The Amex Gold Card Is A Charge Card: Should You Care?

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Last week we saw the introduction of the new American Express® Gold Card, which offers 3-4x points in some popular categories. With this card you can earn:

  • 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

While the card has a $250 annual fee it has some great perks that help offset it, including a $100 annual airline fee credit, as well as a $120 annual dining credit, valid at select partner restaurants.

One other thing that makes this card interesting is that it’s a charge card and not a credit card, so let’s talk about the significance of that.

What’s the difference between a charge card & credit card?

If you pay your balance in full every month (which you absolutely should do if you’re using a points earning credit card), then the difference isn’t huge.

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.

Furthermore, while credit cards have a credit limit, charge cards don’t. That’s not to say that you can charge an unlimited amount (they’ll cut you off at some point), though there isn’t a published limit.

Why should you care about Amex charge cards?

In general there are a couple of restrictions when it comes to applying for American Express credit cards:

  • 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 American Express® 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.

So that’s hopefully another thing that makes it easier for people to pick up this card.

However, do keep in mind that the welcome bonus on this card is only available to those who have never had this card or the Premier Rewards Gold Card before. For those of us who had the Premier Rewards Gold Card in the past (like me) I think it could absolutely still be worth getting this card for the ongoing return that it offers on spend, even without a bonus.

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Comments

  1. With once in a lifetime bonus send amex denying bonuses left and right it makes sense to be sure that you apply for the best bonus at a measured pace.

  2. What is the AMEX policy regarding recent card cancellations? Tried to apply, got the message saying that I was not eligible for the welcome bonus. What is the time frame they look at?

    Thanks!

  3. Amex denied me the welcome bonus for this card, so I didn’t sign up. I have only ever had 3 Amex cards, and only two of them ever had a bonus.

  4. Did anyone else who applied for this card not get an immediate approval and still waiting with no news? This happened a few times with Chase cards and the new card just shows up in the mail with never notifying me that I was approved. Just wondering if amex does the same thing.

  5. @Tav the highest balance you’ve ever carried will show as the credit limit on some credit reports. For that reason, it can seem beneficial to choose one month to pile up a huge amount of expenses. That said, I am not sure it technically factors into the utilization rate. It does show up as a limit as I described, though that is obviously inaccurate since my actual limit is how much I can charge in one month, which is probably 6-7x my actual biggest month historically.

  6. @ TProphet — Did you have the Premier Rewards Gold Card in the past? Or how did they indicate they’d deny you the bonus?

  7. @ Christopher McParland — Which card did you cancel and when? If you had the Premier Rewards Gold Card then you wouldn’t be eligible for this bonus.

  8. @Tav – fwiw, I used to pay down my charge cards several days before statement closing so my total usage across all charge and credit cards was 2-4% of the sum of my credit lines, thinking the balance effected my utilization. One month, I simply forgot to do this for my charge cards, and my credit score spiked up. It could be totally unrelated, but I stopped paying down my charge cards, and simply let the statement close where ever that may be. My credit score has only gone up since then, so I think it has no effect on your credit, with the obvious caveat that you are paying off your statement in full as required.

    As @Marc said, your highest ever balance will show on some credit reports as the account’s
    “limit” however, when you check the credit utilization rate, at least on CreditKarma’s reports, it only includes the monthly balances of your actual credit cards, and not charge cards.

    My first card ever was an Amex Gold way back when, and my credit score didn’t start seriously climbing and building until I started opening actual credit cards. It has only gone up since, so I really think that charge cards don’t effect your credit all that much, as long as you are paying it off properly. If you think about it, the only box they really tick on your credit report would be number of accounts and length of account history, as they don’t report a proper limit. This is all out of my own observation, so YMMV.

  9. I was told I was not eligible for the welcome bonus even though I never had PRG. I did recently cancel a couple of amex cards that I wasn’t using anymore. Apparently, that has ruled me out from the bonus. Would have been good to know that. Guess I am going back to Chase.

  10. I’m hearing a lot of this “denying of bonuses” at amex lately. My buddy got turned down for bonus eligibility with Amex despite never having the card before (got a message stating he was not eligible).

    I thought that if you’ve never had the card, you’re eligible for the bonus – but in practice this doesn’t seem to be happening

  11. My spouse and i were rejected for the bonus on 2 different Amex cards (this one included. The little popup box says your welcome to submit your application but due to past opening and closing of accounts we will not get the bonus. I paid the fee on my Starwood card for 4-5 yrs in a row. We have never had the cards

  12. You have to call in and they will approve you. I got denied online for the promotions as well but have never had any of those cards before.
    Call in to get approved.

