|Luxury Rating:||3.8 / 5|
|Annual Percentage Rate:||3.0|
|Issuer Customer Experience||5.0|
In a Nutshell:
The American Express Gold Card is very rewarding for travel, restaurant and supermarket purchases, and comes with a bevy of luxury travel and dining perks to boot.
60,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first 6 months
Average Yearly Rewards Value ($75,000 spend)
American Express Customer Service Ratings
Other Notable Features: No foreign transaction fee (See rates and fees), up to $120 annual dining credit, travel and emergency assistance, car rental insurance, baggage insurance, Hotel Collection benefits with $100 hotel credit, $100 activity credit on vacations over $3,000 (when booked with participating supplier through American Express travel), personalized travel service, travel discounts, purchase protection, extended warranty, trip delay insurance, auto purchase discount, Shop Runner service (enrollment required), dining and entertainment discounts, presale event tickets, preferred seating at events
|Rewards Rating:||4.5 / 5|
|Annual Percentage Rate:||2.0|
|Issuer Customer Experience||5.0|
In a Nutshell:
The annual fee is pricey, but if you’re searching for the most rewarding card for food purchases, the American Express Gold Card may be your best option.
60,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first 6 months
Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
American Express Customer Service Ratings
Other Notable Features: No foreign transaction fee (See rates and fees), $120 annual dining credit, travel and emergency assistance, car rental insurance, baggage insurance, Hotel Collection benefits with $100 hotel credit, $100 activity credit on vacations over $3,000, personalized travel service, travel discounts, purchase protection, extended warranty, auto purchase discount, Shop Runner service (enrollment required), dining and entertainment discounts, presale event tickets, preferred seating at events
No matter what kind of foodie you are, it’s hard to beat the value you’ll find with the American Express Gold Card. A top-tier rewards card offering bonus points at both restaurants and U.S. supermarkets, the Amex Gold makes it easy to earn and save rewards for your next dream vacation.
However, the value of the Amex Gold and of Membership Rewards points depends on how you use them. For everyday cardholders, is the American Express Gold worth it?
Our take: The Amex Gold is one of the best cards on the market, and if you spend heavily on food and make the most of its perks on dining and travel, this card’s value more than covers the $250 annual fee. Read on to see why so many points and miles experts apply for, keep (and keep loving) the Amex Gold.
Amex Gold: Review & value assessment
- Current welcome bonus
- Earning points
- Redemption & point value
- Transferring points
- Rates & fees
- Cardholder perks
- Customer experience
- Approval odds
- Amex Gold vs. other rewards cards
- Cardholder reviews
- Who should get the Amex Gold?
- How to use the Amex Gold
- Is the Amex Gold worth it?
Terrific introductory bonus
The Amex Gold card is currently offering new cardholders 60,000 Membership Rewards points if they spend $4,000 on eligible purchases within the first six months. This is not only the highest Amex Gold card bonus to date, but it also beats out the majority of rewards cards. The current welcome bonus also gives you three more months to meet the spending requirement than is usually offered on the card. If you redeem these points for travel bookings through American Express Travel, they’re worth around $600.
You could also transfer those points to a partner airline and enjoy even more value. For example, we estimate that when transferred to Delta, Amex points would be worth 1.55 cents each (versus just 1 cent each if you booked through the Amex portal). In this case, 60,000 points would be worth around $930.
If you’re already dreaming of your vaccine vacation, the Amex Gold card’s current bonus and flexible points make it a great choice for anyone in the market for a card that earns travel rewards. But the card also offers terrific ongoing rewards value beyond its welcome bonus, especially for foodies and anyone who spends a lot of money at U.S. supermarkets.
Every time you use your Amex Gold Card, you’ll earn Membership Rewards points that can be redeemed for travel, merchandise, statement credits and more. Where you use your card will determine how many you earn.
If you spend a significant amount on food purchases – whether you prefer dining in or eating out – the American Express Gold card makes it easy to rack up rewards. At restaurants, including takeout and delivery, the Amex Gold Card earns 4 Membership Rewards points per dollar. Uber Eats also counts as part of the 4 point-per-dollar bonus category, allowing you to earn bonus points for getting your favorites delivered.
