While you can get a quick boost to your points and miles balances through sign up bonuses, we earn a significant portion of our points through everyday spending. Earning miles while buying groceries or gasoline is not the most exciting part of this game but it’s important to try and get the most out of all your purchases. Paying attention to little things like this will help you build up a nice stash of miles.
We use the American Express Everyday Preferred to earn Membership Rewards points (Membership Rewards is the name for the flexible reward points earned with American Express cards). There are 21 different airline and hotel programs to which you can transfer Membership Rewards points. Knowing what you can do with your points is important to get the most value from them.
I collect Membership Rewards because I find them to be very versatile. For example, for I’ve transferred points to Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer to book business class seats for a trip from New York to Frankfurt. I’ve also helped my dad book a trip to Bali on EVA Air (on the Hello Kitty plane. I didn’t tell him about that part, bwahahaha!) using his Membership Rewards. Now, EVA Air doesn’t partner with American Express but there are many ways to use miles creatively like we did by using ANA’s program to book the ticket since they are a Star Alliance partner of EVA. That’s where you really can take advantage of knowing airline alliances.
There’s a $95 annual fee, that’s not waived for the first year.
Bonus Spending Categories
I love this card because it gives a great return on most of our daily spending categories. It earns 3x points on supermarket spending (up to $6,000 each year) as well as 2x points on gas stations. It also rewards you for using it for “everyday” purchases. If you use the card 30 or more times per billing period, you get a 50% points bonus on all points earned (that’s on both regular spending and the bonuses!). So at the end of the day, if you meet the 30 transaction threshold you will earn 1.5x points for all purchases, 3x points at gas stations, and 4.5x points for supermarket purchases. This is why the Everyday Preferred is the card I usually give to Sharon for all her spending.
Something to remember about the bonus categories is that big box places like Target or Walmart don’t count as supermarkets and Warehouse Clubs like Sam’s Club and BJ’s don’t count for supermarket OR fuel purchases. Purchases made outside the U.S. also don’t count for the bonus categories.
Foreign Transaction Fee
If you use this card internationally you will pay a 2.7% foreign transaction fee. It’s best to leave this card home when traveling outside the U.S. and use a card that doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee.
Sign Up Bonus
This card doesn’t have a huge sign-up bonus. You can get 20,000 Membership Rewards points for spending $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months of having the card. We do get a referral bonus if you sign up for the card using our referral link.
American Express Restrictions on Sign Up Bonuses
American Express does have some new rules for their sign up bonuses to try and stop people from abusing, misusing or “gaming” the system. They also limit what charges count, specifically excluding purchases of gift or prepaid cards.
Here’s the description from the application website:
If we in our sole discretion determine that you have engaged in abuse, misuse, or gaming in connection with the welcome bonus offer in any way or that you intend to do so (for example, if you applied for one or more cards to obtain a welcome bonus offer (s) that we did not intend for you; if you cancel or downgrade your account within 12 months after acquiring it; or if you cancel or return purchases you made to meet the Threshold Amount), we may not credit 20,000 Membership Rewards® points to, we may freeze 20,000 Membership Rewards® points credited to, or we may take away 20,000 Membership Rewards® points from your account. We may also cancel this Card account and other Card accounts you may have with us. Eligible purchases can be made by the Basic Card Member and any Additional Card Members on a single Card Account. Eligible purchases are purchases for goods and services minus returns and other credits. Eligible purchases do NOT include fees or interest charges, balance transfers, cash advances, purchases of traveler’s checks, purchases or reloading of prepaid cards, purchases of gift cards, person-to-person payments, or purchases of any cash equivalent
So while big sign up bonuses are great and give a quick thrill, it’s worth it to have a card or two in your wallet that provides solid points earning potential over the long term. The American Express Everyday Preferred has filled that place in our card portfolio for several years and I think will continue to do so for some time.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary