Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express

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Great for frequent fliers who want to rake in the flight rewards.

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If your goal is to earn maximum points when you pay for air travel so that you can travel even more, the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express is a great way to get there.

The steep $195 annual fee (waived the first year) shouldn’t be a deterrent either if you are a frequent flyer.

Review

If you spend a bunch on plane tickets, it’s hard to top a rewards rate of 3 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent on airfare purchased directly from the airlines. You’ll also earn 2x points at U.S. supermarkets, U.S. restaurants and U.S. gas stations, plus a nice welcome offer to boot. All other spending earns 1 point per dollar spent.

You’ll earn 25,000 points, worth about $250 in travel benefit, if you meet the minimum spending requirement of $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of card ownership.

Combine the fat intro bonus with your other earnings and you could be on your way to some premium tickets, upscale lodging or some other way to pamper yourself with points.

It doesn’t hurt that the card comes with some great features for travelers like premium roadside assistance, a $75 hotel credit on qualifying charges when available with The Hotel Collection, and auto and luggage protections.

Who should get this card

For someone wants to earn maximum points on their spending, and does a lot of flying, the Premier Rewards Gold Card could be a good fit. This card may not have the razzle-dazzle of other premium travel rewards cards in terms of lounge access and check-in perks, but the trade-off is it’s about half the price annually as the big boys and still gives a solid rewards rate.

Because it’s a charge card and not a credit card, you should only own this card if you know you can pay the balance in full every month.

Advantages
  • Earn 25,000 rewards points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new card in your first three months of Card Membership.
  • Rewards structure for travel and everyday spending are the same as the premium rewards cards but this card costs less to own.
  • There's a $100 annual airline fee credit to cover incidentals.
  • Terms apply.
Disadvantages
  • As this is a charge card, you have to pay your balance in full every month.
  • This card doesn’t come with airport lounge access or Global Entry fee reimbursement.
  • The double rewards on restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations only apply in the U.S.
  • The $100 incidental airline credit can only be applied to one selected airline.

Fees and APR

  • There’s no APR because this is a charge card and the bill has to be paid in full each month.
  • There’s a $195 annual fee, waived the first year.
  • You won’t be charged a foreign transaction fee for purchases made outside the U.S.
  • Late payments may incur a fee up to $38.
  • See Rates & Fees.

Extras, perks and using points

You can receive as many as five additional cards without incurring an additional annual fee.

You can get 2x the points per eligible $1 spent, plus a $75 hotel credit to use on qualifying dining, spa and resort activities when you book at least two consecutive nights at a participating property through the American Express travel site.

Premium roadside assistance, 24-hour global assistance and auto and travel protections are all included.

Points can be used to pay for travel through American Express Travel. A minimum of 5,000 points is required.

You can transfer Membership Rewards points to airline and hotel partners, use to book AirBnB stays, buy gift cards or redeem for statement credit.

How this card compares

Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard®
  • Enjoy 60,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days and paying the annual fee
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase
  • Book travel your way—no airline, seat or hotel restrictions—and redeem your miles for travel statement credits
  • Get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • International Chip and PIN for use at self-service chip terminals around the world
  • Miles don't expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing
Credit Needed

Good/Excellent

Regular APR

17.74%, 21.74% or 24.74% variable based on your creditworthiness

Annual Fee

$89

Purchase Intro APR

N/A

Balance Transfers Intro APR

0% intro for first 12 billing cycles following each BT that posts within 45 days of account opening

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard will appeal to those who want the most flexible redemption options for their miles. You can use your earnings to book travel, get a statement credit for travel purchases, or for gift cards and select merchandise. This may be of greater value to you depending on your spending habits.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Credit Needed

Excellent/Good

Regular APR

17.74% - 24.74% Variable

Annual Fee

$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95

Purchase Intro APR

N/A

Balance Transfers Intro APR

N/A

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card comes with a hefty sign-up bonus, boosted redemption value when using the Chase site and a generous rewards program, which makes this card a stand-out among travel rewards cards. Since Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be used for everything from flights to lodging to cruises, this also makes it one of the most flexible redemption programs among travel cards.

EDITORIAL NOTE

Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.