The American Express Gold Card is a fantastic card for lovers of food and travel. Formerly known as the Premier Rewards Gold Card, this card was revamped in 2018 to much acclaim. Amex raised the card’s annual fee to $250 (NOT waived the first year) and added some new benefits to boot.
The Gold Card is the most lucrative card for those who want to earn Membership Rewards (MR) points. That’s because it has the some of the Amex’s highest bonus category multipliers in two useful categories.
The Gold Card earns 4x MR points at Restaurants worldwide and at Grocery Stores in the United States. But the 4x points are limited to the first $25,000 in purchases. It also earns 3x points on amextravel.com purchases and only one point on non-bonus spend.
Furthermore, the Gold Card has a public sign-up bonus worth 35,000 MR points. You can earn it after spending $4,000 within the first 3 months. The minimum spend requirement used to be just $2,000 within the first three months. But Amex doubled it to $4,000 in October 2019 to better align with competitors. Unfortunately, this makes the Gold Card’s bonus much less desirable than it used to be.
Earning points is fantastic, but points earned are useless if you cannot redeem them for anything of value. Amex has multiple options for redemption:
American Express’ transfer partners are this card’s most valuable redemption option. They are the reason why points and miles enthusiasts love Membership Rewards so much. Amex transfers points at a 1 MR to 1 partner currency ratio unless otherwise noted.
- Choice Privileges
- Hilton (1 MR = 2 Hilton Honors Points)
- Aer Lingus
- Aeromexico (5 MR = 8 Premier Points)
- Air Canada
- Air Italia Millemiglia
- Asia Miles
- Avianca Lifemiles
- British Airways
- Delta Airlines
- El Al Israel Airlines (50 MR = 1 Matmid Point)
- Etihad Guest
- Hawaiian Airlines
- JetBlue (5 MR = 4 TrueBlue Points)
- KLM Flying Blue / Air France
- Nippon Airways
- Singapore Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
Your mileage may vary for each partner. But for most partners, you should be able to easily redeem your points for at least 1.5 cents per point (CPP).
You can redeem points for paid travel, but I don’t recommend doing so. This option gives you a value of 1 CPP toward airfare, and between 0.75 and 0.85 CPP for hotels, cars, cruises, or whole vacations.
Gift cards, merchandise, and statement credits are not recommended. You will earn less than 1 CPP using these options. If cash back or gift cards are what you want, this card is probably not for you.
While the Gold Card doesn’t have the benefits of the Platinum Card, Amex doesn’t leave cardholders empty handed. Amex revamped this card in 2018 and part of the revamp was the addition of benefits.
Airline Fee Credits
This card gives you $100 per year in airline incidental fee credits. Amex intends them to be used for things like in-flight purchases and checked bags. And they have strongly stated their intentions by banning gift card purchases to trigger the credits. Unfortunately, this ban has limited the use of this perk for many cardholders.
You will receive $120 in dining credits for select restaurants each year. But the catch is that Amex gives you one $10 credit each month, making them hard to use. Amex did this with the Uber Credits on the personal Platinum Card.
These credits are only useful for tipping if you eat at the select restaurants. Otherwise, they are relatively useless.
After booking a hotel room through amextravel.com and using your Gold card to pay for everything, you will receive a $75 statement credit and a room upgrade. The room upgrade could be worth hundreds of dollars (and possibly justify the card’s annual fee), depending on where you stay.
This benefit covers up to $500 for checked bags and $1,250 for carry-on bags.
You will receive an extra year of warranty on purchases with warranties of 5 years or less.
Trip Delay Insurance
Cardholders may take advantage of Amex’s Trip Delay Insurance starting in January 2020. You can be reimbursed up to $300 if your flight gets delayed at least six hours. One use of any of this insurance can justify the card’s annual fee.
Secondary Car Rental Insurance
This benefit covers the entire loss, damage, or theft of your car rental after your regular insurance’s policy kicks in.
No Foreign Exchange Fees
You will save 3% on all purchases made outside the United States with the card.
Rules & Regulations
This card is subject to Amex’s Once Per Lifetime Rule, which states that you can only receive a sign-up bonus on any card once ever. Therefore, you should apply for this card when the sign-up bonus is 50,000 points.
Check out one of these alternatives if the American Express Gold Card is not right for you:
American Express Everyday Preferred Card
The Everyday Preferred Card is a more conservative alternative to the Gold card. It earns 3x MR points at US Grocery Stores and 2x points at US Gas Stations for a $95 annual fee. Like the Gold Card, the annual fee is NOT waived the first year.
You will receive a 50% points bonus if you use your card at least 30 times per month. This means you can earn 4.5x points at Grocery Stores, 3x at Gas Stations, and 1.5x on everything else with the bonus. It also means that the Everyday Preferred can potentially be a better earner at Grocery Stores for a much smaller annual fee.
The Everyday Preferred card has a sign-up bonus worth 15,000 MR points. It can be earned after spending just $1,000 in the first 3 months. This bonus is meager compared to most other transferrable points earning cards with similar annual fees. I wish that Amex would increase this bonus to be more competitive with the likes of Chase and Citi.
I would recommend this card over the Gold Card for those who don’t want to pay a $250 annual fee. People who cannot use the Gold Card’s perks will also be better off with this card. Both cards have the same redemption options and standard Amex perks. If you find Amex’s credits and the Hotel Collection useless, this card is a better alternative.
Chase Sapphire Preferred
The Sapphire Preferred is Chase’s version of the Amex Gold Card. It earns 2x Ultimate Rewards (UR) points on Travel and Dining. This card has a $95 annual fee and a sign-up bonus worth 60,000 UR points. The bonus can be earned after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months.
The Sapphire Preferred is the better card if you like Chase’s transfer partners or travel portal. Plus, its the better option if you want travel perks and insurances. Chase has some of the best travel insurances in the industry. And the Sapphire Preferred has more useful perks than the Gold Card. However, the Gold Card is the better option if you can’t afford the sign-up bonus and/or you like Amex’s partners more.
The American Express Gold Card is great for travelers who spend a lot on dining and groceries at home. It’s best suited for these purposes, despite not having any foreign transaction fees.
The high annual fee and the lack of substantive benefits make this card a pass for me. Amex’s own Everyday Preferred Card offers a better balance between earning and annual fees. But the Platinum card is better than the Gold Card for those who want perks.
Apply Today: American Express Gold Card