|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 up to $100 hotel credit, up to $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), up to $120 annual dining credit, travel and emergency assistance, car rental insurance, baggage insurance, Hotel Collection benefits with up to $100 hotel credit, up to $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.
Why you might want the Amex Gold card
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 should more than cover its $250 annual fee. Along with the Amex Gold’s numerous benefits, rewards-savvy cardholders and frequent travelers will love the card’s impressive rewards rate, bonus category variety, flexible point transfers and high point redemption potential.
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 bonus you’ll find on many competing rewards cards. The current welcome bonus also gives you three more months to meet the spending requirement than is usually offered on the card (rewards cards typically only offer a three-month timeframe for earning the bonus, versus six with the Amex Gold).
This is a generous offer that allows you to earn the bonus even if you only spend a modest amount each month. You’ll only need to spend about $667 per month for six months to secure the introductory bonus.
Great rewards rate in popular spending categories
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, a $25,000 cap per calendar year is a generous limit, giving you a nice 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 one of the best cards for restaurants and supermarkets. 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 reards cards ranking database, 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.
As one Amex Gold cardholder, Andrew Hollar, founder of Fig, puts 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.”
Valuable, flexible points
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.
If you want to maximize the value of your points, transferring them to American Express travel partners is your best option. This is the best way to use Amex points and transfers to several of the Amex hotel or airline loyalty partners see an increase in point value, netting you more money in rewards. Cardholders can transfer Amex points 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 if you redeemed directly with Amex.
For instance, if you redeem the points from the introductory bonus for travel bookings through American Express Travel, they’re worth around $600. Or you could also transfer those points to a partner airline and enjoy even more value. 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, netting you a little over 50% more in rewards.
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
|Qantas Frequent Flyer||1:1|
As you see, transferring points for travel is a great way to retain or grow your point value on your rewards. However, you’ll want to be aware of the point valuation of the partner you’re looking to transfer your Amex points with to ensure you’re getting an equal or higher rewards value than you would with the other redemption options. For example, transferring Amex points to partners like Hilton and Marriot increase the number of points you’ll have, but the cent value of those points remains – for the most part – consistent. Make sure to check the cent valuation of the travel partner’s points before transferring so you aren’t surprised.
In short, 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. Looking a little more closely at redemption options, it’s clear that some are better 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|
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.
Great 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 2020 customer satisfaction survey, the issuer scored 838, landing the top spot among 11 major credit card issuers.
Unparalleled perks, especially for foodies
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.
- $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
Why you might want a different card
The American Express Gold card comes with a high annual fee, has some limitations when it comes to redeeming points, and some cardholders are critical of it lacking lounge benefits when traveling. Although you’ll earn plenty of points by spending in its high-earning categories like at restaurants and supermarkets, using those points will require a clever strategy on your part to be sure that you’re maximizing your rewards potential. If you’re looking for a low-maintenance rewards card, the Amex Gold may not be for you. Especially if you’re not sure you’ll earn at least $250 in rewards value annually to neutralize the annual fee.
Limitations on travel spending
Although transferring points for travel is a clear benefit of the Amex Gold and is arguably its best redemption option, rewards for spending on travel are a bit underwhelming. You’ll earn just 3 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or through the American Express Travel portal.
Although 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.
High annual fee
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). A major criticism of the card from cardholders is that the annual fee is charged when you open the card, so you’ll need to be prepared to pay upfront and reap the rewards later.
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 the vast majority 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. That said, it’s certainly a high maintenance card that will require an adept understanding of point valuations.
See related: When are credit card annual fees worth it?
Non-travel redemptions sacrifice value
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). While Amex points are certainly flexible and great for travel transfers, we don’t recommend using Membership Rewards to cover card charges, as this typically offers a much lower value than redeeming or transferring 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. However, as mentioned already, your best option if redeeming for travel is by and far transferring points to participating hotels or airlines through Amex Travel – some of which grow your points’ cent value.
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.
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.
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
60,000 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.
- 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 right for you?
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|
|Total: Up to $419|
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.
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