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Especially since the Platinum Card from American Express and the Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN upped their game in early 2017 by adding a slew of new benefits and additional bonus categories, the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express hasn’t exactly been in the spotlight when it comes to cards that earn Membership Rewards points. Still, this card is worth knowing about — especially if you want to take advantage of the Membership Rewards program’s 20 travel partners and earn bonus points on airfare without paying an annual fee of $450 or more. So let’s take an in-depth look at the Premier Rewards Gold Card.
Who Is This Card For?
This card will appeal to those of you looking to earn transferable Membership Rewards points, both on everyday purchases and specifically on spending in a handful of bonus categories (more on that later). The Premier Rewards Gold Card strikes a good balance with a relatively reasonable annual fee ($195; waived the first year) and some substantial benefits, like an annual airline fee credit. While $195 is still quite a bit to pay for a credit card, it’s far less than the $450 and $550 billed by the Amex Business Platinum and personal Amex Platinum, respectively.
Currently, the Premier Rewards Gold card is offering new applicants 25,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $2,000 in the first three months of cardmembership. Based on TPG’s valuations, 25,000 MR points are worth $475. We’ll get into the ways you can put those points to use — and potentially get even more value out of them — a bit later in the review. Additionally, note that you could be targeted for a higher offer, such as 50,000 MR points after spending $2,000 in the first three months. That would boost the value of the sign-up bonus to $950 based on TPG’s valuations.
This card has a handful of bonus categories, none of which are capped. That means you can earn 3x or 2x points on all eligible purchases — not only up to a specific dollar amount per category per year.
|Earn Rate||Applicable Purchases|
|3x Membership Rewards points||Flights booked directly with the airline|
|2x Membership Rewards points||US restaurants, US gas stations and US supermarkets|
|1x Membership Rewards point||Everything else|
You’ll earn 3 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines (not through third-party travel sites like Expedia and Orbitz). Based on TPG’s valuations, this equals a return of 5.7% — definitely not shabby. However, keep in mind that you’ll earn 5 points per dollar on airfare booked directly with the carrier (or through Amex Travel) with the personal Amex Platinum, getting you a fantastic 9.5% return on spending. Of course, that card has a much higher annual fee, but if you spend a lot on airfare and can put your Membership Rewards points to great use with lucrative redemptions, it could be worth it for the 5x category bonus, not to mention the Amex Platinum’s other premium perks like $200 in annual Uber credits and Centurion Lounge access.
The Premier Rewards Gold card also earns you 2 points per dollar on purchases made at US restaurants, US gas stations and US supermarkets, equal to a 3.8% return. If you dine out frequently, the 2x points can really add up — though it is unfortunate that the bonus category is limited to spending at eateries in the US, especially since this card does waive foreign transaction fees. When you purchase food during travel abroad, you’ll want to use another card, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred, that waives foreign transaction fees and also awards bonus points on all dining purchases, not just on those made in the US.
The Amex PRG’s 2x bonus on US gas stations and US supermarkets can come in handy if you frequently make purchases in those categories, but keep in mind that there are higher-earning options. The Citi ThankYou Premier Card includes gas stations in its 3x travel category, giving you a 4.5% return on spending. When it comes to spending at supermarkets, the Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card from American Express is a great pick, as it earns you 3x Membership Rewards points on the first $6,000 per year spent at US supermarkets (then 1x), plus you’ll get a 50% points bonus when you make at least 30 purchases in a billing period. That means you could be effectively earning 4.5x points on spending at US supermarkets if you make at least 30 purchases in a billing cycle — equal to a 8.55% return on the first $6,000 in eligible spend each year.
The Premier Rewards Gold card earns Membership Rewards points, which can be transferred to 20 travel partners or redeemed for airfare and hotels through Amex Travel. Generally, you’ll get the best value by transferring your points to partners.
For example, you could book ultra-luxurious premium-cabin flights by transferring Membership Rewards to Singapore Airlines’ KrisFlyer program. A one-way flight in Suites class from New York to Frankfurt on the airline’s A380 will cost you 76,000 KrisFlyer miles, and MR points transfer to Singapore at a 1:1 ratio, generally in less than 24 hours.
If you’re less concerned about traveling in style and more preoccupied with stretching your points as far as possible, you might consider transferring to Flying Blue, the loyalty program of Air France and KLM, to book round-trip economy flights from the mainland US to Hawaii for just 30,000 miles.
