American Express Gold Card Review [2019]

Filed Under: American Express, Credit Cards
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Late last year American Express refreshed their popular Premier Rewards Gold Card, and made some significant improvements. But they didn’t stop there, because over the past several days they’ve announced further improvements to the card that make it even better.

In this post I wanted to review the American Express® Gold Card, which is a rewarding card for anyone looking to earn as many Membership Rewards points as possible.

So let’s look at the details of the card:

Amex Gold Card welcome bonus

The Amex Gold Card offers a welcome bonus of 35,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $2,000 within three months.

Personally I value Membership Rewards points at 1.7 cents each, so to me those 35,000 points are worth $595.

Note that while this is the best publicly available welcome bonuses, sometimes better offers are available through referrals from existing cardmembers, so that’s something to always look out for.

Redeem Membership Rewards points for travel in ANA first class

Amex Gold Card eligibility

The welcome bonus on this card isn’t available to those who currently have the card, or those who have had the Premier Rewards Gold Card in the past.

However, if you have had this card or the Premier Rewards Gold Card before you’re still eligible for the card, but you’re just not eligible for the welcome bonus. In some circumstances it could still be worth getting the card in those situations if you’d benefit from it on an ongoing basis.

Amex Gold Card is a charge card

It’s also worth noting that the Amex Gold Card is a charge card. What’s the difference between a credit card and a charge card?

  • The basic distinction is that a credit card allows you to finance charges over time, while a charge card requires you to pay off your balance in full each month
  • While credit cards have a credit limit, charge cards don’t

But there’s another important distinction here if you’re considering applying for this card:

  • Typically you can have at most five American Express credit cards at a time
  • Typically you can get approved for at most two American Express credit cards in a 90 day period

American Express charge cards are not subjected to this limit. This means that you could be approved for the Amex Gold Card even if you already have five American Express credit cards, and even if you’ve already applied for two American Express credit cards in the past 90 days.

Amex Gold Card annual fee

The Amex Gold Card has a $250 annual fee (Rates & Fees), and it isn’t waived for the first year. While this is a steep annual fee, the card offers up to $220 worth of credits annually, and also has some valuable bonuses for spending in certain categories.

Amex Gold Card bonus categories

What makes the Amex Gold Card so valuable is the bonus categories it offers. The Amex Gold Card offers the following bonus categories:

  • 4x Membership Rewards points at restaurants globally
  • 4x Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets, on up to $25,000 in purchases annually
  • 3x Membership Rewards points on flights booked directly with airlines or through amextravel.com

This is an outstanding return on spend. Based on my valuations, that’s like a 6.8% return at restaurants globally and at U.S. supermarkets.

For dining this card even beats the 3x points that the Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers on dining — this is one of the best credit cards for dining purchases.

Now let’s take a closer look at just how those bonus categories are defined.

Amex Gold Card 4x points at restaurants

When the Amex Gold Card was introduced it only offered 4x points at restaurants in the U.S., but this has been extended to restaurants globally. There’s no limit to how many bonus points you can earn with this.

Generally speaking restaurants are defined pretty broadly, and includes everything from fast food to cafes to fine dining.

Just note that convenience stores, nightclubs, and restaurants located within other establishments won’t typically qualify for bonus points.

Furthermore, eligibility for bonus points is determined based on how the merchant chooses to be categorized. So there’s a chance that some merchants may not be categorized correctly at times.


The Amex Gold Card is great for dining purchases

Amex Gold Card 4x points at supermarkets

The Amex Gold Card offers 4x points on the first $25,000 spent every calendar year at U.S. supermarkets. This excludes superstores and warehouse clubs, so don’t expect you’ll be able to earn those bonus points at Sam’s Club, for example.

Amex Gold Card 3x points on flights

The Amex Gold Card offers 3x points on airfare with no limits on how many bonus points you can earn. This only applies when booking directly with an airline or through amextravel.com. Furthermore, charter flights and private jet flights are excluded.

