If you’re in the market for a charge card, American Express offers a series of cards, each providing varied levels of benefits and annual fees. Understand that charge cards, unlike credit cards, must be paid in full each month and do not offer attractive financing options.
The American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card (a Money Crashers partner) is built for travelers and offers greater overall rewards than the standard American Express Gold card, without the steep upfront annual fee associated with other higher-end cards.
- Sign-up Bonus. Spend $2,000 in the first 3 months and you’ll receive 25,000 reward points, valued at up to $250. Additionally, you can get 15,000 points after you spend $30,000 on the card in one year.
- No APR. Because this is a charge card, you must pay your balance in full each month, so there’s no APR.
- Earn Rewards. The American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card allows you to earn points for every dollar you spend – 3 points for flights booked with airlines, 2 points per dollar at U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets, and 1 point per dollar on other purchases. Points do not expire and each point is valued at one cent. You can redeem points for gift cards, statement credits, and merchandise, or you can transfer points to over 20 frequent flyer airline programs.
- Pay Over Time Option. Charge cards don’t usually allow you to carry a balance from month to month, but the American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card does have a balance-carry option for certain purchases. Enroll in the Pay Over Time program, and if you’re approved, American Express will allow you to carry the balance on approved purchases greater than $100. The APR on Pay Over Time purchases may be around 18.24%, and if you miss a payment or pay late, you will be charged late fees, as well as a penalty APR, which may be as high as 29.99%.
- Fees. An annual fee of $175 is waived the first year. The American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card also has a foreign transaction fee of 2.7%.
- Receive $75 With Gold Hotels. When you use your card to book and pay for two consecutive nights at participating Gold Hotels, you receive a room upgrade and a $75 hotel credit to use on food and beverages. Eligible properties include Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Radisson Blu Hotels and Resorts, and Waldorf Astoria Hotels and Resorts.
- Anniversary Points. Use your card on purchases of at least $30,000 a year (from January 1st to December 31st), and you will be rewarded with 15,000 points, valued at up to $150. Balance transfers, cash advances, fees, and cash equivalent transactions do not count toward this total.
- Entertainment Access. Receive emails announcing pre-sale tickets and special discounts for the hottest entertainment venues in your area. Cardholders also have access to special member-only events.
- Premium Roadside Assistance. American Express provides premium roadside assistance covering $50 worth of services up to four times per year. Services include towing up to 10 miles ($3 per mile after that), jump starts, flat tire repair (if you have a spare), lockouts, and up to two gallons of gas.
- Travel Insurance. When you purchase a trip on a common carrier conveyance using the Premier Rewards Gold Card, you receive $250,000 travel insurance covering accidental death and dismemberment for you and your family members.
- No Preset Spending Limit. If you’re tired of cards putting a limit on your spending, you’re in luck. The American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card has no pre-set spending limit, but this doesn’t mean you can charge as much as you want. The card’s purchasing power is adjusted according to the card’s use, your payment history, credit record, and financial resources (known to American Express), as well as other factors.
- Increased Travel Insurance. It’s nice to think you won’t need travel insurance, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. The $250,000 coverage offered by the Premier Rewards Gold Card is substantially higher than most other offers. For instance, Capital One cards provide $100,000 coverage, while Discover’s consumer cards only cover air travel protection.
- Bonuses. When you spend $30,000 on your card in a year, you’ll receive 15,000 anniversary points, valued at up to $150. Book a stay at a Gold Hotel for two consecutive nights and you’ll receive a $75 hotel credit. These two benefits alone present a strong case for you to carry the card for at least a year.
- Generous Hotel Benefits. If you travel frequently to American Express-designated Gold Hotels, the $75 hotel credit can substantially reduce your out-of-pocket travel expenses. Plus, the room upgrade is a nice perk.
- High Annual Fee. The $175 expense is higher than other similar cards, and it’s $50 more than the regular American Express Gold Card.
- Low Sign-Up Bonus. Many charge cards offer sign-up bonuses that are significantly larger than their annual fees, or in the case of travel rewards cards, a bonus that covers a round trip flight. The Premier Rewards Gold Card’s bonus of 25,000 points is valued at up to $250, but is only average compared to other offers. You could potentially earn up to 40,000 points, but you need to spend $30,000 in the first year.
- No Room If You Can’t Pay Your Bill. Problems can arise, and if you find yourself in a situation where you can’t pay your bill, the penalties are steep. Unless you qualify for Pay Over Time, hefty finance charges and late fees quickly accrue on unpaid balances.
- Foreign Transaction Fee. If you frequently travel outside the United States, the foreign transaction fee is a disadvantage. Foreign transaction fees typically range from 1% to 3%, and at 2.7%, the Premier Rewards Gold Card’s transaction fee is at the high end of the spectrum. Additionally, American Express is still not as widely accepted internationally as Visa or MasterCard.
If you’re a frequent domestic traveler considering a charge card, the American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card may be the best choice for you. The card offers more rewards opportunities than the standard American Express Gold card while also offering great travel perks and a lower annual fee than higher-end American Express cards.
If you travel frequently within the United States, stay at eligible properties, and spend enough ($30,000 annually) to earn the anniversary bonus, this charge card merits serious consideration.
4.5 stars out of 5: One of the best charge cards available to provide rewards and opportunities to earn enough on purchases to cover the cost of the card. The rating would be even higher if it weren’t for the hefty $175 annual fee.
Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.