You’ll also earn 4 points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets on your first $25,000 in spending per calendar year and 1 point per dollar after you meet that threshold. Though having no spending cap would be ideal, $25,000 is a generous limit, giving you a decent cushion of just over $2,000 in monthly spending at U.S. supermarkets.
This is one of the best combined rewards rates you can find in these categories, making the card a shoo-in as of the best cards for restaurants and supermarkets. Indeed, since dining and groceries are two of the most popular consumer spending categories, the Amex Gold card’s rewards rate ranks at the very top of the CreditCards.com database of over 130 rewards cards, landing in the top 1% among cards in this category. If your spending habits match those of the average person, you can come very close to covering the annual fee just from the rewards you earn on these purchases.
See related: Amex Gold value assessment
While the Amex Gold card’s restaurant and U.S. supermarket rewards are impressive, its travel rewards are a bit of a letdown. You’ll earn 3 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or via American Express Travel.
Though this rewards rate is solid at a glance, it’s held back by the fact that only airfare purchased through American Express Travel counts as travel with the Amex Gold. You won’t earn bonus points for flights booked with third-party travel flights or for hotel bookings or rental cars.
For all other purchases, you’ll earn the industry standard of 1 point per dollar.
What are Amex Gold card points worth?
Depending on how you redeem them, the Membership Rewards points you earn with your American Express Gold card can be pretty valuable. While many redemptions are worth less than 1 cent per point, American Express boasts a wide variety of transfer options that boost the average point value. In fact, we value Amex points at 1.19 cents per point on average. While this is not the highest point value you can find on a rewards card, when you combine it with a great rewards rate, it makes the Gold card a lucrative option.
However, it’s worth noting that cardholders who are not interested in transferring their points to a travel partner probably won’t get quite as much value out of the Gold card. Read on to see how much you can get out of your rewards with each of the Gold card’s redemption options.
What makes Amex points so appealing is their versatility. From transferring points to airline and hotel partners to redeeming for purchases online, you get a ton of flexibility in how you can use your points. Your points also don’t expire, and there is no limit to how much you can earn.
However, it’s important to understand how much value you are getting for your points in each situation because some redemptions are much more valuable than others.
Amex Gold redemption options
|Redemption option||Point value (cents)|
|Airfare through American Express travel||1|
|Charity donation||1 (up to 500,000 points, 0.5 cent thereafter)|
|Gift cards||Up to 1|
|Other travel purchases on American Express travel||0.7|
|Shopping partner (Amazon, Best Buy, Boxed, Grubhub, Newegg, Rite Aid, Seamless, Staples)||0.7|
|Excise tax offset fee (for transfer to travel partner)||0.5|
As you can see, the value of your points can vary drastically depending on how you use them.
It’s worth noting that American Express Travel redemptions are treated just like cash for the purposes of earning frequent flyer miles, and since points have a set value of one cent each, it’s easy to figure out how many points you need to book a flight. On the downside, a value of one cent per point is on the low end among flexible rewards points (especially compared to the value of Chase Ultimate Rewards points).
We don’t recommend using Membership Rewards to cover card charges, as this typically offers a much lower value than redeeming for travel. That said, sacrificing point value by redeeming for a statement credit may be your only option if you want to use rewards to book travel on third-party sites.
Finally, using points for shopping is arguably the worst use of Membership Rewards. While you may be able to get gift cards at a reasonable 1 cent per point value, redeeming points for merchandise gives you a value of just 0.5 cents per point, even lower than the value you would get shopping with points at Amazon. We strongly advise against using points this way.
Best redemption option: Transferring points
One of the best ways to use Amex points is to transfer them to an Amex hotel or airline loyalty partner. That’s because not only can Amex points be transferred to 17 different loyalty programs, mostly at a 1:1 rate. Not only that but doing so can also get you a higher value per point than you’d get if you redeemed directly with Amex.
Before transferring points to another provider, be sure you have an award redemption in mind — once you transfer points, you can’t return them to Membership Rewards. Keep in mind, too, that you’ll be charged an excise fee of 0.06 cents for each point that you transfer (up to $99). Since many airline and hotel loyalty programs offer a point value higher than one cent, however, transferring is often still a lucrative option.
American Express transfer partners
Rates and fees
Like most upper-tier rewards cards, the American Express Gold Card comes with a high annual fee: You’ll be charged a $250 annual fee for up to five cardholders on the same account. On the sixth card and every one after that, you’ll be charged $35 per card (see rates and fees).
While the Amex Gold is not the most expensive rewards card in the CreditCards.com database (that distinction belongs to The Platinum Card® from American Express), it’s one of the pricier options, with 84% of rewards cards charging a lower annual fee. Keep in mind, however, that this annual fee will likely be worth it if you make the most of the card.
See related: When are credit card annual fees worth it?
As for the card’s other notable rates and fees: You can assign some Amex Gold purchases to Pay Over Time, with your APR varying based on your creditworthiness (see rates and fees). You will also be charged up to $40 as a penalty for a late or returned payment (see rates and fees) and should you need a cash advance, you will face a fee of either $10 or 5% of the amount of each advance, whichever is greater (see rates and fees).
Amex Gold benefits
Points aren’t the only key benefit of the American Express Gold Card. There are several other perks that cardholders must take advantage of if they plan on holding this card, ranging from luxury travel benefits to dining credits.
- Pick your card art – New and existing card members can choose between the classic Amex Gold card art or the Rose Gold Amex design. Once available only for a limited time, the popular Rose Gold design is now a permanent option.
- No foreign transaction fees – When traveling abroad, you won’t be charged a fee on foreign transactions. This benefit can save you up to 3% per transaction compared to other cards. That said, Amex cards are not as widely accepted abroad as Mastercard or Visa cards.
- Up to $120 in Uber Cash annually – You can get $10 in Uber Cash per month to use on Uber rides or toward Uber Eats orders in the U.S. (Gold Card must be added to the Uber app to receive the Uber Cash benefit). You’ll still earn 4X Membership Rewards points on food delivery.
- Complimentary Uber Eats Pass – You can get up to 12 months of a complimentary Uber Eats Pass membership. Eats Pass gets you deals on eligible restaurant takeout and grocery delivery, including a $0 delivery fee at many stores and 5% off eligible restaurant purchases of $15 or more (taxes and service fees may apply and do not count toward order minimum). This membership typically costs $119 per year or $9.99 per month. You must enroll by Dec. 31, 2021, to score this perk. Uber Eats Pass will auto-bill starting 12 months from initial enrollment in this offer, at then-current monthly rate.
- $120 dining credit – You can earn up to $10 per month in statement credits when using the card to pay for purchases at participating restaurant partners, including Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed and participating Shake Shack locations (enrollment required).
- Travel protections – You can get baggage insurance so that you’re covered if your bags are lost or stolen on a trip by common carrier paid with your Gold card (up to $1,250 for carry-on bags and $500 for checked bags). Additionally, when you book and pay for your rental car with the Gold card, you can receive secondary coverage on your car rental in the case of damage or theft. While not the most robust list, these coverages can be valuable, so you’ll want to put all major travel purchases on your Gold card to take advantage of them.
- The Hotel Collection credit – The Hotel Collection is a selection of high-end hotels hand-picked by American Express. When you book at least a two-night stay through The Hotel Collection, not only will you get a free room upgrade (if available), but you’ll also get a $100 hotel credit to spend on qualifying dining, spa and resort activities.
- “Pay It Plan It®” – This flexible financing option lets you pay off small purchase amounts (under $100) right away and split larger purchases (over $100) into a custom monthly payment plan for a fixed fee. American Express cards are not accepted as widely abroad as they are in the U.S. Payment plans can last from three to 24 months. Eligibility for the program is based on your account and credit history
- Extended warranty – On eligible warranties of five years or less, you can extend the original manufacturer’s warranty an extra year.
- Purchase protection – For eligible purchases made with your Gold card, you can be covered up to $10,000 per claim ($50,000 max per year) in the case of damage or theft.
