Card Review: American Express Gold [Updated for 2020]

An in-depth look at the Amex Gold to help you decide if it’s worth the annual fee.

The Flight Brothers Card Review: American Express Gold Card
Quick links:
Introduction
Welcome bonus
Benefits overview
Redeeming Membership Rewards
Bottom line

Introduction

The Amex Gold sits in a very interesting space in the credit card world. With its $250 annual fee, it’s uniquely positioned between middle-tier <$100 annual fee cards and premium cards with $450+ annual fees.

As a charge card, The Amex Gold also sets itself apart from traditional credit cards. Charge cards do not have a hard spending limit, giving you spending flexibility for things like large purchases. This also means that balances cannot be carried and are due in full before the next statement closing date.

So what makes the Amex Gold worth its $250 annual fee? (Spoiler alert: a lot)

Welcome bonus

The current welcome offer for the Amex Gold card is 35,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months of card membership. This isn’t the highest welcome offer we’ve ever seen for this card, but you can apply using our referral link for 40,000 points, or check CardMatch to see if you’re targeted for a 50,000 point bonus.

Benefits Overview

Earning with the Amex Gold

One of the biggest strengths of the Amex Gold is its fantastic earning rates in bonus spend categories:

  • 4x Membership Rewards points on dining worldwide
  • 4x Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets (capped at $25,000 per year, then 1X point)
  • 3x Membership Rewards points on flights booked directly through airlines or through Amextravel.com
  • 1x Membership Rewards points on everything else

4x points on dining and U.S. supermarkets and 3x points on travel are excellent earning rates in these respective categories. In fact, even premium cards like the American Express Platinum and Citi Prestige only offer slightly higher returns on similar bonus categories (as do cards with rotating categories).

Annual credits

In addition to excellent earning rates, the Amex Gold offers $220 in annual statement credits. These credits go a long way in helping offset most of the $250 annual fee:

  • $120 in dining credit: Enroll and earn up to $10 monthly statement credits at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed.com, and participating Shake Shack locations.
  • $100 in travel credit: Enroll and earn up to $100 in annual travel credit for incidental fees with the airline of your choice. The current list of qualifying airlines is below:
AlaskaAmericanDelta
FrontierHawaiianJetBlue
SpiritSouthwestUnited

Be sure to double check that your incidentals are eligible for reimbursement before making purchases. While American Express doesn’t explicitly list eligible incidentals, they do note the following in their benefit terms: “Airline tickets, upgrades, mileage points purchases, mileage points transfer fees, gift cards, duty free purchases, and award tickets are not deemed to be incidental fees.”

Amex Offers

Amex Gold cardholders also have access to Amex Offers, which are targeted spend incentives that offer cash back or bonus Membership Rewards points from a variety of merchants. Credits will automatically apply once the offer has been added to your account and the purchase terms have been met.

Taking advantage of Amex Offers is a great way to add to your Membership Rewards points balance or enjoy additional savings while shopping. Amex offers change frequently, so make sure to check back regularly to see what new offers are available.

Cardmember travel benefits

There are a handful of travel benefits and protections that come with the Amex Gold, for added peace of mind while traveling:

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • The Hotel Collection: Get $100 hotel credit when you book two or more consecutive nights at over 600 properties with American Express Travel.
  • Trip Delay Insurance: Reimbursement for travel delays over 12 hours, for up to $300 in eligible expenses. This benefit can be used for 2 eligible trips per 12 month period.
  • Car Rental Loss & Damage Insurance: Secondary insurance coverage for lost or damaged rental vehicles.
  • Baggage Insurance: Coverage for lost, damaged or stolen bags. Coverage is capped per covered person at $500 for checked baggage and $1,250 for carry-on baggage. High-risk items like jewelry and sports equipment is capped at $250.
  • Global Assist Hotline: Dial 1-800-333-AMEX (2639) for travel questions or assistance with things such as lost passport replacement assistance, translation services, missing luggage assistance, and emergency legal and medical referrals.

Having protections for trip delays and baggage damage can be very valuable, especially since some of these coverages apply to immediate family members. However, overall the Amex Gold travel protections do fall short when compared to competing cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, so this may not be the best card to book travel with.

Purchase guarantees

The Amex Gold also offers purchase protection and an extended warranty on purchases made using your card:

  • Purchase Protection protects eligible purchases for loss, theft, or accidental damage for 90 days after purchase. Coverage is capped at $10,000 per item and $50,000 per calendar year.
    *Note: This does not include Return Protection, which was a benefit that was removed from the Amex Gold on 1/1/20.
  • Extended Warranty extends original U.S. manufacturer’s warranties up to 1 extra year. This applies to warranties of 5 years or less.

Redeeming Membership Rewards

Membership Rewards points can be redeemed in many ways, but not all redemption methods offer the same value. You can redeem points at a fixed value for gift cards, as statement credits, or for travel booked through Amextravel.com. However, one of the biggest reasons Membership Rewards are so valuable is because of the flexibility and diversity of their travel partners.

The best way to maximize the value of your Membership Rewards is by transferring points to partner hotel and airline loyalty programs. American Express currently has a huge network of 22 transfer partners, which opens the door to tons of unique travel experiences.

Aer LingusAeroMexicoAir CanadaAir France-KLM
AlitaliaANAAvianaBritish Airways
Cathay PacificDeltaEl AlEmirates
EtihadHawaiian AirlinesIberiaJetBlue
QantasSingapore AirlinesVirgin Atlantic
Choice PrivilegesHiltonMarriott

For example, you could transfer Membership Rewards points to Cathay Pacific and try out their A330 Business Class cabin, which we recently flew from Jakarta to Hong Kong.

Transfer Membership Rewards to Asia Miles and fly Cathay Pacific Business Class from Jakarta to Hong Kong!

Bottom line

The Amex Gold is an excellent card for frequent diners and shoppers who do a moderate amount of spending at restaurants and supermarkets. Earning 4x points in these bonus categories is an excellent return, and that value can be multiplied even further by transferring points to travel partners.

The $250 annual fee can be mostly offset thanks to $220 in annual dining and airline statement credits, but does require some maintenance to ensure you’re using your credits each year. If managing statement credits isn’t something you’re interested in, you may not get as much value from this card.

There aren’t very many cards that can compete with the Amex Gold, since it’s wedged between middle-tier and premium cards. A common comparison is to the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which earns 2x points on dining and travel and has a $95 annual fee. While the Chase Sapphire Preferred doesn’t offer annual statement credits, it typically has a solid welcome offer and is a good alternative if you’re looking for a low maintenance card with moderate earning rates and similar bonus categories (especially if you don’t do much grocery shopping).

So if you’re looking for a card that offers excellent bonus category earning rates and ways to offset a large portion of the annual fee, the Amex Gold is an excellent option. You may even consider applying for the Amex Platinum, which earns 5x points on travel (versus 3x with the Amex Gold).

What do you think the Amex Gold? Let us know if you plan on applying, or if you use our referral link below!

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