Amex Gold Not Earning You 4x Points at Some Restaurants? You're Not Alone.
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Some of the most exciting features of the new to the American Express® Gold Card are the 4x bonus categories, valid on dining and US supermarkets (up to $25,000 a year for the latter category; then 1x). Based on TPG's valuation of Membership Rewards points at 2 cents each, this works out to an 8% return and really puts the squeeze on cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which used to be the default pick for dining purchases (with 3x points or a 6% return).
However, many people are already reporting in the TPG Lounge and on FlyerTalk that they're having problems getting the 4x bonus points at restaurants. The problem seems to be with eateries that use Square or Toast for point-of-sale payment processing, though card holders have also reported instances of not being awarded 4x points at cafes, ice cream shops, bakeries and bars that serve food.
(Photo by Gary Friedman/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)TPG reader Colleen K. said that her Amex Gold transactions "at restaurants/coffee shops that use Square did not earn bonus MR even though the merchant coded as restaurant."
The terms and conditions on the Amex Gold Card say the following about earning bonus points:
Merchants are assigned codes based on what they primarily sell. A purchase will not qualify for additional points if the merchant's code is not eligible. Purchases made through a third-party payment account or on an online marketplace (with multiple retailers) will not qualify for additional points. A purchase may not qualify for additional points if the merchant submits the purchase using a mobile or wireless card reader or if you use a mobile or digital wallet.
While Amex doesn't specify Square and Toast by name, the terms make it pretty clear that third-party payment processors may not be eligible for bonus points.
So what should you do? First of all, go through your statements and see if you have any missing bonus points. It's very easy to see which transactions earned bonus points directly through the Amex website. As you can see, I had a transaction in November at a frozen yogurt store (processed through Square) that didn't earn 4x points.
If you have transactions that didn't code properly, you have two options. I don't feel like fighting Amex over 24 points (worth 48 cents, based on TPG's valuations), but if you're missing more points you should either call or chat Amex and see if they can credit you the rewards you deserve. Feel free to remind them that the 4x restaurant bonus was one of the biggest selling points of the card, and a key factor in your decision to get it.
TPG reader Jason C. was able to get Amex to credit him the missing points, though it took a while. He even got Amex to change the way the businesses were coded so he can now get 4x on future purchases! Chris B. had a similar problem earning 3x on his Chase Sapphire Reserve for Yelp payments at a restaurant, but he changed to payment upon pickup so the restaurants would process the charge directly and code as dining. Colleen K. submitted a ticket with Amex, and she's waiting for it to be resolved.
It seems that this is highly variable, and while Amex might be willing to manually credit you the points to make things right, it's not a guarantee. You can ask, like Jason, if there's any way they can fix the coding for future purchases, but given that the terms and conditions address this problem pretty specifically, that seems like a bit of a long shot as well. Unfortunately, most people will be better off keeping a mental list of restaurants (and payment processing systems) that don't code correctly and using a different card to pay. If there's no bonus category to take advantage of, you should use a card that's rewarding for everyday spending.
Anytime you're chasing a bonus multiplier from a credit card, online shopping portal or another source, it's important to keep an eye on your statement and make sure you earn the right number of points. This is a serious drawback to be aware of, as more and more businesses around the US (especially smaller establishments like food trucks and coffee shops) turn to Square or Toast for payment processing. Thankfully, Square's shiny white tablets and card readers are pretty easy to spot, giving you the chance to pick a different card that earns you bonus points.