In the past several years, credit card issuers have become significantly more competitive when it comes to small business cards.
While many people may be familiar with the American Express® Gold Card (review), there’s a business version of the card that’s also quite rewarding. In this post I wanted to take a look at that card, which is the American Express® Business Gold Card.
Amex Business Gold Card Basics For January 2021
For businesses looking to earn Membership Rewards points, the Amex Business Gold Card could prove to be the card for you, given that it earns up to 4x Membership Rewards points for spending in certain categories. While the card has a significant annual fee, the points you earn will in many cases more than offset that.
With the Amex Business Gold Card you can earn 35,000 bonus Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 within the first three months. Personally I value Membership Rewards points at 1.7 cents each, so to me those points are worth $595.
Be aware of Amex’s general restrictions on applying for cards, including the “once in a lifetime rule.” That means you’re not eligible for the bonus on the card if you’ve already had this card, though you are potentially eligible for the bonus if you’ve had other Amex cards.
Redeem your Amex points for travel in Emirates first class
The Amex Business Gold Card has a $295 annual fee (Rates & Fees), and it isn’t waived for the first year. You can add additional cardmembers to your account at no extra cost.
Earning Points With The Amex Business Gold Card
The primary reason you may want to consider the Amex Business Gold Card is because of the bonus categories that it offers on purchases. The card offers up to 4x points, though the way in which these bonus points are awarded is pretty nuanced.
4x Points In Select Categories
Amex takes an interesting approach to offering bonus points with the Amex Business Gold, because the categories in which you earn 4x points adjusts along with your spending every billing cycle.
Each billing cycle you earn 4x Membership Rewards points on the two categories in which you spend the most. This can change each billing cycle based on your spending patterns. The Amex Business Gold Card offers up to 4x points in the following categories:
- Airfare purchased directly from airlines
- U.S. purchases for advertising in select media
- U.S. purchases at gas stations
- U.S. purchases at restaurants
- U.S. purchases for shipping
- U.S. computer hardware, software, and cloud computing purchases made directly from select providers
Based on my valuation of Membership Rewards points, that’s the equivalent of a 6.8% return on spending in those categories, which is incredible.
What Qualifies For Card Bonus Categories?
How does Amex define the bonus categories on the Amex Business Gold? Here are some general guidelines to be aware of:
- U.S. computer hardware, software, and cloud computing includes Apple, CDW, Dell, HP, IBM, Intuit, Lenovo, Microsoft, Newegg, Oracle, Rackspace, Sage Software, Salesforce.com, Symantec, and Tiger Direct
- U.S. advertising in select media includes Google, Facebook, Yahoo, NBC National Broadcasting, and CBS Radio
- U.S. shipping includes FedEx, UPS, and the United States Postal Service
The gas station, restaurants, and airfare purchase categories are mostly self-explanatory. Just keep in mind that gas station and restaurant categories are limited to U.S. locations, while airfare needs to be purchased directly from airlines.
Earn 4x points on shipping with the Amex Business Gold
$150K Bonus Limit
The Amex Business Gold Card limits you to earning 4x points on a total of $150,000 of spending every calendar year. That’s across all the bonus categories, and it doesn’t matter how it’s split up. There’s no limit to the total number of points you can earn with the card, though there is a limit to the 4x points categories.
1x Points On Other Purchases
For categories in which you can’t earn 4x points, the Amex Business Gold Card offers 1x points per dollar spent.
No Foreign Transaction Fees
The Amex Business Gold Card has no foreign transaction fees (Rates & Fees), so you can use it for purchases globally. Just keep in mind that some of the 4x point categories are restricted to U.S. purchases.
Redeeming Amex Points
These points can efficiently be transferred to airline and hotel partners, and for having the Amex Business Gold Card you also get a special rate at which you can redeem points towards the cost of airfare.
Transfer Points To Airline & Hotel Partners
The best way to redeem your points is to transfer them to one of the Membership Rewards airline or hotel partners. Points can be transferred to the following 22 partners, including 19 airline partners and three hotel partners:
|Aer Lingus Aer Club||Choice Privileges|
|Aeroméxico Club Premier||Hilton Honors|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||Marriott Bonvoy|
|Air France/KLM Flying Blue|
|ANA Mileage Club|
|British Airways Executive Club|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles|
|Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles|
|Qantas Frequent Flyer|
|Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club|
The reason this represents such a good deal is that you can get outsized value towards first and business class travel. These tickets are often super expensive if paying cash, while they can be a good deal on points. On top of that Amex often has transfer bonuses, which can get you even better value.
Even if you’re not traveling right now, there’s lots of value to earning rewards that you can redeem towards future flights.
Transfer Amex points to Air Canada Aeroplan
Redeem Membership Rewards Points Towards Airfare
Ordinarily, you can redeem Membership Rewards points for about a cent each towards the cost of an airfare purchase, which isn’t that great. However, if you have the Amex Business Gold Card you can redeem points at a special rate.
