AMEX As a Travel Rewards Backbone

A couple years ago, I signed up for an American Express EveryDay card at the suggestion of Credit Karma. I had considered getting the EveryDay Preferred card, which comes with an annual fee. At the last minute, I chickened out. I did not realize how useful it would be to have points I could use toward travel.

Since then, I have canceled that AMEX EveryDay card after getting the EveryDay Preferred. AMEX allowed me to transfer all the available credit on the first card over to the second before I canceled. The result was that the EveryDay Preferred now has a $7,200 credit limit.

At some point, I received a targeted offer to get the AMEX Premier Rewards Gold card. I had made peace with paying an annual fee. I do find value in Membership Reward points by taking advantage of the perks that come with membership. So, the Gold card offers more benefits, which makes the experience even better.

Just recently, I attempted to upgrade from the Premier Rewards Gold to the Platinum. However, since I had not held the Gold for at least one year, I had to apply for the Platinum directly rather than upgrade. This membership fee is a little tougher to swallow as it is rather steep at $550/year. However, I expect to travel more in 2018 for work. The additional perks that come with Platinum for hotels and car rentals mean that I get more value for the same cost.

For example, Platinum bumps me up to Gold level rewards with Hilton, which comes with additional benefits that would have cost a good chunk of money to reach on my own. Of course, I’m spending a good chunk of money to get bumped up via the Platinum card. There is also the question of the airport lounges. Having been stuck at an airport after flight cancellations, I came to value the comfort and food that a lounge would have provided me if I had access. I also value the higher rewards statuses that come with the card.

The advantage of having to apply for each card separately rather than wait until I qualified to upgrade each was that I have had a bunch of points in a much shorter time. Now that the minimum spends are almost over, I find myself circling back to the AMEX Everyday Preferred card as my daily card, relying on Gold and Platinum for travel.

The reason why the EveryDay Preferred card is suddenly interesting again, besides the 50% bump in points each month, is that AMEX has added the Pay It, Plan It features. These features make the card a multimode purchasing product. Pay It makes sure that I can take care of monthly payments, like the cable bill, immediately. That leaves variable bills like dining and groceries, as a monthly bill. Furthermore, big purchases can be set up in payments via Plan It that take them outside of the realm of revolving credit. The point is that many purchases never get a chance to become revolving credit. In this way, the AMEX cards are no longer a blunt weapon. In the long-run, I will likely use the three cards in combination to help achieve my travel and financial goals. They will be the backbone of my travel rewards.

The PRG is useful for travel in that it now has the Pay Over Time benefit, which does not reflect as utilization on my credit, should I ever need a little extra time to pay. Hopefully, after six months the Platinum card will also offer Pay Over Time. Generally, you want to not carry balances on your cards to avoid eating into the value of the travel rewards by paying interest. However, it is nice to have the option. It is nice that AMEX gives me several options if ever they are needed.