Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express Review
9 Reasons Why Premier Rewards Gold Benefits are Worth the $195 Annual Fee
If you spend a lot on airfare, the Premier Rewards Gold Card may be worth considering. Read on for 9 reasons to consider this American Express card and 4 reasons to skip it.
Pros and Cons
- Promotional points offer
- Airline fee credit
- 3x points for flights booked with airlines
- 2x points at US gas stations
- 2x points at US supermarkets
- 2x points at U.S. restaurants
- $195 annual fee
Good rewards card for cardholders who fly frequently or eat out
Here's the deal: the Premier Rewards Gold card from American Express offers 3x points for flights booked with airlines and 2x points at U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations and U.S. restaurants.
But it has a $195 annual fee. So why bother with this card? Let us explain.
We'll cover the reasons to consider the card below, plus reasons to skip it. But before we do, let’s do some quick math to give you an idea of what you can get with this charge card.
We’ve done some number crunching to help you decide whether to go after this Amex card. Our opinion: considering the annual fee, if you spend over $19,500 per year ($1,625/month) booking flights with airlines, this card's reward rate beats the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Barclaycard Arrival Plus hands down.
Still with us? In our opinion, this card, for some, is gold.
Here's the math:
- $19,500 on flights booked with airlines would earn you 58,500 AMEX Membership Rewards points. ($195 annual fee)
- In comparison, with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you would earn 39,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points. ($95 annual fee)
- Likewise, with the Barclaycard Arrival Plus, you would earn 39,000 Barclaycard miles. ($89 annual fee)
Don't spend that much on airfare? There’s one more factor that could make it easier to swallow the $195 annual fee. Cardholders get a $100 airline fee credit, to cover up to $100 a year in incidental fees at one selected airline (such as baggage fees). That's something Chase Sapphire Preferred and Barclaycard Arrival Plus does not offer.
And there are a few other perks that might still make it still worthwhile. We’ll explain below.
Are you a big traveler but torn over whether this is the right card for you? Think of it this way: If you are more interested in travel *benefits* than travel rewards, consider the Platinum Card from American Express instead. The Platinum Card comes with travel-friendly perks such as airport club access and concierge service.
4 reasons to NOT get the card
- There is a $195 annual fee. While there is an introductory $0 annual fee for the first year, after that, it's $195.
This is on the high end for cards in general, but you may be able to justify it based on how often you’ll use the card and where you’ll use it (especially if you’re a frequent traveler).
Is the $195 annual fee worth what you will get in return? Hopefully the reasons below will help you answer that question.
If you prefer a credit card with no annual fee instead, check out this list.
- You need excellent credit: Are you wondering how to qualify for an American Express Gold Card such as the Premier Rewards Gold?
Generally speaking, you need excellent credit to qualify for most American Express cards.
- This is a charge card: In other words, you have to pay off your balance in full each month. If you prefer a credit card instead, check out these credit cards for people with excellent credit.
- It's not accepted everywhere. Not all merchants take American Express. No matter how good the benefits and rewards are, it doesn't matter if the merchant you shop at won't accept your card. If you only have room in your wallet for one credit card, consider a Visa or MasterCard instead. Otherwise, think about having an American Express credit card with a backup Visa or MasterCard.
Premier Rewards Gold Card Offer
Now here are 9 reasons why we think the Premier Rewards Gold is worth the $195 annual fee:
- You fly frequently. If you’re often in the air going from place to place and tend to book your trip directly with the airlines, consider this card. Instead of earning just 1 mile per dollar on airfare as you would get with some other travel cards, you can use this card to earn 3x points as long as you make your purchase directly with the airlines.
On top of that, you also get up to $100 statement credit each year to cover incidental fees with your selected airline (it’s called an airline fee credit). This can help cover costs like when you have to pay extra for checking luggage.
- You want a deal. It can be tough waiting for rewards to accumulate when you have a brand new account. With this card, you will earn 25,000 Membership Rewards after you use your new card to make $2,000 worth of purchases in your first 3 months. That’s in addition to whatever rewards you earn during that time period.
- You are a weekly grocery shopper. This card earns 2x points at U.S. supermarkets.
How much do you spend on groceries a year? Look at it this way: if you spend $187.50 a week at U.S. supermarkets, you will earn 19,500 Membership Rewards in a year. Is 19,500 Membership Rewards points worth the $195 annual fee? You decide.
- You eat out at least twice a week. Not everybody cooks at home, but we all have to eat somehow, right?
This card earns 2x points at U.S. restaurants.
