Why the Amex Gold is worth the $250 annual fee
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Deciding whether the American Express® Gold Card is worth the $250 annual fee can be tricky, especially since Amex has so many popular rewards credit cards to choose from. For example, the Amex EveryDay® Credit Card* lets users earn the same type of rewards — in the form of Amex Membership Rewards points — with no annual fee at all. Then there’s The Platinum Card® from American Express, which comes with far more perks despite its much higher annual fee of $695.
All things considered, the Amex Gold’s benefits can more than make up for the annual fee. From there, the exceptional rewards rate and welcome offer make this card a spectacular deal for the right type of spender.
But, is the Amex Gold Card worth the $250 annual fee in the long run? Keep reading to find out when and if the Amex Gold’s annual fee is worth paying — especially for the first year.
When is the annual fee worth it?
If you’re looking for a card that offers generous rewards and some perks that aren’t too difficult to use, the American Express Gold Card could be an excellent fit. The following scenarios are ones where picking up this card and paying the $250 annual fee can make a lot of sense.
You want to earn a generous welcome offer
The value proposition for this card is outstanding for the first year. If you earn the welcome offer of 60,000 Membership Rewards points (earned after spending $4,000 in your first six months), these points can be worth up to $1,260 in transfer partner travel according to recent Bankrate valuations.
You spend a lot on dining out and groceries
Beyond the generous welcome offer, this card lets users earn 4X points on restaurant spending worldwide (plus on takeout and delivery in the U.S.); 4X points on U.S. supermarket purchases (on up to $25,000 in purchases per year, then 1X points); 4X points on Uber Eats purchases; 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or via American Express Travel; and 1X points on all other purchases.
If you max out the 4X spending category at U.S. supermarkets each year, you could rack up 100,000 Amex Membership Rewards points — worth up to $2,100 in transfer partner travel in that category alone.
Flexible points are ideal for your rewards goals
Also, keep in mind that this Amex card earns flexible points that work within the American Express Membership Rewards program. These points can be redeemed for statement credits, gift cards and merchandise and travel through the Amex travel portal.
Frequent travelers also love the fact that Membership Rewards points transfer to an array of Amex hotel and airline partners, including Air France / Flying Blue, Delta SkyMiles and Hilton Honors.
The Amex Gold annual credits are useful for you
The Amex Gold Card provides up to $120 in Uber Cash each year for U.S. Uber rides and U.S. Uber Eats orders. Note, this credit is doled out in increments of $10 per month, and any unused cash expires at the end of the month.
Cardholders also can receive a dining credit worth up to $120 per year ($10 per month). This credit can be used for purchases at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and participating Shake Shack locations. Enrollment is required to receive this credit.
Finally, the Amex Gold Card comes with a hotel credit worth up to $100 when you book an eligible stay with The Hotel Collection. This credit is good for stays of at least two consecutive nights when you book with American Express Travel. It can be used for eligible dining, spa and resort activities, plus room upgrades after arrival (if available).
When is the annual fee not worth it?
With all this being said, there are definitely scenarios where the Amex Gold Card doesn’t make any sense at all. Here are a few instances where that may be the case.
Earning cash back is your biggest priority
If you actually prefer to earn cash back, the Amex Gold Card may not be your best bet. After all, American Express Membership Rewards points can be worth approximately 2.1 cents each when used to book travel through Amex travel partners, but redemption ratios are much lower for other options.
As an example, you’ll only get up to 1 cent per point in value for gift cards, and you’ll only receive 0.6 cents per point in value if you use your rewards to cover charges made to your account.
The annual credits on this card are not useful to you
If you cannot use the $120 in dining credits or the $120 in Uber and Uber Eats credits on a regular basis, it may be more difficult to justify the $250 annual fee on the Amex Gold. This issue is complicated further by the fact that both of these credits are doled out in $10 monthly increments, and the credits do not roll over from one month to the next.
You don’t spend a lot on food each month
Finally, you may be better off with a different rewards credit card if you rarely spend a lot on dining out or at U.S. supermarkets. The Amex Gold Card really shines in these categories due to its exceptional rewards rate, yet that doesn’t mean much if you usually spend more elsewhere.
Alternative cards to consider
If you can’t decide whether the Amex Gold annual fee is worth it, there are other cards with a lower annual fee or no annual fee that offer similar rewards or perks. Consider these options if you’re hoping to earn more rewards on groceries or dining, or if you want to earn Amex Membership Rewards points without paying a high annual fee.
The Amex EveryDay Credit Card: Best no-fee alternative for earning Amex Membership Rewards
The Amex EveryDay Credit Card comes with no annual fee and lets users earn points in the American Express Membership Rewards program. New cardholders can earn 10,000 points after spending $1,000 on purchases within three months of account opening.
In terms of ongoing rewards, cardholders earn 2X points on up to $6,000 in spending at U.S. supermarkets each year (then 1X points), 2X points on prepaid rental cars booked through American Express Travel and 1X points on all other purchases. Plus, cardholders can receive a 20 percent boost in rewards if they use their card for 20 or more purchases within a billing cycle.
Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express: Best lower-fee alternative for grocery rewards
To maximize rewards on grocery spending, consider the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express. This card comes with a $0 annual fee the first year, after which cardholders are charged $95 annually to keep the card.
With the Blue Cash Preferred, new cardholders will receive a $250 statement credit after spending $3,000 within six months of account opening. Cardholders also earn 6 percent back on up to $6,000 in spending at U.S. supermarkets each year (then 1 percent); 6 percent back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions; 3 percent back at U.S. gas stations and on transit; and 1 percent back on all other purchases.
Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best lower-fee alternative for dining rewards
Consumers should consider the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card* if they want to boost their rewards on dining. This card requires a $95 annual fee, yet new cardholders can earn $300 in bonus cash after spending $3,000 within three months of account opening.
From there, cardholders earn 8 percent back on Capital One Entertainment purchases; 5 percent back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel; 4 percent back on dining, entertainment and popular streaming services; 3 percent back at grocery stores; and 1 percent back on all other purchases.
Plus, through Nov. 14, 2024, cardholders can also earn 10 percent back on Uber and Uber Eats purchases while enjoying a complimentary Uber One membership for up to two years — making it one of the best credit cards for Uber and Lyft.
The bottom line
For years, the Amex Gold has been one of the most popular rewards cards available, and it’s likely worth it for anyone who can maximize its perks. But if you’re unsure about the Amex Gold because its benefits are too specific — making it harder to recoup the annual fee — that’s perfectly understandable. There are plenty of other rewards credit cards to consider, including those on our list of the best credit cards for restaurants. Either way, it never hurts to spend time comparing all of your options before you make a decision.
*All information about The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express and Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by Bankrate and has not been reviewed or approved by the issuer.