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There’s only one credit card where I’ve earned an average of over three points per dollar spent over the past year, and that’s the Premier Rewards Gold card. It’s actually one of only three cards I pay the annual fee on and don’t even consider canceling (the other two being the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express cards) thanks to some of the best points accrual rates in the industry.
Admittedly Membership Rewards points have been substantially devalued over the past year or so, though at the end of the day I keep coming back to the card because you can’t beat the sheer number of points you can earn per dollar on this card, as I’ll explain in more detail below.
How to Earn Points
The earning potential of this card is downright ridiculous. The card accrues 3X points for flights booked directly with airlines. 2X points at US restaurants, US gas stations, and US supermarkets. 1X points on other purchases. Terms and limitations of course apply.
To put that into perspective, last year I managed to put about $30,000 worth of airfare on the card (mostly tickets for friends/family/clients), so that earned me 90,000 Membership Rewards points.
Admittedly not everyone will be able to put that much airfare spend on their card, though even so, if you spend strategically and put your gas, grocery, and travel purchases on this card, the points really add up quickly.
How to Redeem Points
The card accrues Membership Rewards points, which can be transferred to programs like Air Canada Aeroplan, All Nippon Airways Mileage Club, British Airways Executive Club, Delta SkyMiles, and many more. The thing to keep in mind is that American Express frequently offers transfer bonuses when transferring points to their partners. For example, it’s not unusual to see a 40-50% transfer bonus to Delta SkyMiles. When you factor in that I was previously earning 3 points per dollar spent, we’re looking at an average of over five Delta SkyMiles per dollar spent on the Premier Rewards Gold card. Of course this assumes a transfer bonus and spend in specific categories.
There are a ton of ways to spend Membership Rewards points efficiently, though here are a few of the best deals:
1. 120,000 Delta SkyMiles for Korean Air business class to Asia. Recently Expert Flyer added the ability to search business class award space on Korean Air online, which has certainly made it a lot easier to find award space. Award space on Korean Air is excellent (outside of their blackout dates), so this is the most economical way to get to Asia in business class using Membership Rewards points. Add in a transfer bonus from Membership Rewards, and it’s even more of a bargain.
2. 25,000 British Airways Avios points for coach from the West Coast to Hawaii. Most legacy airlines charge a minimum of 35,000 miles for travel from the West Coast to Hawaii, though British Airways charges only 25,000 Avios points roundtrip for coach on either Alaska or American. Membership Rewards recently even had a 30% transfer bonus to British Airways, bringing down the cost further to only 20,000 Membership Rewards points.
3. 140,000 All Nippon Airways Mileage Club miles for Etihad First Class between New York and Abu Dhabi. I flew from New York to Abu Dhabi recently in Etihad first class using Mileage Club miles, and found it to be an amazing value. In the meantime American is also a partner with Etihad, though they would charge 180,000 miles for the same award (and there’s no way to accrue American miles as quickly as Membership Rewards points for credit card spend).
The Premier Rewards Gold card is one of best out there for racking up a ton of points, despite Membership Rewards devaluing their program somewhat over the past year. Right now my credit card spend strategy is pretty simple, when I’m not spending to meet a sign-up bonus.
All of my airfare, gas, and grocery expenses go on my Premier Rewards Gold card. All of my non-airfare travel and dining expenses go on my Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. And spend in any other category usually goes on myStarwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express (I keep the card mostly because it offers five nights and two stays towards elite status annually).