American Express® Gold Card

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Claire Dickey @ClaireDickey  in  Travel Advertising Disclosure
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Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

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Best for travel rewards on dining spend

Annual Fee:
$250
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
See Rates & Fees
Terms and Restrictions Apply | Rates and Fees
Bankrate Score: 88 out of 100

Commonly used for: Excellent Credit, No Foreign Transaction Fees, Rewards, Travel.

This is one of the best offers from our partner American Express.

Are you a frequent traveler? Do you consider yourself a restaurant connoisseur? If so, the American Express® Gold Card may be your match.

You’ll earn points on airfare, U.S. restaurants and U.S. supermarkets with the Gold Card, plus a decent welcome bonus after meeting the card’s qualifying spend within your first three months.

Here are the details:

With the American Express® Gold Card, you’ll get 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. restaurants, 4X points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year in purchases) and 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com. You’ll additionally receive 1X points on all other purchases.

The card comes with a pretty generous 35,000-point welcome bonus when you spend $2,000 on purchases within your first three months. You’ll also have access to perks like a $100 airline fee credit per calendar year, just in case the airline charges incidental fees to your American Express account.

You can also earn up to $120 in annual savings ($10 monthly) when you pay with your card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House and participating Shake Shack locations (enrollment required).

This card doesn’t charge any foreign transaction fees( see rates and fees), so if you frequently travel outside of the United States, you won’t be tied up with any pesky additional fees.

Is this card right for you?

First and foremost, this card is meant for those who travel often and spend quite a bit of money eating out, ordering in and grocery shopping. If you consider yourself a homebody, the American Express Gold Card shouldn’t be your pick.

There’s a hefty annual fee of $250( see terms and fees), so it’s important to make sure you can comfortably pay this each year. Analyze your spending habits to determine whether the rewards you’ll earn from the Gold Card will cover the cost of the fee.

This card is great for redemption flexibility, as you can transfer your Membership Rewards® points to 21 travel partners (18 airlines, three hotels). Even better, you’ll usually get the most value from Membership Rewards® points when transferring to a travel partner.

Advantages
  • Sizeable welcome bonus of 35,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months
  • $100 airline fee credit
  • Up to $120 in dining credit (enrollment required)
  • Great redemption flexibility with 21 travel partners
  • No foreign transaction fees.
Disadvantages
  • $250 annual fee
  • No lounge membership (although you can buy passes)

How much are the rewards worth?

Let’s take a look at how much your Membership Rewards® points would be worth with a spending example:

Card American Express® Gold Card
TPG April 2019 point valuation

2.0 (when redeemed for airfare)

1.0 (when redeemed for all other purchases)

Spending example

$2,000 * 12 months * 4X * $0.01 = $960

$2,083 * 12 months * 4X * $0.01 = $999.84

$3,000 * 12 months * 3X * $0.02 = $2,160

$1,000 * 12 months * 1X * $0.01 = $120

Welcome bonus 35,000 Membership Rewards® points when you spend $2,000 in the first three months (worth $350)
First-year value  $4,589.84 (including welcome-offer)
Second-year value  $4,239.84

If you spent $2,000 a month at U.S. restaurants, $2,083 a month at U.S. supermarkets (therefore maxing out the yearly category cap), $3,000 a month on airfare and $1,000 a month on all other purchases, you’d earn $4,239.84 worth of Membership Rewards® points. When you include the 35,000-point welcome bonus, that bumps your earnings up to $4,589.84.

Keep in mind the worth of your Membership Rewards® points varies based on what you redeem them for. According to TPG’s April 2019 point valuations, Membership Rewards® points redeemed for travel are worth 2 cents, whereas they’re normally valued at 1 cent.

Overall, you’ll get the most value out of your points by transferring them to one of AmEx’s travel partners.

How to use this card

The Gold Card offers more than a few additional perks, starting with American Express Preferred Seating. With Preferred Seating, you’ll have access to premium seats for select sporting and entertainment events.

With AmEx’s Baggage Insurance Plan, American Express will cover any eligible lost, damaged or stolen baggage when you purchase the entire fare for a Common Carrier ticket. You can also enjoy travel perks like Premium Roadside Assistance and car rental loss and damage insurance.

The only bonus category with a cap is the 4X points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year). To make the most of this category, you’ll want to comfortably spend just under $2,100 a month on groceries.

If you fly often with a specific airline it will be easy to select an airline partner for your $100 airline expenses credit. The credit is valid with most major U.S. airlines, and after you use your Gold Card to pay,  you’ll receive the statement credit in two to four weeks.

As for the $120 dining credit, you must enroll in your online AmEx account in order to start receiving $10 per month.

The bottom line

The American Express Gold Card isn’t for the faint of heart. You’ll benefit most from its generous rewards structure and perks if you travel often, eat out regularly and can comfortably spend a large amount of money doing so.

For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, please click here.