Review of the American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card

[Offers contained within this article may no longer be available]

The American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card is often regarded as one of the top premium travel credit cards. It earns good rates on different bonus categories like dining and groceries, can offer some valuable sign-up bonuses, and comes with some superior benefits, such as exceptional purchase protection. Here’s my review of the American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card and why it’s one of the top travel cards to get in 2016.


Charge card vs Credit Card

The American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card is a “charge card,” which means that it must be paid off in full each month or else you face a hefty monthly fee. The benefit to a charge card is that you’re not restricted to a credit limit and so you have a little more flexibility — you just need to be able to keep yourself in check to make sure you’ll pay off your balance in full each month.

Premier Rewards Gold Card 3d

American Express will often offer you the opportunity to “pay over time,” however. This essentially turns your charge card into a hybrid credit/charge card and allows you to carry a balance. Typically, American Express will monitor your spending habits for approximately one year and then offer you this option (though sometimes it comes sooner).

In addition to being able to carry a balance, there are two benefits to the pay over time option. One, American Express does not conduct a hard pull on your credit when they check your eligibility. They run a soft-check in conjunction with their own internal credit check system. Second, American Express will usually offer you some kind of incentive and reward you with Membership Rewards for opting into pay over time.

Transfer Partners

American Express cards earn you Membership Rewards. They are generally considered one of more valuable reward currencies and these points can be transferred to several different airline and hotel partners. Below is a list of the eligible travel partners.


  • Delta Skymiles
  • Club Premier AeroMexico
  • Aeroplan Air Canada
  • Flying Blue (Air France/KLM)
  • MilleMigilia Club Alitalia
  • ANA
  • Asia Miles
  • Avios British Airways (250 points = 200 Avios)
  • Emirates Skyrewards
  • Hawaiin Airlines
  • Iberia Plus
  • JetBlue
  • KrisFlyer Singapore Airlines
  • Virgin America (200 points = 100 Elevate points)
  • Virgin Atlantic


  • Best Western Rewards
  • Choice Privileges
  • Hilton HHonors (1,000 points = 1,500 HHonors points)
  • SPG (Starwood Preferred Guest) (1,000 points = 333 Starpoints)

There are a few things to keep in mind about Membership Rewards:

  • Bonus transfers are occasionally offered allowing you to transfer your points to partners for higher ratios. Check this thread for a history of these transfer bonuses
  • Your Membership Rewards cannot be freely transferred between you and any friend or family members
  • They don’t expire as long as you remain a cardholder

Redeeming Points

If you don’t decide to transfer your Membership Rewards to other travel partners you can always utilize them for travel redemptions or purchases.

Membership Rewards can be redeemed for between .5 and 1.0 cent per point for gift cards and only .6 per point for a statement credit/charge. If you go through Amex Travel you can redeem at 1.0 cent per point on air fare but only up  to .7 cent per point on hotels. Aside from maybe using them for air fare to earn or maintain elite status, I personally do not think these are good redemption rates. However, depending on the circumstances (no availability with travel partners), it might make sense for you to redeem your points through the Amex travel portal.

Sign-up Bonus

There are several different sign-up offers for the American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card that appear for this card. Here are the main offers:

  • 25,000 Membership Rewards after you spend $3,000 within the first 90 days of opening your card.  This is the current main public offer.
  • 50,000 Membership Rewards after you spend $3,000 within the first 90 days of opening your card. Good offer but not as good as the one below.
  • 50,000 Membership Rewards after you spend $1,000 within the first 90 days of opening your card. This is the offer you want to seek out!
  • 75,000 Membership Rewards after you spend $3,000 within the first 90 days of opening your card. This is an extremely targeted and pretty rare offer that you may not want to waste your time waiting around for. 

The 50,000 Membership Rewards offer can often be found via Google Chrome Incognito. Simply get on the American Express website and try refreshing your browser and see if the offer comes up. If it doesn’t come up, try it at your work computer, a friend’s house, etc. It should eventually pop up, although some report never having any luck with finding the offer.

One bonus per lifetime

You need to know that American Express has a once per lifetime rule for receiving sign-up offers for its cards. So that’s why you want to make sure that you receive the best offer. There are some exceptions to this and you can read more about them in the American Express application rules article

Bonus Category Earning 

The Premier Rewards Gold Card earns some pretty great rates on different categories.

Amex PRG bonus categories
  • 3X on Airline Tickets (4X through the Amex Portal)
  • 2X on Dining, Groceries, and Gas
  • 1X on all other purchases

Although I love the Chase Sapphire Preferred®, I think for the average consumer who makes frequent trips to the gas station and grocery store, the Premier Rewards Gold Card will earn them more points. Also, if you fly frequently for business travel and are allowed reimbursements, booking your flights through the Amex travel portal can earn you a whopping 4X on your air fare, which can add up ridiculously quick.

Amex Offers

Amex Offers is one of the most underrated aspects of any American Express card. It’s basically a set of constantly updated promotional offers that are available to all Amex cardholders. Some of these offers will essentially provide you with free money, often giving you back $5-$15 off purchases at department stores or random online retailers, though some offer more significant savings on hotels and airfare. If you used consistently and effectively, you can easily save yourself $100-200 a year on items you would’ve likely purchased anyway.

No Foreign Transaction Fees

  • The Premier Rewards Gold Card has no foreign transaction fees.

Annual Fee

  • $195, waived the first year

This annual fee, which is $100 higher than the Sapphire Preferred® and Citi Thankyou® Premier, makes some people shy away from the card. However, when you consider the $100 airline credit, the annual fee is effectively cut back down to $95.


Purchase protection

The American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card has some of the best purchase protection on the market since it updated its terms to protect purchased up to $10,000 per claim. That’s much higher than other similar cards and is one reason I like to put large purchases on my Premier Rewards Gold Card. Here are some of the highlights of the protections:

  • Covers your new purchases for 90 days against damage or theft up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per account.
  • Extends the time period of the U.S. manufacturer’s warranty by an additional year, on eligible warranties of five years or less.
  • You can be reimbursed for eligible items that the store won’t take back within 90 days of purchase, up to $300 per item, $1,000 per year.

Travel protection

  • Car rental coverage is excess
  • Travel accident insurance of no more than $250,000 (death, dismemberment, etc.)
  • Will pay a benefit for the Replacement Cost, up to $500, for each Covered Person on a Covered Trip for Loss of checked Baggage.

Final Word

Overall, the American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card is a great option if you’re looking for a card with a reasonable annual fee that has superior earning potential and a solid sign-up bonus that can help you be on your way to valuable travel redemptions as quickly as you can. 

Review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card 2016

[Offers contained within this article may no longer be available]

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® credit card is constantly touted as the number one travel rewards credit card by bloggers and points and miles enthusiasts. And there’s good reasons for that. It offers great travel partners and point earning opportunities along with superior benefits that make it my favorite travel card. Here’s a 2016 review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® credit card

Travel Partners


The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card earns you Chase Ultimate Rewards, which are one of the most valuable reward currencies. They can be transferred to a number of travel partners, including:


  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Korean Air SKYPASS
  • Flying Blue
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
  • United MileagePlus
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

IAH Airport
United Airlines, one of my most commonly used travel partners


  • Hyatt Gold Passport
  • IHG® Rewards Club
  • Marriott Rewards
  • The Ritz-Carlton Rewards 

Marriott Fallsview Niagara Falls
Bi-level loft at the Marriott Fallsview Niagara Falls

It’s important to know that in order to transfer Ultimate Rewards to travel partners, you must have either the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Chase Ink Plus® (which is a business card). Thus, for practical purposes, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is one of most important consumer rewards cards.

There are several reasons I really value Ultimate Rewards:

  • Having United and Southwest as travel partners makes it extremely easy to rack up a lot of miles for domestic travel and/or trips to the Caribbean.
  • Ultimate Rewards outdo American Express Membership Rewards with a 1:1 transfer ratio to British Airways, which can be used to book relatively cheap domestic short-haul flights on American Airlines, not to mention other partner airlines all over the world.
  • Marriott, Hyatt, and IHG offer some pretty great redemptions
  • Multiple ways to quickly earn with the Sapphire Preferred®, Ink Plus®, and Freedom.
  • Easy transferring of points between me and my partner

Sign-up bonus

Chase Sapphire Preferred 50,000

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® has the following sign-up bonus:

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make your first purchase in the first 3 months from account opening.

The standard bonus is 40,000 after spending $4,000, so try to jump on the 50,000 offer while you can. Since adding an authorized user is so easy, you might as well consider this offer a 55,000 offer.

For context, once you hit the minimum spend on the Sapphire Preferred, you’d only be 1,000 points short of having a roundtrip economy trip covered from Houston to London via United Airlines! Paying cash for that same flight would cost you $1,575.06. That’s 2.6 cents per point and even if you discount the $183.96 fee paid for the reward ticket, it is still 2.3 cents per point.

Paying $183 for a round trip across the pond to London?! Not bad… (considering typical London fuel surcharges) 

London Big Ben at night
Get to London with your Chase Sapphire Preferred® credit card.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal

As a Chase Sapphire Preferred® card holder,  if you book travel through the Ultimate Rewards Portal you can redeem points as 1.25 cents per point. This isn’t horrible but as shown just above, it’s quite easy to redeem Ultimate Rewards for 2 cents or higher, often much higher.

Another plus to having this card is it grants you access to the Ultimate Rewards Shopping Portal. If you’re unaware, there are many shopping portals that will allow you to earn miles or points when you make purchases online. Read about online shopping portals here if you’re unfamiliar.