If you book your flight through American Express Travel using the Membership Rewards Pay with Points feature, you get 25% of those points back:
- You need to either be booking a first or business class flight, or book any cabin on your selected qualifying airline
- You can get up to 250,000 points back per year using this redemption method
That means you’re looking at getting up to ~1.33 cents of value per point using this redemption option, which isn’t bad at all. That’s another advantage of having the Amex Business Gold Card.
Redeem points towards the cost of an airline ticket
How Not To Redeem Membership Rewards Points
While you can redeem Membership Rewards points towards the cost of merchandise, towards gift cards, or to pay off your statement, these aren’t good uses of your points. You’ll typically get less than one cent of value per point, so that’s not how I’d redeem them.
Amex Business Gold Card Benefits
The Amex Business Gold Card offers several benefits that cardmembers may find useful, though do the benefits justify the annual fee? Let’s take a closer look. Note that the above are the consistent features, and are in addition to some temporary perks that Amex cards may be offering due to the pandemic.
One of the great features of Amex cards is access to Amex Offers, which offers savings or bonus points on purchases with all kinds of retailers. The more Amex cards you have, the more offers you’ll have access to.
Amex Offers could save you hundreds of dollars per year. You can access these offers by logging into your account and scrolling down to the bottom of your account summary page.
For having the American Express Business Gold Card you get a ShopRunner membership, which gets you free two-day shipping on eligible items at a network of 100+ online stores. You just have to enroll in your complimentary membership and can then start taking advantage of it.
The Hotel Collection
For staying two or more nights at select luxury hotels you can receive extra benefits through The Hotel Collection. Benefits include a $100 hotel credit and a room upgrade if available. This is different than Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts, which requires having a Platinum Card.
Score extra perks for stays at luxury hotels
Purchase, Return, And Warranty Protection
The Amex Business Gold Card offers some potentially valuable purchase protection, return protection, and extended warranty. While you’ll want to check your cardmember agreement for all the details, you can potentially expect:
- Purchase protection, offering protection on eligible purchases that are accidentally damaged, stolen, or lost; valid for up to 120 days, and $10,000 per occurrence, and $50,000 per calendar year (this will be reduced from 120 days to 90 days as of January 1, 2020)
- Return protection, where Amex may refund a purchase in full when you try to return an item within 90 days and the merchant won’t take it back; valid for up to $300 per item, up to a maximum of $1,000 per calendar year
- Extended warranty, where you can get up to two extra years added to the original manufacturer’s warranty, for warranties of five years or less (this will be reduced from two years to one year as of January 1, 2020)
Trip Delay Coverage
The Amex Business Gold Card offers trip delay coverage in situations where your flight is delayed by over 12 hours. You’ll be entitled to up to $500 per trip for necessary expenses, like hotels, meals, and other essentials.
This will be all the more reason to put airfare purchases on this card, so you can earn bonus points while getting travel protection.
Get valuable coverage if your flight is delayed
Is The Amex Business Gold Card Worth It?
I tend to think that the Amex Business Gold Card is a pretty polarizing card. Either it’s absolutely a no brainer for your business, or there are probably better cards out there.
As far as I’m concerned, it definitely makes sense to get the Amex Business Gold Card if you have a business that spends a significant amount in the categories that are eligible for 4x points, since there are some unique categories there where not many other cards offer bonuses.
But other than that, I tend to think there are other good cards to consider.
Tip: Complement With Amex Blue Business Plus
If I could get just one Amex business card it would be The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express (review), which offers 2x Membership Rewards points on the first $50,000 spent every calendar year. This is a no annual fee card (Rates & Fees) that should be a no brainer for just about anyone.
This is a great complement to the Business Gold Card:
- You can earn 2x points on non-bonused spending with the Blue Business Plus
- You can earn 4x points in bonus categories with the Business Gold
Showdown: Amex Business Gold Vs. Chase Ink Business Preferred
As far as I’m concerned, the single best business credit card out there is the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card (review). The card has a bonus of 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points, has a reasonable $95 annual fee, offers 3x points in useful categories, has a great cell phone protection plan and car rental coverage, and more.
Personally I think the Ink Preferred is a more well-rounded card with a more reasonable annual fee. If I could only get one card, I would get the Ink Preferred.
However, for some businesses, it could make sense to get both cards, or if you’re already in the Amex card ecosystem, then there’s value in continuing to earn Membership Rewards points.
Amex Business Gold Card Summary
The Amex Business Gold Card is one of American Express’ best business cards for earning Membership Rewards points. The card has a steep annual fee, so it’s best for those who can maximize the bonus categories. I tend to think the “no brainer” Amex business card is the Blue Business Plus Card.
If you’d benefit greatly from the 4x points categories, then I think this card could definitely be worth it. Otherwise, I think the Ink Business Preferred Card is the business credit card to get, and the best business credit card in general.
The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: American Express® Business Gold Card (Rates & Fees), and The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express (Rates & Fees).