Thursday, January 28, 2016

How I maximize my everyday American Express card spending

I have now had the American Express Gold Reward Card for almost six years and have to say it is still the favourite card in my wallet. My love of the card along with the fact that it is so flexible led to it be ranked the #1 overall travel rewards card in Canada in our recently released 2016 rankings. 


Related: Canada's Top Travel Rewards Credit Cards for 2016

On top of that I also have The Platinum Card from American Express primarily for the benefits it comes with but also for the accelerated points earning it provides. When you hold both these cards as the primary cardholder, the points from both will accumulate into the same Membership Rewards account. By using both I really make my MR points balance grow quickly!

The American Express Gold Rewards Card earns 1 Membership Rewards point per dollar spent on everyday purchases except on Gas, Grocery, Drug Store and Travel purchases where it earns 2 points per dollar.

The Platinium Card from American Express earns. 1.25 Membership Rewards points on everyday purchases.

Now you should see where I am going with this. To maximize my Membership Rewards earning I put all possible purchases that aren't Gas, Grocery, Drug Store or Travel on The Platinum Card to earn the 1.25 points as long as that merchant accepts American Express.  For Gas, Grocery, Drug Store and Travel purchases, these all go on my Gold Rewards Card. Tons of groceries and of course tons of travel have really pushed the balance up in my Membership Rewards account, not to mention fueling up two vehicles.
Maximizing the Amex program by using the Gold Rewards Card for gas purchases
(Source Rewards Canada Instagram)
I also make sure we buy gift cards only at the 2 times multiplier locations, usually the grocery store but sometimes drug store and gas stations as well. So those $25 Gift Cards we're buying that the kids take to birthday parties are at least earning 50 points each or when Safeway runs their big AIR MILES bonuses for buying gift cards, those go straight onto the Gold Rewards Card:
Example of using the Gold Rewards Card for Gift Card purchases!

Screenshot of my Membership Rewards account showing 2 purchases with the Gold Rewards Card
and one with the Platinum Card.

So in the end I am earning anywhere between 1.25 and 2 Membership Rewards points for any purchases made with an Amex card. Now you might be thinking well that's only worth 1.25% to a 2% return on your spending, why not use a card that provides a straight 2% return? This is true if I was to only use the points for American Express' TripFlex feature where you can book any travel at anytime and redeem the points against the charge at a rate of 1,000 points = $10. I do actually use the TripFlex feature but I combine it with transferring points to Aeroplan and British Airways. This is where the bigger value lies. With both those programs I value their respective currencies between 1.5 and 2.3 cents per mile/Avios at a minimum (ie for an economy class flight redemption) Take those points being earned on my everyday American Express spend and you can see that those points now take on return of anywhere between 1.875% to 4.6% per dollar spent. Redeem those points via Aeroplan or British Airways for business class and the rate return gets even higher. On average, for me my rate of return is above 2% so that is why it is better than the straight 2% return cards for me. I do love the flexibility of these cards and that is why they rank so high in our rankings, having that option of redeeming for any flight or travel I want via the TripFlex feature or being able to convert to Aeroplan, British Airways, Alitalia and more just gives me so many options. Essentially I am diversifying my portfolio without actually diversifying my spending habits.

Even if you only carry the Gold Rewards Card and don't want or cannot afford the Platinum Card there is no harm in using it at the 1 point per dollar locations to ensure you are building up the balance in your Membership Rewards account.

There you have it that is how I maximize the spending on my American Express cards. How do ensure you are earning the most points possible with your spending? Tell us below!

American Express Gold Rewards Card
• New American Express® Gold Rewards* Cardmembers can earn a Welcome Bonus of 25,000 Membership Rewards® points - our HIGHEST Gold Rewards Card offer - just by making $500 in purchases in the first three months of Cardmembership
• No Annual Fee for the first year; $150 Annual Fee thereafter*
• That's enough for a round trip flight to almost anywhere in North America
• Transfer your points to frequent flyer programs, or 1:1 to Aeroplan®* and Avios
• Earn 2 points for every $1 on eligible travel and everyday purchases
• Charge any travel to your Card then pay for it with points
• 1 Free Supplementary Gold Rewards Card (a $50 value*) to help you earn points faster
• American Express is not responsible for maintaining or monitoring the accuracy of information on this website. For full details and current product information click the Apply now  link.
• *As a Charge Card, the balance must always be paid in full each month. 30% annual interest rate applies to balances not paid in full.
Conditions apply
Apply Now

* Canadian Residents Only

The Platinum Card from American Express
New Platinum Card® Cardmembers, earn 50,000 Bonus Membership Rewards® points by spending $1,000 in purchases in the first three months of Cardmembership. Apply Now
• Platinum members are automatically enrolled in the Membership Rewards First™ Tier and earn 1.25 points for every dollar in purchases charged to the Card
• The Platinum Card gives you access to exceptional lounge benefits such as the Canadian Platinum Lounge Benefit, Airport Club Program and access to the Cathay Pacific Business Class lounges and oneworld® alliance airlines Business Class lounges.
• You will also have access to elevated status with many Hotel & Car Rental loyalty programs, $200 Annual Travel Credit for Travel Bookings through Platinum Card Travel Service, lodging benefits at a collection of over 700 Fine Hotels & Resorts around the world, access to special events and unique opportunities and a dedicated concierge team
• American Express is not responsible for maintaining or monitoring the accuracy of information on this website. For full details and current product information click the Apply now link.
• *As a Charge Card, the balance must always be paid in full each month. 30% annual interest rate applies to balances not paid in full.
Conditions apply
Apply Now

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