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American Express® Gold Card review

Published: October 15, 2018

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Published: October 15, 2018

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Ratings Policy
Luxury Rating:
4.2 rating
4.2 rating
4.2 / 5
Rewards Value: 4.6
Annual Percentage Rate: 3.6
Rewards Flexibility: 4.4
Features: 2.0

In a Nutshell:

The American Express Gold Card is very rewarding for travel, restaurant and supermarket purchases, and comes with a bevvy of luxury travel and dining perks to boot.

Learn more about this card

Rewards Rate

  • 4 points per dollar at U.S. restaurants
  • 4 points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in purchases per year)
  • 3 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com
  • 1 point per dollar on other purchases
  • Terms apply

Introductory Bonus

  • 25,000 points if you spend $2,000 in first 3 months
  • For cardholders who apply by Jan. 9, 2019: 20% discount issued as a statement credit for U.S. restaurant purchases in first 3 months (up to $100 back)

Annual Fee
$250

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($75,000 spend)
$2,010

APR
See terms

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • Points don’t expire
  • No blackout dates
  • No point limits besides the $25,000 on U.S. supermarket purchases
  • Redeem points for gift cards, shopping, travel, entertainment, merchandise or charity
  • Use points for all or a portion of qualifying travel purchases
  • Transfer points to 17 airline partners, including Delta Airlines

Cons

  • Must redeem travel rewards through amextravel.com

 

Other Notable Features: No foreign transaction fee, $100 airline fee credit, $120 dining credit, travel and emergency assistance, car rental insurance, free roadside assistance, travel accident insurance, baggage insurance, Hotel Collection benefits with $75 hotel credit, $100 activity credit on vacations over $3,000, personalized travel service, travel discounts, purchase protection, extended warranty, return protection, auto purchase discount, Shop Runner service, dining and entertainment discounts, presale event tickets, preferred seating at events

Rewards Rating:
4 rating
4 rating
4 / 5
Rewards Value: 3.6
Annual Percentage Rate: 2.1
Rewards Flexibility: 4.4
Features: 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.

Learn more about this card

Rewards Rate

  • 4 points per dollar at U.S. restaurants
  • 4 points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in purchases per year)
  • 3 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com
  • 1 point per dollar on other purchases
  • Terms apply

Introductory Bonus

  • 25,000 points if you spend $2,000 in first 3 months
  • For cardholders who apply by Jan. 9, 2019: 20% discount issued as a statement credit for U.S. restaurant purchases in first 3 months (up to $100 back)

Annual Fee
$250

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$380

APR
See terms

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • Points don’t expire
  • No blackout dates
  • No point limits besides the $25,000 on U.S. supermarket purchases
  • Redeem points for gift cards, shopping, travel, entertainment, merchandise or charity
  • Use points for all or a portion of qualifying travel purchases
  • Transfer points to 17 airline partners, including Delta Airlines

Cons

  • Must redeem travel rewards through amextravel.com

Other Notable Features: No foreign transaction fee, $100 airline fee credit, $120 dining credit, travel and emergency assistance, car rental insurance, free roadside assistance, travel accident insurance, baggage insurance, Hotel Collection benefits with $75 hotel credit, $100 activity credit on vacations over $3,000, personalized travel service, travel discounts, purchase protection, extended warranty, return protection, auto purchase discount, Shop Runner service, dining and entertainment discounts, presale event tickets, preferred seating at events

Attention foodies: If you’re on the search for a premium credit card that rewards you in the right way for dining out as well as in, the new American Express Gold Card is a worthy contender.

If you can afford the card’s $250 annual fee, you’ll find that the Amex Gold Card offers a high rewards rate for restaurant and dining purchases, generous dining and travel credits and a vast array of other benefits that make it a great dining and travel companion.

Also, if you apply by Jan. 9, 2019, you can opt to get the card in a limited-edition rose gold design.

Generous rewards on food and travel

With four points per dollar at U.S. restaurants and four points per dollar on your first $25,000 in U.S. supermarket purchases each year, the American Express Gold Card is hands down the most rewarding card we’ve seen for foodies.

It also offers three points per dollar on airfare purchased directly with the airline and airfare purchased through amextravel.com (and one point per dollar on other purchases), making it a great card to bring on your travels.

High annual fee

One of the major drawbacks of the Amex Gold card is its $250 annual fee, which is particularly high for a card of its class and is, unfortunately, not waived in the first year.

Between its generous rewards program, its dining and travel credits and its slew of travel perks, the card offers more than enough value to justify the fee, even for a moderate spender. But you’ll need to do the math to make sure you can use the card heavily enough to take advantage of all its perks and rewards before you apply.

Special introductory offer for foodies

If you are partial to dining out, American Express has provided a special incentive to apply for the card: In addition to 25,000 bonus points for spending $2,000 in the first three months of membership, new cardholders who apply by Jan. 9. 2019, will receive a 20-percent discount on their purchases at U.S. restaurants for the first three months in the form of statement credits, for a maximum of $100 cash back.

This adds up to a pretty nice incentive to apply for the card and should more than make up for the $250 fee in the first year.

