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 American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card and using Amazon Payments to primp up my spend.
Anyone else get any retention bonuses lately?