Erica Ehm Exposed!


The Big Cash In

Earning Rewards with Amex

by: Erica Ehm

When I was asked to test drive the new American Express Gold Rewards Card and the Membership Rewards Program, I put my plan into action very quickly.

I went shopping! Strategically. Knowing I would be able to get double points for every eligible dollar spent at my supermarket, I made sure to pay for all my groceries with my Amex Gold Rewards Card. I also double dipped and earned a ton of AIR MILES simultaneously.

Gas and drugstore purchases also scored me double points.

I didn't shop more than I would normally, I just changed how I paid for my shopping.

While shopping for my family basics during the day, night time was spent huddled with hubby on the net, sourcing an awesome winter vacation for my family. We found a great deal at an out of the way condo in the Caymans. Woo hoo! The condo is perfect for us so we could do our own cooking (safer for my daughter's allergies).

Once we secured those dates, we scoured the web for affordable flights to Cayman Islands. We did the happy dance when we found out West Jet flew there direct - and the price was right (considering we're travelling at the busiest time). We snatched them up and paid for them with my Amex Gold Rewards Card. Cost of tickets - $3,845 taxes included. And of course, double Membership Rewards points for all travel purchases. Ka-ching!

Then I shopped some more - stocking up on points.

My statement arrived yesterday. I racked up a total of 65,959 points over the last month (I had been given 40,000 points to test drive the Amex Gold Reward Card).

But what does that mean in terms of redemption?

Today, I called the Customer Care Professionals at Amex to see what these points are actually worth. He explained that 10,000 points = $100. So I was able to redeem all my points and apply $659.59 towards my flights. When I pay my Amex bill at the end of the month, there will be a refund of that amount waiting for me.

And here's the extra cool part. I will continue to collect points using the double point system and can RETROACTIVELY go on paying off my flights with the points I accumulate for a year from the day I booked my tickets.

Here's why I'm impressed with this card so far..

I like getting double for nothing (first year card fee is waived by the way)

I was able to book my trip and get the lowest price with no worry or STRESS about blackout periods or keeping tabs on participating partner airlines - all I had to do was call Amex to pay for it with points. Having said that, if I wanted to transfer all my points to my Aeroplan account (1:1), I could have done that as well.

The redemption process was easy, fast and mathematically makes sense. There were no surprises. And I didn't have to struggle online to redeem. A very polite customer service rep did everything for me. It took 5 minutes. Nice.

While 80% of us participate in credit card rewards programs, nearly one in four have let our points expire. What a shame. All of us rewards junkies are clutching our chests in pain hearing this.

Bottom line is - pick a rewards program that make sense to you. Shop strategically. Go with a rewards program like the Amex Gold Rewards Card that makes redemption a breeze. And don't forget to USE YOUR POINTS. Get out and see the world with your family. And let Amex pay for it :)