Update 2/24/14: Offer is dead!

Last week, American Express (possibly accidentally) offered its Business Gold Rewards Card with a 75k Membership Rewards sign up bonus after only $5k in spending in the first three months.

That’s pretty incredible because:

  • Usually the card has no sign up bonus.
  • It had been offering only 50k Membership Rewards after $5k in spending.
  • Normally when it offers 75k Membership Rewards, it does so for only one or two days and requires $10k in spending to unlock the bonus.

That deal died, but two Business Gold offers have risen in its stead. Which is right for you?

The current deals are:

  1. 75k bonus Membership Rewards after spending $10k in three months
  2. 50k bonus Membership Rewards after spending $5k in three months

Should you get the 75k sign up bonus on this card or the 50k sign up bonus?

If the answer to which card to get seems obvious, it is not. In my post, “The Two Ways to Value Credit Card Sign Up Bonuses,” I described both the absolute-value method and rebate-percentage method.

The absolute-value method is what most people are probably more familiar with. Add up the benefits of the sign up bonus and subtract the first-year annual fee if any. Right now I value 75k Membership Rewards at about $1,500. I love the current 35% transfer bonus to Avios as someone who flies between the west coast and Hawaii often.

The absolute value of the 75k Membership Reward bonus, $1,500, dwarfs the absolute value of the 50k Membership Rewards sign up bonus, $1,000.

Stop reading here and get the Business Gold Rewards Card today with the 75k bonus if you spend tons of money per year on credit cards ($100k+) naturally or through manufactured spending, or you are only getting 1-2 cards this year because you are limiting credit inquiries. The absolute value of the sign up is mouthwatering.

But if you, like me, spend very little on cards each year ($3k per month or less), then this is not the best Business Gold Rewards Card offer.

Instead the best offer is the 50k Membership Rewards sign up bonus. The reason is that the 75k MR sign up bonus has a $10k minimum spend to unlock the bonus. The 50k MR card has only a $5k minimum spend requirement.

People who don’t spend enough to clear all the minimum-spending requirements for all the cards they want should use the rebate-percentage method to order cards on their wish list.

The rebate-percentage method takes the absolute value and divides by the spending requirement to get the percentage of the minimum spend that is rebated in the form of points or other benefits.

The 50k Membership Rewards offer’s rebate percentage is a solid 20%. The 75k Membership Rewards offer’s rebate percentage is only 15%.

That means, if you are looking at the most bang for your small buck like me, you should get the 50k Membership Rewards offer. Last September I did get the 50k Membership Rewards offer, and I am very happy I did. It was the right move for my spending habits, and it allowed me to get more total benefits from my cards in the last eight months than if I had gotten the 75k Business Rewards Gold offer.

Don’t misunderstand, the 75k offer is the best credit card offer of the year if you are a very big spender.

But if you’re not much of a spender, the 50k offer is better.

Both offers have the same details besides the sign up bonus:

  • 3X points on airfare purchased from airlines. 2X points at US gas stations.
  • Up to $100,000 in each category per year, then 1 point per dollar.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $175.

Application Link: Business Gold Rewards Card with 75k bonus Membership Rewards after spending $10k in three months

Application Link: Business Gold Rewards Card with 30k bonus Membership Rewards after spending $5k in three months.

Which one sounds better to you?

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