American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card Review

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The American Express Premier Rewards Gold card is a charge card, not a credit card – which means that, instead of carrying a balance you pay interest on, you are required to pay off the balance of the card each month. This card is geared specifically towards travel-based rewards, with a high return on rewards for direct flight bookings, plus an annual $100 airline fee credit. But that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Amex PRG Review

On Amex's home portal

750 - 850
Best for excellent credit

Highlight: Generous points and travel perks
  • 25,000 point signup bonus

  • $195 annual fee ($0 for first year)

  • No interest rate (charge card)

  • 3x points for flight bookings

  • 2x points for restaurants, gas station and supermarket purchases

  • 1x points on all other purchases

  • $100 airline fee credit

  • No foreign transaction fees

Intro APR

None

Variable APR

None

Annual Fee

$195

Main Reward

Travel

In addition to getting 3x points on flights booked directly from airlines, this card also offers 2x points for gas station, restaurant and supermarket purchases, and provides a signup bonus of 25,000 points if you spend $2,000 within the first three months of owning the card.

Along with other perks like baggage insurance, car rental damage collision waiver coverage, and no foreign transaction fees, this option seems uniquely suited to cardholders who want rewards for travel, but want to pay off their expenses every month.

That being said, you might want to reconsider getting this card if they want the flexibility of an unsecured credit card, or if they want to avoid paying an exorbitant annual fee of $195.

Our Overall Rating of the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express

The American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card is a fantastic card for those who don’t want to keep a balance going, but who want to get a little more bang for their buck. From airline fee credits for extra rewards for booking tickets directly through airlines, the Premier Rewards Gold Card is clearly meant to be for travel-heavy users.

It's easy to earn points for just about any flight you take with the card, since you earn 3 points for every dollar when you book flights directly with airlines. The 2x points tier also covers a lot of surprising ground for a travel-based credit card, applying to restaurants, gas stations, supermarkets, and even hotels.

The $100 airline fee credit is also nothing to sneeze at, which also helps to address the slightly higher annual fee.

Travelers can save even more with this card, since Amex charges no foreign transaction fees; this makes it far more useful than as a cost-effective means of booking flights. You also have the ability to transfer your points to any number of frequent flier programs, allowing you to stretch your triple points even further than before.

What’s more, you earn a neat signup bonus of 25,000 points (provided you spend enough money during the introductory period) and offers more perks like car rental damage waivers and baggage insurance to sweeten the pot for cardholders with sufficient wanderlust.

What’s more, the card gives you a neat signup bonus of 25,000 points (provided you spend enough money during the introductory period) and offers more perks like car rental damage waivers and baggage insurance to sweeten the pot for cardholders with sufficient wanderlust.

However, despite all these travel perks, there are other options that give you a little more for your money, especially given how inflexible the charge card can be. There’s an extra pressure that comes with having to avoid carrying a balance that might make this card less enticing for most cardholders.

There’s also the matter of the large annual fee ($195), which means you’ll have to be a rather heavy spender to compensate for the fee. To earn that much through points alone, you’ll have to spend $3,400 on flights each year – if you travel often, that might work, and any spending you make on the card just means more profit earned in the form of points.

Still, if you know you can handle paying off your balance every month, the American Express Premier Rewards Gold can help you immensely with your travel expenses. You get plenty of points back that you can use for more traveling, and the airline fee credit and signup bonus are fantastic perks for those who want to avoid paying interest on their purchases.

Where it Wins

You don’t have to pay any interest. Imagine only having to pay off what you put into a card! Luckily, the card works by expecting you to pay off the entire balance each month. To that end, there’s no interest charges, and no extra balance accumulated.

A hefty signup bonus. Provided you spent $2,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership, American Express provides you with a nifty 25,000 bonus points you can use toward travel or any other rewards redemption. As travel rewards cards go, that’s a great bonus that requires a comparatively low level of investment to redeem.

A generous rewards point system that favors travelers. The tiered points system emphasizes travel with its highest 3x tier – using this to book flights pays off more than any other element of the program, in terms of sheer points accumulated.

A decent option for those who want to use it for everyday purchases. While you get the most points for using the card for airfare, you still get 2x points for gas station, supermarket and restaurant purchases – a beautiful option for cardholders who want a dedicated card for these regular purchase categories.

Rewards & Benefits

25,000 point signup bonus. As previously mentioned, you get a 25,000 point bonus when you sign up for the American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card, presuming you use the card in the first three months to spend $2,000 or more. Provided you plan to make some big purchases after using the card, you can get a nice boost to your existing points balance, which will go a long way toward travel expenses or other benefits.

3x points on airfare. In the tiered rewards system provided by American Express, the highest rate of return on points will definitely be for flights you book directly with airlines. This is a boon for travelers who like interfacing with the airlines themselves, rather than going through online intermediaries.

2x points on gas station, grocery and restaurant purchases. We all need to fill up our cars, or pay for groceries or a night out – when you use the Premier Rewards Gold Card, you can get double points for those purchases.

1x points on everything else. While the aforementioned categories are nice to have, it’s good to know you can still get points for whatever you want to spend on the card. This card features a 1:1 unlimited points for every purchase, which is a good baseline for these kinds of cards.

$100 airline fee credit. For heavy travelers, the Premier Rewards Gold Card is especially helpful, providing a $100 airline fee credit you can use for things like baggage fees. Plus, the credit renews itself every year, so this reward just keeps on giving.

The most important thing to remember about the airline fee credit is that you can only pick one participating airline to apply it to; you can change it each year, but whatever airline you pick that year, you’re stuck with it. Pick the one you’re most likely to use, and plan which airline you’ll use in advance next year (if you plan to switch at all).

You should also know that this credit doesn’t apply to the flight itself; just incidental fees, including baggage and the like. However, given the high price of baggage (some airlines charge up to $25 a bag), it’s still a very welcome credit.

$75 hotel credit. The American Express Hotel Collection is a very useful travel booking site, which Amex offers cardholders to take advantage of certain partnerships the company has made with hotels. Whenever you book two or more consecutive nights at a qualifying hotel using the Hotel Collection service, you get a $75 credit to use on food and spas at the hotel.

You might also be able to upgrade your room, depending on availability.

While $75 isn’t that much money, every cent of free value from your card counts – if you manage to use this every time you book a hotel somewhere, you could really offset the cost of your annual fee. (The credit applies to you every time you use the service to book two or more nights at participating hotels.) For frequent travelers, it’s possible to get a lot of value out of this.

Guaranteed lowest hotel rates. Another benefit to Amex Travel is their price-matching feature for hotel rooms; if you use the service to book a hotel room, then find a lower rate for that same room elsewhere online, Amex Travel will give you the difference back. Some restrictions apply, of course, but eagle-eyed shoppers might be able to get cheaper rooms with this rule.

Amex Offers. The Amex Offers program gives you discounts to quite a few popular merchants (70+ at the time of this writing, with a rotating selection depending on what deals Amex strikes with their partners).

All you have to do is go to their website and select ‘Add to Card’ to find your desired deals. From there, you just make purchases with the card like you normally would, the savings showing up later as a statement credit. Depending on the offer, you might even be able to earn additional rewards.

How to Redeem Rewards

When you accumulate points on the Premier Rewards Gold Card, there are several ways to redeem them – some of which can give you more value for your points, depending on what process you use.

The standard method of redemption allows you to cash in points for offers on gift cards, flights and other services (offering one cent per point). However, they also offer deals that give you a half-cent per point; these usually involve standard Amex gift cards, or Telecharge and Ticketmaster rewards.

If you like, you can also redeem your points for a statement credit, which lowers your balance by the amount offered; this is set to .6 cents per point, which is slightly more than the baseline, but not as high as the cent-per-point deals.

You can also, as previously mentioned, make use of frequent flier programs, which charges a fee of .06 cents per point for transfers to airlines in the US, but no fee for any other types of transfers. This is likely the most valuable type of rewards redemption, especially for frequent travelers, so be sure to use this as often as you can.

When redeeming for travel, your best bets for rewards redemption are finding flights through Amex Travel, which gives you 1 point per dollar. When looking for gift cards, certain merchants (Barnes & Noble, Enterprise, Chili’s) give you 1 point per dollar in value, so look for those when redeeming.

Looking at entertainment and point of sale options, it’s best to use the card when paying for an Uber or a New York City taxicab – they offer 1 point per dollar as well.

With those aforementioned frequent traveler programs, some of your best values will come with using Hilton Honors or British Airways; they offer 1.5 or 1.4 points per dollar, respectively. This is subject to change, though, and be sure to select the program you plan to use most often that year.

Costs & Fees

A hefty $195 annual fee. While, like a lot of cards, AmEx waives the annual fee for your first year, after that you pay a whopping $195 in annual fees for ownership of the card. Sure, you save a lot more by not paying interest, but that rate is still a little steep for a card of this type.

No interest charges. The Premier Rewards Gold isn’t like most credit cards – it’s a charge card. That means, whenever you charge something to it, you’re obligated to pay off the entire balance every month. That might seem a big ask for those who want a balance, but it also means you don’t get charged interest.

Who is this card best for?

The Premier Rewards Gold card has a lot going for it – a robust rewards system, no interest rate – making it a really good all-purpose credit card. However, frequent travelers will likely be the people who get the most out of it: between the 3x rewards points for flights and the $100 airline fee credit, the card gives you a lot of benefits for all that flying you do.

