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Friday, October 1, 2010

American Express Gold Rewards Card officially launched

As you may have read in an earlier blog post of mine, I have partnered with American Express to test drive their new Gold Rewards Card that launched October 1 in the Canadian market. The task for me will be to blog about this card over the next three weeks and give my professional opinion on the card while I use it. What do I get in return? American Express will be awarding me with 50,000 Membership Rewards points so that I can actually experience the booking or point transfer process with American Express Membership Rewards.

The card itself was introduced to me and other social media practitioners at a dinner held at the Canadian Air & Space Museum in Toronto. The team from American Express were very excited about the new Card launch and I have to admit that after hearing all the details, the Card is a very good offering in the competitive travel rewards Credit Card market. For us here at Rewards Canada, the card falls into the Hybrid Card category as you have the option of converting points to frequent flyer/guest miles or to use the points for any type of travel booked via any travel agency, online or tour operator for example. Unless other Cards change by next July, this Card will shake up the ranks in this category for our annual Credit Card ranking.

The Card itself is a Charge Card, meaning that it has no preset credit limit but the balance must be paid off in full each month. The benefit of a Charge Card is that requires Cardmembers to be disciplined about their spending and typically Charge Card holders do not spend more then they can afford.

What does the Card offer? To start, it will award 15,000 Bonus reward points once the Cardmember spends $500 on the card in the first three months and the first year annual fee is waived (thereafter it is $150) plus the first supplementary card is free for life. Additional supplementary cards are $50 per year, although this is also waived in the first year. The card earns 2 points per dollar spent at Gas Stations, Grocery, Drug stores and all travel, 1 point per dollar on all other spending. Those points can be redeemed for travel, merchandise and entertainment rewards via the Membership Rewards program.

Where will I go with the points that American Express has given me? Well, I haven’t decided yet, but my family and I have been talking about going to Caribbean in January and will more than likely put the points towards that. How will I use the points? I have two options, I can convert the 50,000 Membership Rewards points to 50,000 Aeroplan Miles to top off my Aeroplan account and book the flights via Aeroplan and the hotel separately or I may book a packaged all inclusive vacation and use the TripFlex option to provide a $500 credit to the overall booking cost. Assuming I have spent some money on the card, I should have more points available to further bring down the cost of the vacation.

Keep an eye out on our blog for information on an upcoming contest from American Express and of course on how I progress with the American Express Gold Rewards Card. For more details on the card or to apply for it please visit Americanexpress.ca

13 comments:

  1. Is there any word on what the transfer ratio is to SPG? I haven't been able to find that in their documentation. If it's 1:1, or close to it, that opens up a huge range of other airline transfer opportunities.

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  2. From what I can see on the Membership Rewards site, transfers to SPG are still 1,000 MR points = 230 SPG points. The only 1:1 ratio is for Aeroplan. The new entrants to MR, British Airways and Alitalia are up, they are both 1,000 MR points - 750 BA Miles or MilleMiglia miles.

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  3. Well that SPG transfer ratio is definitely disappointing (but I guess I shouldn't be surprised -- there would be no reason to get the SPG specific card if this card had the same transfer ratio, plus all the added flexibility to transfer elsewhere).

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  4. Sorry for being a n00b, but could you transfer from Amex --> Aeroplan --> SPG at a better rate then?

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  5. Unfortunately there is no way to transfer Aeroplan miles to Starpoints.

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  6. I have just received word from Amex, the transfer rate to SPG will be increased to 500 Starpoints for every 1,000 MR points. So while it is not the 1:1 like some of you hoped, it potentially can be when you take into account the for 2 Miles per dollar spent on travel, grocery stores, gas stations and drug stores.

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  7. I recently connected with the AMEX Corporate Gold card, and unfortunately they do not match to sign up bonus of 50,000 AMEX pts. Same collection rate as the Gold Rewards; the difference is the AMEX Gold Rewards is geared towards to business owner as the credit rating is reflected on their personal credit rating rather than the Corporate card, which is connected to the Corporation. This is what was explained to me by the AMEX rep.

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  8. I am not impressed with this offering. I fail to see where this card really differs in terms of accumulating points and then ' converting' them in some form in order to 'puchase' travel etc.
    Seems to be the same thing as all the others when it comes to cash ... if I understand correctly 50,000 points = $ 500. If that is the case, consider that you must spend $25,000 in the best case scenario to achieve that $500 savings... not very cost effective... plus however long it takes to save that up ( and the truth is it will take years)...you need to deduct the annual fee you will be paying , so in the end, unless you rack up big bucks really fast, like within a year, there does not appear to be any great advantage.
    Now if 1 point were to = say at least the equivalent of 25 cents, then it would be worth it, but at 1 point = 1 cent I just can't get really excited.
    Or have I misunderstood the ratio ?

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  9. Most reward credit cards (travel, cash back, etc) offer 1 to 2% back on your spending, just like this one does. Is is cost effective, absolutely for this card or any other, as long as you pay off your balance every month why not be rewarded for your spending, in fact if you are not you are losing out.

    What this card offers is flexibility, you can redeem for that 1 or 2% return for any travel or say if you spend $60,000 a year on your card and 30,000 of that is on gas, groceries, travel etc, you will end up 90,000 points which can be converted to 90,000 Aeroplan miles or enough for a business class ticket to Europe that could be worth anywhere from $4,000- $8,000, so you have a much bigger return.

    This card is not meant for people who do not spend much on credit cards or make use of the benefits to justify the annual fee. There are cards with less features and no annual fee for those people. For me, the annual fee pays off when I rent cars and can waive the CDW due to the Insurance coverage.

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  10. I am thinking about trying this card out, however, my only concern is how widely accepted American Express is...

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  11. I know that acceptance of the card is growing in Canada with most major retailers (gas, grocery, clothing stores etc) accepting the card and Amex has very wide acceptance in the U.S. and Europe. Typically you should carry all the major brands of cards as I have come across places that do not accept one brand but do accept or both of the others.

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  12. Can u give me an example of how many points it would take redeem for travel from Edmonton, Canada to Kahului, Hawaii?? or the ratio for pts to travel miles???

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  13. it depends on how much the flight costs, for example I just got back from Maui and my flights from Calgary were just over $600 all in, so with the Amex Gold Rewards card you need just over 60,000 points to make a complete redemption. The good thing about this card however is that you do not need all the points, you can redeem as a little as 1,000 points for $10 credit against that flight charge. The other option is to convert 45,000 membership rewards points to Aeroplan to redeem for an Aeroplan ticket (but you still have to pay the taxes and fees above that, so it would work out to roughly the same amount of point as you could use the Points to pay for the charge of the taxes on your card)

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