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The American Express Gold Card has just had its public welcome bonus refreshed and the result is a considerably more tempting offer than we’ve been seeing on this card over the past few months. Not only has the number of bonus points on offer nearly doubled, but Amex has also doubled the amount of time new cardholders have to earn the bonus.
The American Express Gold Card
The American Express Gold Card was completely overhauled back in 2018 and the result is a card that now offers the best earnings rate for spending at US supermarkets and the best earnings rate on dining out of any American Express Membership Rewards card. It also offers credits for dining and airline fees as well as trip delay coverage that most cards of this level do not offer.
Here’s what you need to know about the American Express Gold Card:
Cost of Authorised User Cards:
- $0 (zero)
Current Welcome Bonus:
- New applicants can earn 60,000 bonus Membership Rewards Points after they spend $4,000 on their new card in the first 6 months of card membership (more details)
Note: The terms and conditions of this offer state that the welcome bonus is not available to applicants who hold or have previously held this card or the Premier Rewards Gold Card.
- 4 points/dollar on spending at U.S Supermarkets (up to $25,000 in spending/year)*
- 4 points/dollar on dining worldwide
- 3 points/dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or through Amex Travel
- 1 point/dollar on spending in all other categories
*Any spending made above the $25,000 cap will only earn 1 point/dollar
- Earn valuable points that can be transferred over to a variety of airline and hotel loyalty programs.
- $100/year airline fee credit
- $120/year dining credit*
- $100/year Hotel Collection credit
- Trip delay protection
*Valid at select eateries only
Thoughts On The Gold Card
The Gold Card Earns Valuable Membership Rewards Points
Membership Rewards Points are Amex’s flexible rewards currency and they can be transferred across to a wide variety of airline and hotel loyalty programs at a ratio of 1:1. With the option to transfer the points that the Amex Gold Card earns to programs like Delta Sky Miles, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, the British Airways Executive Club, Flying Blue, and Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles, cardholders can use their earnings to save a significant amount of money on the trips they book and fly in some of the more aspirational First and Business Class cabins around.
I’m a big fan of Membership rewards because cards like this Gold Card make points relatively easy to earn, and because the points are relatively easy to use. Add to that the fact that Amex frequently offers bonuses for transfers to its loyalty program partners, and it’s easy to see why Membership Rewards is so popular.
The Welcome Bonus Is Attactive
The current welcome bonus of 60,000 points is a significant improvement on the 35,000 bonus points that this card has been offering for the past few months, and the fact that new cardholders are now being given 6 months to earn the bonus is a very nice added extra.
I value Amex Membership Rewards Points at 1.5 cents each (that’s a conservative valuation based on the value I know I can get out of each point without much effort) so that values the Amex Gold Card’s welcome offer at an impressive $900.
The Card Offers Excellent Earnings Rates
The 4 points/dollar that the American Express Gold Card earns on dining worldwide is one of the best rates of return offered by any card on the market, and the 4 points/dollar that it earns on purchases made at US supermarkets (up to a spending cap of $25,000) makes this one of the more rewarding cards in a category that attracts a significant level of spending for most people.
Note: Purchases at big box stores like Costco and Sam’s Club will only earn 1 point/dollar.
The Gold card also earns cardholders 3 points/dollar on spending made directly with airlines and this is a rate that can only be beaten by two other personal credit cards (the Amex Platinum Card and the Citi Prestige Card)…and both of those cards charge a considerably higher annual fees than the American Express Gold Card.
Based on my valuation of Membership Rewards Points, the Amex Gold Card effectively offers cardholders a 6% rebate on dining worldwide and on spending at US supermarkets (up to $25,000) and a 4.5% rebate on purchases made directly with airlines. These are rebates that most cards struggle to beat.
$120/Year Dining Credits
The Amex Gold Card offers cardholders a credit of $10 per month which can be triggered by spending with/at the following Amex partners:
- The Cheesecake Factory
- Ruth’s Chris Steak House
- Participating Shake Shack locations*
*Excludes Shake Shack locations in ballparks, stadiums, airports, and racetracks.
Only spending made in the United States will trigger the statement credit and while authorized users are eligible for these credits, it should be noted that only one $10 credit is available per account per month.
