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Spend bonuses on a credit card can dramatically increase its value proposition and justify the annual fee. The Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express card has been one of my go-to cards for years. It offers 3 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on airfare and 2 points per dollar spent on gas and groceries. In my opinion, it’s the most lucrative Amex card for spending if you spend in those categories, and you also get a 15,000 point bonus for spending $30,000 in a calendar year (the card has been a steady member on my Top Credit Cards for Annual Spend Bonus list). I value Amex Membership Rewards points at 1.8 cents apiece, so the 15,000 points for hitting that spend bonus are worth about $270, which more than offsets the $175 annual fee.
Amex Nixing the 15,000 Premier Rewards Gold Bonus
Sadly, American Express announced today that the 15,000 point bonus will be going away starting in 2015. If you’re already working on the bonus for this year, you’ll still be eligible to receive it, but it will not be awarded for the spending year 2015 and beyond.
Per Amex’s release: “We are eliminating this because the majority of Premier Rewards Gold Card Members did not meet the annual spending threshold of $30,000 and did not get the point bonus. Instead, we are evaluating other benefits and services that we believe may provide value to more of our Premier Rewards Gold Card Members.”
My guess is that they will replace this benefit with one that’s easier to understand and more marketable to a broader audience that may not spend $30,000 per year. As for other benefits and services they may add, the first thing they need to do is drop the foreign transaction fees on this card. As Nick Ewen wrote in The Weekly Wish last month, premium travel cards should not penalize cardholders for spending outside of the country. I’d also like to see more transfer partners added with lucrative transfer bonuses (can we please get another British Airways 50% bonus?!).
Lagging the Competition
However, with cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred (which offers 2 points per dollar on all travel charges and no foreign transaction fees) and the Barclaycard Arrival Plus (which offers 2 miles per dollar on all purchases and chip + PIN technology), Amex has a long way to go to catch the competition. Another area that needs improvement is the annual fee, since the $175 charge for Amex Premier Rewards Gold is not competitive when compared to fee on Sapphire Preferred ($95) and Arrival Plus ($89).
Last Chance to Maximize 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.
If you wanted to get this card and maximize the spending bonus before it goes away, the current sign-up bonus is 25,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. The card has a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, and is $195 thereafter.
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.