Understanding the 3x Airfare Category Bonus on the Amex Premier Rewards Gold
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
Offer Expired: April 19, 2013
There are many cards and ways of maximizing your airfare purchases, but I choose to put all of mine on my American Express Premier Rewards Gold card because it gives 3 points per dollar spent on airfare and also a 15,000 point bonus if you hit $30,000 in spend within a calendar year.
The Premier Rewards is my primary Amex workhorse card for those reasons and is how I build up my Membership Rewards balance so I can take advantage of periodic transfer bonuses to the program's airline and hotel partners. I am tempted to book airfare on my Sapphire Preferred at 2.14 points per dollar plus 2 extra points per dollar for clicking through to Travelocity via the Ultimate Rewards portal but I like to diversify my expenses between Amex, Chase and Starwood (plus whatever card I'm trying to hit the minimum spend for the sign-up bonus) so I dedicate airfare spend to Amex.
Per the T&C of the Premier Rewards card, "Premier Rewards Gold Card members will accrue 3 points for each dollar of eligible purchases of airfare booked directly on scheduled U.S. and international passenger airlines."
Airfare is technically "the price charged for transportation by airplane," but that definition seems like it might only be on the actual ticket purchased and not any additional fees.
Well, recently I took a deep look at my American Express statements and noticed that I was getting 3 points per dollar on much more than just base fares booked directly with airlines.
I also got it for award ticket fees and pet fees on three different airlines.
My elite status waives most other fees, but I'd assume that most fees will count towards the 3x category as long as they are billed in the Travel-Airline category and booked directly with airlines, which Amex will let you see on your americanexpress.com billing statement when you click the + mark next to the expense and scroll to the bottom.
However, one question I get a lot when there are buy miles promotions is whether these charges will count as airfare and thus earn the category spending bonus, and the answer is no. For instance, I recently purchased US Airways miles at a 100% bonus and since the charge is through points.com, it showed up as Merchandise & Supplies - Internet Purchases."
So for those purchases in the future, I'll use my Chase Freedom card, which will begin giving a 10% bonus on all points earned at some point this year for all members who have a Chase checking account (those enrolled in the 10 point per transaction + 10% bonus old Exclusives Program will get transferred to the 10% on all spend, including 5x, at some point in 2013 per my contacts at Chase).
If you are looking to get the Premier Rewards Gold card my direct affiliate link is only for 25,000 points, but if you follow the instructions in this post, through the Creditcards.com Card Match Tool you may get offered 50,000 points after only $1,000 spent within the first 3 months with the $0 Intro annual fee for the first year, then $195 which I think is an incredible deal that probably won't last long.