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Some rewards credit cards stick out from the rest in terms of racking up points on travel and dining, and one such card is the American Express® Gold Card.
For $250 annual fee, foodies and frequent travelers alike can earn significant rewards on restaurants (including takeout and delivery), grocery store purchases and on flights — not to mention a solid first-year welcome bonus, worth up to $1,260 toward Amex transfer partner travel.
To see how an actual Amex Gold cardholder benefits from the card, we interviewed Matt Bundrick, co-founder of BankBonus.com, who uses the Amex Gold for its everyday benefits and to fund family vacations.
Great rewards in everyday categories
Bundrick loves that the American Express Gold Card lets you earn heightened points in everyday categories, such as 4X Membership Rewards points on restaurants (including takeout and delivery) and at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in supermarket purchases per year, then 1X points).
“If someone is going to have one primary card, I’d say the Amex Gold would be at the top of my list,” says Bundrick.
To get a better idea of the rewards you can earn on U.S. supermarket and restaurant spending, say you spend $500 per month on groceries and $350 per month on takeout. That’s 24,000 points earned on groceries for the year and 16,800 points earned on dining. At a rate of 1 cent per point in value, that’s $240 and $168 in rewards, respectively, or $408 total.
Note, the Amex Gold also offers 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.
Great redemption value toward travel
Bundrick frequently uses his points to fund vacations, particularly for airfare. “Many people think they need to use an airline card to earn miles, but those cards typically earn at a worse rate than the Amex Gold,” says Bundrick. “So, I use the Gold card and transfer over as needed to book flights.”
If you’re an avid traveler like Bundrick and enjoy maximizing your rewards’ value, by transferring your points to the right high-value American Express transfer partner, your rewards can be worth up to 2.1 cents apiece (according to recent Bankrate valuations). Using the spending example above, that brings your yearly earnings from $408 to $856.80.
American Express has several transfer partners, so you likely won’t have any trouble finding an airline that accepts your points. And remember, you can earn 3X points on all flights booked directly with airlines or through the American Express travel portal.
On top of being a great card for travel rewards, the American Express Gold Card also doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees on purchases made outside of the United States.
Card pays for itself if you take full advantage of its benefits
According to Bundrick, the perks associated with the card offset its high annual fee and make the Amex Gold worth it overall.
For example, the Amex Gold offers up to up to $120 in annual Uber Cash for use toward U.S. rides and Uber Eats orders ($10 per month) and up to $120 in annual dining credits ($10 per month) at approved dining locations. Further, there’s a $100 hotel credit with The Hotel Collection, which can be used on eligible dining, spa and resort activities when you book two or more consecutive nights through the Amex travel portal. As you can see, anyone with a penchant for dining out (or ordering in) and hotel hopping would do best with the Amex Gold.
The Gold also includes an incredible welcome offer of 60,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $4,000 within the first six months of account opening. As noted in the introduction, that’s up to $1,260 in value toward Amex transfer partner travel.
Access to solid Amex cardholder benefits
Having the Amex Gold Card allows you to access the perks of being an American Express cardholder, and there are quite a few of them. Benefits include payment flexibility, purchase protection, travel benefits and more.
Amex Pay It, Plan It and Pay Over Time
American Express offers two flexible payment programs: Pay It, Plan It and Pay Over Time. With Pay It, Plan It, you can quickly pay for small purchases (under $100) and split up any large purchases (over $100) into a fixed-fee monthly payment plan. With Pay Over Time, you can carry a balance and pay it off with interest.
Purchase and travel protections
American Express purchase protection offers coverage against accidental damage or theft for up to 90 days after the purchase is made, and extended warranty can add an extra year of protection on eligible purchases. And in terms of travel benefits, you’ll get car rental loss and damage insurance, baggage insurance, trip delay insurance and access to the Global Assist Hotline. More information can be found in our Amex Gold benefits guide.
On top of those more practical benefits, American Express offers premium seating at select Ticketmaster shows through American Express Preferred Seating. Further, through American Express Experiences, cardholders can get exclusive access to events and ticket sales.
The bottom line
The American Express Gold Card is a fantastic rewards credit card for foodies and frequent travelers, and it tends to be a personal favorite for cardholders like Bundrick. Despite its higher $250 annual fee, the Amex Gold offers numerous benefits that make the card worth keeping long after the first year.