Yesterday I heard that American Express is getting rid of the annual threshold bonus on its Premier Rewards Gold card (HT to The Points Guy). Customers could earn 15,000 Membership Rewards points if they spent at least $30,000 in a calendar year. It was a nice feature considering that Amex has made it more difficult to obtain MR points through multiple sign-up bonuses and other tricks.
It has been a reasonably good card for frequent flyers. Membership Rewards points were, for a while, the easiest way to accumulate miles in some programs like Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer for better access to their business and first class award space. Furthermore, because of its category bonuses, it was a good tool for earning points, too, getting 3X points on airfare and 2X points at grocery stores (where you might be buying gift cards). At least that’s how it’s supposed to work in theory.
I’ve been trying hard to earn that 15,000 point bonus this year. I don’t do a lot of manufactured spend, but I have put all my grocery and flight purchases on it, and I’ve been using it for the little I do with Amazon Payments — which is ending this month. And I’ve still only spent about $13,000 for the year. That would explain Amex’s statement regarding the decision:
We are eliminating this because the majority of Premier Rewards Gold Card Members did not meet the annual spending threshold of $30,000 and did not get the point bonus. Instead, we are evaluating other benefits and services that we believe may provide value to more of our Premier Rewards Gold Card Members.
Sure, that makes sense. But it’s not heartening to see them announce terminating this benefit before they replace it with something else. Amex has some high annual fees for some of its cards. The PRG is $175 a year. Like the Starwood cards, I don’t carry it with me on most of my trips because it has foreign transaction fees. It is pretty much exclusively for groceries and flights as I mentioned above. The only thing convincing me to hold onto this card was some kind of delusion that I would spend $30K in a year. Now Amex says they knew from the start I probably wouldn’t meet that goal.
You still have the remainder of 2014 to earn this bonus for the year; the change goes into effect for 2015.
This is a wake-up call for me and for American Express. I should have probably cancelled this card a while ago. I don’t earn enough points to justify the fee. I’m less reliant on Membership Rewards now that I can transfer Ultimate Rewards points to KrisFlyer. Their customer service has been relatively poor in my experience. But Amex could still win me back if it promises something else, a benefit that I’ll actually use. Sadly they seem to be cutting more than they’re giving back lately