American Express® Gold Card review: The foodie gold standard

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Snapshot

4.5

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Bottom line

The American Express Gold is an incredible option for earning travel rewards on dining and U.S. supermarket purchases, and it’s ideal for foodies that can take advantage of the dining-related bonus perks. Although it has a $250 annual fee, cardholders can easily offset it with moderate spending and its annual credits.

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Apply now

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Best for travel rewards on dining

American Express® Gold Card

Rewards rate

3X–4X

Annual fee

$250

Intro offer

60,000 points

Regular APR

See Pay Over Time APR

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent  (670 - 850)

American Express® Gold Card Overview

The American Express Gold Card is one of the premier cards for dining rewards, and the best for dining in Amex’s elite card portfolio.

Its high rewards rate, valuable benefits and up to $340 in total annual credits toward eligible dining, Uber and hotel purchases make the annual fee well worth it.

Compared to Amex’s premier travel card—The Platinum Card® from American Express—and similar top-tier rewards cards, the Amex Gold card is the best option for earning rewards outside airfare and hotel stays.

What are the advantages and disadvantages?

Pros

  • Some of the best travel rewards rates on dining and groceries with one card: 4X points at restaurants (including Uber Eats purchases) and U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X points), 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com, 2X points on rental cars through amextravel.com and 1X points on all other purchases
  • Up to $120 in dining credits (enrollment required) and up $100 in hotel credits for qualifying activities every year when you book The Hotel Collection with American Express Travel.
  • Solid travel and shopping protections and benefits, including complimentary hotel upgrades (if available) and a ShopRunner membership (enrollment required)
  • The annual bonus credits alone may entirely cover the annual fee

Cons

  • $250 annual fee
  • The 3X-point travel rewards are only for flights booked directly with airlines or through American Express Travel
  • Doesn’t offer lounge access, complimentary elite status at hotels or everyday rewards on transit purchases
  • Points only redeem at a 1:1 rate for flights through the American Express Travel portal; covering dining purchases with a statement credit reduces your points to 0.6 cents each

A deeper look into the current card offer

Quick highlights

  • Rewards rate: Earn 4X Membership Rewards points on restaurants, including takeout and delivery, plus, earn 4X points for Uber Eats purchases and at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in purchases per year, then 1X points), 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or via American Express Travel and 2X points on rental cars through American Express Travel, plus 1X points on all other purchases
  • Welcome offer: 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in purchases within first six months
  • Annual fee: $250
  • Purchase intro APR: N/A
  • Balance transfer intro APR: N/A
  • Regular APR (for Pay Over Time): 15.99 percent to 22.99 percent variable

Current welcome offer

As a new cardholder, you have the chance to earn an impressive 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $4,000 in purchases within your first six months. You’ll need to spend about $667 per month to qualify for the sign-up bonus, which could give you a healthy stockpile of rewards on top of your bonus as you spend—up to 16,000 points from your 4X categories (a $160 value toward Amex air travel)

This offer is one of the best Amex welcome bonuses available depending on how you redeem these points. You could use these points to book flights through the American Express Travel portal at 1:1 rate for a $600 value, although other redemption options can as much as halve that value. Or, if transferred to a partner travel program, the points awarded in the welcome bonus could be worth up to $1,200 based on The Points Guy’s latest 2-cent point valuation.

Compared to other welcome offers on the market, the Amex Gold’s $600 value is still strong, but isn’t as competitive if you don’t plan to take advantage of transfer partners. For instance, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card offers a similar value (60,000 miles, worth $600 through the issuer toward travel, after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months) and only poses a $95 annual fee. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card also charges a much lower $95 annual fee, but its 60,000-point welcome offer (after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months) is worth up to $750 for travel through the issuer since it provides a 25 percent value boost via Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Bankrate insight

New cardholders will also have the chance to obtain the alternate Rose Gold art, which has been locked behind limited-time referral offers until earlier this year. The rosy finish doesn’t offer any different features from the Amex Gold card’s normal specs, but the extra pizazz is a neat option. Current cardholders may also change to the Rose Gold art by contacting the issuer.

Rewards rate

Out of all of American Express’ cards, the Amex Gold possibly provides the greatest number of point-earning opportunities (especially for frequent diners) with its categories that reward everyday spending on top of airfare.

