About American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card

By J.R. Duren
HighYa Staff Updated on: Oct 14, 2018

The American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card is a travel rewards credit card that offers a substantial amount of rewards and perks.

The card is unique in that the rewards and perks it offers are usually associated with luxury credit cards that have annual fees of $400 or more. The AmEx Premier Rewards Gold, on the other hand, has an annual fee of $250.

Does this card offer enough value to justify its annual fee? Does it provide enough rewards to make it a smarter choice over cards with annual fees of $400 and above?

We’re going to answer those questions by doing an analysis of the card’s rewards, benefits and fees, then comparing those metrics to similar travel cards.

At the end of our review, we’ll wrap up with our general thoughts about the card.

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.

50,000 Points

AmEx offers you 50,000 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.

20% Back on Restaurant Purchases

In addition to the 50,000 points you’ll get for spending $2,000 in the first three months, AmEx will also give you Membership Rewards points equivalent to 20% of every dollar you spend at restaurants the first three months you own the card.

It will take American Express 2-4 weeks, the fine print says, to credit the 20% bonuses to your statement.

4x on Restaurants and Supermarkets

Whenever you use your Gold card to make purchases at restaurants or grocery stores, you’ll earn 4% in Membership Rewards for every dollar you spend.

Based on our research on how much the average family spends per year, we think this category can earn you around $309 in rewards, or 30,900 Membership Rewards points.

If you manage to spend more than $25,000 a year on groceries, AmEx will drop the rewards rate from 4% to 1%.

Pro tip: Superstores and warehouse clubs don’t count as “supermarkets.” This would eliminate stores like Walmart, Target, Costco and Sam’s Club.

3x on Airline Purchases

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.

You’ll also get the 3x bonus when you book airline travel through the American Express travel booking site.

1x on Everything Else

Purchases that don’t fall into the previous two categories will get one point per dollar.

We believe when you take the various bonuses into account, this card can earn you around 51,000 points year based on spending. When you pair it with the 50,000 sign-up bonus, then the card can earn you around 101,000 points in the first year.

For starters, it’s important to know that 101,000 points have a cash value of $1,010 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 at a 1:1 ratio to the Marriott Rewards Program, through which you can book nights at a variety of hotel brands in the Starwood and Marriott portfolios.

The Marriott Rewards program allows you to book hotel rooms for as little as 7,500 points, which means your 101,000 first-year rewards could get you 13 free 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 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.

$120 Yearly Dining Credit

AmEx provides you a dining credit of up to $10 a month ($120 a year) whenever you use your card to pay for meals at the following meal delivery services and restaurants:

  • Grubhub
  • Seamless
  • The Cheesecake Factory
  • Ruth's Chris Steak House
  • Shake Shack

Basically, if you use your card to pay for meals from these five different companies, then American Express will automatically give you a statement credit of up to $10.

One thing to remember is that purchases at Shake Shack locations in "ballparks, stadiums, airports and race tracks,” AmEx’s fine print points out.

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.

You have the option of setting up a payment plan for big purchases, through which your APR will be 20.99%. However, you have to ask American Express for this option and they set the terms of the repayment.

Also, the card charges a penalty APR that may apply to purchases if you make a single late payment or a payment is returned. AmEx’s fine print says you can You can get rid of the penalty APR if you make on-time payments for six months in a row without any returned payments.

Aside from the late fees, the only other fee you’ll have to pay is a $250 annual fee.

The card has no foreign transaction fee.

How the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury Card Compares to Other Cards

One of the important things about choosing the right credit card is understanding how it compares to similar cards. What makes this card so tricky is that its annual fee puts it in a middle ground between cards that charge around $100 and cards that charge $450 or more.

Here’s a chart that shows some of the similarities and differences in the various rewards cards we’d consider similar to the AmEx Gold:

AmEx Gold Chase Sapphire Preferred U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Chase Sapphire Reserve
Sign-Up Bonus 50,000 points 50,000 points 50,000 points 50,000 points
Yearly Rewards 51,000 29,500 26,400 33,130
Travel Credits Up to $220 None Up to $425 Up to $799
APR 20.99% 17.74% - 24.74% 17.74% 17.74%
Annual Fee $250 $0 first year, $95 after $400 $450

The AmEx Gold has one main advantage over its competition: points. You can earn 51,000 a year with this card, whereas the other cards on the list don’t break 34,000.

In terms of the cash value of those points, AmEx is around $169 ahead of the Sapphire Reserve, $246 ahead of the Altitude Reserve and $215 more than the Sapphire Preferred.

Where the card falls short is the travel credits you get each year. The Gold gives you up to $220 in credits, whereas the Sapphire Reserve’s combo of a $300 travel credit, $100 Global Entry (expedited security pass) and free Priority Pass airport lounge membership ($399) leads to nearly $800 in credits/free services.

In general, we think that the Gold card fares well against the competition. While it doesn’t offer the same level of travel credits as the Altitude Reserve and the Sapphire Preferred, its annual fee is $150 lower than the Altitude Reserve and $200 than the Sapphire Reserve.

If you use airport lounges often, the Reserve’s free Priority Pass membership will benefit you greatly. However, if you don’t use airline lounges, the Gold may be your best choice because of its great mix of yearly rewards and yearly credits.

The other factor at play in this comparison is the flexibility you have for using your points for travel.

AmEx lets you use your points for a couple of international airlines (British Airways, for example) as well as for Marriott Rewards hotels, both at a 1:1 rate.

The Chase cards allow you to transfer your points to four hotel partners (IHG, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, and Hyatt) and 11 different airlines including JetBlue, United, and Southwest.

On top of that, the Reserve gives you a 50% bonus on the cash value of your points if you decide to use the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal to book your travel. So, $500 in points is worth $750. The Altitude Reserve has this same redemption bonus when you book through U.S. Bank’s travel portal.

Bottom Line About the American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card

In our opinion, the strengths of this card are the 101,000 rewards points you can earn in the first year. We also think the 1:1 points transfers to the Marriott Rewards program and to international airline carriers are great for someone who wants a credit card that gives them international travel perks.

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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