How much do you spend eating out a year, including the occasional fast food? Let’s say you spend $150 a week at U.S. restaurants — that would earn you 15,600 Membership Rewards in a year (enough to pay for another week of eating out if you redeemed them for a gift card).
Maybe you spend $100 a week at U.S. supermarkets and $90 a week at U.S. restaurants. Combined, that's $190/week — enough for 19,760 Membership Rewards points a year.
- You commute by car. Some gas credit cards offer 5 cents a gallon. Is that a better deal?
Here's a little math: when gas is $3 a gallon, 5 cents a gallon means 1.5%. But compare that to the 2x points you get at U.S. gas stations with the Premier Rewards Gold Card.
- You’re willing to learn about Amex’s rewards program. In addition to the above rewards, you will earn 1x points on other purchases.
But points are only as good as what you can redeem them for. And with Membership Reward points, you have flexibility.
If you're the vanilla ice cream buyer, you can redeem points for a statement credit or gift cards. But if you prefer some variety, consider transferring the Membership Rewards points to other frequent flyer programs such as Delta SkyMiles or frequent hotel programs such as Starwood Preferred Guest. In our opinion, you can make your rewards go further when you go that route.
Read this in-depth Beginner's Guide to Airline Miles and Points.
- No Foreign Transaction Fee. Do you want to use your card overseas? This card does not charge a foreign transaction fee.
Take this card with you outside the U.S. and you do not have to worry about foreign transaction fees (some other credit cards charge 2.7% to 3% on purchases made outside the U.S.).
Thinking of traveling overseas? Here is what you need to know about foreign transaction fees before you travel abroad.
- You are a stickler for customer service. American Express’s customer service is known for being helpful.
- You want to feel confident when you buy things. This card offers return protection.
If a vendor will not accept your return within 90 days of purchase, American Express will refund the price to you for eligible purchases. Terms and limitations apply.
Plus, this card offers extended warranty protection for eligible purchases. And there's no enrollment required.
Want more reasons to get the card? Here is a link to American Express' website, which includes information on additional benefits and the online secure application.
3X FOR FLIGHTS BOOKED WITH AIRLINES
|© Dave Herholz (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr|
Keep in mind, you need to order with the airline to qualify (going through a third-party won't count like an online travel discount website).
Note: This deal is for passenger flights only, not charters or private jets.
2X AT U.S. SUPERMARKETS
Supermarkets that qualify include Whole Foods, Meijer, Shoprite, Winn-Dixie, Stop and Shop, Vons, Pathmark, and online supermarket FreshDirect, among others.
So-called big-box stores (like Wal-Mart and Target), online superstores (like Amazon), and warehouses (like Costco) are NOT considered supermarkets. Your mom-and-pop corner grocery store or specialty shop that only sells cheese or meat is also NOT considered to be a supermarket. Chances are if a store sells groceries in addition to clothes and electronics, it is not — in Amex’s view — a supermarket.
2X AT U.S. GAS STATIONS
Gas stations like Shell, Mobil, Hess, Exxon, Gulf, and Murphy are some of the places you can earn 2x points with this card.
Generally speaking, American Express considers qualifying gas stations as those in the United States that primarily sell gasoline, so supermarkets (like Safeway) and warehouse clubs (like Costco) do NOT fall under this category, even if they have their own pumps.
2X AT U.S. RESTAURANTS
This is a recent addition to the Premier Rewards Gold Card. Only purchases made within the United States using your card will get 2x points (the Hard Rock Café in Paris — even though the Hard Rock is owned by a U.S. company — would not count, for example).
What qualifies as a restaurant depends on how it registers on your card; a restaurant that’s within a hotel may not be described as restaurant on your card and therefore wouldn't get the 2X points.
HOW IT COMPARES
Chase Sapphire Preferred: This is a competitive card in terms of rewards. It comes with a higher spending threshold for getting the signup bonus (you have to spend $4,000 in the first 3 months to earn 50,000 bonus points), but it has a lower annual fee. The $95 annual fee, waived for the first year, is easy to recoup if you use the Sapphire Preferred often to earn 2x points on travel and dining at restaurants and 1 point per dollar for other purchases.
Still can’t decide? Take a look at Amex’s Membership Rewards vs. Chase’s Ultimate Rewards, and see which one seems easier to navigate and better for your needs.
