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Cash back vs travel (Amex Gold)

plasticbill
Contributor

Cash back vs travel (Amex Gold)

I’ve decided now after dabbling in both, I much prefer a straight ahead cash back card. The thought of spending time on a bunch of different websites trying to plan a trip that I wouldn’t even be going on otherwise, to best make use of points, stresses me out. I’m not constantly traveling, maybe if I was it would make more sense. But it even seems like a stressful way to plan a yearly vacation.

I’m actually thinking about eating the loss and just cashing out my ~60k Amex gold points at .6 or whatever it is so I can stop worrying about it. I’d still be coming out a little ahead of the annual fee, and chalk it up to a learning experience. The Amex gold will definitely be closed when it’s annual fee hits however I decide to redeem the points. Then I can really focus all spend on 1-2 (3?) straight ahead cash back cards and make things really simple.

While I felt cool handing over the gold card at restaurants or whatever for a couple months, now I kinda feel like it’s a big heavy $250 weight in my wallet, and while I keep redeeming cash back from my other cards every couple months, the points just sit there on the gold, and I wonder how I’m even going to use them. After this realization set in and I had already earned my sign up bonus, I just started using the Uber card (RIP as of last week) and then citi DC for restaurants again. I don’t even have the gold in my wallet right now.
Message 1 of 24
23 REPLIES 23
FortifiedHM
Valued Contributor

Re: Cash back vs travel (Amex Gold)

Unless you are in urgent need of 360 dollars, there is nothing wrong with holding 60k MR until you have a travel plan.

 

If you fly delta, its an extremely easy way to get at least 1cents per point out of it. If you don't fly delta, tell us which airline you fly and where you are going to/from, somebody will be able to figure out a way for you to get value of of it.

 

You can certainly get an amex ED (no AF) and close Gold, that will hold your points after closure.

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Message 2 of 24
kdm31091
Super Contributor

Re: Cash back vs travel (Amex Gold)


@plasticbill wrote:
The thought of spending time on a bunch of different websites trying to plan a trip that I wouldn’t even be going on otherwise, to best make use of points, stresses me out.

I think this is an interesting point that maybe doesn't get mentioned enough. If the card is convincing you to book trips you otherwise would not, you are obviously spending far more than you're "saving" with the points. I think that's a good thing for anyone to keep in mind.

 

If the Gold isn't working for you, close it when the fee comes up. There's no point in paying $250 a year for a card you get no use out of (or not enough to justify the fee). As someone else mentioned you could open an Amex Everyday card to hold your points with no AF, but if you aren't finding the points useful, I don't know if there's much reason to do that -- maybe you're just better off with cash back.

Message 3 of 24
Janus
Senior Contributor

Re: Cash back vs travel (Amex Gold)

Well I think that planning a vacation is stressful enough without the hoops of CC points. That said, I don't think it's anymore stressful either way, it's really about how stressful you're making it for yourself. Whenever I plan a vacation i do it several months out, and try to find the best deals so that it fits within the budget I allotted. Booking the room/rooms along my route of destinations, RT flight to/from, as well as any in between/island hopping etc. 

 

As for planning one with rewards, it may require earlier planning to get the award seat, or the lodging you're after. But if it shaves off a few Benjamins, or more. I feel it's worth it. I don't app for CC and over use them just to take a trip I never planned. I use them to make the trip more affordable. 

 

As for Gold, I have certainly felt your situation as to whether it was worth the AF. While the jury is still out on that decision, i have managed to cut that $250 down some. Such as the $10 monthly Grub Hub credit, totallying $120 annually. Before I wasn't able to take advantage because no restaurants near me used that app until just recently. Next is the 4X Dining, i use it exclusively for eating out. And I don't eat out more just to gain the points. I still keep my same dining old budget. While not a lot, it helps a little

 

I won't even bother with the Airline credit because it's unuseable to someone like me that doesn't have luggage. However, the Hotel credit can be useful. But again it's not counted on. The next best thing are the Amex Offers, for places i shop regularly like Best Buy, Amazon etc.

While it doesn't amount to a whole lot, it probably shaves of $50-70 annually give or take. 

 

When all said and done, I can have the Gold for a ballpark of $100 AF. Which i feel is very worthwhile considering the coverages includes. If I ever happen to need them. 

 

Having said all that, if you don't ever plan to travel using the Gold or it's rewards. And are unable to justify the AF after the credits, Then it probably isn't right for you. Some people do prefer the simplicity if straight cash back. 