The Ultimate Rewards Shopping Portal often offers the best rates for earning points. For example, right now you can earn 1 miles per $1 spent at Wal-Mart for most airline portals, but with the Ultimate Rewards Shopping Portal, you earn double that at 2 points per $1 spent.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Shopping Portal
The Ultimate Rewards Shopping Portal

Bonus category spending

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has some pretty decent bonus category spending compared to other cards, especially in its travel category. For the Sapphire Preferred® you earn:

  • 2X on Travel
  • 2X on Dining
  • 1X on all other purchases

The travel category is extremely broad and might include the most liberal definition of the word travel out of any of the cards. Chase states the following fall into travel:

Merchants in the travel category include airlines, hotels, motels, timeshares, campgrounds, car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies, discount travel sites, and operators of passenger trains, buses, taxis, limousines, ferries, toll bridges and highways, and parking lots and garages. […]

It’s always a good feeling when after traveling you come to find an unexpected charge like scuba diving earned you 2X Ultimate Rewards and this card will likely offer you many opportunities for “unexpected” earnings.

GOPR0577 (1)
Earn 2X on your next diving expedition.

The dining is pretty broad as well. Fast food definitely counts for the 2X category and I’ve come across bars from time to time that ring up as restaurants (I’ve even heard of some liquor stores ringing in 2X). Chase has the following definition for the restaurant category:

Merchants in the restaurants category are merchants whose primary business is sit-down or eat-in dining, including fast food restaurants as well as fine dining establishments. […]

Admittedly, the Sapphire Preferred® may not, for the average consumer, earn as much on bonus spending categories as some other cards like the Citi ThankYou® Premier or perhaps even the American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card. However, the Sapphire Preferred® can become a “super card” when it is combined with the Chase Freedom and potentially the Chase Ink.

The Freedom offers you opportunities to earn up to 5X on rotating categories like gas, groceries, department stores, and or earn 1.5X on every single purchase. The Chase Ink cards can offer you additional 5X earnings on categories like cell phone, cable, and internet bills and office supply stores. What’s more, you can get a combination of all of these cards without incurring any additional annual fees! 

Read more about the “Chase Trifecta” here but just note for now that the Sapphire Preferred® can allow you to put together one of the most valuable travel rewards card combinations available.

No Foreign Transaction Fees (FTFs)

At this point in travel rewards card evolution, any premier travel card with foreign transaction fees would pretty much be a travesty. Thankfully, the Sapphire Preferred® has no foreign transaction fees so there’s no nothing to worry about here.

Annual Fee

The annual fee is $95 and is waived the first year. This is on-par with many other cards of this caliber like the Citi Premier. Some loyal customers have luck with getting the annual fee waived when it comes around after one year, but your mileage may vary when attempting to get the fee waived.

Customer Service

The Sapphire Preferred® offers you instant access 24 hours a day to a live representative. You don’t even have to give them your full credit card number when you call or deal with some terrible voice recognition routine each time you call. The representatives have always been very friendly and helpful from my experience, too. If you value quality customer service, then don’t underestimate this aspect of the Sapphire.

Tip: Call into the number on the back of your Sapphire Preferred® for inquiries regarding any of your Chase cards to expedite your service! 


You can’t overlook the superior purchase and travel protection offered by the Sapphire Preferred®. These are things you don’t usually think about until you need them. Here’s a non-comprehensive look as some of the major benefits offered by the card. 

Purchase Protection

  • Covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account.
  • Extends the time period of the U.S. manufacturer’s warranty by an additional year, on eligible warranties of three years or less.
  • If a card purchase you made in the U.S. is advertised for less in print or online within 90 days, you can be reimbursed the difference up to $500 per item, $2,500 per year.
  • You can be reimbursed for eligible items that the store won’t take back within 90 days of purchase, up to $500 per item, $1,000 per year.

Travel Protection

Disaster can always strike abroad!

  • Car rental coverage is primary and provides reimbursement up to the actual cash value of the vehicle for theft and collision damage for most rental cars in the U.S. and abroad.
  • If you or your immediate family members’ checked or carry-on bags are damaged or lost by the carrier, you’re covered up to $3,000 per passenger.
  • If your trip is canceled or cut short by sickness, severe weather and other covered situations, you can be reimbursed up to $10,000 per trip for your pre-paid, non-refundable travel expenses, including passenger fares, tours, and hotels.
  • If your common carrier travel is delayed more than 12 hours or requires an overnight stay, you and your family are covered for unreimbursed expenses, such as meals and lodging, up to $500 per ticket.

What’s great is that the travel protections apply even to reward flights so long as you pay for the fees and taxes with your Chase Sapphire Preferred® card.

“Contains Metal”

One of the coolest features of this card has nothing to do with any of its earning potential. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® actually contains a combination of plastic and metal, making it extra weighty and impressive. I often get comments about how fancy or prestigious my Sapphire Preferred® is when I use it. For some people, that factor may not matter much, but I think it’s a great plus to an already impressive credit card.

Final Word

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® credit card isn’t considered to be the best travel rewards card without good reasons. It’s got a great sign-up bonus, valuable transfer partners, thorough benefits, and if combined with even one card from the Chase Trifecta, superior point earning potential. Hopefully this review helped shed some light on why this card is definitely one of the most valuable cards that you should add to your credit card portfolio in 2016.