Interest Rates and Fees
|Purchase APR||N/A||16.24% to 23.24% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors|
|Balance Transfers APR||N/A||16.24% to 23.24% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors|
|Annual Fee||Introductory annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $195||Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95|
|See Rates & Fees|
Benefits and Features
|Points Deal||Introductory Bonus Reward Points: Receive 25,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership.||Introductory Bonus Reward Points: Earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®|
|Airline||Airline Rewards: Earn 3X points for flights booked with airlines||Airline Rewards: 1:1 point transfer to leading frequent travel programs at full value – that means 1,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points equal 1,000 partner miles/points|
|Points||Point Rewards: 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 apply.||Point Rewards: Earn 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases|
|Travel||Travel Rewards: 2X points per dollar spent on travel. 1:1 point transfer to leading frequent travel programs at full value - that means 1,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points equal 1,000 partner miles/points|
|Airline Status||Airline Status: $100 Airline Fee Credit. Up to $100 a year in baggage fees and more at one airline.|
|Gas||Gas Rewards: Earn 2X points at US gas stations|
|Grocery||Grocery Rewards: Earn 2X points at US supermarkets|
|Restaurant||Dining Rewards: Earn 2X points at US restaurants||Dining Rewards: 2X points per dollar spent dining at restaurants|
|Airline Transfer Partners||Airline Transfer Partners: Airline transfer partners include Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue, Virgin America and more.||Airline Transfer Partners: Airline transfer partners include United Airlines, Southwest Airlines and more.|
Platinum Card from American Express: If the Gold Card’s $195 annual fee doesn’t scare you at all, then see if you can handle its sister card’s $450 fee. You have the potential to earn 40,000 points up front if you spend $3,000 within three months vs. the Gold Card’s 25,000 bonus points on $2,000 in spending.
Because of its high price tag, the Platinum Card is marketed to frequent travelers who make consistent use of the platinum treatment they can get when using this card, including a $200 yearly annual airline fee credit and access to three airport lounge networks.
|Annual Fee||Introductory annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $195|
|See Rates & Fees||See Rates & Fees|
|Points Deal||Introductory Bonus Reward Points: Receive 25,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership.||Introductory Bonus Reward Points: Get 40,000 points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.|
|Airline||Airline Rewards: Earn 3X points for flights booked with airlines|
|Points||Point Rewards: 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 apply.||Point Rewards: Earn 1 point for virtually every dollar spent.|
|Airline Status||Airline Status: $100 Airline Fee Credit. Up to $100 a year in baggage fees and more at one airline.||Airline Status: Up to a $200 Airline Fee Credit Annually. To receive the statement credit, you need to select a qualifying airline.|
Airport Club Access gives you access to three airport lounge networks including participating Delta Sky Club® lounges and Priority Pass(TM) Select. When you enroll in Priority Pass(TM) Select, you can access over 600 participating airport lounges worldwide - no matter what class or airline you fly.
|Hotel Status||Hotel Status: Enroll in complimentary SPG Gold Status (Starwood Preferred Guest Gold Preferred Guest).|
Enroll to enjoy the benefits of complimentary Hilton HHonors(TM) Gold Status.
|Gas||Gas Rewards: Earn 2X points at US gas stations|
|Grocery||Grocery Rewards: Earn 2X points at US supermarkets|
|Restaurant||Dining Rewards: Earn 2X points at US restaurants|
For more information, read our in-depth AMEX Gold vs Platinum comparison.
In our opinion, the perks and rewards of the Premier Rewards Gold Card are extensive; in fact, we haven’t listed all the benefits of the card here. To learn more, visit American Express' online secure application.
Whether this card is the right one for you depends on the math. Will you be likely to use it when you go to the supermarket, go out to eat, and pump gas? If so, the $195 annual fee may be just a blip in your yearly expenses and the rewards may help justify the expense.
In our opinion, the people who will really benefit from this card are frequent travelers; 3x points on airfare (booked with airlines) is tough to beat and redeeming them through the Amex’s Membership Rewards can help take you far — literally.
Terms and limitations apply.
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David R is a contributing writer at CreditDonkey, a credit card comparison and financial education website. Our data-driven analysis has been recognized by major news outlets across the country and has helped consumers make savvy financial and lifestyle decisions.
Editorial Note: This content is not provided by American Express. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express. This site may be compensated through the Advertiser's affiliate programs.
Disclaimer: This content was first published on June 1, 2012. This content may have been updated on May 10, 2016. Information including APR, terms and benefits may vary, be out of date, or not applicable to you. Information is provided without warranty. Please check American Express website for updated information.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. This site may be compensated through the Advertiser's affiliate programs.