American Express® Business Gold Card review: A highflying card for day-to-day business expenses
A great choice for business owners who travel, but beware. You may not spend enough to get the most out of this card.
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American Express® Business Gold Card Overview
For the small-business owner who travels often and wants rewards for their daily business spending, the American Express Business Gold Card may be one of the best business credit cards on the market. It offers a generous rewards rate of up to $150,000 per year in spending in two of your top eligible business categories, including travel and everyday categories like U.S. gas stations and U.S. restaurants. This makes the card a perfect fit for businesses with expenses that fall in line with these select categories.
Unfortunately, the Amex Business Gold will fall short for a number of business owners, especially those who spend more in areas not covered by the Amex Business Gold’s bonus categories or business travelers looking for top-of-the-line luxury perks. And with an annual fee of $295 a year, the rewards and business-related features that do come with the Business Gold may not be enough.
What are the advantages and disadvantages?
- Cardmembers are limited to earning 4X points in only two out of six eligible business-related categories
- The $295 annual fee is high compared to other cards with similar features
- You’ll only earn 4X points on your first $150,000 in combined spending for all bonus categories, after which you can only earn 1X points
- No airport lounge access and few additional luxury perks, unlike other premium business cards centered around travel rewards
A deeper look into the current card offer
- Rewards rate: Earn 4X points on up to $150,000 per year in two select categories your business spends the most in each billing cycle and 2X points on rental cars booked through AmexTravel.com
- Welcome Offer: Earn 70,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $10,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Gold Card within the first three months of card membership*
- Annual Fee: $295
- Purchase Intro APR: N/A
- Balance Transfer Intro APR: N/A
- Regular APR: 17.24 percent to 25.24 percent (variable Pay Over Time APR)
Current welcome offer
The American Express Business Gold Card offers a promising 70,000-point welcome offer after you spend $10,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership (terms apply). That could be worth $700 toward flights through the American Express travel portal or up to $1,600 with the right American Express transfer partner, according to our latest valuation.
Compared to similar cards, however, the Amex Business Gold falls slightly short. Several other business cards offer comparable bonuses at a smaller spend for businesses that find the spending requirement too steep.
The maximum value of the American Express Business Gold Card lies in the Membership Rewards point program. You can either pool points with other Amex cards in the program or transfer to other loyalty programs at a higher value.
How you earn
The rewards process works automatically, tracking your transactions after each billing cycle to determine which two of the six bonus categories below you spent the most in:
- Airfare purchased directly from an airline.
- Advertising (purchased in the U.S. to promote your business online, on TV or radio).
- U.S. gas stations.
- U.S. restaurants.
- U.S. shipping costs.
- U.S. computer software, hardware and cloud data purchases made directly from select providers.
You’ll retroactively earn 4X points on those two spending categories up until you pass $150,000 in combined bonus category purchases for that calendar year. Afterward, you’ll earn only 1X points on those purchases. Fortunately, all other purchases that don’t qualify for 4X rewards will still earn 1X points.
How you redeem
To redeem rewards, you have to enroll in the Amex Membership Rewards program. Points can be redeemed directly through the American Express travel portal for flights, hotels, travel upgrades and more, or they can be transferred to partner airlines and hotels.
You can also redeem your points for statement credits, gift cards or at select merchant checkouts (like Amazon.com and rental cars booked through Amex Travel), though often for a lower value.
How much are the rewards worth?
The value of American Express Membership Rewards points depends on how you redeem them. Amex’s handy rewards calculator shows you the exact exchange rate toward specific options, but you’ll get the most value from American Express points when redeeming for travel, particularly if you transfer your points to one of American Express’ hotel or airline partners.
Booking flights through the Amex portal provides the best value since you get a 1:1 value plus 25 percent points back (up to 250,000 points per year) on eligible flights, giving your points a value of 1.25 cents apiece. Other travel and non-travel options get you a value of 0.5 to 0.7 cents per point, but your best bet is to find the right transfer partner to net around 2.2 cents per point.
