The Premier Rewards Gold card by American Express is one of the most storied and distinguished charge cards available, and carries on the legacy of the original Gold card, which was launched in 1966 (fully 18 years before the launch of the Platinum card!). Many of the industry’s most popular entry-level travel cards (Chase Sapphire Preferred, Citi ThankYou Premier, Bank of America Premium Rewards) were clearly inspired by the Premier Rewards Gold card, and broadly match its rewards and benefits, as you can plainly see in the table below.
|Card||Signup Bonus||Annual Fee||Travel Credit||Minimum Spending Requirement|
|American Express Premier Rewards Gold||25,000-50,000 Membership Rewards Points||$195, waived 1st year||$100 per calendar year||$1,000-$2,000|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred||50,000-60,000 Ultimate Rewards Points||$95, waived 1st year||$0||$4,000|
|Citi ThankYou Premier||Up to 50,000 ThankYou Points||$95, waived 1st year||$0||$4,000|
|Bank of America Premium Rewards||50,000 points ($500)||$95||$100 per calendar year||$3,000|
Strengths of the Premier Rewards Gold card
The Premier Rewards Gold card is a great choice for those who highly value Membership Rewards points, whether it be for transferring to airlines for premium-cabin travel, or for those who plan to cash in their points at 1.25cpp with their Schwab Platinum card (making the 50,000 point bonus worth $625 in cash!).
- 50,000 point bonus is nearly the highest in the industry for a card with no annual fee the first year.
- Minimum spending requirement of $1,000-$2,000 is among the lowest spending thresholds in its class, making this bonus easy for most people to earn.
- 2X Membership Rewards points on groceries make this card a good choice for ongoing grocery spending.
- 3X Membership Rewards points on flights purchased directly from airlines and on United MPX purchases could be helpful to those who do not hold Amex Platinum (for 5X on those purchases) or Chase Sapphire Reserve (for 3X on airline purchases).
- $100 Airline Fee Credit can be used to buy gift cards from American Airlines and Delta Airlines, and intrepid customers can receive the credit three times (for $300 total!) without paying a single annual fee.
Weaknesses of the Premier Rewards Gold card
- Annual fee of $195 is higher than that of industry peers.
- Ideal time to apply is December of each year, which means you may want to wait to apply for the card.
- Since the annual fee is relatively high and the value of holding the card drops dramatically after the first calendar year, you’ll want to apply for another American Express MR card like the Everyday Card or the Blue Business Plus card in order to keep your Membership Rewards points active after you cancel the Premier Rewards Gold card. However, if you earn and then quickly spend/transfer-out all of your Membership Rewards points during your first cardmember year, then you won’t necessarily need to have another Membership Rewards card open.
Maximizing The Premier Rewards Gold Card, Step-By-Step
- (Optional) Wait until December to apply. This ensures that you’ll be able to use the $100 Airline Fee Credit in December of year one (the year you applied), in January of year two, and in January of year three. You can cancel your Premier Rewards Gold card in January of year three (assuming you applied in December of year one) anytime up to 30 days after the annual fee posts to your account and you’ll get a full refund of the $195 annual fee, so make sure to use the annual Airline Fee Credit(s) in year three before you close your account. If you apply in any month other than December, then you’ll likely only receive up to two Airline Fee Credits, so you’re notionally missing out on $100 in Delta/American gift cards or $100 in cheap flights.
- Get the best offer (50,000 points). The public offer for the Premier Rewards Gold card is often just 25,000 points. In order to get the full 50,000 points, you’ll need to either get the higher offer through CardMatch or CreditKarma, through a targeted promotional mailer from American Express, or by visiting americanexpress.com in Incognito Mode. If you can get a 50,000 points/$1,000 spend offer, take it, and if the best you can do is 50,000 points for $2,000 in spend, I would recommend that you take advantage of that offer, too. If you can only seem to find 25,000 point offers for the Premier Rewards Gold card, I would recommend either trying different methods to get a higher offer or simply holding off on applying for the card. If you can triple-dip the annual Airline Fee Credit by applying in December, then perhaps applying for the lower 25,000 point offer still makes sense for you, but I would recommend waiting for a 50,000 point offer.
- Apply for the card. Make sure that you take screenshots of the pertinent details of the offer, including the bonus and the minimum spending requirement.
- Once approved for the card, log in to your Premier Rewards Gold account and select your preferred airline for the Airline Fee Credit by clicking on Membership -> Benefits. I recommend selecting either American Airlines or Delta Airlines, as both choices are widely reported as being successful in getting credited for buying airline gift cards. If you’d like to increase the likelihood that your gift card or airfare purchase(s) will receive the credit, you’ll want to check on the relevant FlyerTalk threads (American in 2017, Delta in 2018) to get updated reports on what charges will work to trigger the Airline Fee Credit. If you do not look up the latest reports, you’ll increase the chances that your gift card or flight purchases will not trigger the airline fee credit. Another issue you may run into is that some airlines sell gift cards through third-party vendors (ex: Delta gift cards purchased on mobile devices instead of from desktop computers), and those gift card purchases may not trigger the airline fee credit. Take the time to do your research and you’ll reduce the chances of any disappointing surprises.
