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Premier Rewards Gold Amex Review

The Verdict

If you are a frequent traveler and looking for an all-purpose rewards charge card, the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express can help you amass valuable American Express Membership Rewards that can be easily redeemed for travel, gift cards, and even merchandise.

Perks lovers will love it. You'll earn 3x points on direct airfare purchases, 2x points at restaurants, grocery stores, and gas stations, and 1x point on all other spending.

Plus, you'll get a $100 annual travel credit.

The $195 annual fee is further offset by Amex offers, which provide valuable statement credits when spending a certain amount at popular retailers, as well as the company's fantastic customer service.

Airline loyalists will thrive. If you fly often and purchase tickets directly from the airline (as opposed to Expedia or Travelocity), the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express is a smart bet.

How Americans book their tickets

Not for the balance-carrying inclined. Do you carry a balance on your credit cards?

The Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express is a charge card, meaning that you must pay off your monthly bill in full—as in, paying only the minimum balance won't work.

If you are unable to pay off your charge card in full, American Express does offer a "Pay Over Time" feature.

While they do not publicize interest rates—they are variable and recent reports show an interest rate set at 18.74%—but they can also close your charge card account and reduce your credit limit, which could hurt your credit score.

So if you won't be able to pay your bill off in full each month, you may be better off exploring a rewards credit card with a 0% interest promotional rate, like the Citi Double Cash Card.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (compared below) doesn't offer a similar promotional interest rate, but overall is definitely another card you should consider.

The Competition

The Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express competes with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

The Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express is a wonderful all-purpose rewards charge card, especially suited to those who travel often and use their credit cards a lot on groceries, dining out, and gas.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred has a lower annual fee (only $95 after the first year, as compared to $195), but it only offers 2x points on travel compared to 3x points on airfare purchased with the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express.

The Premier Rewards Cards also provides an annual $100 credit for travel fees (such as baggage fees, in-flight snacks, ticket change fees, etc.)—making it essentially the same net annual cost as the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

The Sapphire Preferred offers a higher sign-on bonus (50,000 Chase points vs. 25,000 Amex points), but you'll also have to spend more ($4,000 vs. $2,000) to earn the Sapphire Preferred sign-up bonus.

Since the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express is a charge card that must be paid off in full each month, it does not carry interest—while the Chase Sapphire Preferred's interest is high—as much as 23.99%!

The real payoff comes in the form of travel perks, especially for those who fly often and book directly with an airline vs. on an all-brand site like Expedia or Travelocity).

If you spend $10,000 a year on travel, for instance, you'll earn 30,000 Amex Membership Rewards points (worth $300) and only 20,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (worth $200).

Add in the $100 travel credit on the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express and you're $100 ahead—even while paying $100 more in annual fees than the Sapphire Preferred card.

How the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express compares to its top competitor

Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
How high of credit score do you need? >700 >650
Annual fee

$0 for first year

$195 afterward

$0 for first year

$95 afterward

Average APR? None (it's a charge card) 20.49%
How big a sign-up bonus do you get? 25,000 Amex Membership Rewards 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards
How much do you need to spend to get the bonus? $2,000 $4,000
How many points do you get for every dollar?

3x points on airfare purchased directly from airlines

2x points at supermarkets, restaurants, and gas stations

1x points on all other spending

2x points on travel (airfare, trains, taxis) and dining

1x points on all other spending

Any restrictions? No No
How much would you need to spend to cover the annual fee (which is waived for the first year)? About $6,000 on flights (not including the sign-up bonus worth $250) About $5,000 (not including the sign-up bonus worth $500)
How much is a point worth in real dollars? 1 cent when redeeming for cash or transferring points to most travel partners

1.25 cents when redeeming for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal

1 cents when redeeming for cash

The Question Everyone Is Asking

What is the difference between a charge card and a credit card?

The Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express is a charge card and not a credit card.

That means you have to pay off the full balance each month.

The nice thing about this is that because you pay off your monthly bill in full, you don't have any interest charges.

However, if you won't be able to pay off your bill in full, you'll be better off with a credit card that offers a 0% introductory promotional rate.

