The American Express (Amex) Gold card is a high-quality rewards card that allows users to earn a better-than-average amount of points on everyday purchases. The Gold card does not provide all the premium travel benefits of the American Express Platinum card. However, there are still plenty of reasons why frequent travelers will enjoy the card.
Like all American Express cards, users will pay for the privilege. In the case of the Gold card that is in the form of a $250 annual fee. That is higher than the fee charged by competitors such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. However, the fee is largely offset by the premium benefits that users get including up to $220 in various annual credits.
How Do Users Earn Points?
Cardholders who receive the American Express Gold card can receive an introductory offer of 35,000 bonus points if they spend $4,000 in the first six months of opening the account. Assuming each point is valued at one cent apiece, the 35,000-point bonus is worth $350.
This means users can earn more than triple the annual fee just by collecting those points. American Express has been known to run special promotions that might provide an even richer introductory offer through the CardMatch tool.
In addition to the introductory offer, the Amex Gold card offers other point-earning opportunities.
For example, cardholders receive 3x points per dollar on any flight that they book directly with the airlines or with American Express Travel (amextravel.com).
Cardholders also receive 4x points per dollar on dining at restaurants. The company has recently expanded their list of worldwide restaurant partners. And the 4x benefit applies to takeout and delivery from registered partners.
Members also receive 4x the points on purchases at supermarkets in the United States. The 4x reward has a cap of $25,000 per calendar year. After that, members can still receive a one-for-one points reward.
Aside from these categories, members can receive 1x the points on all purchases. And points are transferrable to help cardmembers take advantage of special promotions being run by a select network of airlines and hotels.
What Other Member Benefits Are Included?
Other benefits include up to $120 in dining credits. These credits are issued in monthly $10 increments when cardholders use the Gold card at select locations. Currently, that list is The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations). Users do have to enroll to receive these credits.
Cardmembers can also receive $100 in annual statement credits on incidental fees charged by an airline you select (one airline only). As with the dining credit, members must enroll to receive this credit.
Travelers are eligible for up to $500 per covered trip for reasonable expenses if their trip is delayed by more than six hours for a covered reason. Furthermore, if cardholders have to cancel or interrupt their trip (for a covered reason) they are eligible for reimbursement of up to $10,000 per covered trip.
Another benefit of the Gold Card is the ability to earn points and credit when booking a stay through the Amex Hotel Collection. Cardholders that do this can earn 2x the points on their purchase and get up to $100 toward dining, spa, and resort activities on the property. Some limitations apply.
Cardmembers also receive some peace of mind when traveling through baggage insurance and trip delay reimbursement. In the case of luggage that is lost, damaged, or stolen, users that purchased a ticket with their Amex Gold card are eligible for up to $1,250 in coverage for carry-on baggage and up to $500 for checked bags.
And if a trip you purchased with your Amex Gold card is delayed by more than 12 hours (for a covered reason), cardholders can be reimbursed for expenses of up to $300 for eligible expenses (meals, lodging, toiletries, etc.). Some restrictions apply.
Extended warranty protection that extends eligible manufacturer’s warranties of five years or less by up to one additional year. Purchase protection against theft, accidental damage or loss (up to 90 days from purchase date) and return protection of up to $300 an item (excluding shipping and handling) on eligible items (up to 90 days from date of purchase when merchant will not take item back). Return protection is capped at $1,000 per calendar year per card account.
And these are the highlights. There are many additional benefits and services available to card members such as no foreign transaction fees.
What is the Annual Percentage Rate (APR)?
Like all American Express cards, the Amex Gold card is technically a “charge card” instead of a credit card. The expectation is that cardmembers will pay their balance in full each month. With that in mind, the card does not have a preset spending limit. Cardholders have a general limit that will fluctuate based on purchase and credit history.
American Express does offer Plan It and Pay Over Time programs that give cardmembers the opportunity to pay for eligible purchases over time. Plan It uses a monthly fee structure as opposed to charging interest. Pay Over Time is a more traditional financing arrangement that includes interest.
Do You Qualify?
The Amex Gold card is for individuals with good to excellent credit defined as having a credit score between 690 and 850. This is typical of most cards at this level. Most applicants will likely already have a credit score that will qualify them for this card.
Does the Card Have Limitations?
Frequent travelers will not enjoy some of the benefits available with the Amex Platinum card, such as lounge access. However, if you’re more interested in accumulating points from dining out and grocery purchases, the Gold card is a better choice. And, the Gold card does have some limitations that may offset some of the potential credits.
American Express may not be accepted at as many retailers as a Mastercard or Visa. This could be a limitation for card members in some areas.
What Cards Are Similar to The American Express Platinum?
The American Express Gold card is a direct competitor of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. Many of the benefits of the card are very similar, however, the Gold card does offer the ability to earn more points on dining and groceries. However, the Sapphire Preferred card may be a better option for individuals looking for a card that lets them get maximum points for every purchase. And it has a lower annual fee of just $95.
The Amex Gold card is a solid choice as a rewards card. But it does have its quirks. If you dine out frequently at qualifying restaurants, the Amex Gold card will work well. Also if your regular grocery store accepts American Express, this card may be a great choice. But for every day purchases, some consumers may decide they can do better.
And frequent travelers may want to consider the additional benefits and perks they would get from the Amex Platinum card. However, they would be paying a hefty $550 annual fee.