How you earn

You can earn 4 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent at restaurants (including eligible delivery services like Uber Eats) and U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year on U.S. supermarkets, then 1X points), 3 points per dollar on airfare and 2 points per dollar on rental cars booked through the American Express Travel portal and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.

This bonus category variety is certainly nothing to sneeze at, but there are two other supplementary ways to earn Membership Rewards points if you want to maximize your rewards. The Amex Offers program allows you to activate limited-time deals with participating retailers and earn bonus points (usually up to a spending cap).

Meanwhile, you can also earn a 10,000-point referral bonus (up to 55,000 points per year) as an Amex Gold cardholder by referring friends to any American Express card.

You won’t rake in a fortune in points with these latter two methods, but they can make a difference over time if you’re saving up rewards for future travel.

How to redeem

When the time comes to redeem your Membership Rewards, booking travel or transferring your points to American Express travel partners (usually at a 1:1 value, but varies by partner) are the most valuable uses for your points. Otherwise, you might want to consider stockpiling your rewards for future trips.

Outside travel, these other redemption options typically eke out less than 1 cent of value per point:

  • Use points to cover card charges with a statement credit
  • Pay with points at checkout with select merchants and prepaid rental cars booked through Amex Travel
  • Redeem points for gift cards

Read more: Bankrate’s full benefits guide for the Amex Gold Card.

How much are the rewards worth?

American Express Membership Rewards points are prized as some of the most valuable travel rewards you can earn, thanks in part to a diverse list of travel partners.

They hold a 2-cent market value on average for some Amex transfer partners based on The Points Guy’s analysis, but you should use Amex’s rewards calculator before redeeming just in case. Points are best used for booking flights or upgrading your airfare class through the American Express Travel portal since they’re worth 1 cent each that way. However, your points’ value could shrink by up to half if they’re used for other reward options, so it’s worth hoarding your points till you plan to hit the skies.

For example, choosing a statement credit to cover your card charges waters down your points to 0.6 cents apiece, but most redemption options outside airfare only provide a 0.7-cent value. Points are even reduced to 0.7 cents when reserving other travel through Amex, like hotel stays, prepaid rental cars, cruises and vacations.

Other cardholder perks

As one of American Express’s elite travel cards, the Amex Gold Card carries a range of premium travel and shopping benefits, including ongoing credits for dining, Uber and hotel purchases.

$120 dining credit

The up to $120 annually in dining credits (enrollment required) is a unique perk perfect for foodies. Each month, you can earn up to $10 in statement credits on eligible Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed and eligible Shake Shack purchases.

$100 hotel credit with The Hotel Collection

By booking two consecutive nights or more through the American Express Travel portal at any of 600+ eligible properties with your card, you can receive up to a $100 hotel credit in addition to a possible room upgrade if eligible. The expenses that this credit can cover vary by property, but you can expect money back on qualifying dining, spa services, resort activities and things of that nature.

You can also enjoy discounts and other perks with your complimentary membership into The Travel Collection by Travel Leaders Group.

Up to $120 in annual Uber Cash

U.S. Amex Gold cardholders will receive up to $120 in annual Uber Cash ($10 per month in Uber Cash, expiring at the end of the month) toward U.S. rides and U.S. Eats orders. Just make sure that your Amex Gold card is linked to the Uber app to automatically receive your monthly Uber Cash.

This is a valuable perk for both dining delivery gourmands and frequent ridesharers, providing rich ongoing value and making the American Express Gold worth relishing as one of the best cards for Uber.

Travel and shopping features

The American Express Gold Card also offers a variety of useful travel and shopping features, including:

Alternate Rose Gold card art

In February 2021, American Express brought back the fan-favorite Rose Gold alternative card art for both new applicants and current cardholders—permanently. This rose gold tint was previously only available for limited times and only through referral offers. You can choose either the traditional Gold or the Rose Gold art prior to submitting your application, or you may be eligible to request the Rose Gold art if you’re already an Amex Gold cardholder.

Although the Rose Gold card is the exact same card as the normal American Express Gold (except for the paint job), this rosy finish could be a quaint benefit if the previously limited-time opportunities slipped through your fingers.

Rates and fees

If you plan on traveling in the future and you dine out or shop at supermarkets often, the rewards you earn will easily offset the $250 annual fee. In fact, you only need to spend $261 across your 4X-point bonus categories each month to cover it.