- Wait a few weeks to get your airline fee credit. The credit should generally post within a few days of the gift card/flight purchase posting to your account, but American Express doesn’t guarantee that you’ll receive the fee credits that quickly. If your fee credits don’t post within a few days, that may by indicative of a problem, but American Express may not offer to fix the issue until you wait a few weeks for the fee credits to post on their own. Sometimes, you may miss out on the credit and not be able to get it from American Express, but don’t fret–this is just a part of the game, and sometimes you’ll have to take losses and move on. Whatever you do, DO NOT contact American Express on the phone to complain, because if you ask why you never got the fee credit for buying gift cards or flights, American Express may be more likely to change their systems and make it harder (or impossible) for other customers to get reimbursed for gift card and cheap flight purchases. Don’t ruin it for everyone else by calling in! If you don’t get reimbursed, simply chalk it up as a loss and move on. There will be bigger wins for you (points, gift cards, etc) in the future.
- Complete the minimum spending requirements for your card. If you do not remember the minimum spending requirement, simply call or chat with an American Express customer service representative and ask them. If you use chat, you’ll want to take a screenshot of the chat so that you have proof of the minimum spending requirement. Do not wait until the last week or two to complete your minimum spend. It is not worth risking your signup bonus just because you were lazy. If you don’t know when the minimum spend must be completed by, call or chat with American Express and ask.
- Wait for your signup bonus to post. Your signup bonus should post within one or two statement cycles of meeting the minimum spending requirement. If this is your first American Express Membership Rewards card, it may take a little longer, but if this isn’t your first Membership Rewards card, the bonus should post very soon after meeting minimum spend.
- Make sure that you have a plan to take advantage of the airline fee credits. If you applied in December, make sure you get the airline fee credit in December of year one, in January or year two, and in January of year three. Since you may forget about these fee credits, I recommend setting alarms on your phone as well as reminders in your calendar app(s) so that you don’t forget to buy airline gift cards and/or cheap flights.
- Wait for the annual fee to post. This should occur 12 or 13 months after you’ve been approved for the card. Once your annual fee has posted, make sure that you have received the airline fee credit for that calendar year and that you have either 1) spent/transferred your Membership Rewards points, or 2) you have another Membership Rewards points card to keep your points alive. If you have done all of those things, it is time to cancel your Premier Rewards Gold card. If you’re open to receiving retention offers, you’ll want to call in to American Express and tell them you’re thinking about canceling your card. They may offer you 10,000 Membership Rewards points or a $100 statement credit to keep your account open. It is entirely up to you whether you take them up on this offer or not. In general, I think the best choice is to cancel the card and chase another bonus (a Platinum card, Business Rewards Gold card, Everyday Card, etc), but if their retention offer is worth more than $195 to you, then by all means, take it. Another thing to think about when it’s time to consider closing your account is how much value (if any) you get from Amex Offers every year. I recommend using the no-annual fee Everyday Card for the best Amex Offers rather than the Premier Rewards Gold card, however, if you prefer to use the Premier Rewards Gold card for Amex Offers instead, then it might make sense to keep your Premier Rewards Gold card open.
- Once you have successfully canceled the card, it’s time to celebrate! You’ve earned $200 to $300 in airline gift cards or cheap flights, 50,000+ Membership Rewards points, and all without paying a single annual fee!
Next Steps And Other Considerations
Before and after getting the Premier Rewards Gold card, you may want to consider your options for keeping your Membership Rewards points alive. The best option is the Blue Business Plus card, which offers a bonus of 20,000 Membership Rewards Points, has no annual fee, and doesn’t even show up as an account on your credit report (other than the initial hard pull/inquiry). If you’re not comfortable applying for a business card, I would recommend that you keep your Membership Rewards points open by opening a no-annual fee Everyday Card instead. You can earn a signup bonus of 25,000 Membership Rewards Points with the Everyday Card, and although that isn’t a lot of points compared to the Premier Rewards Gold’s 50,000, the Everyday Card is a convenient way to earn (and keep alive) Membership Rewards Points.
For those who have a significant need for Membership Rewards Points, including travelers who take a lot of premium-cabin flights, I would recommend focusing on American Express cards with larger signup bonuses, including the Business Rewards Gold card (75,000 points), the Business Platinum card (100,00-150,000 points), or the various flavors of personal Platinum card (60,000-100,000 points). Make sure that you get approved for your new Membership Rewards card before you close your last remaining Membership Rewards card. Also, like the Premier Rewards Gold card, the various flavors of Platinum cards should ideally be applied for in December so that you may triple-dip the $200/year Airline Fee Credit.