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Today American Express announced changes to bonus categories and earnings on the Business Gold Rewards Card. These changes not only result in better Membership Rewards earnings overall, but also add flexibility to earn more in a category of your choice depending on your spending patterns. The details of the new offer are as follows:
The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN
Welcome Bonus: Get 25,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $5,000 in purchases on the card within the first three months of card membership
Annual Fee: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $175.
Benefits and Earnings: Earn 3x points per dollar spent on your choice of one of the five categories below, and 2x points on the four remaining categories. Earn 1 point per dollar spent on other purchases. The categories include:
- Airfare purchased directly from airlines
- U.S. purchases for advertising in select media
- U.S. purchases at gas stations
- U.S. purchases for shipping
- U.S. computer hardware, software, and cloud computing purchases made directly from select providers
Previously, the Business Gold Rewards card offered 3x points on airfare, 2x points on the remaining bonus categories mentioned above, and 1x point on other purchases. Now, customers can choose which category is most important to their business and select their 3x bonus category. While some of these categories don’t excite me personally, the new offer is a clear improvement.
This card is part of the American Express OPEN program, which offers several discounts to cardholders, most notably at Hyatt, Hertz, and FedEx. Take a look at my past post to learn more about this benefit.
Finally, an important note: Business Gold Rewards is a charge card, not a credit card. Unlike credit cards, charge cards do not have an interest rate associated with them, because cardholders are not permitted to carry a balance. If you don’t pay the full balance by the due date, you face either a flat fee, or a fee equivalent to a set percentage of the remaining balance (whichever is greater). If you pay your balances in full each month (as I strongly recommend you do), then this distinction won’t matter to you.
Flexibility is one of the features I look for most in travel rewards. Usually I’m more concerned with flexibility on the redemption side, and since this card earns versatile Amex Membership Rewards, it comes through on that account. However, the Business Gold Rewards card now offers additional flexibility on the earning side, making it particularly attractive to anyone who spends a lot in one of the five available bonus categories. I’m also intrigued that you’ll earn bonus points in the other four categories, which makes this card less of a one trick pony.
Which category you choose for the 3x bonus will vary on an individual basis. Personally I’d probably go with airfare, but each has its merits depending on your personal needs. For help deciding which category to select, check out my post from last year on Maximizing Credit Card Bonus Categories.
Taking into account that American Express has recently had much higher targeted bonuses for this card, the 25,000 Membership Rewards points currently being offered isn’t anything to get overly excited about. In my most recent most recent monthly valuations, I list Amex Membership Rewards at 1.7 cents apiece, so the welcome bonus of 25,000 points is worth $475. That’s not bad, but not great for a $5,000 minimum spending requirement.
However, this is a card you would get for the long haul anyway, not for the bonus. If you’re spending highly in the bonus categories, the points you earn from using the card regularly will make up for it.
Know before you go.
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