Not paying off your balance can lead to account closure or a transfer to a "Pay Over Time" plan, which carries a high interest rate set at 18.74%.

The Strengths

The Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express is strong because of its bonus points, earning opportunities, and flexible redemption choices

Those who book flights directly with the airline will earn 3 points for every dollar they spend—enabling the frequent traveler to quickly amass valuable American Express Membership Reward points.

The Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express offers other great bonus categories too—such as 2 points for every dollar spent at restaurants, grocery stores, and gas stations.

Other cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred, may offer 3% back for some of these categories, but few cards consistently offer bonus points across all four of these categories.

The Weaknesses

The Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express is weak because of its high annual fee

At $195, the Premier Rewards Gold Card's annual fee (which kicks in after the first year) is much higher than similar cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

The annual fee of Chase Sapphire Prefered annual fee only costs you $95 a year, yet doesn't offer many of the luxe travel perks of a premium rewards credit card like the Citi Prestige Card.

The Citi Prestige carries a $450 annual fee but provides a $250 travel credit, airport lounge access, and free fourth-night hotel stay.

Average American travel duration

Plus, you'll need excellent credit (above 700) to qualify for the Premier Rewards Gold Card, and since it's a charge card, you will have to pay off the entire bill in full each month.

If you don't, Amex can close your account and put you on a payment plan with high interest.

Also, American Express credit cards aren't as widely accepted as Visa and MasterCard cards, particularly outside the United States.

Who It's Made For

You should get the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express if you travel often

Answer the questions below to find out whether the Premier Rewards Gold Card is a worthwhile addition to your wallet:

  • Do you travel often for work or for pleasure?
  • Do you tend to book my flights directly through the airline, as opposed to websites like Expedia?
  • Do you often use your credit card at restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations?
  • Do you have an excellent credit score?
  • Do you pay off your bill in full every month?

If you've answered yes to the questions above, the Premier Rewards Gold Card can help you rack up Membership Rewards points in no time.

Not only that, but it frees you up from having to carry around a wallet full of rewards credit cards to earn bonus points in various categories like eating out, supermarkets, and gas.

If you don't travel very often and tend to carry a balance, a cash back credit card with a 0% promotional interest rate like the Citi Cash Card may be a better fit.

The Card and the Company's History

American Express started as a fast mail service before moving into checks and credit

American Express got its start as an express mail business and is the largest worldwide provider of traveler's checks, which once served as the gold standard for carrying currency when on vacation abroad safely.

The company released the American Express Gold Card back in 1966—and the Premier Rewards Gold Card is a variation on the original.

Amex cardholders have more than 110 million cards, with an average spending of $17,216 each in 2016.

And it's not only consumers who are proud to call the card their own.

Over the years, high-profile celebs like Tina Fey, Jerry Seinfeld, Ellen DeGeneres, Robert De Niro—even BeyoncĂ©—have been associated with the brand.

Average monthly spend on primary card

The Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express will work best in the United States

While the Premier Rewards Gold Card does not have any foreign transaction fees, American Express is still not as widely accepted globally as Visa and MasterCard.

Within the U.S., however, many merchants do accept Amex cards.

How the Card Works

Here's how the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express works

The Premier Rewards Gold Card offers 3x points on airfare and 2x points on dining out, groceries, and gas.

Here are other key benefits and fees to be aware of:

Benefits

$100 credit to spend on airline extras. Each year, you'll receive a credit of up to $100 to cover incidental travel fees, such as airport lounge day passes, baggage fees, in-flight snacks and entertainment, and fees for changing your flight.

You cannot use this credit to cover the cost of airfare, however, and you must choose one qualifying airline.

Redemption options that work for you. American Express Membership Rewards points can be redeemed for a statement credit, gift cards, merchandise, entertainment, or transferred to a wide array of travel partners.

Credit for consecutive hotel stays. When you book a two-or-more night consecutive hotel stay at participating Hotel Collection properties, you will receive a $75 hotel credit to spend on dining, spa, or resort activities.

