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Amex Questions - Re: Rewards, Your Experiences With Them

jbh
Established Contributor

Amex Questions - Re: Rewards, Your Experiences With Them

Hello,

 

I am debating between amex BCE (nice rewards, allows a balance should need arise, really want a 0% card hoping I can get that perk), and a Gold Charge.

Gold charge is tempting because of the $25k points as we want to buy tickets for our trip in Jan but it led me to a question. If you have Amex, and finally earn your x # of reward points based on spending over y months, what are your options? Do you simply have them to transfer for miles to reduce cost in plane ticket purchases?

 

What about when you earn 3 x points *for plane ticket purchases* (i.e the current deal offered by gold charge card) - can you exchange *those* purchase points for statement credit or simply for future miles/partnership discounts? Just curious how the rewards structure works for Amex, esp. with regard to travel.

 

Other than that, curious to see what you think of Amex. I simply am not sure if I want to try for the 0% apr (I want to do one good 0% apr balance transfer for an old BOA card) or if the gold charge and the perks are more important. Any advice/anecdotes you have are appreciated. Ty

 

 

Message 1 of 8
7 REPLIES 7
Komp
Frequent Contributor

Re: Amex Questions - Re: Rewards, Your Experiences With Them


@jbh wrote:

Hello,

 

I am debating between amex BCE (nice rewards, allows a balance should need arise, really want a 0% card hoping I can get that perk), and a Gold Charge.

Gold charge is tempting because of the $25k points as we want to buy tickets for our trip in Jan but it led me to a question. If you have Amex, and finally earn your x # of reward points based on spending over y months, what are your options? Do you simply have them to transfer for miles to reduce cost in plane ticket purchases?

 

What about when you earn 3 x points *for plane ticket purchases* (i.e the current deal offered by gold charge card) - can you exchange *those* purchase points for statement credit or simply for future miles/partnership discounts? Just curious how the rewards structure works for Amex, esp. with regard to travel.

 

Other than that, curious to see what you think of Amex. I simply am not sure if I want to try for the 0% apr (I want to do one good 0% apr balance transfer for an old BOA card) or if the gold charge and the perks are more important. Any advice/anecdotes you have are appreciated. Ty

 

 


Membership Reward Points (MR points) are pretty flexible. You just have to do a little research and find which method gets the most value for your points. You can use MR Points directly on travel through the American Express Travel Portal or you can transfer them directly to an airline. I use all my points via the Amex Travel portal but in your case, you will probably get more value transfering to an airline partner. 

 

Once you obtain the points through whatever means (whether it be 3x on airfare, 2x restaurant, etc.) you can use them for whatever you want. The good thing is that you don't need to be an American Express member to look at the Membership Reward Points page. Just goto Amex website, click on the Rewards tab at the top, and click 'Membership Rewards Home'. It will show you just about everything you can use those points on.

 

I love Amex (don't tell my wife Smiley LOL). They work wonders for me and my wife's travel lifestyle which is why the majority of my cards are Amex.

 

Also, I have used Amex for 0% balance transfers as well and it has worked out pretty good. Citi and Discover IT also have some very great balance transfer options as well. Citi Simplicity has been the best though out of all balance transfers I've ever done.

 

Good luck on your decision! Smiley Happy

 

[11 AMEX] 58.5k + NPSLs // [1 Cap One] 23.25k // [2 Discover] 15.9k // [2 Barclays] 10.15k // [3 Citi] 18.8k // [2 Chase] 24.5k // Amazon 6k
Starting FICO Scores: EQ 595, TU 625, EX 604 (01/14/15) w/ Total CL of $1.3k
Current FICO Scores: EQ 660, TU 672, EX 650 (09/20) w/ Total CLs of $169.1k
Owner of The Point Calculator. Calculate credit card rewards based on your spend, compare credit cards side-by-side, and search for the best cards based on spend.
Message 2 of 8
Irish80
Moderator Emeritus

Re: Amex Questions - Re: Rewards, Your Experiences With Them


@jbh wrote:

Hello,

 

I am debating between amex BCE (nice rewards, allows a balance should need arise, really want a 0% card hoping I can get that perk), and a Gold Charge.

