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The Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express is one of Amex’s more well rounded travel rewards credit cards. View from the Wing suggests that this is “the most underappreciated credit card in America,” that it’s in the top 15% of cards out there, and that it isn’t talked about a lot.
I agree it’s not talked about a lot, and I suspect it’s also in the top 15% of credit cards (probably even better than that, because there are a lot of really bad credit cards out there), but is the card really underappreciated? I have a slightly different take than Gary.
The basics of the Amex Premier Rewards Gold Card
The Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express has a $195 annual fee (waived for the first 12 months), and offers pretty well rounded rewards — specifically, it offers 3x points for flights booked directly with airlines, and 2x points at US restaurants, US supermarkets, and US gas stations. There’s no limit to how many bonus points you can earn in those categories.
The card’s welcome bonus is 25,000 bonus Membership Rewards points after spending $2,000 within the first three months.
While the card has a $195 annual fee after the first year, it also offers a $100 annual airline fee credit. This can be used towards the cost of fees and incidentals on a designated airline. Assuming you can get full value out of that, it means your real “out of pocket” on the card is $95 per year (you pay the $195 annual fee, and you can potentially recover $100). Assuming you value the $100 credit at face value, then this card has a comparable cost to the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.
How the Premier Rewards Gold Card has been outdone
I used to have the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express, and finally canceled it last year. This is a card I had for years, and one that I found to be incredibly rewarding. But the problem is that so many other credit cards have upped their game, while this card mostly hasn’t. The Premier Rewards Gold Card went from one that I considered to be “best in class,” to one that no longer had any best in class bonus categories. In the case of my credit card portfolio:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express ($550 annual fee) offers 5x points on airfare purchased directly with airlines (rather than 3x points)
- The Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card ($450 annual fee) offers 3x points on restaurants (rather than 2x points), and offers that globally, rather than just in the US
- The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express ($95 annual fee) offers 3x points at US supermarkets and 2x points at US gas stations, plus a 50% bonus when you make at least 30 transactions per billing cycle, for a total of 4.5x points at US supermarkets, 3x points at US gas stations, and 1.5x points on everything else
- While it’s a business card rather than a personal card, The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express (no annual fee) offers 2x points on the first $50,000 spent annually on any purchase
I recognize I have way more credit cards than most, but for me this card went from one that was best in class in several categories, to one that I can’t justify putting spend on in any category.
Is this a good option for someone who just wants one card?
I think the argument in favor of the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express is that it’s really well rounded. While it might not be best in any particular category, is this a good option for someone who just wants one card that’s useful across a lot of categories? Yes and no. Generally I think if you’re getting a travel rewards credit card, you want a card that’s well rounded for those who travel with some frequency. In the case of this card:
- The card only offers bonus points on restaurants in the US, while other cards offer bonus points on restaurants abroad
- While American Express is improving in this regard, generally they don’t have the global acceptance of other issuers, so this isn’t ideal as your “go to” card for international travel
- The card doesn’t offer any sort of useful travel or car rental coverage
For a premium travel rewards credit card, those are all things I would be looking for. So if you do travel with any frequency, I think something like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card would still be useful to have, given the travel and car rental coverage, bonus points on dining and travel purchases, etc.
If you have one of those cards and want an Amex to complement it, I think the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express would be a much better complement, as you’d earn a lot more points at US supermarkets, US gas stations, and on everyday spend, which can go along nicely with the bonus points you earn on dining and travel with other cards.
The card I think is underrated
Gary thinks the Premier Rewards Gold Card is underappreciated, though I think the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card is underappreciated. Why?
- The card has a big welcome bonus of 50,000 ThankYou points after spending $4,000 within the first three months
- The card’s $95 annual fee is waived for the first 12 months
- The card offers triple points on travel and gas, and double points on dining and entertainment
- In addition to having lots of transfer partners, points on this card can also be redeemed for 1.25 cents each towards the cost of a travel purchase (with the Premier Rewards Gold Card you can just redeem them for one cent each)
- The card is a Mastercard, so has better global acceptance, and it also has solid travel protection
There’s no denying that the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express is a well rounded rewards card with useful bonus categories. While the card has a high $195 annual fee, it offers a $100 airline fee credit that helps offset it.
However, I think in many ways this card hasn’t kept up with the times. Between the restrictions on bonus categories being US-only, the lack of travel and car rental coverage, the not-great welcome bonus, and the general improvement we’ve seen on other cards, I think the market for which the Premier Rewards Gold Card makes sense has shrunk quite a bit.
What do you guys think about the Premier Rewards Gold Card — is it worth it, and if so, for what kind of consumer?