A global lifeline if you need it. If you are traveling more than 100 miles from home, you can receive free 24/7 access to Amex's Global Assist Hotline, which offers emergency legal, financial, and medical services—though you will be charged by the third-party providers.

Peace of mind for what you packed. You'll have coverage for eligible lost, damaged, or stolen luggage up to $1,250 for carry-ons and $500 per checked bag.

Decline and drive. If you pay for your car rental with the Premier Rewards Gold Card from Amex, you can decline the collision damage waiver and still have coverage if the car is damaged or stolen.

Worry-free auto assistance. You can cancel your AAA membership because the Premier Rewards Gold Card covers emergency services like towing (though only up to 10 miles), changing a flat tire, or jump-starting your car battery—up to four times each year.

Free shipping perks. Premier Rewards Gold Card holders can receive a free ShopRunner membership, which provides free two-day shipping and returns for select items sold at many popular online retailers, including Staples, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Ann Taylor.

Most popular U.S. online stores

Purchase protection x 2. If you can't return an item within 90 days of purchase, American Express will refund the price of eligible items.

You'll also receive up to an additional year of warranty coverage when you purchase an item using this card.

Rewards

Attractive sign-up bonus. When you spend just $2,000 in three months of opening the card, you'll get a sign-up bonus of 25,000 Membership Rewards points (worth $250).

3x points on flights. When you book flights directly with the airlines (as opposed to using Expedia), you'll earn 3 points per dollar.

2x points on dining out, gas, and supermarkets. While some cards (like the Chase Sapphire Preferred) offer 3x points on dining, few offer bonus points across all of these three popular categories: gas, groceries, and restaurants.

The convenience of not needing to use different cards for groceries and dining out may outweigh not earning the top percentage rewards per category.

Interest rates and APR

Since the Premier Rewards Gold Card is a charge card, you must pay your entire bill in full — so there isn't an interest rate.

However, if you don't pay your bill in full Amex can cancel your card hit you with a 20%-interest payment plan.

Fees

Foreign transaction fees. There are no foreign transaction fees unlike other rewards credit cards that charge between 2.7-3% foreign transaction fees.

However, American Express cards may not be as widely accepted globally as Visa and Mastercard.

Late fees. You will pay a $38 fee for every late payment.

What People Love About It

People love this card because of its complimentary roadside assistance and hotel credit

Breakdowns made easy. One of the most valued benefits is the roadside assistance benefit. If you break down, this service will come in handy and possibly save you hundreds of dollars.

Motor vehicle towing revenue

Rest your head and score some $. The $75 hotel credit and free room upgrade at Hotel Collection properties is another favorite perk. "I did use the Fine Hotels perk once and got a crazy upgrade in Santa Fe," said user DW.

Biggest Consumer Complaints

The biggest consumer complaints about the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express center on not earning the top bonus in any category

Not the top bonus award in every category.

User Pat refers to the Premier Rewards Gold Card as a "gateway card—if you just want one card to start out, it's not a bad choice."

But once you've accumulated several cards in your wallet, "it becomes redundant," she says.

That's because, in every bonus category, you can find a different rewards card that offers more points. Yes, you'll get 2 points for every dollar spent at the supermarket—but the Amex Blue Cash Preferred Card will give you 6% back!

Same thing with dining—other cards will give you 3 points for every dollar spent at a restaurant.

So it's a good card to have if you only have this card, but if you want to get the biggest bonus points per category, you may be better off without it.

You have to pay your balance in full. Another downside to the card is that it is a charge card and not a credit card.

So for those who like the flexibility of being able to carry a balance (even though they incur interest charges), that isn't an option on the Premier Rewards Gold Card.

Key Digital Services

The Amex mobile app is intuitive because it helps you track your spending on the go

Review recent credit card charges easily and quickly on the Amex mobile app, a free app that can be downloaded on your iPhone or Android device.

You can also get the Amex mobile app by texting MOBILE to 86509 for a text message link for quick download.

You can use the app to pay your bill, view and redeem rewards, and receive real-time fraud alerts.

You can also manage your Amex card online at AmericanExpress.com.