On the hotel front, you can transfer your points at 1:1 ratio to Choice Privileges and at a 1:1.5 ratio to Hilton Honors. You can also transfer your points to Starwood Preferred Guest, but only at an unfavorable rate of 3:1, so that option should generally be avoided. Choice Privileges can be a solid choice, especially if you opt to pay with a combination of points and cash — as TPG Senior Points & Miles Contributor Richard Kerr noted, this can unlock serious value when you book a high-end Preferred Hotel property.
Beyond transferring to the program’s travel partners, you can use points to book paid travel through the Amex Travel portal. You’ll get a value of 1 cent per point toward airfare, unless you have the Business Platinum, in which case you’ll get a 35% points rebate (you may still be able to get a 50% rebate for a limited time depending on when you signed up for the card), boosting your value to 1.54 cents per point. When it comes to booking hotels through Amex travel, you’ll get less than 1 cent per point in value, so this should generally be avoided.
Below, I’ll run through the card’s top perks.
$100 Annual Airline Fee Credit — Each calendar year, you’ll receive up to $100 in statement credits toward incidental airline fees such as baggage fees and in-flight purchases. You have to pick a qualifying airline for the credit, and you can only change this once a year, so be sure to choose a carrier you’ll be flying with at least once.
The Hotel Collection — When you book a stay through the Amex Hotel Collection, you’ll earn 2x points on your purchase and enjoy a $75 credit toward dining, spa and resort activities at the property. Note that the credit only applies to stays of two consecutive nights or longer.
Baggage Insurance — If your luggage is lost, stolen or damaged when you’re traveling with a common carrier and you purchased your ticket with the Premier Rewards Gold card, you’ll be eligible for up to $1,250 in coverage for carry-on baggage and up to $500 for checked baggage.
Which Cards Compete With the Premier Rewards Gold?
The Premier Rewards Gold Card straddles the line between low-fee and premium credit cards, with an annual fee of $195 that’s waived the first year and some solid bonus categories and an annual air travel credit. There isn’t a strictly analogous card offered by Chase or Citi, so it’s challenging to do a completely apples-to-apples comparison. That said, there are some cards that offer overlapping benefits, so we can see how these stack up against the Amex PRG.
First, let’s address the business counterpart to the personal Premier Rewards Gold card: the Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN. This card has a similar price point: a $175 annual fee that’s waived the first year, but it’s a business card rather than a personal card. Note that even if you don’t own a business, you could qualify for a business credit card if you work as an independent contractor or do some freelance gigs on the side of your full-time job.
Like the personal Premier Rewards Gold, it offers 3x and 2x bonus categories, but things are structured differently here. You can choose one category from a list of five (airfare purchased directly from the airlines, US advertising purchases, US gas station purchases, US shipping purchases or US computer hardware, software and cloud computing purchases) to earn 3x points on, and you’ll earn 2x points on purchases made in the remaining four categories. However, you’ll only earn 3x and 2x points on the first $100,000 spent each year in each category. This card doesn’t offer an annual airline fee credit, but it offers access to the Amex OPEN program, which includes discounts and tools for tracking your business’ expenses.
As previously mentioned, the Amex Platinum is similar to the Premier Rewards Gold card in that it offers bonus points on airfare purchased directly from the airline (5x points vs. “just” 3x on the PRG), but it comes with a much higher $550 annual fee, and many more premium perks — such as a $200 annual airline fee credit and $200 in annual Uber credits — to match. As such, it’s definitely not a true competitor in every sense, but if you are able to afford that higher fee, it could be worth it for the additional points you’ll earn and the assortment of additional benefits.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card‘s earning rates and benefits don’t perfectly align with the PRG’s, but it could be a good alternative depending on your spending habits. This card earns you 2x points on all travel and dining (the latter not limited to the US), and based on TPG’s valuations that equates to a 4.4% return. The Sapphire Preferred also waives foreign transaction fees, and it has a lower annual fee of $95 that’s even waived the first year.
The Premier Rewards Gold card is a solid mid-tier pick if the Membership Rewards program’s selection of airline and hotel partners aligns with your travel plans, and if you want to earn bonus points on airfare purchases and more without spending $450+ a year for a more premium card like the Amex Platinum.
Do you have the Premier Rewards Gold card? Share your thoughts on its perks in the comments below!
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.
- Earn 25,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
- 3X points for flights booked directly with airlines. 2X points at US restaurants, US gas stations, and at US supermarkets. 1X points on other purchases.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $100 Airline Fee Credit. Up to $100 a calendar year for baggage fees at one airline.
- Get a $75 hotel credit on qualifying charges, plus a room upgrade upon arrival, when available with The Hotel Collection at americanexpress.com/hc.
- $0 Intro Annual Fee for the 1st year, then $195.
- Expanding merchant acceptance: Over 1 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in the last year.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees