Got my American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card retention bonus!

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The American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card (affiliate link) is my favorite Membership Rewards branded credit card. It offers triple points on airfare, double points on gas and groceries, and one point per dollar spent on everything else. Beyond that it offers a 15,000 point bonus for any calendar year in which you spend $30,000 on the card.

As of a couple of months ago I was undecided as to whether or not to keep the card, and was leaning towards canceling the card when the annual fee came due. Don’t get me wrong, I think the card is extremely rewarding, but I think the annual fee of $175 (which fortunately is waived for the first year) just doesn’t justify the benefits for the average spender. If you’re a big spender then it could be worth it for the 15,000 point bonus, but I feel like the card’s annual fee should be more in the range of $85-95, like a lot of the competition. One of the biggest downers of this card is that it has foreign transaction fees, which I really think is pretty disappointing for a card with such a high annual fee. In theory the triple points on airfare is awesome, but if you’re booking with a foreign carrier (which often impose the highest fuel surcharges) you’ll get dinged with a foreign transaction fee, negating the value of the triple points.

But at the same time this is the best card for accruing Membership Rewards points, and I happen to think their value is on the rise. In my recent valuation of points currencies my valuation of Membership Rewards points went from 1.6 cents per point to 1.8 cents per point. This is due to a few factors, the most significant of which is how many positive changes Singapore Airlines has made to their KrisFlyer program over the past year, and I think Singapore Suites Class is the most aspirational award out there. So I didn’t want to pay the annual fee, but also didn’t want to lose my primary way of earning Membership Rewards points.

I called up the number on the back of my card and asked for the cancellation department. I got a pretty well versed lady that started the conversation with “talk to me, so what don’t you like about the card?” I shared my thoughts, said it was a great card but just didn’t justify the annual fee, and explained that the Chase Sapphire Preferred offers double points on dining and travel, plus doesn’t have foreign transaction fees.

She then gave me two choices to keep the card:

  • A $100 statement credit (okay, that’s not bad, it lowers the annual fee to $75, and at that price I’ll keep it)
  • 7,500 Membership Rewards points on the spot, and another 5,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $500 on the card within 90 days (deal, Howie!)

I’ll gladly pay $175 for 12,500 Membership Rewards points and the opportunity to continue to earn Membership Rewards points at a good rate for everyday spend. I’ve also decided to try and spend $30,000 on the card this year in order to get the 15,000 point bonus, and am well on my way between paying taxes with the Premier Rewards Gold Card and using Amazon Payments to primp up my spend.

Anyone else get any retention bonuses lately?

Editorial Note: Neither this post, nor the comments, are provided nor commissioned by the Issuing bank, or any other advertiser. The comments below have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not the bank or advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Comments

  1. John says

    Ben- Do you try and get retention bonuses on every card you have that has an annual fee? What type of bonus did Chase offer you to keep their BA card?

  2. lucky says

    @ John — I actually swapped out the BA card in favor of the Hyatt card, so there was no chance to go for a retention bonus.

    I usually only go for a retention bonus if I’m legitimately not sure if I want to keep the card. For example, for the Starwood Amex cards and the Chase Sapphire Preferred I can’t bring myself to ask for a retention bonus, given how much value I already get out of the cards.

  3. Nick says

    @Lucky– I have both an AmEx Platinum and an AmEx Delta Reserve card, and the benefits overlap substantially. I initially got the Delta card to maintain Gold elite status (and put all my 2012 spend on it in order to do so) but, quite frankly, while I love Delta’s product, the elite and SkyMiles programs suck… and it’s not worth it to have two cards with a $450 fee. Do you think AmEx would offer anything substantial for me to keep my Delta Reserve card?

  4. Daniel says

    Hey Lucky, I currently have the Platinum Amex I applied back in January. I want to get the Premier Rewards Gold for everyday spending however the terms of the offer states that I won’t be eligible for the sign-up bonus if I had the platinum card within the last 90 days. Do I need to actually cancel the Platinum card then reapply for the Gold in 90 days or can I keep the Platinum and wait 90 days from the date of my application of the Platinum Card?

  5. lucky says

    @ Nick — Typically accounts are coded with certain retention offers, so it’s anyone’s guess. If they do offer a retention bonus it’s unlikely they’ll offer it again next year. That being said it can’t hurt to call and ask. I doubt they’ll offer anything huge, unfortunately, though they might be able to throw you some sort of a bone.

  6. lucky says

    @ Daniel — Experiences really seem to vary on this. The terms are supposed to mean that if you’ve had the Platinum card in the past 90 days (even if you’ve had it for years) you’re not eligible for the sign-up bonus on the Premier Rewards Gold card.

    That being said, up until recently anecdotal evidence suggests that this was almost never enforced, as almost all reports that I saw suggested that even those with the Platinum card still earned the bonus.

    With the increased creditcards.com sign-up bonus on the Premier Rewards Gold card (which is now dead) we saw some report not getting the points if they had a Platinum card before.

    But anecdotal evidence does still suggest that just using the standard 25,000 point sign-up bonus works if you have the Platinum card.

  7. Sean says

    I got 10k MR on the spot and another 7500 MR for spending a thousand in the month. So I paid the $175

  8. Orlando says

    @Ben- do you spend a lot on the cards you try to get a retention bonus? My real question is: is it possible to get a retention bonus for cards I barely used?
    I only use 1-2 cards on a daily basis, meaning that at the end of the year I won’t have put a lot of spend on some cards, and don’t know if the will even offer some retention incentive.

    Thanks,
    Orlando

  9. Geoff says

    Hate the $175 fee(it’s too high) but, and there’s always a ‘but’, the ability to accumulate points is simply too good to pass up.
    We spend a ton(too much, sorry) on groceries(2X). As such, in THEORY(not our actual practice) once could drop $1500/month on groceries, $300 on gas, $700 on other and accumulate 66,600 MR’s in 12 months. Add a(targeted)sign up bonus of 50,000 and we had a huge year. Either that or we just spent too much money:(
    Almost time to call to discuss the annual fee.

  10. Amanda A says

    I was offered 20K plus another 7500 if I spent $1000 in 90 days. I used to spend up to $100K on my amex gold but have since moved spending over to chase and spg. I took the 20k but will still cancel my card when it is up in June.

  11. HikerT says

    When I called to cancel Ink Bold the rep offered to credit the annual fee. I asked if I could get points instead and they offered 10K without blinking. I recall FM reporting he got a 20K retention for Ink Bold. I assume he probably put a lot more spend on the card. Personally, I don’t see any good reason to keep PRG. By holding the card you are just excluding yourself from the chance to get a 50K+ bonus in 1 year. The extra 1x on airfare isn’t really worth that.

  12. lucky says

    @ Orlando — There’s no doubt that in general the retention bonuses offered reflect how valuable of a customer you are to them. So that could be things like being a big spender or being a card member for a long time. Typically if you’re a big spender you’ll be offered a bigger retention bonus than if you’re not. But even if you’re not a big spender you’re usually offered *something*.

  13. Jivepicnic says

    I’ve had my Amex Platinum card for almost a year. I just called last week and was offered a 6k retention bonus, which was enough to persuade me to keep it after considering the value of the other benefits. The CSR told me that this was the bonus offer coded in my account, and I had only put ~$5k in spend on the card in the first 11 months.

  14. Carl says

    @Daniel @Lucky – Amex refused my signup bonus of 50k for the personal PRG because i already have a personal Plat. They seemed pretty strict about it and i am not a card churner by any means.

  15. beachfan says

    It seems like I’d be better off cancelling the card, waiting 18 months, and reapplying for the bonus with the fee waived.

    Even if it’s only a 25k bonus with a $3k spend, I’d get 25k miles with no out of pocket vs. 25k miles (2 years of 12.5k retentions) for $350 (2 years of fees).

    If I wait until there is a 50k bonus, then it’s even more compelling to cancel.