Message 4 of 24
RealityBites
Established Contributor

Re: Cash back vs travel (Amex Gold)

For me, points are kind of an insurance policy. I have about 130k in MR and 170k in Aeroplan (Aeroplan is quite expensive to use if you're actually flying to, in or from Canada). I have them for whenever it benefits me to use points for flying - or to help someone out, like a friend with a family emergency, etc. But I know there are enough flights in my future that it's a good idea to keep them.

 

That said, I cancelled my Gold card too. I keep my platinum for travel perqs, but my real source of MR points are sign-up bonuses, referrals and Rakuten. I won't be charging anything on the platinum till the next time I book a flight.

 

 





Message 5 of 24
wasCB14
Super Contributor

Re: Cash back vs travel (Amex Gold)

Getting a Schwab Platinum can improve cash redemptions to 1.25 cpp.

 

If OP can meet minimum spend for.a SUB, has or can get a Schwab account, and make good-enough use of the credits and perks for a year, it might be worth getting.

 

I understand OP has limited travel. 

Spend: BofA PR + WWFCR, BBP, Schwab Platinum, CFF+CF, Costco, Discover
Perks: IHG49, Hyatt75, Delta Platinum, "Old" SPG95
SD/AAoA Ballast: Arrival, CFU, DC
Upgrade/downgrade games: BCE, EDP
SUB: JetBlue, Amex Platinum
Mostly earning MRs and cash back as I use up hotel and airline points spread across several programs.
Message 6 of 24
wasCB14
Super Contributor

Re: Cash back vs travel (Amex Gold)

Also, can't a person book just about any revenue flight through Amex at a fixed 1 cpp?

Spend: BofA PR + WWFCR, BBP, Schwab Platinum, CFF+CF, Costco, Discover
Perks: IHG49, Hyatt75, Delta Platinum, "Old" SPG95
SD/AAoA Ballast: Arrival, CFU, DC
Upgrade/downgrade games: BCE, EDP
SUB: JetBlue, Amex Platinum
Mostly earning MRs and cash back as I use up hotel and airline points spread across several programs.
Message 7 of 24
FortifiedHM
Valued Contributor

Re: Cash back vs travel (Amex Gold)


@wasCB14 wrote:

Also, can't a person book just about any revenue flight through Amex at a fixed 1 cpp?


yeah, but amex travel portal can be a real rip off, so its best to double check airline price before buying at amextravel

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Message 8 of 24
CWA1984
Regular Contributor

Re: Cash back vs travel (Amex Gold)


@wasCB14 wrote:

Getting a Schwab Platinum can improve cash redemptions to 1.25 cpp.

 

If OP can meet minimum spend for.a SUB, has or can get a Schwab account, and make good-enough use of the credits and perks for a year, it might be worth getting.

 

I understand OP has limited travel. 


I'm really wondering if the charles schwab platinum card is actually the best premium credit card for the cashback crowd.  It gives the perks a lot of them want (lounge access, hotel status, travel insurance, etc.)without having to worry about using transfer partners to get max value or using something like the Chase Travel Portal which usually is not a great redemption option either even getting 1.5 cpp using the CSR.

 

Granted getting 1.25 cpp for every MR point when depositing them into a Charles Schwab brokerage may not give you the most immediate bang for the buck it is straight forward and if you do use it to buy cashflowing equities you can and very very likely will beat current better redemption values over time.  When you factor in using Rakuten for MR points in online shopping and if you have a business or side hustle and get the blue business plus for business expenses the cash deposited into your brokerage account can easily more than pay for the $550 annual fee.

As far as travel purchases not covered by the platinum card you could just get the Wells Fargo Propel and use that instead since it's travel category is broader than the CSR, has no annual fee and from what I read on Wells Fargo you can get the cashback sent to you via check in the mail vs having to redeem go far rewards for travel.  I know this off topic but I also do wonder if this would be the best option for the cashback crowd that want a premium credit card for the perks.  

Message 9 of 24
KJinNC
Valued Contributor

Re: Cash back vs travel (Amex Gold)

Plasticbill, do you NEVER travel? Or just not that often?

 

If you travel, but not all that often, maybe hold onto the points until your next trip?

 

If you literally never travel, then cashing out may not be the worst idea.

 

Either way, sounds like probably not the right card for you, so I'd cancel it (perhaps you can downgrade to Green?) when the AF is due next. The advice I have seen on this board is to pay the AF and then downgrade within a month, so you don't trigger Amex to try to claw back your SUB.

 

Either way, good luck!


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