“Knives are like credit cards; don’t leave home without ’em and always carry several.” — Richard Marcinko
Photo courtesy of Avery Evans (@averye457) on Unsplash
Any individual who knows me personally can attest that I am a huge advocate of using credit cards as a primary form of payment. As long as you are able to utilize them for spending you would have done otherwise, they offer more security than cash, checks, and/or debit cards. However, the reason I like to recommend them as a personal finance tool is for their rewards/benefits. I already hold the $550 annual fee American Express Platinum Card (which I spoke about in a previous story), but a few months ago, I added the $250 annual fee American Express Gold Card to my wallet too.
First off, I used a friend’s referral link to sign up. If you have the option to do this method and their link offers the highest public S.U.B. (sign-up bonus), I would highly recommend it because it gives your pal some free points. The offer I was able to snag was 60,000 M.R. (Membership Rewards) Points for $4,000 in spend during a three-month period. I timed my signing up for the Amex Gold with my semi-annual car insurance payment, so I did not have to do any unnecessary spending to hit this amount. For those who do not know how M.R. points exchange, the Points Guy (an excellent go-to source for all things credit card rewards) values them at about 2 cents per point when redeemed for travel, which values the S.U.B. at $1,200. This amount nearly pays for 5 years of the annual fee right off the bat.
I also had the privilege of being promoted from a Sales Consultant to Field Sales Manager in the months leading up to grabbing the Amex Gold. Now that I am a manager, I have a corporate credit card for my company. Lucky for me, it is an American Express, and there is something called the Corporate Advantage Program. With this program, I am able to receive a credit for $150 off my annual fee for my personal Platinum Card and $100 off my annual fee for my new personal Gold Card. This brings down the effective annual fee for my Amex Gold to just $150, and we have not even dived into the actual rewards/benefits system. If you are in a similar situation as me (corporate Amex with personal ones too), you can contact American Express Customer Service to activate the C.A.P.
Now, for the sweet & juicy rewards. Because I owned the Amex Gold in both 2020 and 2021, I was able to get the $100 airline incidental credit for both years, which gave me $200 in value to use on checked bags and such. Unfortunately, this is a benefit that is being phased out at the end of 2021, so I factored it into my decision-making process, but this is no longer a benefit of the card. However, there are two monthly $10 credits; one is for Uber/UberEats, and the other is for eating at select dining services (GrubHub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations). If you were to aggregate these amounts to a full year, that is $240 in credit to use when I already received a huge sign-up and have an effective annual fee of $150.
I would already be making out on the winning side with what was stated above, but another awesome perk is the 4X M.R. point multiplier for dining (restaurants/take-out/etc) and grocery stores. As someone who does eat out a decent amount (business meals included in here too) and will be moving out to my own place for the first time, these are excellent rewards to be centered on. There are many other pieces to add into the equation too though like personalized American Express offers, no foreign transaction fees, several different insurances, etc.
This is how I found this $250 charge card to be such an easy decision for me. Since I am not a financial advisor and am not aware of your personal circumstances, please do your own research and make your own decisions on if this or any other card is in your best interest. As always, I plead that you do not spend unnecessarily just because you now have 30 days to pay an invoice instead of seeing the cash leave your account immediately. The bill always comes due.
If you have any questions, please leave a comment. Thank you for your time and attention!