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I’ve mentioned in several recent posts that you can earn as much as 4x Membership Rewards points on airfare purchases with the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express, and on each occasion readers have emailed or left comments asking how it’s done. It’s actually pretty easy, but to make sure you’re all able to take advantage of this lucrative double-dipping bonus, today I’ll make it crystal clear.
There are three factors at play: the first is the 3x points earned by the Premier Rewards Gold Card for flights booked directly with airlines. This bonus has long been one of the card’s more useful perks, and fortunately it was left intact after the recent changes made to other benefits. The second factor is the 2x Membership Rewards points you earn when you make purchases at AmexTravel.com with an eligible American Express card (including the Amex Everyday Preferred Card, The Platinum Card from American Express, and others).
The third factor is that these two bonuses can actually be combined (to a degree). The PRG card is supposed to earn bonus points for flights booked directly with airlines, but in practice many airfare purchases made through Amex Travel (as well as other online travel agencies) will qualify.
The PRG Card earns 1 base point and two bonus points on airfare, while purchases through Amex Travel earn one base point and one bonus point. You only get the base point once, but you can collect both bonuses. For example, suppose you spent $1,000 on airfare using your Premier Rewards Gold Card via Amex Travel; you would earn the following:
- 1,000 base points + 2,000 bonus points = 3,000 points for using PRG;
- 1,000 bonus points for using Amex Travel (you don’t earn the base points a second time).
That’s a total of 4,000 Membership Rewards points, which would be worth $80 according to my most recent monthly valuations. You’re getting an 8% return on your spending, and that doesn’t account for the airline miles and elite credits you earn for flying. This is an easy way to boost your points earnings on airfare purchases. However, you should always shop around for flights, since Amex Travel may not have the best prices.
Also note that the Premier Rewards Gold card will still charge foreign transaction fees until June 1, 2015, so don’t use it to book foreign airfare before then. I recently booked a one-way award ticket from France to JFK using SkyMiles and got hit with fees because the transaction processed in Euros as a purchase from Delta France. Beware!
Know before you go.
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