AMEX Premier Rewards Gold Card Review

Normally when I get a credit card offer in the mail, it simply gets shredded and recycled. Yesterday, however, I received an offer from American Express that proved too good to pass up. It takes a lot to catch my attention as my readers know. I remember the days of free toasters to open bank accounts. How about a free Bose® SoundDock® Series II digital music system for iPod® to open a credit card?

I have to admit I’ve been looking enviously at stand alone iPod players for about 6 months, but it’s clearly a want and not a need. I had actually been leaning toward purchasing the Kicker iK501 Digital Stereo System for iPhone and iPod. It seemed like a good quality alternative to the Bose SoundDock Series II Digital Music System ($300) which is retailing for about the twice the price of the Kicker ($178.49) on Amazon at the time of this writing. Thus, when I saw the promotion for a free iPod player, it definitely got my attention.

Let’s be clear though, the Bose SoundDock Series II Digital Music System will not come totally free. The requirements for this promotion are that:

1) You need to sign up for the AMEX Premier Rewards Gold Card with the promotion number that they mailed to you. For me this phone call took me 8 minutes, and that’s after they couldn’t look up my other AMEX to bring in the other data to speed the process. So, the cost of my time thus far is quite low.

2) Now, I’ll wait 7-10 days to get the card. UPDATE: Card arrived on 9/8.

3) Then, I’ll need to spend $200 on the card before October 31, 2010. I will likely spend as close to that minimum as possible and (of course) pay it off on its due date. The offer says you can’t just buy cash equivalents to get the $200 worth of spending so gift cards to myself are out. UPDATE 9/9: Bought my boss a car seat for her new baby for $213.99 and put credit card in a drawer. UPDATE 10/22: Paid off purchase. Balance is now $0.

4) Upon spending the required amount, American Express will send me my new Bose SoundDock Series II Digital Music System within 10-12 weeks. This is a long time horizon, but again this is a want, not a need. I can wait patiently. UPDATE 9/13: Called AMEX to confirm I had met the offer requirements.

5) Upon receipt of my Bose SoundDock Series II Digital Music System, I will promptly cancel this card. UPDATE 10/28: Bose SoundDock Series II Digital Music System arrived (less than 2 months since the card arrived!); AMEX cancelled

Although there is no annual fee on this card in the first year, every year after is $175. No thank you. I can’t think of any rewards program (and this card has a middling one) that’s good enough for me to accept that kind of fee.

So, let’s look at my final costs. An 8 minute call and maybe another 7 minutes to cancel it later (so 15 minutes of my time) and $200 that won’t go on my Schwab Invest First VISA which amounts to $4.00 in rewards. If I value my time at $200/hr, that puts my total cost for the system at $54. I consider these to be acceptable costs. Does anybody see anything I’m leaving out?

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  • financial aid for college

    well written blog. Im glad that I could find more info on this. thanks

  • FactChecker

    Well probably, opening any new credit card hurts your credit score for about a year or two which may or may not matter depending on your circumstances, for $50-100 its probably not worth it, bose in my opinion sucks literally, they are expensive not for the high quality components or engineering, but for the marketing, although its a nice gift with the ipod promotion and you can probably resell it, Amex charge cards are not worth the hundreds of dollars in annual fees although they do have excellent cards both through costco and co-branded with penfed and fidelity

    • FactChecker, opening a new card rarely hurts your credit score. Even if it did, you just need to be judicious about when you do things that might impair your score. If you are planning to make a major purchase like a car, boat or house where you will finance it, it makes sense to do everything possible to boost/protect your score in the year prior to that purchase. You need only be planful about such things.

      As for the Bose system sucking, I’ll have to wait and see. I’m still waiting on it.

  • Chad

    Well I couldn’t believe the offer either. I usually just shred this nonsense, but it seemed to good (and true) to pass up. I NEVER give these offers a second thought, this time I did. Got the card, spent the $200 (I charge all my gas for business anyway), and then put the card aside. Sounddock Series II arrived today as advertised, brand new! Will cancel the card tomorrow. Thank you American Express.

    I guess somethings in life are free.

  • Ron Tedwater

    Great work keep it coming

  • Awesome post mate.

