When people who have been collecting points and miles for years, or decades, talk to those getting started, they often overlook how things we take for granted are totally new concepts to the ones we’re talking to. They don’t care about which airplane has the best business class hard product to fly from New York to London. All the newbies want to know is how they can get started earning points they can use to pay for their travels, like we do.
There are some basics I’ve laid out in this post, which is an excellent place to start. Eventually, you’ll get a message or text asking what credit card they should apply for. Without knowing details about specific trips they want to take (which they might not even know yet), I think the combo of the two cards discussed below is the best for those just getting started.
Having both the American Express Green and the American Express Everyday Preferred gives the cardholder a combination of the ability to earn points across many bonus categories and an easy to understand program to redeem points with Membership Rewards.
The revamped Green Card is a great choice for those who travel and are just getting started collecting points. It earns 3x Membership Rewards for travel expenses such as flights, hotels, transit, and taxi/rideshares. It also earns 3x Membership Rewards at restaurants worldwide.
Cardholders get a $100 CLEAR credit and a $100 Loungebuddy each calendar year.
The Green Card has no foreign transaction fees.
Currently, the Green Card is offering a sign-up bonus to new members of 35,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months. We’d appreciate it if you want to sign up for the card if you’d use our referral link, We do get a referral bonus of Membership Rewards points if you sign up using our link.
The annual fee for the Green Card is $150.
The Everyday Preferred card from American Express is a great card to use for your expenses at home. It earns 3x Membership Rewards on spending at supermarkets, up to $6,000 per year, and 2x points for gas station purchases.
For each statement cycle that you use the Everyday Preferred card for 30 transactions or more, you receive a 50% bonus on all points earned. That includes the points earned in the bonus categories.
The Everyday Preferred does charge a foreign transaction fee of 2.7%, so it’s best to leave this card at home when traveling outside the US.
Currently, the sign-up bonus for the Everyday Preferred is 20,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $1,000 in the first three months. You can sign up for the card by using our referral link. We do get a referral bonus of Membership Rewards points if you sign up using our link.
The annual fee for the Everyday Preferred is $95
Both of these cards earn points in American Express’ Membership Rewards program. While there are many uses for Membership Rewards points, you’ll want to make sure someone new to points knows they’ll be transferring the points to an airline or hotel, loyalty program.
Membership Rewards is a good program for beginners because of the number of transfer partners they have.
- Aer Lingus Aerclub
- Aeromexico Club Premier
- Air Canada Aeroplan
- Air France / KLM Flying Blue
- Alitalia Millemiglia
- ANA Mileage Club
- Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
- Avianca LifeMiles
- British Airways Executive Club
- Delta SkyMiles
- El AL Madmid Points
- Emirates Skyrewards
- Etihad Guest Miles
- Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles
- Iberia Plus Miles
- JetBlue TrueBlue
- Qantas Frequent Flyer
- Singapore KrisFlyer Miles
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
- Choice Privileges Rewards
- Hilton Honors
- Marriot Bonvoy
There are several programs that a newbie can understand, like Delta SkyMiles or JetBlue TrueBlue. Redemptions on those airlines are straightforward, and there are no worries about having to explain how booking with partner airlines works or airline alliances. If they need help booking a flight on American or United, you can help them out using British Airways points and Aeroplan.
If you want to get someone to get hooked on collecting points and miles, a quick win is the best way. Getting the sign-up bonuses for these two cards will provide more than enough points for one, or even two, round-trip domestic airline tickets. There’s no greater sales pitch than success.
These two cards also have reasonable spending requirements for their sign-up bonuses. Remember, some people will have a problem with meeting a $5,000 spending requirement on a card in three months. Once again, you want to get someone started with an achievable goal. Don’t start out setting the bar too high where they’ll get disappointed and give up before getting started.
Getting an AMEX card also allows taking advantage of AMEX Offers. Once again, an easy win and simple to understand. American Express also offers occasional bonuses when transferring points to partners, which might not be as useful to someone just getting started but does show the potential that earning points has in the long run.
No plan is perfect. I realize that some people will say that I’m crazy for suggesting a newbie sign up for AMEX cards. American Express is such a horrible bank with the RAT Team clawing back points and canceling accounts left and right. Someone new to points should be getting Chase cards because of 5/24.
My response is that a person who is brand new to points, who is going to be using their cards for regular spending at supermarkets, gas stations, restaurants and travel expenses, isn’t going to have to worry about the RATs coming after them. Also, if you tell someone who’s never done this before that they have to worry about signing up for more than five new credit cards in the next two years, they’re going to tell you that you’re crazy. Anyway, they still have 3 slots left to fill and you can point them in the direction of Chase and Ultimate Rewards or their co-brand cards once they’ve gotten their footing.
Another downside is the acceptance of AMEX cards isn’t as widespread as those from MasterCard or VISA. You’ll still see places in the U.S. that don’t take AMEX, but it’s an even more significant problem outside of the U.S. The farther you travel from the big cities, the more problems you’re likely to have. It’s almost a necessity to have a non-AMEX card from a different bank as a backup, especially when traveling outside of the US.
The combination of the American Express Green Card and the Everyday Preferred is one of the best one-two combos for those just getting started with earning points with their credit card spending to pay for travel. The relatively low spending requirements for the sign-up bonuses, coverage over many of the main spending categories, bonus earning for everyday spending, and the ability to use points for travel with one of the easier to understand rewards programs in Membership Rewards are some of the reasons this combo makes sense.
Sure, you can go and poke holes in this plan; I even gave you a head start. I think this is a good first step for someone just dipping toes into the pool. You’re setting them up with the opportunity to earn points right off the bat, showing them the potential of earning points with everyday spending with bonus categories and earning points in a program that is easy to grasp, even for beginners.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary