Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The American Express Gold Rewards Card - A mainstay for family travel

The Rewards Canada family has enjoyed trips
to San Francisco, Maui, and many more place
thanks to the American Express Gold Rewards
If you have followed Rewards Canada for at least a year or more you'll know that when it comes to us earning and using points and miles, it typically revolves around our family. Many other frequent flyer blogs out there are focused on travel for one or two people. They make it look easy and yes, when you only need to find first class seats for one person or get a suite at a hotel for a couple, frequent flyer and frequent guest programs can be very rewarding. However when it comes to families, you often have to look at how reward programs will work for 4 or 5 people and in some cases even more!  Earning 50,000 miles in a frequent flyer program may get you two flights but what about the other two or three people in your family? What if there are other rewards or experiences that can make more sense? This is where proprietary credit card rewards programs and hybrid credit cards come in handy and should be the main focus in a family's reward portfolio.

Related: Why proprietary credit card reward programs are the best option for most Canadians 

The Rewards Canada family has a mainstay hybrid card and not only is it the number one card in our portfolio, we also rank it as the number one rewards card in Canada! That card is the American Express Gold Rewards Card. It's been in our wallets since 2010 when it was re-launched and thanks to that Card we have saved thousands of dollars on our family travels. We earn tons of points by making sure we take advantage of the bonus multiplier categories as the Card earns 2 Membership Rewards® points for every dollar spent at eligible gas stations, grocery stores and drug stores in Canada as well as on eligible travel purchases. Once we've racked up those points here is what we have used them for:
  • Redeeming points for flights via the Use Points for Purchases program or on American Express Travel Online
  • Redeeming points for hotel stays via the Use Points for Purchases program or on American Express Travel Online
  • Transferring points to Aeroplan®* to redeem for flight or other rewards
  • Redeeming points for taxes and fees on Aeroplan tickets that were charged to the Gold Rewards Card (via the Use Points for Purchases program)
The beauty of the Card and the Membership Rewards program is the flexibility it provides. As you can see from the above we have used the points for numerous redemption options and many of those we redeemed for after the travel actually happened. With Use Points for Purchases from Membership Rewards you have up to 12 months after the charge posts to your account to redeem against it. So you can book your travel in May for a trip in August and you then have until the following May to keep collecting points and redeem! Most other programs require you to have the points upfront at the time you purchase your travel, but the Gold Rewards Card lets you book while still collecting.
One-of-a-kind Experiences

This is where the card leads to one-of-a-kind experiences. Say you are in Maui and at the last minute you decide you want to go on a whale watch excursion. Well, if you choose an American Express partners and pay for it with your American Express Gold Rewards Card you'll be happy to know that when you get home, not only will you have earned 2x points on the purchase; you'll also be able to redeem points for that whale watch!

Related:  Flexible travel points credit cards aren't only for flights, hotels or car rentals! Whale watch excursions count too! 

Saving money on travels!
We love using the Gold Rewards Card to help fund our vacations since you don't have to worry about having all the points up front before you travel. For example, if you've budgeted $5,000 for your vacation and you have $1,500 worth of points saved up in your Membership Rewards account, you can choose to save and make that vacation cost only $3,500 or you can still spend your $5,000 and boost your budget to $6,500 using the points. That $1,500 could get you the 5-star hotel with a private beach, versus the 3-star one down the road with a shared beach. 
See how the Rewards Canada family has saved money with proprietary programs in our Redemption Stories section! 

Most families with kids in school and extracurricular activities are limited to travelling during the busy times of the year, Christmas, Spring Break, Family Day Break, Summer Break etc. This is when everyone else is travelling, so of course when it comes to using traditional reward programs most will find it difficult to redeem during those “high season” periods. With a flexible travel Card like the Gold Rewards Card, those difficulties are alleviated. As you’ve seen above, you can book any travel you want with anyone you want and you are good to go as you can choose to redeem as many points as you want afterwards, and even redeem your points to pay off taxes and fees. You get the flights you want, the hotels you want, travel on the days you want and chances are you are not flying on a milk run route!

Frequent Travel Programs
With all that said above for using the Use Points for Purchases program from American Express,  there are still families who find value in using traditional travel programs like Aeroplan or British Airways Executive Club. With the Gold Rewards Card you get the best of both worlds and don't have to choose between one or the other. You have the ability to transfer Membership Rewards points earned on your spend to eight frequent flyer and guest programs including Aeroplan, Starwood Preferred Guest and British Airways Executive Club. Also, with some programs the points transfer instantly when they are linked to your Membership Rewards account. So, if you are searching for Aeroplan flight rewards and find ones that work for you but you don't have enough miles, you can simply transfer your Membership Rewards points to Aeroplan and redeem right then and there. Don't forget to pay for the taxes and fees with your Gold Rewards Card as you can then redeem points against the Aeroplan charge, ultimately making those flights free as free can be.

Final thoughts
No matter your family's travel plans and reward program portfolio strategies, this is one Card that should be included. We don't rank the Gold Rewards Card number one for nothing! This Card just provides you with so many reward options that no family in Canada should be without it. We have two accounts in our family (Dad and Mom each have their own Gold Reward Card with separate Membership Rewards accounts) but you don't have to do that in your family, in fact one account is enough, you can but grab a supplementary Card to increase your earning and you'll be happy to know there is no charge for the first supplementary card.

American Express Gold Rewards Card
American Express Gold Rewards Card

• New American Express® Gold Rewards* Cardmembers can earn a Welcome Bonus of 25,000 Membership Rewards® points just by making $1,500 in purchases in the first three months of Cardmembership.
• No Annual Fee for the first year; $150 Annual Fee thereafter*
• That’s enough to redeem for a round-trip Fixed Mileage Flight Reward TM* 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
• You can use Apple Pay on your eligible device to pay for goods and services at participating American Express contactless merchants
• 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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