Flexible redemption

American Express is fairly flexible on how you use the Membership Rewards points that you earn with the card – points don’t expire, there are no limits on the number of points that you can earn outside the $25,000 cap on U.S. supermarket purchases, you have a variety of redemption options, including gift cards, merchandise and travel, plus you don’t have to worry about blackout dates if you redeem your points for flights through the American Express travel portal.

Another major plus of the Amex Membership Rewards program: You can transfer your points at a 1:1 ratio to a variety of airline partners, including Delta airlines, to get an even better value on your points than redeeming them through the American Express travel portal.

Unfortunately, American Express doesn’t include a statement credit option for travel purchases, unlike some of its competitors (e.g., Chase Ultimate Rewards), restricting you to using your points for travel only through American Express or one of its travel partners.

American Express Gold Card benefits

American Express travel cards generally come with an extensive list of travel and purchase benefits, and the American Express Gold card is no exception. You should check your cardholder agreement for the full list of benefits, but here are some of the more noteworthy perks:

  • No foreign transaction fees – While many credit cards charge a 2- to 3-percent fee for foreign transactions, the American Express Gold card does not, which means you can use it for purchases outside the country without racking up a bunch of extra fees.
  • $120 dining credit – You get up to $10 in statement credits per month, up to $120 per year, toward purchases at participating restaurants. Note, the value of this benefit is limited, since the list of restaurants currently includes only Shake Shack, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Grubhub/Seamless.
  • $100 airline fee credit – You get $100 in statement credits per year toward qualifying airline purchases. Like the dining credit, the airline fee credit is limited: It only applies to incidentals (e.g., baggage fees and in-flight meals) on a single airline, which you must designate at the beginning of each year.
  • The Hotel Collection – If you can afford to stay in luxury hotels, you can get a lot of value of the Amex Gold Card’s Hotel Collection benefits, which include a $75 hotel credit and free room upgrades.
  • Baggage insurance – You get up to $1,250 in insurance for carry-on bags and up to $500 in insurance for checked bags on trips that you purchase with your card (up to $10,000 in coverage per year).
  • Car rental insurance – American Express provides secondary coverage for theft or damage to vehicles that you rent with your card (i.e., for expenses that are not already covered under another policy).
  • Premium roadside assistance – American Express provides free roadside services, including towing up to 10 miles, changing flat tires, jumpstarting a battery and lockout assistance, up to four times per year.
  • Purchase protection – Eligible purchases that you make with the Amex Gold card are covered in the case of theft, damage or loss – up to $10,000 per claim, up to $50,000 in claims per year.
  • Return protection – Your purchases with the Amex Gold card are covered for 90 days in case a merchant won’t allow you to return them. American Express may refund you up to $300 per item, up to $1,000 per calendar year.
  • Extended warranty – American Express may also extend the warranties of eligible items that you purchase with the card for an extra two years, for warranties of five years or less.

Comparing dining rewards credit cards

If you haven’t been paying attention to credit cards lately, you may not be aware that the American Express Gold card isn’t the only premium credit card with a dining rewards program. Capital One recently launched the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Card, and it offers pretty impressive rewards for frequent diners. Similar to the Amex Gold card, the Savor card offers 4 percent cash back on dining and entertainment purchases. Unlike the Amex Gold card, the Savor card only offers 2 percent cash back at grocery stores and doesn’t include a bonus category for airfare, but – as a major plus – it only charges a $95 annual fee, which is waived in the first year:

American Express Gold Card Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card
  • 4 points per dollar at U.S. restaurants
  • 4 points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in purchases per year)
  • 3 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com
  • $250 annual fee
  • 4% cash back on dining and entertainment
  • 2% cash back at grocery stores
  • 1% cash back on other purchases
  • $95 annual fee, waived first year

If you would prefer to get cash back on your dining purchases rather than points, or, if you don’t charge enough on groceries and airfare to justify paying an additional $155 per year for the Amex Gold card, the Capital One Savor card could be a better way to go.

Why get the American Express Gold Card:

  • You spend a considerable amount at U.S. restaurants each year, as well as on U.S. supermarket and travel purchases.
  • You’re looking for a charge card that offers the highest rewards rate on supermarket and dining purchases combined.
  • You are a frequent traveler looking for a flexible rewards program that allows you to transfer points to different airlines.
  • You’re a member of the Delta Skymiles program and can benefit from transferring points to that program.
  • You have other American Express cards that also earn Membership Rewards.
  • You are a luxury traveler who can take advantage of the large number of perks that the American Express Gold card offers.

How to use the American Express Gold Card:

  • Use this card as your go-to card for U.S. restaurant, U.S. supermarket and airfare purchases.
  • Spend at least $2,000 on the card in the first three months to earn the introductory bonus.
  • Sign up before Jan. 9, 2019, and charge enough restaurant purchases to the card in the first three months to earn the full $100 statement credit for U.S. restaurant purchases.
  • Charge your travel purchases to the card to take advantage of the card’s numerous travel protections.
  • Freely use the card for purchases outside the country, since it doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee.

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