American Express Gold Card Review

The American Express Gold Card is a rewards card that allows clients to earn Membership Rewards points on dining, grocery and airfare purchases. This card is a mid-tier American Express card offering more points than the Amex EveryDay credit card, but fewer than the company’s Platinum options.

American Express is best known for its credit and charge-card options, which carry higher fees than most comparable cards but also offer multiple reward-earning options along with additional card member services and benefits. It’s also worth noting that American Express cards are not accepted by all merchants because of the higher-than-average interchange fees.

Essentials of the American Express Gold Card

  • APR: 19.99%, varies with prime rate
  • Annual Fee: $250
  • Primary Feature: Rewards. The American Express Gold Card offers 4x Memerbship Rewards points for purchases at qualifying restaurants and supermarkets.
  • Introductory Bonus Offer: 50,000 Membership Rewards points if you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months.

What’s Interesting about the American Express Gold Card

The American Express Gold Card offers multiple ways for cardholders to earn rewards points which can then be redeemed for travel, gift cards and statement credits or exchanged for other points with AmEx airline and hotel partners.

Along with 4x rewards points for all dining and grocery purchases, this card offers 3x Membership Rewards points on all directly booked flights or those booked through Amextravel.com. Cardholders can also select one qualifying airline and receive $100 per calendar year in statement credits for incidental charges such as bag checking or in-flight meals. Cardholders who book two consecutive nights with participating partner hotels enjoy a $100 hotel credit along with room upgrades upon arrival, subject to availability.

In addition, Gold Card clients get exclusive access to ticket presales for entertainment and sporting events, and can enjoy premium seating options where available.

Things to Consider

As noted above, the American Express Gold Card comes with a $250 annual fee. And while the card carries no foreign transaction fees, users pay either $10 or 5% – whichever is greater – on all cash advance transactions. Late and returned payments come with fees of up to $39, and the card’s 26.99% APR on cash advances is slightly higher than average. Initial membership offers also vary by location and time, meaning that you may see differing bonus-point amounts depending on where and when you choose to apply.

Also, while American Express cards have been making inroads against competitors such as MasterCard and Visa, some merchants won’t accept AmEx cards because the company charges vendors more per transaction than comparable cards. Some rewards programs, such as the Dining Credit option, require separate enrollment to activate, and travel credits may not be applied if the company can’t identify specific transactions on your statement, meaning that you may need to call and follow up with an AmEx agent to ensure that the credits are properly applied.

How to Get the Most from This Card

Membership Rewards points are the biggest Gold Card benefit. Getting the most from this card means spending to maximize your points collection and earn more rewards, more quickly.

For example, the 4x points benefit for restaurant spending makes it worthwhile to try new food options in your neighborhood or abroad; these points can then be redeemed for statement credit to help lower your monthly bill. Cardholders also earn 4x points on all U.S. grocery store purchases up to $25,000 per year, which can then be converted to gift cards or other shopping benefits, typically at a rate between 0.5 cents and 1 cent per point. Clients can check their balance – and points conversion rate – online at any time.

Additional cards can be obtained for anyone over 13 in your household, and all cards earn Membership Rewards points at the same rate as the primary card. As long as you’re able to pay part or all of your balance on time to avoid any late fees, using multiple Gold Cards can make it easier to earn even more reward points.

Other Card Options that Might Interest You

If you’re interested in reward cards but aren’t sure that the American Express Gold Card is a good fit, consider options such as:

  • The American Express Platinum Card

Platinum represents the next tier of American Express reward card offerings and includes a 60,000 bonus point offer when you make $5,000 worth of purchases in the first three months. Cardholders also enjoy 5x Membership Rewards points for flights and prepaid hotels, and earn one point for every dollar spent on eligible purchases. In addition, the Platinum Card grants access to 1,200 airport lounges across 130 countries worldwide. With a greater focus on travel than the Gold Card, this AmEx card is a good fit if points are your priority and the majority of your spending is on hotels and airfare.

  • The Capital One SavorOne Rewards Card

If the rewards structure of the American Express Gold Card interests you but you’re looking for something with lower fees, consider the Capital One SavorOne Rewards Card. This credit option comes with no annual fee along with a $150 cash bonus when you spend $500 in qualifying purchases within the first three months. Rewards are earned as cash back rather than points – 3% on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores, and 1% on all other purchases. If you enjoy the focus on food and entertainment rewards of the Gold Card but prefer a no-fee option, SavorOne may be a good fit.

The Final Word

The American Express Gold Card offers a substantial amount of bonus points up front for new cardholders and 4x points earning across dining and grocery shopping paired with 3x reward points for travel. The card also offers hotel credits and entertainment benefits, making it a solid all-around reward option. However, it also comes with a $250 yearly fee and may not be accepted by all merchants.

If you’re looking for a card to help boost reward-point earnings and provide the occasional travel benefits, the American Express Gold Card is a good choice. If you prefer no-fee cards or those that are more travel-focused, consider other credit options.