American Express® Gold Card review

Published: November 13, 2019

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Published: November 13, 2019

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Ratings Policy
Luxury Rating:
3.8 rating
3.8 rating
3.8 / 5
Rewards Value: 3.6
Annual Percentage Rate: 3.6
Rewards Flexibility: 4.4
Features: 2.0
Customer Experience 4.6

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.

 

Learn more about this card

Rewards Rate

  • 4 points per dollar at restaurants worldwide
  • 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

  • 35,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first 3 months

Annual Fee
$250 (See rates and fees)

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($75,000 spend)
$2,337

APR
See rates and fees

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

 

Customer Experience

Other Notable Features: No foreign transaction fee (See rates and fees), $100 airline fee credit, $120 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, dining and entertainment discounts, presale event tickets, preferred seating at events

Rewards Rating:
4.3 rating
4.3 rating
4.3 / 5
Rewards Value: 4.5
Annual Percentage Rate: 3.2
Rewards Flexibility: 4.4
Features: 3.0
Customer Experience 4.6

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.

See if you’re prequalified for the American Express® Gold Card with CardMatch™`

Learn more about this card

Rewards Rate

  • 4 points per dollar at restaurants worldwide
  • 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

  • 35,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first 3 months

Annual Bonus

  • $100 activity credit on vacations over $3,000
  • $120 dining credit
  • $100 hotel credit

Annual Fee
$250 (See rates and fees)

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$707

APR
See rates and fees

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

Customer Experience

Other Notable Features: No foreign transaction fee (See rates and fees), $100 airline fee credit, $120 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, dining and entertainment discounts, presale event tickets, preferred seating at events

American Express Gold Card Review: More Details

The American Express Gold Card is one of the most rewarding credit cards available for foodies –boasting a generous rewards rate on both worldwide restaurant and U.S. supermarket purchases. Whether you prefer cooking your own meals or dining out, you can easily rack up Membership Rewards points.

Plus, the Gold card is loaded with perks for frequent travelers, including credits that can help offset the card’s high $250 annual fee.

By popular demand, the American Express Gold Card is also offering its limited-edition rose gold card design for new cardholders who apply through the American Express Refer a Friend program.

Introductory bonus

The Amex Gold card is currently offering new cardholders 35,000 points if they spend $4,000 in the first three months. While this is not the highest bonus you can find among rewards cards – especially cards with such a high annual fee – this is one of the highest bonuses the Gold card has offered. If you redeem the points for travel purchases, they are worth around $350 toward your next vacation.

Earning points

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

See Related: 9 ways to earn American Express points

This is one of the best combined rates you can find on restaurant and supermarket purchases, making the card a valuable choice for dining rewards. It’s travel rewards are a bit more limited, however, since you’ll only receive bonus points on directly purchased airfare (or flights booked with American Express Travel), rather than all travel purchases.

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 Membership Rewards 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.

To help you understand just how this higher point value increases the overall value of the Gold card, here’s a quick look at what we estimate each dollar of spending gets you in rewards value among our most popular rewards cards (factoring in average earning rate and point value for each example):

However, it is 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.

Redeeming points

Redeeming points earned on your American Express Gold card is simple, and you have a wide variety of redemption options. Your points don’t expire, and there is no limit to how much you can earn. However, the value of your points can vary drastically depending on how you use them.

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)
Uber/NYC taxi 1
Gift cards Up to 1
Other travel purchases on American Express travel 0.7
Expedia travel 0.7
Shopping partner (Amazon, Best Buy, Boxed, Grubhub, Newegg, Rite Aid, Seamless, Staples) 0.7
Statement credit 0.6
Excise tax offset fee (for transfer to travel partner) 0.5

Unlike many travel cards, the American Express Gold card doesn’t offer a good point value on outside travel purchases, so if you want to book on a third-party site, you’ll have to redeem points for a statement credit and sacrifice some value. To preserve the value of your Membership Rewards, we recommend saving points for airfare purchases.

See Related: Best ways to spend American Express points

Transferring points

On the plus side, American Express has an extensive list of travel partners – which Amex Gold cardholders can transfer points to at a 1:1 rate (for most partners). You’ll be charged an excise fee of 0.06 cents for each point that you transfer (up to $99), but since many airline and hotel loyalty programs offer a point value higher than one cent – transferring is often a lucrative option.