  • Michael B

    I did the same thing, got the offer, couldn’t believe they were really giving this away, spent a little over 200 bucks and shelved the card. I’ll wait a few months before cancelling the card so I don’t look obvious or ungrateful ;-)}

    Even if AMEX gets these at cost, do they really get enough new card subscribers to make it worth it? maybe they are looking for business travelers whose company will pay the annual fee, but $175 a year is just way too much despite all the nice commercials.

    re: quality of speakers – I am pretty happy with the sound of the system, i mean, it’s not as good as my real bookshelf speakers but is a billion time better than the speakers on my laptop or built into my monitor.

    (i found your post when i googled the offer to see if it was still available as a friend was hoping to capitalize).

  • Michael, I totally agree on the sound quality. I’ve been very happy all the way around.

    Just don’t forget to cancel before the annual fee kicks in!

  • Amex holder

    And you my friends, are the reason why the annual fee is what it is. If you cannot afford the Bose player then don’t get it, but trying to take advantage of a company like this is dishonest while honest card members like me are left paying your bill. U SUCK

    • Amex holder,

      I think you’re confused. Annual fees at AMEX existed long before promotions such as these. The promotions act as 1 time incentives for non-discerning customers to pick up a credit card with a fee and carry it for years. I simply choose not to carry the card past the promotion period as is my prerogative. I certainly believe there are ethical lines with regards to one’s use of credit card rewards as you clearly do as well. Recently I ceased participation in one of the most lucrative rewards gaming schemes.

      Regarding your comment on my ability to afford a Bose player, I’ll simply point to my net worth in the graphic that appears on every page. My judicious use of credit card rewards programs alone would allow me to buy 3 or 4 of those Bose players per year. I’m satisfied with the 1 I got for free though.


  • Dave Schuoler

    I responded to the same offer in November, 2010. Made a $260 purchase and paid the balance on 12/03/2010. Never received the Sound Dock. I called AMEX several times. At first they told me they didn’t know anything about this offer, so I sent them photocopies of the brochures they sent me. Now they say they won’t honor the offer because “my account is not properly linked to that offer.” I have proof that they extended the offer to me, and that I met all the terms and conditions of the offer. I have filed consumer complaints with my state Attorney General and the Better Business Bureau, and filed a Federal Mail Fraud complaint with the US Postal Service. I wonder if having their Legal department deal with these charges will cost them more than what they would have had to pay for the Sound Dock?

    • I’m really sorry to hear about your experience, and I wish you well in your fight to get what you earned!

  • John

    The new(?) offer is for Bose QuietComfort 15 noise-cancelling headphones. Delta Gold Skymiles card, $95 annual fee (waived the first year). Spend $500, get the headphones in about 12 weeks. I got the card, had an airline ticket to buy, and since Delta was actually the cheapest at $575 it was a no-brainer to go through the Amex travel site which automatically put the charge on my card. To my surprise, the headphones arrived about 3 weeks after I paid my bill. So, I’ll be cancelling the card sometime soon. I figure I’ll wait until later this year so I can claim “I don’t fly as much as I thought I would”.

    How credit card companies can make these offers is something I don’t understand. I opened a Chase Freedom card several years ago and got $250 cash after charging (I don’t remember the exact amount – something like $50) on it. Plus, the cash back deal was one of the best available, and once you accumulated $200 in cash back, you could get a $250 check. I figure I’ve gotten about $1,000 for free from Chase, since these are purchases I would have made anyway. I always pay my bill in full, so they don’t make anything in finance charges from me. Are the fees paid by the merchant really so high that Chase (and Amex) can still make money? It doesn’t make sense to me.

    • John,

      I’m REALLY hoping they send me that offer. I would take that in an instant. Good for you in finding a great way to reach the $500 limit!

      To your other question, these cards aren’t designed for people like us who are sophisticated users attempting to essentially game the system for our own interests. For the most part people who sign up for these deals actually keep the cards (paying the annual fees) and some even carry a balance. The amount of money a credit card company spends on acquiring a new customer is far less than the value they extract from that customer in most cases. We simply represent a money losing exception to their marketing plan.