If you are a frequent traveler, the travel credits and benefits that come with the American Express Gold card are very appealing. For more luxury travelers, however, American Express offers a card that is even more packed with plush perks. The Platinum Card® from American Express comes with a steep $695 annual fee, but it is loaded with travel benefits that make it a great choice for many travelers.
See related: Amex Gold vs. Amex Platinum
Among major issuers, American Express has a top-notch customer service reputation. In addition to a highly rated mobile app, American Express offers 24/7 customer service and an online chat feature for finding quick answers to simple questions. In J.D. Power’s 2020 customer satisfaction survey, the issuer scored 838, landing the top spot among 11 major credit card issuers.
As is the case with most Amex cards, the American Express Gold card is designed for cardholders with good to excellent credit (a FICO score above 670), so you’ll want to ensure you meet those qualifications before you apply. Luckily, American Express offers prequalification on the Amex Gold.
You can also check CardMatch to see if you have a preapproved offer. Not only does this result in a “soft” credit pull – which has no impact on your credit score – but it should also give you your best chance at knowing whether you’ll be approved before you apply.
How does the Amex Gold card compare to other rewards cards?
While the Amex Gold card offers one of the best rewards rates on both restaurant and U.S. supermarket purchases, its high annual fee can limit its earnings. Plus, while it comes with a few valuable credits, its dining credit has a limited scope, potentially decreasing the overall value you can get from the card’s extras.
To get a sense of where the Amex Gold stands in today’s marketplace, our team of credit card experts researched hundreds of credit cards to rank the Amex Gold based on factors like its rewards rate, welcome bonus, annual fee and more. The card fared quite well, especially in its rewards rate, welcome bonus and annual bonus (based on the value of its numerous perks). It does charge a higher annual fee than the average rewards card, however.
Here’s a quick look at where the Amex Gold card ranks in our database of rewards cards:
|Rewards rate||Welcome bonus||Annual bonus||Annual fee|
of rewards cards
of rewards cards
of rewards cards
of rewards cards
Though the Amex Gold can easily pay for itself if you take advantage of its benefits, if you aren’t sure how many of the card’s perks you’ll use and worry about a high annual fee coming back to bite you, there are a few other rewards cards that offer great rewards rates and charge a lower annual fee. Plus, since the card’s rewards are best used for travel, it may not be the best fit if you’re looking for maximum flexibility.
Consider these alternatives:
|Rewards rate||Rewards rate||Rewards rate|
$200 if you spend $500 in first 3 months
80,000 ThankYou points if you spend $4,000 in first 3 months
$200 if you spend $500 in first 3 months
|Other things to know||Other things to know||Other things to know|
Designed with foodies in mind, the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card offers unlimited 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart and Target). Although the bonuses are fewer than the Amex Gold Card, the lack of an annual fee makes this an interesting alternative, especially if you find cash back more appealing than travel rewards. On the downside, the card doesn’t offer much in the way of perks.
The Citi Premier Card is an often-overlooked travel rewards credit card comparable to the Amex Gold Card. But with a lower annual fee ($95 compared to $250), an annual hotel savings credit, and 3 ThankYou points per $1 spent at restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels, the Citi Premier Card could offer more rewards at a wider range of places.
If you’re looking to dip a toe in the world of dining and travel rewards, the Chase Freedom Flex Card is worth a look. The card comes with no shortage of bonus categories, all with no annual fee. With 3% cash back on dining and drugstore purchases along with the rotating cash back categories, there’s a lot of opportunity without worrying about recovering an annual fee. Plus, if you decide to take the plunge with a premium Chase travel card, the rewards you earn with the Flex can be redeemed at a 25%-50% higher value.
What do Amex Gold cardholders say?
When we reached out to actual Amex Gold cardholders to get their take on the card’s biggest advantages and disadvantages, its rewards on food purchases almost always took center stage. As Andrew Hollar, founder of Fig and a self-described points and miles aficionado put it: “I find that most families (my own included) spend more money on food each month than any other expense. Earning 4x points at both U.S. supermarkets* and restaurants is ridiculously valuable.”