  16. Robert says

    Have the points for your tax payment actually posted? I paid $10,000 in taxes last year on pay1040.com using the US Airways debit card from B of A and was pissed when I learned that they did not qualify for miles…

  17. lucky says

    @ Robert — They have indeed. Sorry to hear about the debit card issues. Were those types of purchases maybe excluded in the T&Cs of the card?

  18. Robert says

    Probably so. Though Bank of America has since canceled the US Airways debit card (which was the only rewards debit cards I was aware of) so I suppose it doesn’t matter too much any longer.

  19. Vinny says

    Like Amanda A., I got offered 20,000 up front and an additional 7,500 for spending $1,000 in 90 days. I spent about $30K on the card in a year.

  20. says

    Are you straight up paying with your Amex (to try and increase spend) or are you funneling through other methods to end up paying via debit/pre-paid?

  21. lucky says

    @ Justin — In this case am straight up paying using the PRG card. Plenty of other ways in which I’ll be creative, this isn’t one of them.

  22. Dan says

    When my anniversary came up, I genuinely wanted to cancel but was persuaded to stay on an additional year. Was offered a $130 statement credit. $45 ain’t bad.

  23. Erik says

    One thing that hasn’t been really highlighted on the blogs is that Amex is no longer recognizing bookings by third parties such as Expedia and Travelocity for triple miles beyond May 1. That is a real bummer.

  24. puck says

    Has anyone ever gotten retention bonuses on any of the Bank of America credit cards? Over the past several months, I have called to cancel my Virgin Atlantic Card, Hawaiian Airlines card, and Alaska Airlines card and each time asked if they would waive the fee or offer me any incentive to keep them and each time the answer was they are not allowed, so I cancelled them. Guess I will try to churn them later in the year with new sign-up bonuses.

  25. Matt says

    Canada Amex Gold offers no retention bonus and only double points on hotels & flights.
    My Canada Amex Plat is now $699/year…
    The benefits are getting better but hoping for more benefits from both cards.

  26. Mark P says

    $100 statement credit and 20K MR points to keep my Amex Platinum. Still not sure it’s worth it though.

  27. pssteve says

    Back in Sept/12 PRG offered me an immediate statement credit of $130 plus $75 if I spent $1000 in 60 days. Since they were paying me $35 to carry the card I accepted the offer. They never made a points offer.

  28. says

    I was only offered 7,500 points and nothing more in a rather curt conversation with the retention specialist. Rather disappointed as I was prepared to pay the fee if they could have sweetened the deal. They didn’t seem willing to go there so I just cancelled it. I had only gotten the Platinum card in January and all my spend has been going onto that so perhaps that had something to do with it.

  29. Elena says

    I have gotten a retention bonus 2 out of the past 3 years. I spend over $30k a year and have received the spending bonus for the past 3 years. When I called last year in September or so, they were not willing to give me a retention bonus as I had already received one before. However, when I called closer to my anniversary date in December, they offered a retention bonus of 17,500 points that came with a $1000 spend in 3 months. To be honest, I wanted to cancel the card, but since those points paid for the annual fee, I kept the card.

  30. Denise says

    My husband was offered a statement credit for the entire fee of $175 (for the PRG) as a retention bonus. He then asked about a points offer. They gave 10,000 on the spot and then 7,500 for a $1,500 spend in the next 60 days. Glad he called before we paid taxes. (We also have you, Lucky, to thanks for learning about paying taxes by credit card.)

  31. Pang says

    @Lucky I just called AMEX to cancle my Premier Gold. They DID NOT offer me anything at all! No points or credits or anything….

  32. says

    For my Amex Business Gold Rewards card, which has a $175 annual fee, I was offered either $100 statement credit or 10,000 points. I spend less than $200 a month on it.

    My Platinum card is coming up this month, I’ll have to call and see what they will offer on that one. I think I spent only a $1000 last year on it.

