Best business card for points
American Express® Business Gold Card
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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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The American Express Business Gold Card is an affordable option for Amex travel rewards — and an even better choice if you spend mostly on everyday business expenses. Many small-business owners will find that the excellent rewards rate, boosted redemption rate on select airfare and packaged travel perks will be enough to justify the $295 annual fee.
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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.
Cardmembers can earn a whopping 4X points on major business categories, plus 2X rental cars booked through American Express Travel
It offers beneficial travel benefits and insurance for frequent travelers, like trip and baggage delay insurance
The card’s expense management tools can help business owners keep up with day-to-day spending and finances
It has a flexible spending limit that also allows you to carry a balance with Pay Over Time
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
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). This 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.
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:
You’ll retroactively earn 4X points on those two spending categories up until you pass $150,000 in combined bonus category purchases for the 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.
To redeem rewards, you have to enroll in the Amex Membership Rewards program. You can redeem points directly through the American Express travel portal for flights, hotels, travel upgrades and more, or transfer them 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.
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.
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.
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 these perks are the only recurring credits the Amex Business Gold carries.
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 it will extend any original manufacturer’s warranty of five years or less 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.
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). This 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 your revolving Pay Over Time balance is subject to interest—currently a 18.74 percent to 26.74 percent variable Pay Over Time APR.
One drawback to the American Express Business Gold Card is 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 18.74 percent to 26.74 percent variable APR. In case you overextend yourself, beware there’s a late payment of $39 or 2.99 percent of any past due amounts not paid in full, plus a 29.99 percent penalty APR.
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).
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.
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For businesses who use their credit cards primarily for travel benefits, the $295 annual fee from the Amex Business Gold may take a little strategy to offset. However, if travel is your main focus, the American Express Business Platinum card includes travel perks and benefits that more than offset the hefty $695 annual fee and make it a better choice for frequent business travelers. For starters, the Amex Business Platinum includes a 120,000 Membership Rewards welcome offer, if you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months. This is worth about $1,620 in travel, if you book through American Express Travel.
Amex Business Platinum cardholders receive $830 of new travel benefits each year, including airport lounge access and statement credits. And since it renews each year, these are benefits you can count on to uphold the card’s value each year.
One of the biggest differences between the two cards is how you must pay the balance each month with the American Express Business Platinum card. So if you’re looking for greater payment flexibility, then the Amex Business Gold is the clear winner, since it offers the ability to pay over time.
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.
For maximum value, you should only use the American Express Business Gold Card 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. This 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.
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.
* See the online application for details about terms and conditions for these offers. Every reasonable effort has been made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. After you click on the offer you desire you will be directed to the credit card issuer's web site where you can review the terms and conditions for your selected offer.
Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, is accurate as of the publish date. All products or services are presented without warranty. Check the bank’s website for the most current information.