After its revamp, the American Express Gold Card has become a compelling rewards card for those looking to earn points quickly. It’s got generous point multipliers for home chefs and restaurant-goers as well as dining credits for takeout enthusiasts. And because it’s ultimately a travel rewards card, it offers airline credits to offset the cost of your in-flight experience, too.
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Once you’re approved for the card, you have to spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of being a card member to receive the welcome bonus, which regularly fluctuates from 35,000 to 50,000 Membership Rewards points. When redeemed through the Amex Travel portal, the points are worth between $245 and $500. However, their true value lies in transfer partners (more on this later).
- 4X Membership Rewards points per dollar at restaurants worldwide
- 4X Membership Rewards points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year)
- 3X Membership Rewards points per dollar on airfare purchased directly with airlines or via Amex Travel
- 1X Membership Rewards point per dollar on all other purchases
If you see a pattern here, the Amex Gold is the card for foodies. Whether you like to dine out or cook yourself, purchases in the top two categories will earn quadruple points per dollar, which is a generous return.
When the card first launched, only U.S. restaurants earned 4X points, but since then, the perk has been extended to restaurants globally. This goes hand in hand with the Amex Gold being first and foremost a travel card.
Unfortunately, the bonus on airfare isn’t comprehensive as it offers bonus points on flights booked directly from airlines only. Other travel purchases, such as hotels, guided tours or rental cars, earn just a single point per dollar spent.
Still, by being able to maximize the grocery category alone, you could end up with 100,000 Membership Rewards points per year.
With the Amex Gold, you’ll earn Membership Rewards points—an American Express-specific currency you can redeem in various ways.
The two main ways are for travel components booked through the Amex Travel portal and for flights and hotel rooms by transferring points to one of the travel partners.
Membership Rewards points redeemed through the Amex Travel portal hold specific values calculated based on what travel component you’d like to book.
|Prepaid Hotels||0.7 cent|
|Upgrade with Points||1 cent|
|Fine Hotels & Resorts||1 cent|
Check out our Guide to Using the Amex Travel Portal.
In this scenario, the welcome bonus is worth at least $245 and as high as $350. These point valuations aren’t ideal, and you might be better off transferring your points to one of the airline or hotel partner programs of American Express.
American Express is partnered with many loyalty programs, but note that not all transfer ratios are 1:1. You’ll find those transfer terms in the table below.
|Aer Lingus AerClub||1,000:1,000|
|Aeroméxico Club Premier||1,000:1,600|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||1,000:1,000|
|Air France/KLM Flying Blue||1,000:1,000|
|ANA Mileage Club||1,000:1,000|
|British Airways Executive Club||1,000:1,000|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles||1,000:1,000|
|El Al Frequent Flyer Club||1,000:20|
|Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles||1,000:1,000|
|Qantas Frequent Flyer||500:500|
|Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer||1,000:1,000|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club||1,000:1,000|
It’s best to utilize these transfer options when you want to book a business or first class flight. When you book such tickets through the portal, your redemption rate is just 1 cent per point—no more and no less.
When you transfer points to a partner, you can increase that redemption rate to 5 cents per point, 8 cents, and even 15 cents per point in some rare cases. Your individual valuation will vary, but you can easily get more than 1 cent per point by transferring to airline partners.
What if you don’t mind flying in economy? Can you get that elevated redemption value from coach tickets, too? The answer is yes. You can still get good value by booking an award ticket with miles when cash ticket prices are high.
Another thing to note is that American Express charges an excise tax fee of $0.0006 for every point transferred to a U.S.-based airline. For example, transferring 10,000 Membership Rewards to Delta SkyMiles will cost you $6. Fortunately, the fee is capped at $99. Even if you transfer more than 165,000 Amex points, the fee won’t exceed $99.
In comparison, neither Citi nor Chase charge these fees to transfer their flexible points to partner airlines. The fact that American Express passes on the tax to the consumer is a bit annoying.
The American Express Gold Card offers multiple statement credits to cardholders to use. Let’s look at what kind of value they can add to your card membership.
With the dining credit, you can get a discount every month you use your card to make a purchase at one of the eligible restaurants or with the following delivery services: Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed and participating Shake Shack locations.
The credit isn’t available all at once but instead is issued in $10 monthly increments. By dining or ordering takeout at one of the aforementioned dining establishments once per month, you will get $120 back in your account per calendar year. The credit doesn’t roll over to the following month, which means you lose it when you don’t use it.
At first, the discount seems great. Who doesn’t love free food? However, once you understand that it’s divided into monthly statement credits of $10, you’ll realize you need to be a bit strategic about how you use it.