How to Sign up for the Card

Visit the American Express website if you want to apply for the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express

To sign up for the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express, visit the American Express website.

Be sure to note the date you apply for the card since your three-month window to make the qualifying spend to earn the 25,000 Membership Rewards points for spending $2,000 begins the day you apply for the card—even if it takes a week or two for your new card to arrive.

How to Close Your Account

The easiest way to close your account for the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express is to call customer service

If you wish to cancel your Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express, your best bet is to use the number on the back of your card.

That way you can talk directly with a specialist who is familiar with the card you have.

For reference, the general customer support number for American Express is 800-528-4800.

There are no penalties for closing your Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express but you do need to pay your balance off in full.

If you don't have another American Express card that you can transfer your Membership Rewards to, you will lose your points when you cancel the card.

One way to keep your points is to sign up for a no annual fee credit card that earns AMEX Membership Rewards points, like the AMEX EveryDay Credit Card.

FAQ

Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express

  • What is a charge card? And do I have to pay the amount in full each month?

    A charge card differs from a standard credit card in that you have to pay the full balance each month.

    Therefore, you are not charged any interest.

    If you are unable to pay off your charge card in full, American Express does offer a "Pay Over Time" feature.

    While they do not publicize interest rates (they are variable), recent reports show an interest rate set at 18.74%, while others point to a rate higher than 20%.

  • Does the Premier Rewards Gold Card have a preset spending limit?

    No. The card's line of credit changes over time based on your spending habits and how quickly you pay off your balance.

    This can cause some uncertainty and may result in your card being declined if you spend significantly more than you usually do in a short period of time.

  • Does this card offer purchase security?

    Yes, it offers return protection in which Amex will refund the price of eligible items if the vendor will not let you return them within 90 days of purchase. In addition, Amex extends the warranty of items bought with this card by a year.

  • Which participating hotels can I use my points with? And do I get an automatic room upgrade each time I book hotels with my card?

    When you book a hotel affiliated with The Hotel Collection (visit the Amex website for participating hotels), you will receive a $75 credit and a complimentary room upgrade, when available.

  • Can I use the $100 airline fee credit towards baggage fees?

    Yes.

  • How can I cancel my card?

    Every card has a different number, so your best bet is to call the customer service phone number on the back of your credit card.

  • Can I get a cash advance and are there any related fees?

    No.

  • How can I add an authorized user my American Express Premier Rewards Gold credit card?

    You can add up to five authorized users on your Premier Rewards Gold account for no extra fee. To do so, log-on to your account at AmericanExpress.com, click on "Account Services," and choose "Add Someone to Your Account."

  • What can you use American Express Membership Rewards points for?

    American Express Membership Rewards points can be redeemed for a statement credit, gift cards, merchandise, entertainment, or transferred to a wide array of travel partners.

  • Does this American Express card cover rental car insurance?

    Yes, the card comes with car rental loss and damage insurance, which provides coverage of up to $50,000 for theft of or damage to the rental vehicle. However, it's only a secondaryinsurance plan so you would still need to file a claim with your auto insurance policy should you get into an accident in your rental car.

    If you want primary insurance on your rental car, you can purchase it from American Express for $19.95-$24.95.

  • How can I report a stolen credit card?

    Log into your online account, click on "Account Services," and then click "Order a Replacement Card for Damaged, Lost, or Stolen Cards."

The Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express is a great all-in-one card

Those who spend a lot of money on travel, dining, restaurants, and groceries can earn bonus Membership Rewards points all with this one solid charge card—3x points for direct airfare purchases and 2x points for the other categories mentioned above.

Add in the annual $100 travel credit plus the $75 hotel credit and you've easily gotten more value than the $195 annual fee you paid.

Plus, the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express provides you with the perks Amex customers rely on, including Amex Offers, great customer service, and extended warranties and purchase protection.

So if you travel often and like to eat both in and out of your home, this is a smart card to add to your wallet.

Do you use the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express?

How has the card worked out for you?

Any great tips (or nightmares) to share with the rest of us?

Let us know in the comments below.


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