  33. Paul says

    PRG is far and away the best card Amex offers. 2x at grocery, plus the 15K MR for paltry $30K spend – no brainer if they offer 10-20K MR as retention bonus.

    And always ask what the best retention bonus offer they have – the Retention Specialists get paid to give you as few points as possible and start with lowball offers – but they are obligated to tell you if you ask.

  34. SG says

    Called today to see about a retention bonus on my PRG which I have had open for 2 years. Woman was friendly and I explained why I was on the fence about renewing. Got offered a big fat NOTHING…though she did tell me I could use my MRP to pay the annual fee (wow, thanks). Admittedly I’m not a huge spender on the card with most of my spend on the chase trifecta, but I was a bit surprised.

  35. JL100 says

    My wife was offered 20,000 +7,500 MR points if she paid the annual fee and spend $3,000 in the next 90 days! Then a month later she was offered 25,000 MR to upgrade to the platinum version. She’ll get $400 in airline gift cards and only have to pay the difference in annual fee of around $275! Plus we’ll get lounge access! Retention and then upgrade bonus!

  36. FlyFishing says

    Still going strong – just called and got the 20,000 + 7,500 MR with $3000 spend in 60 days. We thoroughly went through all the pros and cons compared to the Chase Sapphire Preferred before the offer was made.

  37. NC says

    This is so odd.. PRG, 25-35k spend per year. I just called, and even after speaking to a supervisor, they told me they *never* offer miles or a cash credit to retain customers; the only option would be to switch to a lower level of card (with lower fee.) I asked if this was something specific to my account, and was told it was corporate policy. So obviously wrong based on others experiences.

  38. CE says

    I received the same PRG 20k + 7500 bonus after a 2000 spend in 3 months by calling for retention after getting Sapphire Preferred. About 3 months later I upgraded to the Amex Plat for a 50k bonus even though I expected only 25k. I’m not sure if the benefits will outweigh the 2x points from typical expenses. But definitely a way to get some extra points while figuring out the best cards.

  39. dbeach says

    Called today to cancel. They didn’t offer anything, just canceled it. I haven’t put a huge amount of spending on it lately, probably $10k or so this year, but I was still kind of surprised. Oh well.

  40. Steve says

    Called yesterday, and asked for cancellation and he didn’t offer anything so I politely hung up. I read some more info and called back and asked to speak to retention and emphasized that I didn’t want to pay the annual fee to keep the card. The retention team is separate and provided the offers. He first said I could pay with points, which isn’t a solution for me, and then provided the 20,000 upfront and 7,5000 additional with $3k spend in 60 days. I graciously accepted the offer! Had the card 3 years, spend roughly $30k/year on it.

  41. Catherine says

    I had to call 3 times to get my retention offer. The first time I was only offered 10k points to enroll in the pay later option, and when I declined, the rep was going to transfer me to the retention dept, but they were closed. The 2nd call I was again offered the 10k for pay later, but the rep also said he didn’t see any other retention offers and that it’s probably because the annual fee hadn’t been charged yet and to call back after that happens. Today was the 3rd call and the 1st rep said she didn’t see any offers, so I had to ask to be transferred to the retention dept. That rep went through the routine questions of why I didn’t want to keep the card (I said $175 is more than I’d like to pay) and reminded me of all the great benefits of the card (I said I’m aware of them). Then she offered me 10k points now, plus 7500 points after $1500 spend in 60 days. I asked if that’s definitely the best offer and she said yes, so I accepted it. It’s not 20k, but better than nothing! I’ve only had the card for a year (although an AMEX member since 07) and spent a little over $34k.

  42. W says

    I was offered 7,500 points immediately and 10,000 more after spending $1500 on the PRG. I accepted, spent the $1500, got the points, and then cancelled the card before the annual fee of $175 posted.

  43. Ryan says

    I got a notice from Amex about the ‘Morgan Stanley Credit Card from Amex,’ i.e. my PRG. Apparently airfare will go down to 2x, but US restaurants, department stores and car rentals go up to 2x as of May 2014? Can you confirm?

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