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The Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express is one of the first cards I ever signed up for, and I’ve kept it ever since.
Back in the day the card was really unique, as it offered 3x points on airfare purchased with airlines, 2x points on gas purchased at US gas stations & groceries purchased at US supermarkets. In addition to that the card used to offer 15,000 Membership Rewards points for any year in which you spent $30,000 on the card.
In other words, $30,000 of airfare spend per year would net you 105,000 Membership Rewards points, which is a crazy good return.
Unfortunately since then a couple of things have changed which have decreased the value proposition of the card:
- As of 2015, the annual 15,000 Membership Rewards point threshold bonus was eliminated, apparently because it was under-utilized
- A lot of other compelling cards came into the market place:
- Chase introduced the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which offers double points on dining and travel, no foreign transaction fees, and a lower annual fee
- Citi introduced the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card, which offers a lower annual fee, and as of April 19, 2015, offers triple points on travel and gas, double points on dining and entertainment, and no foreign transaction fees
- Even American Express introduced The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card and Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card, which have substantially lower annual fees, also accrue Membership Rewards points, and also offer bonus categories
Well, it looks like American Express will finally be making some changes to the Premier Rewards Gold Card to make it more competitive. So what are the changes?
Annual fee is increasing by $20
The new annual fee for the Premier Rewards Gold Card will be $195 effective June 1, 2015. The current annual fee is $175, so that represents an increase of $20 per year. Keep in mind that the annual fee is waived the first year, and that you can add up to five additional cards to the account at no additional cost.
$100 airline fee credit being added
The Premier Rewards Gold Card will offer a $100 airline fee credit as of June 1, 2015. That’s an important thing to note before getting too angry about the $20 hike in the annual fee.
Keep in mind that anecdotally American Express fee credits can often be used to purchase airline gift cards, so to me that’s “good as cash.”
Airline gift card purchases often qualify towards the airline fee credit with American Express
I value that $100 fee credit at close to face value, so to me that basically knocks the annual fee down to $95 per year, for all practical purposes. Which is the same as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Citi ThankYou® Premier Card.
Double points at restaurants
The Premier Rewards Gold Card will offer double points at restaurants starting June 1, 2015. This matches the double points offered for dining by the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Citi ThankYou Premier.
Soon you can earn double points at restaurants with the PRG Card
No foreign transaction fees
As of June 1, 2015, the American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card will no longer charge foreign transaction fees. This also puts them in line with the competition, and it’s an area where American Express has really been lagging, in my opinion.
Soon you can use the PRG Card abroad without paying foreign transaction fees
I think what American Express is doing here is brilliant. They’re basically offering very similar benefits to the mid-range Chase and Citi products, except they’re marketing it in a bit more premium of a way. Instead of having the annual fee be $95, they’re charging $100 more but also offering a $100 airline fee credit.
And I get why they’re doing that, because they don’t want to create too much overlap in their products, as the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card has a $95 annual fee.
If you ask me, this is a pretty compelling card with the new benefits:
- Receive triple points on airfare
- Receive double points on gas, dining, and groceries
- $195 annual fee, but you receive a $100 airline fee credit
- No foreign transaction fees
This is one of the most comprehensive cards out there in terms of the category bonuses.
While I was about ready to dump the card given that they eliminated the threshold bonus last year, this is enough to make me hold onto the card.
How do you feel about the changes to the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express?