Other cardholder perks
Overall, the American Express Business Gold Card offers solid travel and business rewards, but the Amex Business Gold’s benefits aren’t nearly as substantial. The Pay Over Time feature is certainly helpful for unexpected expenses — and the hotel perks, travel insurance and purchase protections can come in handy regularly — but there aren’t as many perks as you’d expect to find on a travel card that costs $295 each year, which means relying on rewards spending to offset the fee.
The Hotel Collection perks
By booking an eligible property within The Hotel Collection through American Express travel for at least two consecutive nights can net you a few benefits, like a $100 hotel credit toward qualifying activities (like eligible dining, spa and other resort activities that vary by property) and a room upgrade as soon as you arrive (if available).
Once you factor in the up to $150 complimentary night/property credit, up to $250 in hotel perks is nothing to sneeze at and can nearly recoup your annual fee, but it’s worth noting that these perks are the only recurring credits that the Amex Business Gold carries.
Travel and purchase protections
While it’s not the best credit card for travel insurance, paying with your card provides a few solid insurances for your baggage (up to $1,250 for carry-on and up to $500 for checked baggage) and your trip in the event of a 12-hour delay or more.
Any eligible purchases bought with your card are also protected by accidental damage or theft for up to 90 days from the purchase date (up to $1,000 per occurrence and up to $50,000 per account per calendar year), and any original manufacturer’s warranty of five years or less can also be extended by a year.
These are solid protections, but the Amex Business Gold is missing a few key valuable travel insurances you can find on less expensive premium travel cards, such as travel interruption and cancellation insurance.
Pay Over Time
Another perk of the American Express Business Gold Card is the “Pay Over Time” option, allowing you to decide whether you want to pay eligible purchases in full each month-or pay over time with interest (terms apply). That way, your card with a flexible spending limit also carries the main benefit of a revolving credit card in case any unexpected expenses pop up. Just keep in mind that your revolving Pay Over Time balance is subject to interest—currently a 17.24 percent to 25.24 percent variable Pay Over Time APR.
Rates and fees
One drawback to the American Express Business Gold Card is that it carries an annual fee of $295, though it’s possible to offset that cost. Your rewards allow you to recoup that cost by spending at least $300 in your 4X categories each month (based on our 2.2 cent per point value). This benchmark may be easy to achieve when you consider your employee cards will also earn rewards and there are no foreign transaction fees to eat into the points you earn on business travel abroad.
Although your card comes with a flexible limit, it’s different from a traditional card in that the Pay Over Time feature allows you to carry a balance on purchases (see terms) at a 17.24 percent to 25.24 percent variable APR. In case you overextend yourself, beware that there’s a late payment of $39 or 2.99 percent of any past due amounts that you were supposed to pay in full, plus a 29.99 percent penalty APR.
First-year value vs. ongoing value
Since the Business Gold doesn’t carry as many recurring benefits or credits as The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, your potential value is heavily based on your rewards spending rather than offsetting the annual fee with benefits.
The $295 annual fee may seem overwhelming at first for some small businesses, but if you can spend at least $308 per month in your 4X categories, you’ll recoup the annual fee. You’ll also need to get the maximum 2.2-cent value via transfer partners.
Redeeming through Amex could mean spending a bit more — about $492 per month at the 1.25 cent Airline Bonus value. The 70,000-point first-year bonus would more than cover the annual fee — nearly five times over. But beyond that and The Hotel Collection credits, rewards spending essentially makes up all your card’s value.
The annual fee may not be too big of an issue since our average rewards value formula* indicates many cardholders will be able to earn about $973 in rewards value per year. But big spenders that maximize the bonus categories’ $150,000 spending limit will rake in over $3,000 in rewards value each year (based on a 2.2-cent point value with transfer partners).
