The American Express Gold card is perfect for anyone who enjoys food. Whether you prefer dining out or cooking at home, you can earn points quickly when using this card.
American Express’ Membership Rewards program has one of the most valuable point currencies you can earn. They rank high on my list of points to earn because they can be used in so many different ways. In a world where airlines and hotels are constantly devaluing their points, the more options you have to use them, the better.
The American Express Gold card charges a $250 annual fee. To offset that fee, the card comes with a good welcome bonus, excellent bonus categories and a couple annual credits that are designed with the foodie in mind. If you’ve been eyeing this card, let’s take a look and see if it’s right for you.
Currently, the welcome bonus for new American Express Gold card members is 35,000 Membership Rewards points. To qualify for the bonus, you have to make $4,000 in qualifying purchases within 3 months of opening your account. Personally, 35,000 points doesn’t get me too excited. Especially when other comparable travel cards have standard welcome bonuses of at least 50,000 points. I have also seen targeted offers for this card in the 40,000 to 50,000 point range, so I would definitely keep an eye out for one of those.
While this isn’t the highest welcome bonus on the market, these points can be quickly redeemed for $350 dollars in free travel. If you transfer the points to one of American Express’ 22 transfer partners (see below), you can easily unlock even more value.
When you make purchases with the AMEX Gold card you’ll earn Membership Rewards points on every qualifying purchase. These points are arguably some of the best transferable points currencies out there. Fortunately, this card has some great bonus categories so you can earn them quickly if you spend a lot in those categories.
Dining & Grocery Stores – This is where the card shines. You’ll earn 4x points on purchases made a restaurants worldwide and at grocery stores within the U.S. The bonus points on grocery stores purchases are limited to the first $25,000 you spend each year. Regardless, that’s a lot of potential bonus points.
Flights – You’ll earn 3x points on all flights purchased directly from an airline or if you book your flights through amextravel.com.
Other Purchases – You’ll ear 1 point for every dollar spent on all other qualifying purchases.
The American Express Gold card also comes with several benefits just for having the card. Included in these benefits are two credits that can help offset the $250 annual fee. This is where you’ll be able to quickly determine if this card is right for you.
Dining Credit – Each month you can earn up to a $10 credit for purchases made with the card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Seamless, Ruth’s Chris, Boxed and participating Shake Shack locations. If you maximize these credits, that can save you $120 per year.
Airline Fee Credit – You’ll receive up to $100 in statement credits toward airline incidental fees each calendar year. Charges for things like baggage fees and inflight purchases qualify for this credit. To get the credit, you have to designate an airline each year and only fees incurred with that airline will qualify. You can change the designated airline each year but once selected, you can’t change it until the following year.
Hotel Collection Credit – If you book a stay (minimum of 2 nights) through the AMEX Hotel Collection, you can get a $100 credit towards spa treatments or dining at the resort. Plus, you’ll earn 2x points on those hotel stays.
Trip Delay Insurance – This is a new benefit I really like that was added to the card in 2020. If you purchase your flight with your AMEX Gold card, and your flight is delayed over 12 hours, you can get reimbursed up to $300 in eligible expenses. This can help you pay for food and lodging while you’re waiting. Just keep in mind that you can only file 2 of these claims each year.
Extended Warranty Coverage – How many times have you had something break soon after you buy it or stop working right after their warranty expires? If you purchased it with this card, you don’t have to worry about it. Your purchases are covered by the purchase protection and extended warranty coverage. I’ve used this benefit repeatedly and this alone has more than covered the cost of the annual fee.
No Foreign Transaction Fees – You will not be charged any purchases made with the card worldwide.
Baggage Insurance – If you purchase your ticket with the AMEX Gold card, you are eligible for baggage insurance. If your bag is lost, damaged or stolen you’re eligible for coverage up to $500 for a checked bag and $1,250 for a carry-on bag.
Redeeming Chase Points
Membership Rewards points are one of my favorite point currencies because there’s so many ways to use them. I would only recommend transferring them to one of AMEX’s travel partners because that’s where you’ll get the most value. However, there are a few other ways that are easy and straightforward. Here’s a quick breakdown of the different options.
Shopping – You can redeem your points for one of several different store gift cards. You can also redeem your points for purchases while shopping at Amazon.com or BestBuy.com.
AMEX Travel – You can use your points to pay for travel purchases made directly through American Express Travel. You use your points for travel with almost any airline or hotel.
Travel Partners – This is where you can unlock some excellent value with your points. You can use British Airways Avios points to book flights to Hawaii from the West Coast, Mexico or short domestic flights, all on American Airlines. Delta frequently offers flash sales around the globe and AMEX is the only way you can transfer points to Delta. You can also use the Etihad Guest program to book one-way business class flights to Europe for only 50,000 points. There are so many other great options but this should give you an idea of what’s possible.
As I mentioned above, here is a list (in alphabetical order) of the travel partners you can transfer your Membership Rewards points to. Except where noted below, your MR points will transfer to these programs at a 1:1 ratio.
- Aer Lingus
- Aeromexico – Transfer Ratio 1:1.6
- Air Canada
- All Nippon
- British Airways
- Cathay Pacific
- El Al – Transfer Ratio 50:1
- Flying Blue (Air France/KLM)
- Hawaiian Airlines
- JetBlue – Transfer Ratio 1.25:1
- Singapore Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
Hotel Transfer Partners
- Choice Hotels
- Hilton – Transfer Ratio 1:2
Which Cards Are Similar To The AMEX Gold
It’s hard to compare the AMEX Gold card to just one other card. It’s unique in that the $250 annual fee is higher than other entry level travel cards. Along with the higher annual fee comes a few credits those cards don’t offer. Then, when you compare the benefits of the Gold card to a premium card, they don’t quite measure up . However, those premium cards also charge a much higher annual fee than the AMEX Gold card. While there’s no great comparison, here are a few options to consider.
Chase Sapphire Preferred – This is one of my favorite entry level travel cards to recommend. The card has a low annual fee but doesn’t have any annual statement credits. You do earn 2x points on travel and dining purchases. It comes with a generous welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 within 3 months. You can read all about the card here.
Capital One® Venture® Rewards – This is another good travel card for beginners. The annual fee for the first year is waived during the first year but doesn’t come with any statement credits. New accounts will earn 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months. You can learn more about the card here.
Chase Sapphire Reserve – This card is a great premium card option. The Sapphire Reserve has a $550 annual fee but comes with a $300 annual credit for travel purchases. Plus, it comes with a credit for one TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee every 4 years. You will earn 3x on all dining and travel purchases. New card members will receive a 50,000 point bonus after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months of opening their account. Here’s more information on this card.
American Express Platinum – The AMEX Platinum card is another great option for a premium travel card. This one also has a $550 annual. It comes with a great 60,000 point welcome bonus after spending $5,000 within 3 months of opening your account. Each year you can get up to $200 in Uber credits, a $200 airline fee credit and a $100 credit to Saks Fifth Avenue. You’ll also get access to the Global Lounge Collection which includes The Centurion Lounge and Delta Sky Clubs.
If you love eating out or spend a lot of money at grocery stores, the American Express Gold card could be an excellent option for you. Membership Rewards points are a great point currency to earn and you can earn them quickly with this card. The one thing I don’t like about this card, is the credits are very focused so they can be inconvenient and sometimes difficult to use. Therefore, if you are able to take full advantage of these credits, then maybe it deserves a spot in your wallet.