Gold charge is tempting because of the $25k points as we want to buy tickets for our trip in Jan but it led me to a question. If you have Amex, and finally earn your x # of reward points based on spending over y months, what are your options? Do you simply have them to transfer for miles to reduce cost in plane ticket purchases?

 

What about when you earn 3 x points *for plane ticket purchases* (i.e the current deal offered by gold charge card) - can you exchange *those* purchase points for statement credit or simply for future miles/partnership discounts? Just curious how the rewards structure works for Amex, esp. with regard to travel.

 

Other than that, curious to see what you think of Amex. I simply am not sure if I want to try for the 0% apr (I want to do one good 0% apr balance transfer for an old BOA card) or if the gold charge and the perks are more important. Any advice/anecdotes you have are appreciated. Ty

 

 


There are various ways to redeem AmEx MR points.  It doesn't quite work the way you indicate in the part I highlighted.  The points can be transferred to specific airlines that Amex has partnered with.  Prior to transferring you would need to join that airline's mileage program.  Once you have done that then you need to try to find award seating on that airlines website and book your flights that way.   Just so you know that 25K Amex points typically has a value of around $500 depending on how you redeem them. The more flexible you are with dates, the better your chances of finding a flight.  Typically you will get your best redemption rates on international flights in business or first class seating.  In lieu of that option, you can book with your points via the Amex travel portal but the redemption rate typically is far lower with that option.  As for your question about the 3X points you earn on booking flights those points can be used just the same as the ones you earn from the bonus.

 

You can also use your points to pay your Amex bill, purchase gift cards or buy products they the Amex Membership Rewards page.  These latter options give you the least value for your points. 

 

Please, whatever you do, do not apply for the Amex Premiers Reward card for only 25K points.  There are available links for 50K points after $2K in spend.  As Amex bonuses are once in a lifetime you want to maximize the offer you select.

 

Also take a look at the American Express Rewards page where you find much more on their points program.  Hope this helps and don't hesitate to ask more questions.

Message 3 of 8
MrDisco99
Valued Contributor

Re: Amex Questions - Re: Rewards, Your Experiences With Them

Pretty much everything Irish80 said.

 

You may get the higher offer using a browser in private mode.  Open up Chrome, type shift+ctrl+N to open an Incognito window, then browse to americanexpress.com from there.  You may get better offers that way.  That's how I got a Premier Rewards Gold with a 50K MR point offer.  You may need to delete your browser history and cookies first.

 

I'll add that if you're looking for a 0% card that earns MR points, check out the EveryDay and EveryDay Preferred cards.

Message 4 of 8
MrDisco99
Valued Contributor

Re: Amex Questions - Re: Rewards, Your Experiences With Them

Oh, and another thing re: BCE

 

The cash rewards earning on that and the BCP card can be pretty good, particularly on grocery purchases.  I've discovered the hard way, however, that redemptions can be a frustrating.  Cash rewards are not available until TWO statements later.  Also, you can only redeem rewards in $25 increments and only as statement credit or gift cards. There is a merchandise portal which allows for more granular redemptions, but the prices there are not that great for stuff I probably otherwise wouldn't buy.

 

I'm currently stuck with $39.20 in my rewards balance.  I can redeem $25 but I'd have to make a $25 purchase on the card to make it worthwhile.  I'll have to spend $360 in groceries on this card in order to get my balance up to where I can redeem the rest of it.  

Message 5 of 8
jbh
Established Contributor

Re: Amex Questions - Re: Rewards, Your Experiences With Them

A sincere thank you for all of the replies. I will certainly research more on how the travel rewards work. Curious, if you had to buy $2k in airline tickets through United this year, with an eye also towards building lots of miles in 2018, would you suggest I keep focused on the Gold card or should I use my in with chase to possibly go for Sapphire and use them for now and work on Amex later? My concern is I will fly United this year, Jet Blue next, and I don't see United in the partner list for Amex.

