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Though the Associated Bank American Express® Premier Rewards Credit Card flies under the radar, it offers an impressive cash-back rate on restaurant and airline purchases. That makes it a strong choice for those who spend a lot in these categories. With an annual fee of $0 the first year, then $99, it holds its own among other cards that focus on restaurant spending, offering valuable benefits and straightforward rewards.
Here are five things to know about the Associated Bank American Express® Premier Rewards Credit Card.
1. You don’t need an Associated Bank account to qualify
Associated Bank has a presence in only eight states. However, there's no geographical restriction when it comes to applying for its credit cards. You can apply regardless of which state you live in, even if you don’t have a bank account with Associated Bank.
2. You’ll earn a lot of rewards for dining out and flights
The Associated Bank American Express® Premier Rewards Credit Card earns:
4 points per $1 spent on eligible net restaurant purchases. (Net purchases are purchases minus credits and returns.)
3 points per $1 spent on eligible net airline purchases.
2 points per $1 spent on eligible net gas purchases.
1 point per $1 spent on all other eligible net purchases.
You can redeem points for cash back, either in the form of a statement credit or as a direct deposit to an eligible checking or savings account, at a value of 1 cent per point. You can also exchange points for travel, merchandise or gift cards, though the value of your points may vary. There are periodic promotions that may get you more value when redeeming for certain rewards.
3. This card offers a 'secret' welcome bonus
It’s buried so deeply in the fine print that you’d miss it if you blinked, but the card offers the following welcome bonus: Earn 10,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months. (Why do you hide your light, Associated Bank?)
Additional benefits will help you get greater value out of the card, especially if you’re a frequent traveler. It comes with a Global Entry or TSA Precheck reimbursement benefit, and you’ll also have access to a concierge service. Plus, at some hotels, you can snag discounted room rates and also get free access to certain amenities.
4. Rewards have an expiration date
Many credit cards allow you to keep your points indefinitely, so long as your account remains open. That’s not the case with the Associated Bank American Express® Premier Rewards Credit Card.
Your points expire five years from the end of the calendar quarter in which you earned them, which means that once you’ve had this card for five years, you’ll begin shedding unused points on a quarterly basis. Plan your redemptions accordingly.
5. The rewards aren't AmEx rewards
Though the Associated Bank American Express® Premier Rewards Credit Card carries the American Express name, it’s actually issued by Elan Financial Services. Why does that matter to you? Because the card's rewards program is the Elan Rewards Program, which has different terms than the American Express Membership Rewards program.
So even if you already have another AmEx card and are familiar with the Membership Rewards program, you'll want to read this card's benefits guide to understand how its program works — which is a good practice with any new credit card.
Check out NerdWallet's list of the best credit card deals from AmEx and other issuers.