*4x points at U.S. supermarkets on up to $25,000 in purchases per calendar year, then 1x
Many cardholders also cited the card’s numerous dining and travel credits as a major factor justifying the card’s cost. “The dining and Uber credits are gold for a frequent traveler like me,” said Max Harland, CEO of Dentaly. “For anyone who loves to dine out and travel, Amex Gold is a no-brainer.”
CreditCards.com rewards and credit-building expert Ana Staples agreed. “I absolutely love the statement credit benefits that the Amex Gold offers as they easily justify the card’s annual fee,” Ana said. “The card costs $250 per year, but the dining and Uber Cash credits alone offer $240 in value annually – and I use them each month as soon as they become available.”
While the vast majority of Amex Gold cardholders we spoke with were big fans of the card, there were a few criticisms. “Speaking of the annual fee,” Ana said, “it gets charged when you open the account, so you need to be prepared to shell it out right away.”
Others felt the card perks had seen a downgrade in 2021. “I’d been able to offset some of the $250 annual fee with the $100 [airline fee] credit each year,” said Matt Lally, Chief Curator of TheGiftYak. “However, in February 2021 this benefit was removed. A $120 Uber credit is in its place, which I don’t value as much because of COVID (I’m not an Uber Eats user).”
Meanwhile, Max felt the card’s travel perks could use a slight boost: “For me, the only aspect where this card falls short is that it offers no lounge benefits. I hope American Express includes this in their array of rewards offerings and make the card more convenient for travelers.”
- Cardholders who spend a significant amount on restaurant and U.S. supermarket purchases.
- Cardholders who plan to use their rewards for travel instead of cash back.
- Frequent travelers who will take advantage of insurances and travel credits.
- Foodies who will make the most of dining credits and perks like the Uber Eats pass subscription.
- Loyalists of an American Express travel partner – especially Delta SkyMiles – who will benefit from transferring points.
See related: Who should get the Amex Gold?
- Use the card for all restaurant, U.S. supermarket and airfare purchases to take advantage of bonus points.
- Spend at least $4,000 in the first six months to earn the introductory bonus.
- Make all major travel purchases on the card to take advantage of its protections.
- Check out the list of Amex travel partners to see if you can squeeze more value out of your points by transferring them.
- Enroll in ShopRunner and the card’s dining credit.
- Look out for Amex Offers to earn bonus points on some purchases.
Is the Amex Gold card worth it?
For the right cardholder, the Amex Gold is absolutely worth it. The card offers the highest combined rewards rate you can find on both U.S. supermarket and restaurant purchases – making it ideal for foodies. Plus, it comes with several travel protections and credits that can help offset its high annual fee.
If you take full advantage of the Amex Gold card’s rewards and benefits, the card’s value should easily eclipse the annual fee. Indeed, these perks could add up to over $500 in value, more than covering the fee.
Evaluating the Amex Gold’s value relative to its annual fee, personal finance writer Nicole Dieker put it like this: “What you might not realize is that the credits, points and benefits offered by the American Express Gold Card can more than offset the annual fee – especially if you use your Amex Gold Card wisely.”
Here’s a quick look at just how much value the card’s perks alone can offer the ideal user:
|Uber Cash||Up to $120|
|Dining credit||Up to $120|
|Hotel Collection credit||$100|
|Uber Eats Pass||$119 ($9.99/month)|
|Total: Up to $538|
As you can see, if you take advantage of these benefits, you’ll cover the annual fee twice over. That’s not even considering the rewards you’ll earn via card spend (based on the average person’s spending, we estimate you’ll earn over $400 per year by using the card for most of your purchases).
However, if you aren’t planning to use your Amex points toward a future trip or aren’t interested in transferring the points to a frequent flyer program, the card may not be as valuable. For straightforward rewards, consider a lower-cost cash back credit card that offers bonus rewards where you shop the most.
For rates and fees of the American Express Gold Card, please click here.
About the authors
Joe Cortez is a personal finance journalist with a decade of experience as a financial journalist and over a decade of experience in the financial industry as a whole. His work has been featured by USA Today, NextAdvisor, The Points Guy, Business Insider and FlyerTalk.
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