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A TPG reader approached me at the Freddies the other day to share a tragic story of major points bonus gone awry. Here’s what she told me:

“Back in January, I applied for and got the Platinum Card from American Express during the limited-time offer of a 100,000-point sign-up bonus. You got 100,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months.

I kept careful track of my spending and as the 3-month mark approached I was closing in on the $3,000 spending requirement and passed it when the card’s annual fee of $450 was billed on my statement.

I figured I was set and just called Amex to make sure my points were pending and an agent there said they were, though my online account didn’t have that information.

Cut to a month later, still no points. I call Amex back and ask what happened to my bonus and I was told that the $450 annual fee doesn’t count towards the minimum spending requirement, so no bonus…and I’m out $450!”

This 100K offer from January was an amazing deal - if you could hit the minimum spend.
This 100K offer from January was an amazing deal – if you could hit the minimum spend.

Now a lot of you might be saying, this person should have read the terms more carefully because the annual fee never applies towards your minimum spending requirement, and you’d be right, but this is a situation that a lot of folks find confusing.

To be clear: the minimum spending requirement is based on purchases only, not on the annual fee, balance transfers or any other fees (like balance transfer fees).

For example, in this case, the Amex Platinum’s terms stated that to receive the 100,000 Membership Rewards points, “You must charge $3,000 of eligible purchases on the Platinum Card within the first three months of Card membership to earn the 100,000 points.”

So the annual fee is not an eligible purchase, it’s exactly what it says, a fee.

I can’t blame this person for wanting to get in on a 100,000-point bonanza since the spending requirement was really low for an offer this large, and that’s the highest bonus we’ve seen from Amex in quite some time, though the Business Gold Rewards card currently offers a bonus of 50,000 points when you spend $5,000 in 3 months (there were 75K offers on the card in January and March) and 50K on the Premier Rewards Gold back in February.

However, this is a good reminder to us all that the terms and conditions of credit cards are extremely important and specific, and it bears reading them carefully in order to ensure that you get the bonus you want and deserve. This learned that lesson rather expensively!

Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express

With some great bonus categories and an annual fee that’s waived for the first year, the American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card has a lot going for it. If you don’t have PRG, now’s as good a time as any to add it to your wallet, as Amex added some great new benefits several months back.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Receive 25,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • 3X points for flights booked directly with airlines. 2X points at US restaurants, US gas stations, and US supermarkets. 1X points on other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.
  • No matter where you're traveling, when you use your Premier Rewards Gold Card there are no foreign transaction fees from American Express.
  • $100 Airline Fee Credit. Up to $100 a year in baggage fees and more at one airline.
  • Get a $75 hotel credit on qualifying charges, plus a room upgrade upon arrival, if available with The Hotel Collection at Terms apply.
  • There is a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $195.
  • Terms and limitations apply. See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Introductory annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $195.
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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