The American Express Gold Card is a fantastic charge card for lovers of food and travel. Formerly known as the Premier Rewards Gold Card, this card was revamped in 2018 to much acclaim. Amex raised the card’s annual fee to $250 (NOT waived the first year), made it’s earning structure more powerful, and added some new benefits in the revamp.
Furthermore, the Gold Card is the most lucrative Membership Rewards (MR) points-earning card. That is because it has the some of American Express’ highest bonus category multipliers in two useful categories. Plus, it’s one of the best-earning mid-tier cards in the industry. This makes it a great option for those who want to earn points but not pay an annual fee over $500.
The American Express Gold Card earns 4x MR points at Restaurants worldwide and at Grocery Stores stateside. But the 4x points are limited to the first $25,000 in purchases per year. Fortunately, $25,000 is a high number for those two expenses. Most American families spend much less than that per year within those categories. The Gold Card also earns 3x points on amextravel.com purchases and only one point per dollar on non-bonus spend.
Furthermore, the Gold Card has a public sign-up bonus worth 35,000 MR points. You can earn it after spending $4,000 within the first three months. The minimum spend requirement used to be just $2,000. But Amex doubled it to $4,000 in October 2019 after the Green Card was revamped. Unfortunately, this makes the Gold Card’s bonus much less desirable than it used to be. I wish Amex would raise the number of points offered to the public to at least 50,000. This way, the bonus will be more valuable and competitive.
Earning points is fantastic, but points earned are useless if you cannot redeem them for anything of value. Amex has multiple options for redemption:
American Express’ transfer partners are this card’s most valuable redemption option. They are the reason why points and miles enthusiasts love Membership Rewards so much. Amex transfers points at a 1 MR to 1 partner currency ratio unless otherwise noted.
- Choice Privileges
- Hilton (1 MR = 2 Hilton Honors Points)
- Aer Lingus
- Aeromexico (5 MR = 8 Premier Points)
- Air Canada
- Alitalia Millemiglia
- Asia Miles / Cathay Pacific
- Avianca Lifemiles
- British Airways
- Delta Airlines
- El Al Israel Airlines (50 MR = 1 Matmid Point)
- Etihad Guest
- Hawaiian Airlines
- JetBlue (5 MR = 4 TrueBlue Points)
- KLM Flying Blue / Air France
- Nippon Airways
- Singapore Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
Your mileage may vary for each partner. But for most partners, you should be able to easily redeem your points for at least 1.5 cents per point (CPP).
You can redeem points for paid travel, but I don’t recommend doing so. This option gives you a value of 1 CPP toward airfare, and between 0.75 and 0.85 CPP for hotels, cars, cruises, or whole vacations.
Gift cards, merchandise, and statement credits are not recommended. You will earn less than 1 CPP using these options. If cash back or gift cards are what you want, this card is probably not for you.
The Gold Card does not have the benefits of the Platinum Card. But that’s fine because Amex doesn’t leave cardholders empty handed. Part of the Gold Card’s revamp in 2018 was the addition of new benefits.
Airline Incidental Credits
The Gold Card card offers $100 per year in airline incidental credits. Amex intends them to be used for “incidental purchases” like in-flight purchases and checked bags. And they have strongly stated their intentions by banning gift card purchases to trigger the credits. Unfortunately, this ban has limited the use of this perk for many cardholders.
This benefit is a great one to have if your luggage goes missing while traveling. Amex’s Baggage Insurance covers up to $500 for checked bags and $1,250 for carry-on bags.
You will receive $120 in dining credits that can be used at select restaurants each year. But the catch is that Amex gives you one $10 credit each month, which makes them hard to use. Amex did this with the Uber Credits on the personal Platinum Card. These credits are only useful for tipping if you eat at the select restaurants.
You will receive an extra year of warranty on purchases with warranties of 5 years or less. This is a standard benefit on most Amex cards, the Gold Card being one of them.
After booking a hotel room through amextravel.com and using your Gold card to pay for everything, you will receive a $75 statement credit and a room upgrade. The room upgrade could be worth hundreds of dollars (and possibly justify the card’s annual fee), depending on where you stay.
No Foreign Exchange Fees
You will save 3% on all purchases made outside the United States with the Gold Card.
Secondary Car Rental Insurance
This benefit covers the entire loss, damage, or theft of your car rental after your regular insurance’s policy kicks in.
Trip Delay Insurance
Amex’s Trip Delay Insurance can reimburse you up to $300 if your flight gets delayed at least six hours. One use of any of this insurance can justify the card’s annual fee. This is a new benefit that was added to the Gold Card in January 2020.
American Express Everyday Preferred Card
The Everyday Preferred Card is a more conservative alternative to the Gold Card. At $95, it has a much lower annual fee and similar bonus categories.
The Everyday Preferred Card earns 3x MR points at US Grocery Stores, 2x points at US Gas Stations, and one point for non-bonus spend. You will receive a 50% points bonus if you use your card at least 30 times per month. This means you can earn 4.5x points at Grocery Stores, 3x at Gas Stations, and 1.5x on everything else with the bonus. It also means that the Everyday Preferred can potentially be a better earner at Grocery Stores for a much lower annual fee.
Furthermore, the Everyday Preferred Card has a sign-up bonus worth 15,000 MR points. It can be earned after spending just $1,000 in the first 3 months. This bonus is meager compared to most other transferrable points earning cards with similar annual fees. I wish that Amex would increase this bonus to make the Everyday Preferred Card more competitive.
Nonetheless, the Everyday Preferred is better than the Gold Card for those who don’t want to pay a $250 annual fee. People who cannot use the Gold Card’s perks will also be better off with it. Both cards have the same redemption options and standard Amex perks. The Everyday Preferred Card is also a better option if you find the Gold Card’s credits and the Hotel Collection useless or hard to use.
American Express Green Card
Another alternative to the Gold Card is the American Express Green Card. The Green Card is better for those with more general travel expenses than grocery store expenses. Plus, it has a lower annual fee at $150 (NOT waived the first year).
The Green Card earns 3x MR points on General Travel and Dining. Fortunately, American Express includes flights, hotels, tolls, subways, ride-sharing services, taxis, and local commuter transit within the “General Travel” category. All other purchases earn just one point per dollar.
Furthermore, the Green Card comes with a public sign-up bonus worth 30,000 MR points. And there is a minimum spend requirement of $2,000, which is half of that of the Gold Card. The Green Card’s bonus is better than that of the Gold Card because of the lower minimum spend requirement for almost the same amount of points.
The Green Card also comes with two credits as its main perks. Both are great for those who do not have any premium cards. You will receive a $100 annual Lounge Buddy Credit in lieu of lounge access. Plus, you will receive a $100 CLEAR Credit in lieu of Global Entry or Pre-TSA.
The American Express Gold Card is great for travelers who spend a lot on dining and groceries at home. It’s best suited for these purposes, despite not having any foreign transaction fees. However, there are many competitors out there that can be better options for travelers. Just be sure that you want to earn Membership Rewards points instead of (or in addition to) other transferrable points.
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