Officially booking through online travel agencies (except amextravel.com) wouldn’t earn you bonus points, though in practice it may still sometimes code for 3x points. That’s because often online travel agencies still have the airline bill you directly when you book flights through them.

Earn triple points on flights with the Amex Gold Card

Amex Gold Card annual credits

One of the things that nicely helps offset the annual fee of the Amex Gold Card is that the card offers up to $220 in annual credits — this includes up to a $100 airline fee credit and up to a $120 dining credit.

Amex Gold Card $100 airline fee credit

The first perk is that the Amex Gold Card offers a $100 annual airline fee credit every calendar year. This is very similar to the credit offered on the Amex Platinum Card, it’s only half as much.

Here are the basic terms to be aware of:

  • Purchases by both the primary card member and authorized users are eligible, but you’re limited to a single credit no matter how many authorized users you have
  • You can use the credit for one purchase or over multiple purchases, and it will keep applying until you reach the $100 limit
  • The card member has to select the airline with which they want the credit
  • The credit is potentially valid for purchases with most major US airlines, including American, Delta, Frontier, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit, and United
  • If you’ve already selected an airline, you’ll be able to change it one time per year, each January; if you don’t change it, the same airline will remain selected
  • The terms state that the credit should post within 2-4 weeks, though in my experience it posts much faster than that

So, what kind of purchases are eligible? According to the terms, here are the purchases that are and aren’t eligible for the credits:

Fees not charged by the Card Member’s airline of choice (e.g. wireless internet and fees incurred with airline alliance partners) do not qualify for statement credits. Incidental air travel fees charged prior to selection of a qualifying airline are not eligible for statement credits. 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.

Use your airline fee credit to cover an airline change fee

This credit can be useful for anything ranging from baggage fees, to ticket change fees, to close-in ticketing fees, etc.

One interesting thing is that anecdotally buying select airline gift cards sometimes triggers this credit. The terms don’t support that, but there are many reports of purchases of gift cards with some airlines automatically triggering this. There’s no guarantee that will always be the case, but as of now that’s something that works with many airlines.

That’s a reason I value this credit at face value, basically.

Amex Gold Card $120 dining credit

The second perk is that the Amex Gold Card offers a dining credit of up to $120 per year. This gives enrolled members up to $10 per month in statement credits when you pay with your card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations.

The $120 dining credit is a bit more complicated:

  • This credit is valid for purchases with Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations
  • Purchases by both the primary card member and authorized users are eligible, but you’re limited to a single credit no matter how many authorized users you have
  • The credit comes in the form of a $10 monthly credit, for a total of up to a $120 credit each year
  • Shake Shack locations in ballparks, stadiums, airports, and racetracks, aren’t eligible
  • The terms state that this isn’t valid for gift card or merchandise purchases, though it’s anyone’s guess if that is enforced
  • Only purchases in the United States qualify
  • The terms state that the credit should post within 2-4 weeks, though in my experience it posts much faster than that

Get up to $120 per year in value with the Amex Gold dining credit

My take on the Amex Gold Card

The Amex Gold Card is a spectacular card for anyone who spends a lot of money on food (whether at restaurants or supermarkets), and who is looking to earn Membership Rewards points.

For a long time the Chase Sapphire Reserve® was the undisputed champ when it came to dining, but this card is now even more rewarding for dining (in the meantime the Citi Prestige also offers 5x points on dining).

This card could be a fantastic complement to some other Amex cards that earn Membership Rewards points, including:

While the $250 annual fee is steep, hopefully most people can recover most of that fee using the up to $220 in annual credits. If you’re someone who could maximize those, this is essentially a card that will cost you $30 per year “out of pocket,” and offers lots of great opportunities to earn points.

Bottom line

Not only was the Amex Gold Card already an improved version of the former Premier Rewards Gold Card, but on top of that Amex keeps making this card better. The card now offers 4x Membership Rewards points on dining globally, and they also added Boxed as an option for the $10 monthly credit.

If you have the Amex Gold Card, what has your experience been with it?

