If you have been thinking about getting into the “rewards game”, STOP, this Premier Rewards Gold card going to be the one to get.
The best deals in travel are the ones you don’t plan for. The reason I am able travel so frequently using points is because I travel to cities that have extremely good deals. If I said, I want to go to Boston on September 5th, I may have to pay out the ears. The key to traveling for cheap is to STAY FLEXIBLE, you will hear me say this often. If you need to fly somewhere on a set date, I get it, just don’t expect to find smoking deals.
Okay, enough on that, back to the ‘card to get’. I am talking about the American Express Gold Card. This is a charge card meaning you pay it off in full every month whereas a credit card will let you carry a balance. Charge cards are a great way to help yourself not carry a balance (and not get charged interest) because you aren’t able to carry a balance. When your statement closes you have 21 days to pay it off with no fee. So you do get to ‘borrow’ money for about a month with no interest, you just aren’t able to make a minimum payment. The card has no annual fee the first year, but jumps to $195 on the second year, so I don’t recommend the card after the first year (learn how to cancel your card to avoid the annual fee). Fortunately, Amex will let you downgrade the card to their no annual fee “Blue Everyday” card so you can still keep your points.
This card offers 50,000 ‘Membership Reward Points’, which you can transfer to a handful of airlines and hotel partners. The best part about this offer is that you only have to spend $1,000 in 3 months in order to receive your points. **Amex sign up offers are only available once per lifetime, if you’ve received a bonus from this exact PRG card in the past you will not get the points again**. You can pay almost any bill; like rent, tuition, car payment, or mortgage via credit card, using www.plastiq.com to meet your minimum spend. In addition to the points you earn from the sign up bonus you will also receive 2x points per dollar spent on gas and groceries. If you spend $500 on gas and groceries every month you will earn 1,000 points per month. That’s 12,000 a year, enough for a free domestic one-way, just from basic spending.
When you apply make sure the offer states ‘50,000’ points. There are different offers out there for this card. If you don’t see the 50k point offer try a different web browser or clear all your cookies and cache. You may have to go incognito to see the offer. DO NOT apply until you see the 50k point offer.
There are some awesome benefits with this card. The best benefit is that you receive $100 airline incidental credit. What this means is that once you pick your preferred airline you can rack up $100 in charges (can’t be used for tickets, but everything else like baggage and seat upgrades) and it will automatically refund the charges to your account. If you selected Delta as your airline, you could pay $50 for checked bags, $12 for in flight wifi, $9 for a meal, and $15 for an economy plus seat with more leg room. Amex would then automatically pay you back for these charges and you would still have $14 remaining credit until Dec 31st. You get this $100 to use every calendar year so you could use $100 now and $100 next year, then cancel the card before your annual fee is due. That is 200 free doll-hairs if you use this correctly. Some people (myself included) have had success buying gift cards from their selected airline and it will reimburse the charge. You could essentially receive $200 in flights (via gift cards), and then cancel before the first annual fee becomes due.
Another great benefit with this card is that they give you free rental car coverage. When you rent a car, even internationally, all you have to do is pay in whole for the car with this card and tell the rental company you are declining their coverage (A.K.A: CDW & LDW). In the US and Canada, your personal car insurance will kick in before Amex pays out (which means it acts as secondary coverage). When you rent internationally, your personal car insurance is null which makes this insurance from your Amex card become “primary”. Remember, credit cards only cover damage to the rental car itself, they do NOT cover damage you do to other cars or property. You will want to buy additional short term liability insurance when you travel abroad to protect you against damages outside the rental car.
Okay, what can I do with the points?
Here are the airlines you can transfer your points to. You can transfer as little as 250 point increments. This makes it great if you need to top off one of your frequent flyer account that already has points in it.
The best airline transfer option depends on where you want to fly. One of the easiest redemption choices is Delta Airlines. It takes 25k points for a round trip in the lower 49 and Canada. So you could technically get two round trips for signing up for this card.
You could take this flight from SFO to JFK twice on Delta with your points:
Another great option is to transfer to British Airways (1,000:800 ratio). British Airways will also allow you to use your points on their partner airlines; IE American and Alaska. British Airways uses distance to calculate how many points you will need for the flight. If you fly less than 650 miles it will only cost you 4,500 points one way. This is a great option for short haul flights.
You could fly Phoenix to San Jose for only 4,500 points one way. (until February 2nd)
If you fly somewhere 1,150 miles or less that will only cost you 7,500 points one way. You could fly Miami to New York for only 7,500 points one way.
Here is the points chart to show points needed with British Airways one way flights (>650 mile flights go to 7,500 on Feb 2nd):
Let’s say you flew Miami to New York for 15,000 points round trip, what to do with the remaining 35,000 points? You can transfer them to Hawaiian Airlines and get a round trip to Hawaii.
For example, 35,000 Hawaiian points gets you a round trip from Sacramento to Honolulu.
You can also transfer points to Hilton Hotels. These transfer at a 1:1.5 ratio. So your 50k points goes over as 75k points to Hilton.
Here is a nice hotel for only 30k points per night in St Petersburg, Fl, the Hilton Bayfront.
Check out Award Mapper to see a map of every Hilton Hotel and the points needed for a free night.