For many, the American Express Gold Card is a symbol of financial success. Pull out the Gold Card on a date, and you’ve made a statement. We here at allCards think a fat bank account is THE sign of financial success. Yet we also know that a lucrative rewards card can add bank to our accounts. So in this Amex Gold Card review, we dive into the rewards, benefits and fees to see how the card stacks up.
The American Express Gold Card is designed for travelers and culinary enthusiasts, particularly those with a family. Why? It pays up to 4x Membership Rewards points on restaurants and U.S. supermarkets, and 3x points on flights booked directly with the airlines or on amextravel.com.
In addition, members can earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of account activation. It adds to these rewards up to $10 in statement credits each month when using your card for dining (see limitations below). Of course this is after you enroll in the Dining Credit program.
The Gold Card does have a high annual fee of $250. So let’s dive into the details to see whether the card is worth the cost.
American Express Gold Card Rewards
So, you have signed up and are now an official Gold Card member. You are now able to begin earning those rewards points in a number of ways, including a Welcome Bonus. Upon your card’s activation, you have 6 months to spend $4,000 with your card. If you do , you will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points.
It will take between 8-12 weeks for you to receive these points. It is rare, but if there is a delay in receiving your Gold Card you may end up with less than 6 months to earn these points. Some purchases may fall outside of the 6 month period as well. For example:
- If a merchant has a delay in submitting transactions to American Express, or
- if the sale date is different from the transaction date. (This means if you bought items online, the sale date could be the date the items get shipped).
So if you plan to earn the Welcome Bonus, don’t wait until the last minute.
Gold Card members can earn ongoing Membership Rewards at three different levels:
- Earn 4x Membership Rewards by using your Gold Card at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year) or when dining
- Earn 3x Membership Rewards when booking flights directly, or with amextravel.com
- Earn 1 point for all other eligible items
Assuming a 1.0 cent valuation, groceries and eating out earn 4% (subject to the limitations noted above). Flights booked directly with the airlines or at the amex travel website earn 3%, and all other purchases earn 1%.
You can’t earn any extra points for purchases at restaurants located within other establishments. For example, purchases made at a restaurant located within a hotel may be recognized as a purchase at a hotel, not a restaurant.
Approved purchases that earn rewards do not including the following:
- fees or interest charges
- cash advances
- person to person payments
- gift card purchases
- travelers checks
- purchasing or reloading of prepaid cards
Merchants are assigned codes based on what they primarily sell. Any purchases will not qualify for extra points if the merchant’s code is not eligible.
Gold Card members can redeem their rewards through a variety of options. The key is to remember that the value of the Membership Rewards points vary based on how they are used. Here’s a summary of the redemption options, along with an estimate of the Membership Rewards points value:
|Redeem at Checkout||0.7 to 1.0 cents|
|Gift Cards||0.5 to 1.0 cents|
|Transfer to Airline Partners||Up to 10.0 cents or more|
|Transfer to Hotel Partners||Around 0.5 cents|
|Statement Credit||0.6 cents|
|Shop Amazon||0.7 cents|
Redeem at Checkout
They can redeem them at Checkout with the following services:
(These websites have a current points value of $70.00, based on a Membership Rewards point total of 10,000. This means that each point is worth 0.7 cents.)
- Amex Express Checkout
- Best Buy
- Rite Aid
- Saks Fifth Avenue
You can also redeem rewards through:
- NYC Taxi: Currently priced at $100.00, based on a 10,000 Membership Rewards points total. This means that each point spent is worth $0.1.
- Ticketmaster: Based on a 10,000 Membership Rewards points total, this site is currently priced with a points value of $50.00. Upon viewing the Ticketmaster site, it stated that Pay With Points was currently unavailable through this site, but did give us a phone number to call if we wanted to use the Pay With Points offer on a purchase.
If you are looking to find a gift card, you can choose from a wide variety of merchants with your rewards. What follows are the gift card values based on spending 10,000 Membership Rewards points. Keep in mind that these values can and do change, so be sure to confirm the value before purchasing a gift card.
