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Maximizing the Amex Premier Rewards Gold Card in 2016

Jan. 15, 2016
6 min read
Maximizing the Amex Premier Rewards Gold Card in 2016
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If you're a frequent TPG reader, chances are you know just how valuable credit card earnings and benefits can be when it comes to redeeming and enjoying travel. Today, TPG Points & Miles Editor Sarah Silbert explores the top benefits of one specific option worth considering: the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express.

With some great bonus categories and an annual fee that's waived for the first year, the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express has a lot going for it. To help you maximize the card if you already have it, I'll go through a list of the top benefits and provide tips on how to use them.

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. The current welcome bonus is for 25,000 American Express Membership Rewards points after spending $2,000 in the first three months of cardmembership. Note that after the first year, a $195 annual fee will be charged — but as you'll see below, the airline fee credit alone makes up for more than half of it.

1. $100 Airline Fee Credit

The card's $100 airline credit fee can be used toward checked bags, among many other things.
The card's $100 airline credit fee can be used toward checked bags, among many other things. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

It's less than the Citi Prestige and The Platinum Card® from American Express offer (their airline fee credits are for $250 and $200, respectively), but the Premier Rewards Gold Card's annual $100 credit toward airline fees is still quite useful. As with the Amex Platinum, you must select an eligible airline with which to use the benefit, and then you'll receive a statement credit when you make a qualifying airline purchase, such as baggage fees or in-flight food and beverages.

Tips for maximizing: Note that actual airfare is not eligible for this fee credit, but you can buy airline gift cards as a workaround. Check out this mega-thread on Reddit to get an idea of which purchases are eligible for the $100 credit. You can also purchase Amazon gift cards using this handy trick.

2. 3x Points on Airfare

Airplane Cabin Passengers Featured
Get 3x points per dollar when you purchase airfare with the Amex PRG. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

When you book a ticket directly with an airline using the Premier Rewards Gold Card, you'll get 3 points per dollar — not too shabby, especially considering that TPG values American Express Membership Rewards points at 1.9 cents apiece; higher than he rates any airline currency (except Alaska). This solid rate of return earned the Amex PRG a top spot in TPG's post on maximizing rewards on airfare purchases.

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Tips for maximizing: You can use the points you earn on airline tickets and other purchases with a variety of transfer partners, such as British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Etihad and Starwood Preferred Guest. For more information, see Richard Kerr's post, Redeeming Amex Membership Rewards for Maximum Value.

3. 2x Points on US Restaurants, US Gas Stations and US Supermarkets

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
You'll also earn 2x points across a few categories, including US supermarkets. Image courtesy of Shutterstock

While the Amex PRG has offered 2 points per dollar on US gas station and US supermarket purchases for some time, the card recently added US restaurants to this 2x category.

Tips for maximizing: While certain credit cards offer a better rate of return for these bonus categories — such as Chase Freedom, which offers 5% cash back when gas stations are the quarterly bonus category, and Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, which earns 2x Ultimate Rewards points (valued at 2.1 cents apiece) on dining — the Premier Rewards Gold Card is definitely a solid option, especially if you're looking to rack up Amex Membership Rewards points for a specific redemption.

4. Purchase Protection and Other Shopping Perks

Benefits like return protection provide peace of mind. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Like the Amex Platinum and several other cards, the American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card offers several shopping-related benefits. First, the card recently increased its purchase protection from $1,000 to $10,000 per occurrence to cover damage or theft for up to 90 days from the purchase date, and you also enjoy return protection that guarantees a reimbursement for eligible items up to 90 days from the purchase date even if the retailer won't take them back (up to $300 per item; $1,000 per calendar year). Finally, PRG offers an extended warranty, for up to a year more of coverage than the manufacturer offers (for warranties of five years or less).

Tips for maximizing: Note that there are several exclusions when it comes to the purchase protection benefit, such as consumable or perishable items and motorized vehicles. For more information, see this post.

Bottom Line

It may offer a smaller airline fee credit than some more premium travel-rewards cards like Citi Prestige and Amex Platinum, but with a lower annual fee (that's waived the first year) and the ability to earn 3x Membership Rewards points on airfare, the Premier Rewards Gold Card offers plenty of value in its own right. Hopefully this post has given you some ideas for how to maximize its benefits in 2016, whether you're currently a a cardholder or you're planning to apply.

What's your favorite Premier Rewards Gold Card benefit? Tell us how you'll use it in 2016 in the comments below!

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