Other than that, there isn’t anything out of the ordinary fee-wise. Naturally, there are no foreign transaction fees with this travel card. And since it isn’t a traditional card, there isn’t an ongoing APR since you’ll need to pay off your balance every billing cycle. However, there is a 15.99 percent to 22.99 percent variable ongoing APR if you need to carry a balance with the Pay Over Time feature.

First-year value vs. ongoing value

The American Express Gold Card more than makes up for its annual fee in both its first year and on an ongoing basis. Generous offers from American Express add plenty of value with dining credits, Uber Cash and hotel experience credits. These three perks continue to serve up value after the first year and can cover up to $240 of the $250 annual fee. That means you’ll only need to spend moderately to make up the remainder of the annual fee, even if you only utilize one or two of those perks.

Still, the card’s ongoing rewards potential makes it easy to more than offset the annual fee. The average spender* will earn about $417 in yearly rewards value, but it only takes spending at least $521 across your 4X categories to break even on the annual fee if you redeem your points toward Amex air travel.

Your first year with the Amex Gold is no doubt where you’ll see the most value because of its generous welcome offer—an up to $600 value through the issuer—and essentially double the ongoing value of the card.

The American Express Gold provides great value both long-term and upfront for a premium rewards card, proving itself as one of the best cards for dining. However, its potential value from a travel rewards perspective lands the Amex Gold a notch below other high-caliber travel cards. This is natural, though, since its annual fee is half that of its closest $500-tier competitors and its features are geared more toward everyday expenses.

Benefits and Costs First-year value Ongoing value (no welcome offers)
Yearly rewards* +$417 +$417
Welcome offers +$600 value (60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first six months)
Perks (of monetary value)
  • +$120 (Uber Cash provided as $10 monthly credits that expire at the end of the month)
  • +$120 (Dining credits per year on eligible purchases)
  • +$100 (Experience credits with The Hotel Collection offer when you book two consecutive nights or more through the Amex Travel Portal)
  • +$120 (Uber Cash provided as $10 monthly credits that expire at the end of the month)
  • +$120 (Dining credits per year on eligible purchases)
  • +$100 (Experience credits with The Hotel Collection offer when you book two consecutive nights or more through the Amex Travel Portal)
Annual fee -$250 -$250
Total value $1,107 $507

*Based on our formula used to calculate each card’s average rewards rates and average ongoing rewards value, using Bureau of Labor Statistics spending data and an assumed $15,900 yearly spend over three years ($1,325 per month).

Bankrate staff experience

According to Emily Sherman, Bankrate Senior Editor and credit card product news team expert, the American Express Gold is well worth the annual fee:

The American Express Gold Card is by far my favorite rewards credit card. Not only does it reward me handsomely in categories I spend the most (restaurants and U.S. supermarkets, primarily), but it is packed with credits that easily make up for its $250 annual fee. I use my $10 in Uber Eats credits every month typically within a few days of it being added, and the $10 dining credit can go toward Grubhub for even more deliveries. These two credits alone make up for all but $10 of the card’s fee.

I just signed up for the card late last year, so I’m also still sitting on quite a few Membership Rewards points from my introductory bonus of 60,000 after spending $4,000 in my first six months. I’m excited to search for valuable redemption opportunities among Amex’s many travel partners.

— Emily Sherman,Bankrate Senior Editor

How the American Express Gold Card compares to other travel cards

The Amex Gold is perhaps the best all-rounder of the American Express premium travel cards, considering its travel credits and upgraded rewards on everyday categories. Its $250 yearly pricing makes the Amex Gold card a fantastic pick if you need a middle-ground between the $99 annual fee-level premium cards and elite cards in the $450+ annual fee range, but there are other options if it doesn’t line up with your spending.

American Express Gold vs. The Platinum Card® from American Express

The American Express Platinum card could be a better choice if its luxury benefits and top-tier 5X points on eligible travel and hotels would be more lucrative for you. Whether or not the $695 annual fee on the Platinum card is worth it will depend on your spending habits and how many of its features you plan to use, but there are plenty of added perks to help neutralize some of the required spending for you.

The American Express Gold and Platinum naturally earn the same type of rewards and can be redeemed similarly, but the Amex Platinum’s rewards are weighted heavily toward airfare and hotel travel purchases while the Amex Gold caters toward dining and U.S. supermarket spending. Considering that the Amex Gold also earns 3X points on airfare and offers several dining credits, the Gold is a much better choice for the cost if you value rewards spending on food over premier travel benefits.