American Express transfer partners

Partner Transfer ratio Estimated point value (cents, including transfer ratio and excise fee)
Singapore KrisFlyer 1:1 2.16
Iberia Plus 1:1 1.64
Delta SkyMiles 1:1 1.55
Aeromexico 1:1 1.54
Aeroplan 1:1 1.44
All Nippon Airways (ANA) 1:1 1.42
British Airways 1:1 1.4
Emirates Skywards 1:1 1.4
Hawaiian Airlines 1:1 1.27
JetBlue 1.25:1 1.12
Alitalia MilleMiglia 1:1 0.94
Asia Miles 1:1 0.94
Etihad Guest 1:1 0.94
Flying Blue 1:1 0.94
Hilton Honors 1:2 0.94
Choice Privileges 1:1 0.77
Marriott Bonvoy 1:1 0.75
Virgin Atlantic 1:1 0.74
El Al Israel Airlines 20:1 (0.01)

As you can see, frequent flyers of Delta, Singapore Airlines and several other airlines can boost their point value with a transfer.

Annual dining credit

One of the many extras that comes with the American Express Gold card is an annual dining credit at participating restaurants. You must enroll in the perk to take advantage of it, but once you do, you can receive up to $10 in statement credits per month automatically applied toward qualifying purchases. Unfortunately, the list of participating restaurants is limited, currently including only Boxed, Shake Shack, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Grubhub/Seamless.

Tip: The Amex Gold dining credit can be particularly valuable for cardholders who frequently order food delivery, as popular delivery services Grubhub and Seamless are included in the perk. If you order at least $10 worth of food per month from one of these services, the potential $120 off per year can make a significant dent in the Gold card’s annual fee.

Travel insurance

While the Amex Gold card is designed primarily for foodies, it also comes with a few perks that will add value for frequent travelers: 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.

See Related: Your guide to travel insurance ahead of your next trip

Other benefits

On top of great travel protections, the American Express Gold card is loaded with other perks, including protections that can save you money while shopping and several travel credits.

  • No foreign transaction fees – When traveling abroad, you won’t be charged a fee on foreign transactions.
  • $100 airline fee credit – Each year, you can receive up to $100 in statement credits toward incidental purchase (such as baggage fess and in-flight meals) with an airline you choose. (Note: You can change your airline selection once each calendar year.)
  • The Hotel Collection credit – If you enjoy staying in luxury hotels, The Hotel Collection provides several benefits for Gold cardholders, including a $100 credit for incidentals during your stay and free room upgrades.
  • 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.
  • Extended warranty – On eligible warranties of five years or less, you can extend the original manufacturer’s warranty an extra two years.
  • Free ShopRunner membership – With your Gold card, you can sign up for a free ShopRunner membership to receive free, two-day shipping from dozens of online retailers.

Keep in mind that while the Gold card does not charge a foreign transaction fee, American Express cards are not accepted as widely abroad as they are in the U.S.

See Related: Make the most of your card’s travel credits

American Express Gold card vs. The Platinum Card from American Express

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 $550 annual fee, but it is loaded with travel benefits that make it a great choice for many travelers.

See Related: American Express® Gold Card vs. Platinum Card® from American Express

To justify the higher cost of the Platinum card, you’ll have to travel fairly often. However, if you are a frequent traveler who wants to take advantage of perks like widespread airport lounge access, Boingo Wi-Fi membership and Global Entry or TSA Precheck – it is easy to see the value of the Platinum card.

Estimated value of free travel benefits (not including insurance)

Amex Gold card Amex Platinum card
$100 airline fee credit + $100 hotel credit = $200 $200 airline fee credit + $200 Uber credit + $100 hotel credit + $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit + $399 Priority Pass lounge membership = $999

It is no question that the travel credits and perks on the Platinum card can easily outpace the Gold card, but more moderate travelers might be better off sticking with the less expensive option. Since the Platinum card only offers bonus points on directly purchased airfare and flights or hotels booked with American Express Travel (all other purchases earn 1 point per dollar), cardholders looking to rack up rewards on everyday purchases can get more value out of the generous categories on the Gold card.

Be prepared to pay off your balance each month

The American Express Gold card is a charge card, meaning it works a bit differently than a traditional credit card. You won’t receive a pre-set credit limit, and you can’t carry a balance from month to month. This means you’ll need to pay off the full amount you charge to the Gold card each billing cycle.

