Source: Market Watch

By James Freirich

Have you ever traveled to a far-away city, only to find out after you left that there was an exquisite cafe right near your hotel? Have you ever bought a stock, only to realize that it spiked 150% the week before? That feeling of imminent timing and gut wrenching loss can be painful. You never want to experience that again right? Well consider this the first day of knowing exactly what you can enjoy in the world of travel-related spending; well, at least when it comes to the American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card.

I recently befriended a finance student in Geneva who experienced that similar “moment of clarity” feeling. (Let’s call him Christoph.) Christoph, an American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card holder, has been spending tens-of thousands of dollars a year on his Amex card and wants to travel to the states. (Important note: He works in wealth management and can afford to spend that amount. Rule of thumb: only spend what you can pay off and what doesn’t hurt the bank.) Naturally, I asked him if he had ever heard of Amex points. For the two and a half years that he has been spending on his Amex card, he never knew of the benefits that his card yields. As a points and miles enthusiast, I would not let Christoph be in the dark any longer.

I started off by telling him how the American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card offers a 50,000 point bonus after spending $2,000 within the first three months of getting the card. (Note: The three month period starts the day you are approved, so be aware of your last eligible day.) And with a 1.9 cent per Amex Reward Point transfer valuation- according to The Points Guy- he’s just been sitting on amex points worth around $950. I then informed Christoph about Amex’s transfer partners. As American Express has a vast array of transfer partners whether it be for airlines, hotels or retail, Christoph was missing out on using his points for free flights, hotel stays and retail items. A few days later when he and I met for lunch, he told me that he was stunned by his point count. To put his point balance into perspective, (without divulging the exact amount) Christoph can take a round-trip business class flight from Geneva to New York….for free.

In the words of Allan F. Mogensen, “work smarter, not harder.” Could Christoph afford to buy the ticket out-of-pocket? Probably. However the point (no pun intended) is why would you pay for something when you can get it for free. In life, there are so many opportunities that stare you in the face, and it is our duty as intelligent consumers to be knowledgeable about the products we interact with. In summation, opulence is best served when the price tag reads $0.