The American Express Gold Card or Amex Gold holds a unique place in the market: it’s not quite a premium card, which usually come loaded with perks and bearing hefty annual fees. And yet, at $250, it doesn’t fit the profile of an entry-level card, either. So is it worth it to spend a little bit more than you would on, say, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card to get access to the Gold Card’s benefits?

Let’s break it down.

amex gold

What Benefits Do You Get With the Amex Gold Card?

Solid Welcome Bonus

New cardholders of Amex Gold will net a welcome bonus of between 35,000 and 50,000 Membership Rewards Points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of card membership. While it’s not the biggest bonus offer out there, if spent wisely, it can net you an international one-way—and if spent really wisely, it can even snag you a round-trip to Europe. Not bad for a $250 fee!

Earn 4X Amex Points at Restaurants and U.S. Supermarkets

Whether you’re into dining out, delivery, or cooking at home, we all have to eat—and American Express knows it. With restaurants (takeout and delivery included) and U.S. supermarkets among its bonus categories, it’s made the Gold Card an appealing option for everyone who spends money on food… which is, well, everyone.

amex gold restaurants

The card is an especially good match for foodies; those who love eating out often, splurging on special restaurant experiences, or paying up for premium ingredients will be able to make extra use of that 4X multiple.

A couple of important things to note: The supermarket benefit only applies to the first $25,000 you spend on groceries each year, and above that threshold, you’ll earn 1X point per dollar. Luckily, the average person won’t have a problem staying below that cap.

amex gold grocery

And while the supermarket bonus may only extend to stores within the U.S., the dining bonus is international, meaning the Gold Card—which also doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees—makes a great travel companion.

Earn 3X Amex Points on Flights

The Amex Gold goes harder on its food-related benefits than its travel-related benefits when it comes to its points-earnings structure, but it certainly doesn’t leave them out altogether. You’ll still earn 3X points per dollar when you book flights directly with an airline or with Amex Travel, so if the majority of your travel spend goes toward airfare, you’re in luck.

You may be thinking, “But I thought the goal was to get my flights for free?!” and while that’s certainly true, sometimes you’ll come across a situation where the value for your points just isn’t there and it makes more sense to spend money. Beyond situations like those, this benefit is particularly useful if you’re someone who books travel for work and then gets reimbursed!

Transfer Points to Airline & Hotel Partners

American Express has one of the top transfer partner lists in the game, and the ability to transfer points at what’s almost always a 1:1 ratio gives you the utmost flexibility when planning a trip. Here are the airlines on the roster:

Aer Lingus ANA El Al jetBlue
Aero Mexico Avianca Emirates Qantas
Air Canada British Airways Etihad Singapore Airlines
Air France/KLM Cathay Pacific Hawaiian Airlines Virgin Atlantic
Alitalia Delta Iberia  

With so many transfer options, you’ll find tons of different ways to maximize your points, no matter where you’re going. Transferring to British Airways can help you book cheap domestic flights on American or Alaska, including flights from the West Coast to Hawaii on Alaska for 26,000 Avios. Virgin Atlantic, meanwhile, is a great option for booking Delta flights for fewer miles than you’d spend booking through Delta itself.

If you’re looking to go farther afield—and to do it in style—you’ll have plenty of fun business class options, too. For example, you can use 55,000 Aeroplan miles for a one-way business class ticket to Western Europe on Turkish Airlines or SWISS, or as few as 53,000 Flying Blue miles to get to Europe in Air France or KLM business class.

Amex also has a few hotel partners, including Choice Privileges, Hilton Honors, and Marriott Bonvoy. They won’t provide great value, but the transfer option can help you top off your accounts in a pinch.

Most importantly, with this list, you’ll have options for getting wherever you want to go!

statement credits on dining purchases

$120 Dining Credit

Keeping with that foodie theme, the Gold Card comes with $120 in yearly dining credits—up to $10 each month—when you use your card on for purchases from Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations.

The extensive delivery options through Grubhub and Seamless mean that even if you’re not in the mood to venture out, you can still make use of the credit!

$100 The Hotel Collection Credit

When you book a stay of two or more consecutive nights through The Hotel Collection, you’ll get a $100 hotel credit to cover qualifying purchases—plus a room upgrade, if it’s available.

Hotel card

$100 Airline Fee Credit

Like some other members of Amex’s credit card portfolio, the Gold Card comes with an Airline Fee credit. Here’s how it works: select an airline from Amex’s list, and then receive up to $100 per year in statement credits for select fees and incidentals.

The fee can be a little quirky; there’s no published list of what it will cover, and Amex relies on the way airlines code the fees in order to do its reimbursements. But if you’re frequently in the sky, it can definitely come in handy.

Secondary Car Rental Insurance

When renting a car and paying with the Gold Card, you can decline the collision damage waiver offered by the rental car company and Amex will automatically cover you, pending some exclusions and restrictions based on country and vehicle type.

Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance

Travel and Purchase Protections

The Gold Card boasts some of the most lucrative—yet often overlooked—benefits in the credit card world with its suite of travel and purchase protections. On the travel side, if your baggage is lost, damaged, or stolen during a trip you paid for with your Gold Card, you can recoup up to $1,250 for a carry-on item and up to $500 for checked luggage.

When spending on consumer goods, the Gold Card provides an extended warranty—padding the manufacturer’s warranty by an extra year—and also covers you with purchase protection when an item is damaged, stolen, or lost up to 90 days from the date you bought it.

Entertainment Benefits

Holders of the Gold Card get access to special ticket presales and cardmember-only events, which can be a big help in getting seats for popular concerts, sporting events and the like.

American Express Gold Entertainment Benefits

What Other Cards Should You Consider in the Same Price Range of Amex Gold Card?

Here’s the thing: As I mentioned above, there aren’t really any strong contenders in the same price range as the Gold Card, which occupies a unique mid-tier spot. So if you’re hesitating on pulling the trigger, it’s probably because you’re debating whether $250 is too much to spend, or whether you could milk enough value out of a credit card to bump yourself up to a premium option.

American Express Green Card

If it’s the former, you might want to consider the Gold Card’s sister card, the American Express Green Card. With an annual fee of $150, it’s priced above most entry-level options, which tend to stay in the $95 range. But like the Gold Card, it comes with strong earnings multiples, netting you 3X points on all travel and all restaurant purchases worldwide.

While you lose the supermarket bonus category with the Green Card, note that the travel bonus gets a lot stronger: it covers all travel, not just airfare, which may be particularly enticing at a time when many people are leaning toward road trips rather than flights. And while you won’t earn as many points on dining, keeping an extra $100 in your bank account yearly may soften that blow.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

If you want to take it down one more notch and aren’t particularly attached to Membership Rewards Points, you could always opt for the Chase Sapphire Preferred, a tried-and-true classic among points and miles beginners. You’ll see your earnings rates decrease, to be sure—with the Preferred, you’ll earn 2X Ultimate Rewards Points on travel and 2X on dining—but the annual fee will decrease along with them, sliding down to $95.

There are some benefits to going with Chase, though, particularly if you’re a beginner. The Sapphire Preferred offers a welcome bonus of 60,000 Points, enough to put you well on your way to a big redemption. Plus, many people chose to begin with Chase cards thanks to Chase’s 5/24 rule, which stipulates that if you’ve opened five or more credit cards in the past 24 months, you’ll be automatically rejected for the majority of Chase’s offerings, including the Sapphire Preferred.

When Would It Make Sense to Pay for a More Expensive Card Than Amex Gold?

If you’re looking for a ton of perks and statement credits, The Platinum Card from American Express may be a better fit, especially for the frequent traveler. While it comes with a sky-high $550 fee, Amex has loaded it up with benefits that, when fully utilized, can take the fee down to next to nothing.

Amex Centurion Lounge
Amex Centurion Lounge SEA – Image Courtesy of

With The Platinum Card, benefits include:

  • $200 airline fee credit,
  • $100 hotel credit with The Hotel Collection bookings
  • $200 in Uber credits per year , usable on rides or Uber Eats
  • $100 statement credit for Global Entry or $80 credit for TSA Pre✓
  • $100 annually in Saks Fifth Avenue credits,
  • Amex Centurion Lounge access
  • Delta Sky Club access
  • Priority Pass Select membership – 1,300+ airport lounges
  • Gold status with both Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy

And those are just the beginning. You’ll also earn 5X Membership Rewards points on flights booked directly with the airline or via Amex Travel and on prepaid hotels booked on Amex Travel.

When Does a No-Annual-Fee Credit Card Make More Sense?

If you’re getting cold feet about taking out a card with an annual fee, the Amex EveryDay Credit Card might be a good place to start. You’ll earn 2X Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets up to $6,000 per year, and 1X point per dollar on everything else.

Yes, that’s half of what you’d earn on groceries with the Gold Card—and with a much lower spending ceiling—but that’s the tradeoff you make to keep the annual fee in your pocket. Plus, you can always graduate to a pricier card after you’ve learned the ropes and examined your spending habits.

The Amex EveryDay also awards 20% bonus points when you make 20 transactions with the card during your statement period.

Bottom Line About Amex Gold

Assuming you can maximize the card’s benefits, the Amex Gold Card is definitely worth it thanks to its sign-up bonus, earnings rates, statement credits, and consumer protections. But before you apply, make sure you actually make use of those features!

If you find you can—or if you’re just not ready to shell out $250 per year—there are plenty of other great options. Consider the Amex Green Card or the Amex EveryDay, particularly if you want to keep it in the American Express family.