The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: American Express® Gold Card (Rates & Fees).

Regarding Comments: The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.
Regarding Comments: The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.
Comments
  1. I’m confused how Boxed is included as a dining credit? I guess it’s $10 free per month whatever the reasoning is.

  2. I had to give up on GrubHub/Seamless. Delivery was always late and the food was always cold. But luckily there’s a new Shake Shack across the street from me.

    I’ve been trying to decide whether to keep this card. I also have the Everyday Preferred.

  3. I moved all my dining spend from the CSR to the Gold card. I know the Citi Prestige offers 5x, but I just don’t find Thankyou points as valuable as UR or MR points.

  4. Thank you for publishing this just now. I just applied the other night and was approved but ever since then I’ve been unable to return to the page where all the bennies are listed.

  5. I was using Amex Gold for restaurants, but I noticed that at least one restaurant charge only earned 1x points even though it was coded as a restaurant on my Amex statement. I called and they said it was inside a hotel so didn’t qualify. I had simply booked a restaurant on OpenTable and walked in straight from the street (not through a hotel). Too much gamesmanship for me and made me wonder about wiggle room on other Amex “benefits” too. I’ve switched to using the Citi Prestige in restaurants, they give 5x points, cover restaurants quite broadly and don’t arbitrarily exclude some or ask me to determine if they are part of a larger establishment.

  6. My Amex Gold is a MRP-earning machine. I have it combined with the Platinum, which aside from airfare purchases, is mainly a “benefit” card (lounge access, elite status in certain hotel programs, etc.) and doesn’t throw off a ton of points otherwise. I’m able to make use of the credits, so the triple net cost of $30 a year to have a card that delivers MRPs by the truckload is a good deal. 12/10 good card.

    Also, agree with the above – the AA gift card hole seems to have been plugged thanks to our friends at TPG reaching out to AA and Amex for comment early this year on why the hole worked and whether it would continue to work. Big shock – it stopped shortly thereafter. Glad Bonvoy still sends their leader to award ceremonies, though. Really helps them report accurately on all that is going well with Bonvoy *sarcasm*

  7. Do you need to spend $10 to get the $10 dining credit monthly? Meaning, if you spend $8 via GrubHub or others will the $10 credit post?

  8. @Davythefatboy – I’ve noticed that restaurants in hotels are the trickiest to optimize if you can’t do a room charge. It’s impossible to figure out if it will post as restaurant or hotel on a first visit. For a first time visit I’ve started hedging my bets and asking them to split the charge and put half on my AmEx Gold (restaurants) and half on my Bonvoy/IHG/Hyatt or Chase Biz Reserve depending on the chain. This way I can only be half wrong.

  9. I was able to change my airline choice after January. As long as you haven’t used any of it they seem to be amenable. I had to call them to do it.

  10. If you get the free version as an authorized user from a Platinum card, do you still get the airline and don’t dining credits?

  11. Point of reference, gift cards work for the dining credit as long as you buy the card at a physical restaurant location. Buying gift cards online – even through the restaurant’s website – will not code correctly and therefore will not get you the credit. Each month I buy a $10 gift card at a local Cheesecake Factory location and have always been credited within days.

  12. The thing that is most frustrating about the Amex Gold Card’s restaurant benefit is that they don’t give you 4x points if you use Apple Pay or if the restaurant uses Square, Breadcrumb or any of the other new point of sale systems that many fast causal places are starting to use. This is really frustrating since I have to pay special attention on whether a restaurant is using one of these point of sale systems and if so give them my CSR instead. Chase has no issue giving their normal restaurant points at all restaurants regardless of system or if you use Apple Pay. To me this is a major weakness of the Amex Gold Card.

  13. I’ve tried and Amex refuses both on the Apple Pay issue and the Square/Clover/Breadcrumb issue. They site the Cardmember Agreement which states that you only get 1x point in either situation. So while they are on solid ground from a legal perspective, it just seems really cheap and makes the card much less valuable in my opinion.

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