There aren’t as many additional perks to pad out the ongoing and first-year value, but the rewards rate should provide enough long-term potential for savvy business spenders.
|Benefits and Costs||First-year value||Ongoing value (no welcome offers)|
|Welcome offers||+$875 (Membership Rewards sign-up bonus points redeemed through American Express Travel with the 25% Airline Bonus)||—|
|Perks (of monetary value)||
*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 $48,000 yearly spend over three years ($1,325 per month).
How the American Express Business Gold Card compares to other business cards
The Amex Business Gold card is a great choice if you have large business expenses that fall into the card’s select categories. But for small-business owners looking for premier perks — like lounge access or a card with a lower annual fee and still earning rewards — the following might be better options.
Amex Business Gold vs. The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
Despite the $695 annual fee, frequent flyers and businesses with large expenses may find that the American Express Business Platinum card packs a lot of value. It comes with complimentary lounge access to more than 1,200 airport lounges as well as a number of annual credits, and upgraded hotel and car rental statuses to help offset the high annual fee and let you travel in style and comfort.
Thanks to the American Express Business Platinum card’s latest upgrade, it provides a better day-to-day value with 1.5X points on up to $2 million in select bonus category purchases (including electronic goods, hardware supplies and shipping providers) and up to $830 in new annual credits for popular non-travel expenses, like Adobe products and U.S. wireless telephone provider purchases. These valuable perks help make it a better-rounded product for business owners that don’t travel as often.
The Business Platinum’s potential value more than makes up for the intimidating annual fee. But the Business Gold card’s lower $295 fee and heavier rewards focus on local business expenses may be the more rewarding pick for business owners who can’t justify the Platinum’s high annual fee.
Amex Business Gold vs. Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
If you’re not an Amex loyalist, Chase business credit cards are some of the best on the market and the biggest competitors to American Express’ business card suite.
The Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card rewards business expenses similar to the Amex Business Gold’s bonus categories, such as select advertising and shipping, but its travel category isn’t relegated to airline purchases, and it also rewards internet, cable and phone services. Granted, it doesn’t offer the Amex Business Gold’s other high-value U.S. gas station, restaurant and computer software categories, but if you’re a business owner with travel expenses beyond airfare (like rental cars, or hotels) you’ll get more value from the Ink Business Preferred, as it covers all of these in its travel category. In addition to its broad travel category the Ink Business has a significantly lower $95, if savings is one of your top priorities consider the Ink Preferred first.
Best cards to pair with the American Express Business Gold Card
For maximum value, the American Express Business Gold Card should only be used for your spending that falls within two of the card’s six bonus categories. To cover the other four categories and other purchases that would only earn 1X points, it’s best to find a rewards credit card that charges no annual fee and offers high rewards on all purchases or in specific categories relevant to your business.
For example, if your business spends heavily at U.S. gas stations and restaurants, you can use the Business Gold for those purchases but then take advantage of the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card to cover other important purchases. It charges no annual fee and offers 5 percent cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each year.
The Ink Business Cash card also offers 2 percent cash back on the first $25,000 you spend in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants. That makes it a great card to fall back on if you were to exceed the Amex Gold’s spending limit in those areas.
Another option is to go with a flat-rate credit card. If you don’t want to worry about tracking your spending and trying to remember which categories earn the most points, you’ll appreciate how easy it is to earn a flat rate on all purchases. The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express is a great example. It carries no annual fee and lets you earn a flat rate of 2X points (on up to $50,000 in purchases each year, then 1X points). This makes it a great catch-all card you can use for categories not covered by the Business Gold card.
Bankrate’s take: Is the American Express Business Gold Card worth it?
Business owners with a large budget and a lot of travel planned will find that the American Express Business Gold Card can be worth it. Businesses that can spend $500 each month in their top two bonus categories will find it easy to recoup the annual fee. And with the welcome offer and a robust portfolio of travel transfer partners, the right businesses will get a lot of value out of the Business Gold card.
However, if you’re unsure whether you’ll be able to offset the annual fee, this may not be the best choice for a business credit card. Additionally, owners with lower business budgets or fewer travel needs will not reap the full rewards of this credit card.
Eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Please visit AmericanExpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by Amex Assurance Company.