- Best Western® Hotels & Resorts ($85.00)
- Delta ($70.00)
- Fairmont Hotels & Resorts ($100.00)
- Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts ($70.00)
- Hilton ($85.00)
- Hotels.com ™ ($70.00)
- Mandarin Oriental ($85.00)
- Marriott® ($70.00)
- The Ritz-Carlton ($70.00)
- American Express® Blue Balloons ($50.00)
- American Express® Blue Facet Snowflake ($50.00)
- American Express® Classic Gold ($50.00)
- American Express® Congrats Stars ($50.00)
- American Express® Gold Sparkle ($50.00)
- American Express® Season’s Greetings ($50.00)
- American Express® Sleigh Ride ($50.00)
- American Express® Thank You Teal ($50.00)
- American Express® White Metal ($50.00)
Car and Rail
- Uber ($70.00)
- Bahama Breeze® ($100.00)
- Benihana® ($100.00)
- Bloomin’ Brands Multi-Brand ($85.00)
- Bonefish Grill® ($85.00)
- California Pizza Kitchen ($100.00)
- Carrabba’s Italian Grill® ($85.00)
- Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen® ($100.00)
- Chili’s® Grill and Bar ($100.00)
- Darden Restaurants ($100.00)
- Eddie V’s® ($100.00)
- Fleming’s® Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar ($85.00)
- Legal Sea Foods ($100.00)
- Lettuce Entertain You® Enterprises, Inc. ($100.00)
- Longhorn® Steakhouse ($100.00)
- Maggiano’s Little Italy® ($100.00)
- Morton’s® The Steakhouse ($100.00)
- Olive Garden® ($100.00)
- Outback Steakhouse® ($85.00)
- Panera Bread® ($85.00)
- Ruth’s Chris® Steakhouse ($100.00)
- Seasons 52® ($100.00)
- Starbucks Card ($70.00)
- Subway® ($85.00)
- The Capital® Grill($100.00)
- The Cheesecake Factory® ($85.00)
- Yard House® ($100.00)
- Aspen Snowmass ($70.00)
- Jackson Hole Mountain Resort ($100.00)
- Regal Cinemas Gift Card ($85.00)
- App Store & iTunes ($85.00)
- Athleta ($100.00)
- Banana Republic ($100.00)
- Barnes and Noble ($100.00)
- Bath and Body Works® ($100.00)
- Bed Bath and Beyond® ($100.00)
- Bergdorf Goodman ($100.00)
- Best Buy ™ ($70.00)
- Brooks Brothers ($100.00)
- buybuy Baby® ($100.00)
- CB2 ($100.00)
- Coach ($100.00)
- Cost Plus World Market ($100.00)
- Crate and Barrel ($100.00)
- GAP ($100.00)
- GAP Brands Options ($100.00)
- Intermix® ($100.00)
- Lord & Taylor ($85.00)
- Macy’s ($85.00)
- Neiman Marcus ($100.00)
- Nike ($100.00)
- Nordstrom ($85.00)
- Nordstrom Rack ($85.00)
- Old Navy ($100.00)
- One Kings Lane ($100.00)
- PBteen ($100.00)
- Pottery Barn ($100.00)
- Pottery Barn Kids ($100.00)
- Ralph Lauren ($100.00)
- REI ($100.00)
- RH ($100.00)
- Saks Fifth Avenue ($100.00)
- Saks OFF 5th ($100.00)
- Sam’s Club® ($70.00)
- Sam’s Club® Gift of Membership-Club Level ($70.00)
- Sam’s Club® Gift of Membership-Plus Level ($70.00)
- Sephora ($85.00)
- Spafinder Wellness 365 ™ ($100.00)
- Staples® ($100.00)
- Target GiftCard ™ ($70.00)
- The Home Depot® ($100.00)
- Tiffany & Co. ($100.00)
- TJX Multi-Brand ($85.00)
- Under Armour® ($85.00)
- Victoria’s Secret ($100.00)
- Walmart ($70.00)
- west elm ($100.00)
- Williams-Sonoma ($100.00)
- Zappos.com ($100.00)
Planning on taking a flight soon? You can transfer Membership Rewards points to airline miles programs. This can be the most valuable use of Amex points. The value, of course, depends on how you use the miles after the transfer.
|Airline||Transfer Ratio||Estimated Transfer Time|
|Alitalia||1:1||3 Working Days|
|Cathay Pacific (Asia Miles)||1:1||48 Hours|
|Flying Blue (Air France / KLM)||1:1||Instant|
|Singapore Airlines||1:1||Up to 24 Hours|
Keep in mind that Amex has two lists of airline partners, one for global Amex cardholders and one for U.S. cardholders. The above list is for U.S. cardholders.
