Amex Gold Card: How The Dining & Airline Fee Credits Work

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Last week we saw the introduction of the new American Express® Gold Card, which is an incredible card that is in some ways giving the Chase Sapphire Reserve® a run for its money.

What makes the Amex Gold Card so great

The card offers the following return on spend:

  • 4x Membership Rewards points at U.S. restaurants
  • 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

Earning 4x points on U.S. dining is the best earn rate out there on dining, in my opinion. Being able to earn 4x points at US supermarkets is pretty awesome as well.

The catch is that the card has a $250 annual fee, which is steep. For example, while the Chase Sapphire Reserve® has a $450 annual fee, it offers a $300 annual travel credit that just about anyone should get full value out of (any purchase coded as travel is eligible to be reimbursed), so the way I view it, the card’s real annual “out of pocket” is $150.

The Amex Gold Card’s two credits

But what about the American Express® Gold Card? It offers two perks that help offset the annual fee:

  • A $100 annual airline fee credit
  • A $120 annual dining credit

Depending on your spend patterns, these can be worth anywhere between $0 and $220. If they’re worth $220 to you, that would mean the real out of pocket on this card is only $30 per year (which would be amazing).

As you may have guessed, there are some catches with these, so let’s look at the details.

How the Amex Gold $100 airline fee credit works

So the first perk is one that even the old version of the card (the Premier Rewards Gold Card) offered. Specifically, the American Express® 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, which can be done at this link
  • 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.

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 airline gift cards often triggers this credit. The terms don’t support that, but I often buy $100 American Airlines gift cards, and they automatically reimburse as part of this benefit. 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.

How the Amex Gold $120 dining credit works

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, 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

So, how much are these credits worth?

I’m conflicted. I value the airline fee credit roughly at face value. So the way I see it, that brings the cost of the American Express® Gold Card down to about $150 per year.

But what about the dining credit?

  • I don’t use Grubhub and Seamless, but rather use Postmates for all my food delivery
  • I go to the Cheesecake Factory and Ruth’s Chris Steak House maybe once a year each
  • I’ve never been to a Shake Shack

So based on that, I’d say I would get about $10 of value out of the credit each year based on my current patterns. But this also makes me wonder if I should adjust my spend patterns a bit if I get this card.

No, I’m not going to start going to Cheesecake Factory or Ruth’s Chris monthly, but should I start using Grubhub and Seamless rather than Postmates? I order a lot of delivery food, so if I did, I’d get the full $120 value out of it.

Bottom line

The American Express® Gold Card is fantastic, and earning 4x points per dollar on U.S. dining and U.S. supermarkets is phenomenal. The $250 annual fee is steep, though hopefully you can recoup quite a bit of the fee thanks to the up to $220 in credits you get.

I’m sure some people will get nearly $220 worth of value out of those credits, while others will get close to zero.

How much value do you anticipate getting out of the Amex Gold Card airline and dining credits?

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Comments

  1. I dont do delivery, but apparently you can go onto Grubhub and select takeout, so I guess Ill start doing that

  2. I agree with you on the airline credit, but the dining credit just isn’t worth that much to me. I’ll use the credit 100% based on my patterns, but it’s $10 a month. It’s such an insignificant amount based on what I spend on those services each month that it feels like nothing. If they allowed it to be used all at once that might change my opinion, but not by much. The value in the card is in the bonus categories for me, and the dining credit I look at as marketing fluff. 🙂

  3. The other day I ordered takeout through Yelp, which is powered by Grubhub, and receive the credit after a couple of days.

  4. The dining credit is about useless as there are none of those nearby.
    The gift card, errrrrrrrr I mean airline credit is good(FWIW, if using Delta be sure to use in $50 increments. For some reason $100 cards do not reimburse). YMMV.
    The 4X restaurant and grocery are very good benes.
    This card has risen quickly in my wallet.

  5. I’ve never used grubhub before, but I downloaded the app on 10/4. It has 1 restaurant in the entire city that I like so it looks like the $120 credits will end up being worth something after all.

  6. Many restaurants are on multiple delivery platforms, so if where you want to order from is on Grubhub or Seamless, then it seems like a no-brainer to me to order from them on that platform. In many cases Grubhub/Seamless should be cheaper than Postmates, since Postmates requires you to pay for a Postmates delivery person, while Seamless is mostly just a platform for the restaurants to send their own delivery person.

  7. I just ordered Chick Fil A on grubhub. $2.99 delivery $2.50 tip and $7 for some nuggets and fries. I guess I’ll do that once a month.
    I’ve already spent $4,500 on dining since I got the card on Tuesday so the 4x is really awesome. (I like to volunteer to pay for catered lunches at my office)

  8. Do we know if Grubhub, Seamless, Postmates, etc. will be considered dining for the purposes of 4x MR points? I haven’t’ seen them categorized that way before but when they include such vendors in a dining credit scheme it makes you wonder.

  9. I’m tempted to get the card to use the $10 monthly credit for a slice of takeout Cheesecake Factory cheesecake. In my market it comes out to almost exactly $10, which could be worth it.

  10. Using Seamless is actually a much more pleasant experience than the clunky Postmates (in NYC, most people use Seamless for some reason). So I’m very happy about the dining credit, but in more rural areas I guess the value is pretty limited.

  11. When does the airline credit reset? If I get the card now and use the airline credit, will I get another $100 credit on Jan 1?

  12. @Andrew

    That’s exactly what I’m going to do at Cheesecake factory. I do take out desserts from them sometimes anyway, so that $120 credit is as good as cash to me. I eat there a couple of times a year too, and there are a couple of shake shacks that I drive relatively close too once a week here in North NJ. I might make a pit stop or there too once in a while.

  13. @Robel
    Thats been the case for me for the last several years.

    Also, amex have been giving me the $100 credit on plane ticket purchases. It wasn’t like that initially but its happened for the last 3 years.

  14. @Theonlywaytofly

    I don’t know about those services, but I do know Caviar does code as 4x restaurant on the Gold, and 3x on the CSR

  15. @Garrett – The food credit isn’t worth face value to you, even though you will literally receive $120 in value without changing your spending habits at all, because it is paid out in small increments? That is utter nonsense, unless you’re expecting hyper-inflation (which would itself be ridiculous).

  16. The food credit doesn’t roll over from month to month. If you don’t spend it during the month it’s issued it expires.

  17. A few things are holding me back. Dining credit won’t work well for me in Anchorage. No Cheesecake factory, Steak Shack etc. I do most of my shopping at Fred Meyers and Costco. Fred Meyers codes as a super store and Costco as a wholesale club. I already use the Penfed Plat Reward at Fred Meyers and the Citi Costco card. I have the Uber card for dining. I already have the Plat for airfare purchases. I may have to pass.

  18. Tried Geubhub from a motel. Was at Pentagon City so nothing near by. Food came and was welcome. Was cold though. Thing is Grubhub recommend tipping the driver about $5. So that is half the discount taken back right there.

  19. Glad to see the referral link posted instead of the inferior affiliate link. I wonder whether this means Lucky thinks the number of sign-ups from this post will be fewer than the 55,000 annual limit per card for referrals.

  20. Does anyone know if the ‘Early Bird’ boarding fee on SW counts for the airline credit? That’s the only thing close to an “incidental” fee that I usually have.

  21. Because of delivery fee and tip I don’t value the credit at Dave value but that’s changing as I’ve gotten a few Grubhub emails promoting free delivery and free pick up.

    Don’t forget you have to enroll to get the dining credit.

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