The airline fee credit can be redeemed toward incidental charges whenever you fly on your pre-selected airline (must choose one every year). These charges include baggage fees, seat selection fees on basic economy fares, and in-flight food and beverages, to name a few.
It’s important to note that the airline fee credit doesn’t apply to tickets, upgrades, mileage purchases, taxes on award tickets or gift cards, which makes it a bit difficult to use.
As an Amex Gold cardholder, you have access to The Hotel Collection in the Amex Travel portal. The card comes with a $100 credit to be used on a room reservation within The Hotel Collection group. Additionally, by booking two or more nights, you qualify for discounted rates and room upgrades (if available at check-in).
Amex Offers is available to all American Express members, even co-branded cardholders, so it’s not exclusive to the Gold Card.
With Amex Offers, you’ll have access to discounts or bonus points when purchasing from a variety of merchants. The list of merchants is extensive and new offers are added regularly. Just make sure you keep an eye on the expiration date of each offer.
With little effort, the money you save with Amex Offers could easily offset your annual fee. Simply enroll in offers, use your Amex card to pay and wait for the statement credit or the bonus points to post.
If your trip is delayed by 12 hours or more, you qualify for reimbursement of reasonable expenses, such as meals, lodging, toiletries and medication purchased within 48 hours. You’re covered for up to $300 per trip, and you can make up to two claims per 12 consecutive months. To receive coverage, you must charge the full amount of a covered trip to your American Express card.
In the event of baggage damage or baggage loss while in transit, you’re covered for up to $500 per covered person for checked luggage and up to $1,250 per covered person for carry-on luggage. The card member, his/her spouse and dependent children younger than 23 are covered.
Rental vehicles are eligible for insurance for up to 30 consecutive days. Theft and damage are covered for up to $50,000 per rental agreement. The coverage is secondary, which means that American Express will cover what your personal insurance won’t.
Should you need to obtain customs information for a country you plan to visit, vaccination information or foreign exchange rates, the Global Assist Hotline is here for you 24/7. The service is also available if you lose your passport, need an emergency cash wire or medical assistance when things go wrong on a trip. The service itself is free, but you’re still on the hook for all related charges.
The Amex Gold is considered a mid-range card, but it packs a punch when it comes to earning points. However, it doesn’t provide many premium travel benefits you might be looking for as a frequent flyer.
If you find yourself at airports frequently, The Platinum Card from American Express is loaded with perks and benefits. It’s perfect for road warriors as well as those trekking across the world. What it lacks in earning rates it makes up for in benefits.
|Amex Gold Card||Amex Platinum Card|
|Welcome bonus: Up to 50,000 points||Welcome bonus: 60,000 points|
|4X per dollar spent on dining and groceries
3X per dollar spent on airfare
|5X per dollar spent on airfare
5X per dollar spent on prepaid hotels booked on Amex Travel
|$100 airline fee credit||$200 airline fee credit|
|$120 dining credit||$200 Uber credit|
|Global Assist Hotline||Premium Global Assist Hotline|
|Trip delay insurance after 12 hours||Trip delay insurance after six hours|
|Secondary rental car insurance||Secondary rental car insurance|
|Annual fee: $250||Annual fee: $550|
|The Centurion Lounge access|
|Priority Pass Select membership|
|Delta Sky Club access (when flying Delta)|
|TSA Precheck/Global Entry credit|
Although the higher fee on The Platinum Card seems a lot more intimidating, you have to consider the additional travel perks you get by paying it. Lounge access alone can be worth its weight in gold, especially when your adventures take you to destinations across the globe.
If you have trouble choosing, it’s worth noting that it’s possible to hold both cards at the same time. Make one your points generator with dining and grocery purchases and the other your ticket to lounges. The cards are different enough to get value from both.
The answer to this question depends on your usage of the card. Do you fly enough to get back $100 worth of incidental fees? Do you already order food delivery with Grubhub/Seamless to get back another $120 worth of credits? Finally, will you generate enough points annually to take a free trip every year?
If you’re able to redeem all the credits, then your effective annual fee drops to $30. Is the ability to generate rewards at an accelerated rate enough for you to keep the card for $30 per year?
For some, the credits aren’t exactly easy to use, unless you just can’t live without a slice of cheesecake every month. Consider the card’s drawbacks to make a decision.
If you’re newer to points and miles or just haven’t opened a new credit card in awhile, you’ll want to consider the Chase 5/24 rule as it might make more sense to get a Chase card first.
From a culinary connoisseur standpoint, the Amex Gold has a lot going for it: generous rewards in the right spending categories as well as flexible points. From a frugal traveler perspective, the card could include more travel benefits.
Still, the ability to transfer points to a wide range of airline and hotel partners paired with the airline fee credit makes it a competitive option for a mid-range travel card.
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Editors Note: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.