You can also transfer Membership Rewards points to one of three hotel chain partners:
|Hotel Partner||Transfer Ratio||Transfer Time|
|Choice Privileges||1:1||Almost Instant|
|Hilton Honors||1:2||Almost Instant|
|Marriott Bonvoy||1:1||Almost Instant|
Generally you won’t get the best value with hotel transfers. Hotel rewards programs in general are not great. But it’s good to have this option if you need a few more points to book a hotel stay.
Redeem for Travel with Amex
While transferring points to partner airlines is usually the best bet, you can also book travel directly with Amex using Membership Rewards points.
You can redeem points for statement credit, but it’s a bad deal. They are only worth 0.06 cents each.
$120 Dining Credit
When using the Dining Credit, members can earn up to $10 in statement credits. This is good as it adds up to $120 in annual savings. This is possible each month when using the Gold Card at these select establishments:
- The Cheesecake Factory
- Ruth’s Chris Steak House
- Participating Shake Shack locations
$100 Airline Fee Credit
This benefit is available to American Express Gold Card Members only. Members can earn statement credits up to $100 each year toward incidental air travel fees. Incidental air travel fees must be separate charges from airline ticket charges. Incidentals include the following:
- Airline food
- Wireless internet
- Baggage check
Fees that are not charged by the member’s airline of choice do not qualify for statement credits. To clear up any confusion, the following are not incidental fees:
- airline tickets
- mileage points purchases
- mileage points transfer fees
- gift cards
- duty free purchases
- award tickets
Airlines must submit any charge(s) under the appropriate merchant code, industry code, required service or product identifier. This is so the charge is recognizable as an incidental air travel fee. Once the air travel fee has been charged, it can take anywhere from 2-4 weeks to appear on your account.
American Express Gold Card Benefits
- Payment Flexibility- Members can carry a balance with interest on purchases of $100 or more that allows them more control over what they pay. Upon payment, you can choose to pay your Account Total New Balance, the minimum, or between with interest.
- The Hotel Collection- When booking this offer with amex travel, you can get the following benefits when booking a consecutive 2 night stay:
- Room upgrade (when available)
- $100 hotel credit for spa, dining, and resort activities
- Baggage Insurance Plan: Buy a Common Carrier ticket with your card and you can have coverage for up to $1,250 for carry-on items. As well as up to $500 on all checked luggage.
- Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance: Use your card to purchase your select rental vehicle. Make sure to decline the collision damage waiver. Then your vehicle will be covered if stolen or in any way damaged.
- Shoprunner: Get free 2-day shipping on select purchases at over 100+ online stores.
- Amex Offers: Earn rewards when you travel, shop in-store, online, dine, and more with Amex Offers.
- Entertainment Access: Get exclusive access to pre-sales on tickets. As well as Card-Member only events near you. This includes concerts, sporting and family events, and more with Entertainment Access.
Personalized Travel Service
This is a service provided as a benefit through the American Express Gold Card. This service offers Gold Card members the ability to book flights across the world, make certain hotel arrangements, and schedule ground transport upon landing at their destination.
The Amex Gold Card requires excellent credit, typically above 720. However, there have been some reports of approvals with scores in the 600s. At the same time, some have been denied with scores above 750. This results underscore the fact that while your credit score is important, it’s not the only consideration.
Let’s say you try to return an eligible item (within 90 days) from the date of sale. If the merchant won’t take it back, American Express may refund the full sale price. This can be up to $300 per item, or up to a maximum of $1,000 per account per calendar year based on the date of sale.
Yes you can. As long as you are making your payments on time, you will still earn Membership Rewards points.
Right off the bat, you will be able to sign up for the $100 Airline Fee Credit, as well as the $120 Dining Credit. Using both of these will come close to offsetting the annual fee. Add to this the Welcome Bonus and up to 4x points on purchases, and the card more than pays for itself.
How Does the American Express Gold Card Stack Up
With 4x points at the grocery store (subject to a spending cap) and restaurants, and 3x points on travel, the American Express Gold Card is hard to beat. You won’t find this combination of elevated rewards on other cards.
For those who want even more rewards from a specific category, there are other reasonable alternatives:
- Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express: 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on the first $6,000 spent per year.
- Amazon Prime Visa: Unlimited 5% cash back at Whole Foods
- Chase Sapphire Reserve: 3x on travel + 50% bonus when you use the points to book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- Capital One Savor: 4% cash back on dining and entertainment.
In the final analysis, the American Express Gold Card offers a unique mix of elevated rewards that should appeal to a large segment of consumers. It does come with a hefty annual fee, but if used as your primary card, the rewards should more than offset the yearly cost.