cards and rewards credit cards, the Bank of America Premium Rewards card being the other.

In our opinion, the strengths of this card are the 65,000 rewards points you can earn in the first year, a point total that isn’t negated by an annual fee the first year. We also think the 1:1 points transfers to international airline carries is great for someone who wants a credit card that gives them international travel perks.

Based on our research, we think the card’s main weakness is that the rewards points don’t get good conversion rates for U.S.-based travel. One Membership Rewards point is worth .75 Delta SkyMiles points and .5 Starwood Preferred Guest points.

Chase’s top travel rewards cards, the Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve, rack up Chase Ultimate Rewards points that can be transferred 1:1 to 11 different travel partners including Delta, Southwest, Hyatt, Marriott, and IHG.

If you aren’t quite sold on the Premier Rewards Gold, then take a few minutes to read through our guide to the best luxury rewards credit cards. It’s an in-depth exploration of nine different categories across six of the most popular premium credit cards.

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