The points and miles game has always been volatile, with most of the changes chipping away value. After all, credit card companies are in it to make money. In 2018, however, American Express refreshed their Premier Rewards Gold (PRG) card, introduced a slew of new benefits, and renamed it the Gold Card.
I was on the fence of joining the points and miles race until this time. As soon as I saw the improved earnings structure and attractive 50,000 Membership Rewards (aka Amex points) sign up bonus, I submitted my application and had my new Gold Card delivered by UPS a couple days later.
Over a year later, the Amex Gold Card remains my go-to card for just about everything. It is my first recommendation for anyone else just getting started with points and miles.
This is why:
Attractive Sign Up Bonus
The first rule in the points and miles game is to make sure you get an attractive Sign Up Bonus (SUB). When American Express refreshed the Gold Card, they were offering 50,000 Membership Rewards (MR) points after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months. A $100 statement credit (in the form of 20% cash back on dining purchases, up to $500 in spend) was also part of the original deal.
While the $100 statement credit is no longer being offered, American Express continues to offer 50,000 points to entice new cardmembers. As of the time of this post, you’ll need to spend $4,000 within the first 3 months to receive those points.
If you’re in your mid-20’s, that likely is a lot of money to charge. So, how do you earn the SUB without going in to debt? Use your new Gold Card for all of your everyday purchases instead of your debit card. Then, then pay your Amex bill in full when the statement is generated. You won’t pay a penny in interest.
If you’re worried that your normal monthly expenses won’t meet the minimum spend requirements, ask your landlord if you can charge your rent. While you may have to pay a small fee, the value of the SUB is worth much more (50K Amex points are worth anywhere between $300 and $750, depending how you use them).
Point Earning Structure
After you’ve earned your SUB, its time to focus on maximizing your daily spend. How do you do that? Well…
The Gold Card offers point multipliers for the following categories:
- 4X Points at Restaurants Worldwide
- 4X Points at U.S. Supermarkets
- 3X Points on flights booked directly with airlines
Use your Gold Card for those purchases.
If you’re not at a restaurant or grocery store, feel free to use a different card. Are you still paying your rent with your Amex? Switch back to check or EFT payments if you’re being charged a fee.
Annual Credits & Benefits
American Express charges a $250 annual fee to hold a Gold Card. To get the most value, you need to take advantage of the ancillary benefits that are offered.
Specifically, each year, you’re eligible for :
- $100 Airline Fee Credit that can be used for miscellaneous fees like seat selection, checked bags, and a glass of wine in-flight.
- $10 Monthly Dining Credit for charges at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed, and most Shake Shack locations.
The Gold Card’s effective annual fee is just $30 if you take advantage of those credits.
Overview & Getting Started
Between the SUB, point earning structure, and annual credits, it should be easy to see why the Gold Card is our top recommendation for getting started with points & miles.
Ready to get your own? There are two ways we recommend getting started:
- Check for pre-qualified offers at AmericanExpress.com. Simply enter your basic personal information to see if you have any targeted offers. If you do, your approval odds are high if you apply this way.
- Visit Rankt for a referral offer. American Express also offers attractive SUBs through individual member referrals. I would include mine but I’m not able to generate a link for some reason.