Reviews American Express Premier Rewards Gold card review

American Express Premier Rewards Gold card review

Published: May 26, 2017
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Rewards Rating:
3.4 rating
3.4 rating
3.4 / 5
Rewards Value: 2.5
Annual Percentage Rate: 0.1
Rewards Flexibility: 4.4
Features: 5.0

In a nutshell:

This premier card helps take the sting out of its $195 annual fee by offering up to $175 worth of travel credits and a generous point bonus on airfare, gas, restaurant and grocery spending; but its restrictive rules on how you can redeem your rewards points and travel credits drag down its overall value.

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Rewards Rate

  • 3:1 directly booked flights
  • 2:1 restaurants, supermarkets and gas
  • 1:1 general purchases
  • Terms apply

Sign-up Bonus
25,000 after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months (Terms apply)

Annual Fee
$195, first year $0 (See rates and fees)

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$272

APR
Not applicable (charge card) (See rates and fees)

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • Points don’t expire
  • No blackout dates
  • No limits on how many points you can earn
  • Redeem points for any travel purchase
  • Redeem for a statement credit up to 12 months after making a travel purchase

Cons

  • Cash redemption is only 0.006 cents per point

Other Notable Features: $100 airline credit, $75 hotel credit, no foreign-transaction fee, premium roadside assistance, purchase and return protection, car rental insurance, baggage insurance, hotel upgrades and other perks, premium roadside assistance.

Travel Rating:
3.3 rating
3.3 rating
3.3 / 5
Rewards Value: 2.2
Annual Percentage Rate: 0.1
Rewards Flexibility: 4.4
Features: 5.0

In a nutshell:

The Premier Rewards Gold card from American Express is a premium Membership Rewards card and one of the best travel rewards cards for a seasoned traveler, but it probably won’t appeal as much to the general public due to a high annual fee.

Learn more about this card

Rewards Rate

  • 3:1 directly booked flights
  • 2:1 restaurants, supermarkets and gas
  • 1:1 general purchases
  • Terms apply

Sign-up Bonus
25,000 after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months (Terms apply)

Annual Fee
$195, first year $0 (See rates and fees)

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$272

APR
Not applicable (charge card) (See rates and fees)

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • Points don’t expire
  • No blackout dates
  • No limits on how many points you can earn
  • Redeem points for any travel purchase
  • Redeem for a statement credit up to 12 months after making a travel purchase

Cons

  • Cash redemption is only 0.006 cents per point

Other Notable Features: $100 airline credit, $75 hotel credit, no foreign-transaction fee, premium roadside assistance, purchase and return protection, car rental insurance, baggage insurance, hotel upgrades and other perks, premium roadside assistance.

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A quick glance at the membership terms associated with the Premier Rewards Gold card from American Express might send a casual card user into sticker shock. American Express charges $195 for a year of card membership – surpassing the fees on similar cards by $100 or more. If you are new to the world of travel rewards, you may have a hard time justifying this fee when there are so many options that offer similarly high rewards rates and benefits at a much lower price.

However, for a frequent traveler prepared to master the intricacies of travel rewards and transferring rewards points, Rewards Gold card membership has some definite advantages. The card shines in its ability to transfer points to a variety of airline programs, including Delta, Virgin Atlantic, JetBlue and others. The card also comes with some of the best travel benefits around, including an annual $100 airline incidental credit that helps offset the high membership fee.

A charge card, not a credit card
The Premier Rewards Gold card is a charge card, which means you can’t carry a balance month to month. If you don’t pay your balance in full at the end of the month, you owe a hefty penalty.

Generous sign-up bonus
American Express offers a large sign-up bonus of 25,000 points after spending $2,000 in the first 90 days of card ownership. If transferred to an airline program, that can buy you a round-trip ticket to almost anywhere in North America.

Great earning scheme
The Premier Rewards Gold card offers one of the better earning schemes on the market, with the opportunity to rack up a lot of bonus points. On top of the general rewards rate, you get two points for every dollar spent at gas stations, restaurants and supermarkets, which are very lucrative categories. If you are a frequent flier, you can also score some major points, since the card offers three points for every dollar spent on flights booked directly with airlines.

Transferring points is your best bet
Redemption options are plentiful with this card, but they must be approached wisely. You can redeem for a statement credit to your card or for an Amazon purchase, but only at a rate of 0.005 cents per point. Redeeming for gift cards may lose you money too, although that depends on the card and denomination. You can even redeem points for Airbnb bookings, but also at the same 0.005 cents per point. If you’re interested in Airbnb, you’re better off buying a gift certificate, which yields 1 cent per point.

The best way to redeem an award is by transferring points to one of American Express’s 16 airline partners, especially if you redeem internationally or need to get an expensive domestic ticket. Using points to obtain frequent flier miles that you can redeem for award airline tickets can yield a much higher point value than booking flights directly with Membership Rewards points.

On the other hand, optimizing a frequent flier program strategy has a learning curve and can take time and effort. If you only travel once or twice a year, you might feel it isn’t worth the effort.

No foreign-transaction fee
While many cards charge a 3 percent fee on charges made in a foreign country, American Express does not. You can freely use the Premier Rewards Gold card from American Express abroad, although you may not find it convenient, since the acceptance rate for American Express outside of the U.S. is not great.

Great travel perks
The Premier Rewards Gold card comes with a long list of premium benefits that help justify the high annual fee. One of the most valuable of these is the credit for airline and hotel fees. You get $100 annually for qualified airline charges that include checked bags, in-flight refreshments, flight-change fees, airport lounge day passes and more. You also get a $75 annual credit at participating properties within the American Express hotel collection. The credit applies to qualifying dining, spa and resort activities, which might include a complimentary massage or a free dinner at a hotel restaurant. Your American Express membership can also qualify you for free room upgrades and special discounts and deals at these hotels.

Roadside assistance is another valuable perk. While many credit cards offer roadside assistance, they usually charge a fee for their services. American Express is one of the few cards to offer complimentary roadside services. Similar to AAA benefits, the card offers free towing up to four times a year.

Reasons to get it:

  • You are a frequent traveler and you want the ability to transfer points to frequent flier programs on different airlines.
  • You have other American Express cards earning Membership Rewards.
  • You love the benefits and believe they justify the cost.

How to use it:

  • Make sure to spend $2,000 in the first 3 months or you won’t get the sign-up bonus.
  • Do not transfer points until you’ve finalized flying plans and confirmed availability.
  • Consider canceling your roadside service, since the Premier Rewards Gold card from American Express covers you for free.

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