  13. Can you do a post clarifying how this card is different than the one you get from the Amex Platininum. I used to always think that they were both the same thing but I just recently found out that there not. I’m still confused as to what the specific differences are.

  14. A tidbit I read – if you sockdrawer your existing AMEX cards, you have a high probability getting the pop up window even everything else, you should get the sign up bonus.

    Some DPs on reddit that people putting some spends on their dormant AMEX cards. Then when they tried again, no pop up window.

    AMEX algo is using a lot more factors to determine whether they want you as a customer. just sayin.

  15. I got the warning that I wouldn’t get approval for the 100K personal AMEX Platinum due to past history of opening and closing accounts. I have 4 Amex credit cards all opened 4 or more years ago, and 1 older charge card. They involuntarily closed an old AMEX Hilton when I applied for an Everyday Preferred and I closed a Starwood AMEX. Both closures at least one year ago. Seems like these denials are becoming a trend

  16. @ W — Great idea for a post, thanks. The quick answer is that the Amex Gold issued with the Amex Platinum offers the same points earning structure as the Platinum, so you’re not earning bonus points at the Premier Rewards Gold Card rate.

  17. @Luis:

    I got the dreaded “We’re reviewing your application…” screen after applying. However, I figured it was because it didn’t allow me to login to pre-populate all my information like it normally does for new applications and my credit is frozen, so they’d have to do a hard pull. The next day, though, I received an email congratulating me on my approval. So, who knows what’s going on.

  18. I applied for the new Gold and the Platinum the same day without a problem… They next day aired me the Platinum, but I haven’t received the Gold card yet… Though I am using it though Apple pay and for online purchases since they give you the number and temp code.

    I figured to MAX my point value and earning potential from AMEX, I needed both. I got a 75,000 point bonus for the Platinum and a 50,000 point bonus for the Gold…. I should be sitting pretty happy by Jan 1st 🙂

    I usually pay my card off twice a month… So although this is my first (and second) charge cards, I’m not worried.

  19. Hey Lucky

    There’s an ad for your YouTube video pn this that has a big visible typo that you might want to fix
    “How to Acutally Get Started…” whereas I think you meant to say How to Actually….

  20. I jumped on this and my gorgeous new ROSE GOLD card arrived today — and its beautiful! To be honest it could be even rosier — so no, it’s not tacky.
    Classy all the way 🙂

  21. I actually think an Amex charge card is a great first card as it forces one into the habit of paying off the card in full each month. I highly recommend treating a credit card as a charge card (for most circumstances.)

  22. The biggest difference I’ve seen between my existing AMEX Gold card (which is a charge card) and my other credit cards that is a big difference is the period between the statement closing and the payment due date is tighter for the charge card. For example, my Gold card statements on the 10th of each month, and the payment is due 2 weeks later on the 24th. Whereas my credit cards, I have more like 3.5 weeks after statement to pay. That 1.5 week difference is a big difference in terms of waiting for business expense reimbursements to come through, for example, and is the biggest negative of the Gold card.

    Not sure if that’s universally true of all charge cards, but wanted to point it out.

  23. You may never plan on carrying a balance, but sh*t happens. All it takes is one unexpected expense like a car repair or medical bill and you fall behind. With a $2-5K minimum spend for bonuses on most cards, the fact that this is a charge card is just something else to consider before applying. You should be really confident in your ability to pay before getting a charge card. Otherwise, there are lots of other great credit cards with rewards or low rates that won’t kill you if you have a rough month or two.

  24. @TM this is the reason I accepted Pay Over Time on both my Platinum (the one where you can select transactions) and the PRG/Gold (the automatic one). You don’t know what’s going to happen in life, and it’s nice to have a backup. I will say that once a few years ago I wasn’t able to pay my Platinum Card statement in full (probably able to pay about 75% of it) for a couple reasons, and a simple call to AmEx kept everything in working order. They even gave me a code to reference to have the late payment fee removed. I would assume it’s because of my (relatively) long history with them.

  25. Thanks for this very useful post, as it answers a number of questions I’d had about charge vs. credit cards, Amex rules re applying for new cards, etc.

    One question, though, in case anyone’s still paying attention to this thread. I have both the old SPG (personal) and new SPG luxury card. I’ll cancel the former sooner or later. Any sense of whether it hurts or helps (or neither) my chances of getting a new Amex card if I cancel the old SPG before applying? My credit’s over 800 and the new card would not put me over any of Amex’s limits.

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