 

I guess the reason I thinking so much about this is I want to get one more card  (I do not want too many new accounts) and shut down my reports (for security) and just let them grow. This is why I appreciate your feedback, it really does help.

 

Edit: Ty for the Chrome tip I now see the 50K rewards points off for Gold Card.

Message 6 of 8
MrDisco99
Valued Contributor

Re: Amex Questions - Re: Rewards, Your Experiences With Them

Which cards and point schemes work best for you is a very subjective thing. If the Chase UR scheme works better for your travel habits, then you may want to focus on earning in that scheme rather than Amex.

 

From my perspective, the CSP is a better overall card than the Amex gold. It has half the annual fee, and the points can be transferred to airlines or spent on the travel portal at 1.25 cents each. The only way to get decent value from MR points is by transferring to airlines. CSP travel earning is only 2X but it includes ALL travel, not just airlines. You can also earn points faster by combining with a Freedom and Freedom Unlimited card.

If I had the option, I would've gotten a CSP instead of a Citi TYP or Amex PRG, but Chase won't let me (5/24 rule).  That said, the Amex MR and Citi TYP points programs are also very good, and if you play them right they can offer lots of good value.

The Citi TY Premier card is a fierce competitor to the CSP.  They both have a $95 AF and redeem on their travel portal at 1.25 cents per point.  The Citi TYP earns more on travel at 3X AND it includes gas.  On their own, the Citi TYP beats the CSP in my opinion.  The CSP's trump card, though, is the ability to combine UR points from the Freedom cards.

As for Amex MR points, you can get lots more points up front by takeing advantage of signup offers.  I'm currently working on 105,000 MR points just in signup bonus by getting three cards (PRG, EDP, and green).  I also have the option to go for 85,000 more MR points (ED, Plat, MB).  However, those bonuses are one and done.  You can't get them again.  The cards also don't complement each other all that well.  I'm keeping the EDP because it has great earning rates for household purchases.  The PRG only beats the EDP in restaurants (barely) and airfare, and is matched or bettered by the CSP or TYP.  The green card is useless after the bonus.

 

I live near Atlanta, so the ability to transfer to Delta and the wide variety of other airline partners make MR points the best for airline transfers in my opinion.  The points value otherwise (travel portal, gift cards, cash, etc) is not that great.  Citi TYP and Chase UR points can't transfer to Delta, but they have enough other partners that I still have lots of good options for cheap award flights.  Some transfer partners are in multiple programs (FlyingBlue, Singapore KrisFlyer, and Virgin are in all three) so points can be pooled that way.  Citi and Chase also have far better travel portal value so they're more flexible that way.  For the most part, transfer rates to hotel partners are not that great on any of these programs.

Keep in mind that sometimes other airlines offer better rates on award flights through codeshares, even on domestic flights.  For example, if you live near a United hub and typically fly United metal, you may want to investigate rates for award flights on Singapore KrisFlyer or other Star Alliance airlines to see if any of them might offer award seats on that route for less points.  If you want to dig deeper into that, check out the FlyerTalk forum.

I haven't talked much about the super premium cards like the Amex Plat, Citi Prestige, or CSR.  I don't have any experience with those, and likely won't.  The fees on those are steep, and require you to spend a lot on travel to gain much value, which I typically don't.  I don't leave home more than once a year and I'm just saving points for an occasional vacation.

Again, all of this is just my view on it.  Different people will have different valuations

Message 7 of 8
jbh
Established Contributor

Re: Amex Questions - Re: Rewards, Your Experiences With Them

This makes sense. Since I do not fly Delta or travel too much via air, but i do travel via Amtrak, if the CSP can help with Redeeming Amtrak somehow (we'll see) then I may have to go towards that. I am glad I had a night to think about it, it's so tempting to jump on Amex for the sake of it, but perhaps it's best to think this through more. Thank you for the time, I have a lot more to work with now in my decision making.

Message 8 of 8
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