That said, the Platinum card’s hefty $695 annual fee can be harder to recoup without utilizing its perks. However, with its rewards rates and its additional bonuses, the card will pay for itself pretty quickly assuming your spending aligns with the annual credits and 5X categories for eligible airfare and prepaid hotels through American Express Travel. Compared to the potential $340 in yearly credits you’ll get with the Gold Card, the Platinum Card offers up to $1,799 in yearly credits alone—including up to $200 annually in Uber Cash toward rides or Uber Eats orders. However, these features are far more travel-oriented (covering extensive airport lounge access, hotel privileges, annual travel statement credits and more), and the other Amex Platinum benefits may be too niche for a number of cardholders.

American Express Gold vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve®

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® has a steeper annual fee ($550) than the Amex Gold but is much more rewarding for travel as a result of the Reserve’s 50 percent bonus point value when redeeming for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. On top of this, Chase points also retain a 1:1 rate for most redemption options—including cash back—and an up to 2-cent value (according to TPG’s estimates) when transferred to select travel partners. These incentives make the card’s 3X points on general travel, 5X points on flights and 10X points on hotels, car rentals and Lyft rides (Lyft offer through Mar. 31, 2022) much more valuable rates since Chase’s travel program is more flexible than Amex’s. However, these boosted rewards rates really shine for foodies considering the 3X rate for restaurants and 10X rate for Chase Dining purchases when you book through Ultimate Rewards.

The Sapphire Reserve is ideal for a cardholder who doesn’t mind using the Chase portal to maximize their rewards, or make dining reservations, and wants its more versatile redemption options in case they won’t always redeem for air travel (such as cash back to cover dining). While the Sapphire Reserve’s benefits are more valuable overall than the Amex Gold’s (the Reserve’s perks are worth up to $624 each year). That said, the Amex Gold earns points at a higher rate on U.S. supermarket purchases, and its dining rewards are more valuable than those you would earn with the Sapphire Reserved if you aren’t planning to use transfer partners.

Ultimately, the Amex Gold is the stronger option if supermarket rewards are a must and you’re only planning to redeem for flights through Amex, but the Sapphire Reserve is an all-around better card for foodies that need beefier travel rewards and options to redeem them.

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American Express® Gold Card

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4.5
See Rates & Fees, Terms Apply
Apply now

on American Express's secure site

Annual fee

$250

Intro offer

60,000 points

Rewards rate

3X–4X

Recommended credit

Good to Excellent(670 - 850)
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The Platinum Card® from American Express

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4.3
See Rates & Fees, Terms Apply
Apply now

on American Express's secure site

Annual fee

$695

Intro offer

100,000 points

Rewards rate

5X–5X

Recommended credit

Good to Excellent(670 - 850)
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Chase Sapphire Reserve®

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4.3
Apply now

on Chase's secure site

Annual fee

$550

Intro offer

50,000 points

Rewards rate

1x–10x

Recommended credit

Excellent(740 - 850)

Best cards to pair with the American Express Gold Card

The best Amex Gold combo is the American Express trifecta—a strategic combination of cards that maximize your rewards across as much of your spending as possible.

By adding the American Express Platinum card to your arsenal, you gain a higher rewards rate on travel and hotels, as well as more extensive travel benefits like lounge access. Then, The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express can earn 2X points on the first $50,000 you spend on your card each year, then 1X points—to help cover purchases that don’t fall in a bonus category.

But if the Platinum Card is too expensive or you don’t qualify for a business credit card, getting another flat-rate card could still earn more rewards on any purchases that don’t fall within the Gold card’s categories. If you want to stick with Amex, the American Express Cash Magnet® Card—which earns unlimited 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases—is a good choice. However, it’s easier to find a better flat-rate cash back card outside American Express.

Bankrate’s Take: Is the American Express Gold Card worth it?

The American Express Gold Card could be the best American Express card if you’re looking for travel rewards on everyday expenses like U.S. supermarket purchases, but it’s an especially wise pick if you’re a restaurant regular.

The dining credits and other valuable benefits make it a clear choice over less expensive American Express cards, and the annual fee is low enough that you can easily offset it with regular spending and utilizing the recurring bonus credits.

All of these factors add up to make the Amex Gold one of the best (and few) rewards cards if you need a step above an “entry-level” premium card, but you can’t justify getting a top-tier rewards card with a $400+ annual fee.

The information about the American Express Cash Magnet® Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.

Frequently Asked Questions