If you happen to frequent one or more of the eateries listed above, or if you order from Boxed or through Grubhub and Seamless, the $10/month could be classed as a genuine saving and one that’s well worth having. If, however, the fact that the Amex Gold Card offers these credit leads you to spend money you may not otherwise have spent, the credits are not a genuine saving and should be discounted from your calculation when you weigh up the value of this card to you.
$100/Year Airline Credit
Note: This is a benefit that is being removed on 31 December 2021.
Amex Gold Card holders can receive statement credits of up to $100 per calendar year when they use their card to pay for incidental fees charged by one airline of their choice from the following list (the choice is made at the beginning of a calendar year):
- Alaska Airlines
- American Airlines
- Delta Air Lines
- Frontier Airlines
- Hawaiian Airlines
- JetBlue Airways
- Southwest Airlines
- Spirit Airlines
- United Airlines
It’s important to note that airfare spending is not classified as an “incidental” fee and will therefore not trigger a statement credit. Baggage fees, seat selection fees, lounge memberships, lounge day passes, flight change fees, standby fees, in-flight entertainment fees (excluding wi-fi fees), and inflight food and drinks costs will, however, all trigger the statement credit.
If you have elite status with an airline and that’s the only airline you travel with, it’s likely that your status already ensures that you don’t have to pay a lot of the fees I listed above. That will make it harder to get a lot of value out of this credit. If, on the other hand, you don’t have elite status or you fly with more than one airline (and you don’t have status on them all), this statement credit becomes a lot easier to trigger.
When you’re weighing up the merits of the Amex Gold Card it’s important that you consider how much value you will genuinely get out of these fees – some cardholders use this statement credit with ease while others find it harder to use.
$100 Hotel Collection Credit
The Hotel Collection is a hotel booking portal run by Amex Travel and holders of the Amex Gold Card, who book a stay of 2 nights or longer through the portal, are given a $100 onsite credit. This credit can be spent on dining, spa, and activities charged to the room during their stay.
If you’re likely to need to book a stay of 2 nights or longer during your cardmember year this could be a nice benefit to have – $100 will go a long way towards buying 2 people a nice meal at a good hotel – but some caution is required.
Firstly, if you wouldn’t have made the hotel booking if the Amex Gold Card wasn’t offering you an onsite credit this isn’t a genuine saving for you. Secondly, be aware that bookings made through the hotel collection are considered 3rd party bookings by most hotel chains so any elite benefits you may have with that hotel’s loyalty program are unlikely to be honored.
Essentially, the $100 credit is best used at properties where the cardholder doesn’t have elite status and where the $100 would have been spent whether or not a credit was being offered (this works particularly well at boutique hotels which, mostly, don’t have loyalty programs).
The Gold Card Now Offers Trip Delay Coverage
At the beginning of 2020, American Express improved the travel benefits on a number of its cards and one of those improvements was the addition of Trip Delay coverage to the Amex Gold Card. This coverage isn’t as good as the coverage offered by the Platinum Card or by the Chase Sapphire Reserve card as your trip needs to be delayed by over 12 hours before the card will come to your rescue but, in the event that this happens, cardholders are entitled to up to $300 per trip for expenses, like overnight accommodation, meals, and other key essentials. The coverage is limited to two claims per 12 consecutive month period.
The American Express Gold Card is a card you hold for the great earning rates that it offers and not the benefits. Some of the benefits that the card offers can be very useful indeed, but the Gold Card’s primary function for most cardholders is as a points earning machine.
If you’re a fan of Membership Rewards (a lot of people are) and spend significant sums on dining and at supermarkets, this is almost certainly a card you should be considering – there isn’t another American Express card that can match what the Gold Card earns in those categories.
Just as importantly, it’s good to remember that no other card on the market offers excellent returns on both worldwide dining and US supermarket spending – there are cards that offer great returns in one category one or the other, but not in both – and that’s a key strength that the Gold Card has.
If you’re just looking for strong earnings on dining the Citi Prestige is probably the card to go for (although make sure you can justify its $495 annual fee), and if it’s just a great return at US supermarkets that you’re after and you don’t mind earning cash back, the Blue Cash Preferred Card (6% cash back on up to $6,000 of supermarket spending per year) is definitely worth considering.
Overall, however, the Amex Gold Card is a key component in most people’s Membership Rewards strategy as it offers strong earnings in categories where a lot of people put a significant amount of spend. Put simply, if you’re looking for a card to help you boost your Membership Rewards Points balance on everyday spending, this is probably the card for you.
Featured image courtesy of American Express