If you’re responsible with credit cards and looking for a bonus, look into the Preferred Rewards Green Card or the Preferred Rewards Gold Card from American Express. Both of these cards are charge cards, so if you use one of these cards, you must pay the balance in full every month.
With the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold Card you will receive 10,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $500 over the first three months. The points will be awarded no later than eight weeks after your first purchase and can be redeemed right away for a $100 gift card.
The Gold Card requires an annual membership fee of $125. This fee is waived for the first year, so unless you believe the American Express services are worth the cost of the annual fee, it may make sense to cancel the card before the fee is charged. That approach requires consideration of your credit score. Opening and closing a credit card in quick succession may affect your credit score, so if perfect credit is important to you, carefully evaluate your plan and decide whether the $100 is important to you.
If you choose the American Express Preferred Rewards Green Card, you have the opportunity to earn 5,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $500 over the first three months. Those points can be redeemed for a $50 gift card or held as you accumulate more points for a larger reward.
This is not as good of a deal as the Gold Card due to the annual fee. To remain a cardholder of the Preferred Rewards Green Card, American Express will charge a $95 annual fee. This fee is not waived for the first year, but you may be able to speak to a customer service representative and ask for flexibility.
With both cards, you will accumulate one point for “virtually” every dollar you spend. Points can then be redeemed for rewards with a large number of airlines, hotels, spas, and entertainment events. The points are unlimited, so big spenders could easily recoup annual fees.
The Gold Card has an additional advantage, perhaps worth the cost of the annual membership fee if you keep the card. As a member, you have the opportunity to purchase tickets to certain events like concerts and sports before they are available to the general public.
As a holder of an American Express Blue for Business Credit Card, my advice is to be very careful about scheduling your payments. If your payment is late, you will get charged a fee. After I posted a payment a few hours late, I was charged a late fee in excess of $35. I was able to have the fee waived without asking, but the finance charge stayed on my account. With a charge card, where American Express requires a full payment every month rather than a minimum payment, there might be less leeway when dealing with late payments.
Updated February 10, 2011 and originally published October 2, 2008. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @flexo on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.