Tip: Before signing up for the American Express Gold Card, don’t forget to consider how a charge card affects your credit score. Since the card doesn’t have a credit limit, it won’t affect your credit utilization.

Customer experience

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 2019 customer satisfaction survey, the issuer scored 838, ranking second out of 11 major credit card issuers.

Approval odds

The American Express Gold card is designed for cardholders with good to excellent credit (above 670), so you’ll want to ensure you meet those qualifications before you apply. If you are worried about your eligibility and want to avoid a hard pull on your credit, American Express allows you to see if you pre-qualify for any card offers.

How does the Amex Gold card compare to other rewards cards?

While the Amex Gold card offers one of the best earning 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 is limited – potentially decreasing the overall value you can get from the card’s extras. If you are eager to earn dining rewards, there are several other rewards cards that offer great rates. Here’s a quick look at a few of our favorites:

Capital One Savor

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Citi Prestige Card

Citi Prestige card

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Rewards rate

  • 8% cash back on tickets through Vivid Seats (offer ends May 2020)
  • 4% cash back on dining and entertainment
  • 2% cash back at grocery stores
  • 1% cash back on other purchases
Rewards rate

  • 5 points per dollar on air travel and restaurants
  • 3 points per dollar on hotels and cruise lines
  • 1 point per dollar on other purchases
Rewards rate

  • 3 points per dollar on travel and restaurant purchases (excluding purchases covered by $300 travel credit)
  • 1 point per dollar on general purchases
Sign-up bonus

$300 if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months

Sign-up bonus

50,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first 3 months

Sign-up bonus

50,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first 3 months

Annual fee

$95 (waived first year)

Annual fee

$495

Annual fee

$450

Other things to know

  • Statement credits for Postmates Unlimited monthly membership (through December 2019)
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Cellphone insurance
Other things to know

  • Priority Pass lounge access
  • 4th night free at any hotel up to 2 times per year
  • $250 travel credit
  • Up to $100 credit for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck
Other things to know

  • 50% higher point value when redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards
  • Priority Pass lounge access
  • $300 travel credit
  • Up to $100 credit for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck
  • Primary car rental insurance

Capital One Savor card

The Capital One Savor card is a top choice for foodies, offering a good rewards rate on both dining and grocery store purchases. It charges a modest $95 annual fee (waived in the first year) and comes with a generous 4 percent cash back on dining and entertainment purchases. While the Savor card’s rate on grocery store purchases is not as high as the Amex Gold card, the lower annual fee can help offset the slower earning. Additionally, the Savor card rewards cash back, which is much more flexible to redeem for any kind of purchase.

Citi Prestige

The Citi Prestige card currently boasts the highest rewards rate available on dining purchases – a generous 5 points per dollar. It also comes with a good rate on a variety of travel purchases, including airfare, hotel stays and cruise purchases. On the downside, it charges a high $495 annual fee.

If you are looking for a great rate on dining combined with plush travel perks, the Citi Prestige comes loaded with luxury benefits. Cardholders can enjoy access to more than 1,200 Priority Pass lounges around the world and a fourth night free on any hotel stay up to two times per year.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Another great rewards card that combines travel and dining rewards is the Chase Sapphire Reserve. The Reserve card is pricey – charging a $450 annual fee – but it offers a flexible $300 travel credit every year that is automatically applied to eligible purchases. In addition, points earned on the Reserve card have a 50 percent higher point value when redeemed for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal, making it easy to stretch your points long way.

Who should get the Amex Gold card?

  • Cardholders who spend a significant amount on restaurant and U.S. supermarket purchases.
  • Frequent travelers who will take advantage of insurances and travel credits.
  • Cardholders who prefer a charge card to a credit card.
  • Loyalists of an American Express travel partner – especially Delta SkyMiles – who will benefit from transferring points.

How to use the Amex Gold card:

  • 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 three months to earn the introductory bonus.
  • Make all major travel purchases on the card to take advantage of its protections.
  • 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?

The American Express Gold 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. However, since it is a charge card, cardholders who tend to carry a balance month to month might be better off opting for a credit card with dining or travel rewards.

For rates and fees of the American Express Gold Card, please click here.

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