When considering getting this card, make sure you ask yourself whether you’ll be spending enough in direct flight bookings (your greatest source for points value) to offset the $195 annual fee, which is a bit bigger than some other travel cards. While the signup bonus is nice, it’s important to ensure that you can keep getting value out of the card for years to come.

Furthermore, the Premier Rewards Gold Card is great for high-income cardholders who only want to use their card for the rewards on one or two specific categories. After all, you need to pay off the balance every month, which requires a greater sense of security that you’ll have the money to pay it off. If you do that, it means you’ll also be free of those pesky interest rates.

At the end of the day, this card is a charge card, so it’s best for the kind of cardholders who are willing and able to pay off the entire balance in full every month. While that’s a good strategy for most cards, it’s especially important here since you can’t rotate your balance.

How to Make the Most of the Amex Premier Rewards Gold Card

If you’re looking to fold this card into a larger credit card strategy, there are a few things you should keep in mind:

  • To justify the $195 annual fee, you should try to earn as much money in points as you possibly can. If you use the most generous rewards system (3x for flights booked directly from airlines), you’ll have to spend $3,400 – even more if you earn points through the lower tiers.
  • If you get this card, be sure to use it as your primary travel rewards card; you likely won’t need another. Any other travel rewards card you get will have virtually identical benefits. While other cards may have lower annual fees, or different benefits, you only need one travel card. Choose wisely.
  • It’s a good idea in general to pay off your full balance each month, but especially so with this card. Since you have to spend a lot to get your money’s worth of rewards, be sure to pay as much as you can, and don’t overextend yourself.
  • One good way to offset the $195 annual fee, at least partially, is to take full advantage of the $100 airline fee credit. If you travel enough to use it all, that will take off at least half the burden of overcoming your annual fee. You can switch which airline you want to use it on, so be judicious in your choice of flights each year.
  • If you use the American Express Hotel Collection to book two or more consecutive nights at a hotel, you can benefit from a $75 credit and the possibility of a room upgrade. Don’t forget to capitalize on that to get the most out of your card’s benefits.
  • If you transfer your Membership Rewards points to a frequent flier program of your choice, you have the opportunity to get even more out of them. Depending on whether or not the program has special offers, you could get 4% or more cash back on those points.
  • As part of an overall credit card strategy, it would be smart to have this card for travel rewards, and a separate reward credit card for things like gas, groceries and restaurants. However, if you don’t have one of those, this card offers double points for those categories, which would make it a suitable replacement if needed.

How to Apply for the Card

To apply, just visit American Express's application portal. From there, all you have to do is enter your personal information – name, address, social security number, phone number, and so on. Also, you need to give them your annual income and your employment status.

From there, it’s pretty straightforward: just fill out the disclosure agreements, provide your signature, and you can be approved in less than a minute. 

A Few Alternatives 

Chase Sapphire Preferred. The Sapphire Preferred is another great travel rewards card; however, it charges no annual fee, and it has a bigger signup bonus ($625 in bonus cash back when you use the Chase Ultimate Rewards program). Those bonuses, along with the fact that it’s a credit card and not a charge card, make it a bit more flexible.

Blue Cash from American Express. American Express also provides a good alternative for those who prefer their rewards in the form of cash back rather than points. The Blue Card is a credit card, not a charge card like the Premier Rewards Gold Card, but it also sports a more lenient annual fee and a great rewards tier for supermarket and gas station purchases.

American Express Everyday Preferred. If you want a similarly robust rewards card without the exorbitantly high annual fee, this might be a good option. You only have to pay $95 per year, and it also functions as a credit card (instead of a charge card). Get this one if you plan to carry a balance.

American Express Platinum Card. It’s got an even beefier annual fee than the Premier Rewards Gold card at $550, but it compensates for that with higher rewards earning potential – you get 5x points for booking flights directly with airlines. You also get a $200 airline fee credit, $200 in Uber credits, and a $100 application fee credit for TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry.

Barclays Arrival Premier World Elite MasterCard. This card sports a $150 annual fee, which is only slightly smaller than the Gold Card; however, they also waive this fee the first year. Its rewards program is simpler, but more accessible – you get 2x miles per dollar on every purchase. This is best for folks who want to save, but don’t spend enough on travel.

MasterCard Titanium Card. This is a somewhat newer card – part of the MasterCard Luxury Card family - with the same annual fee as the Premium Rewards Gold Card ($195). That being said, the Titanium Card earns 2% back on purchases when redeemed for airfare, and 1% redemption for all other purchases. It’s a solid, if unremarkable, alternative to the Gold Card.


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