When you should (or shouldn’t) use the Amex Gold Card
Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information and offers.
It's no secret that we're huge fans of the American Express® Gold Card at TPG.
It's in a Goldilocks sweet spot between premium and beginner cards, with strong earning on dining and grocery purchases and up to $240 in annual statement credits that can help offset its $250 annual fee (see rates and fees).
Enrollment is required.
But to get the most out of this card, you should use it to maximize your earning on certain purchases but leave it in your wallet for others. In this guide, we’ll highlight strategies that can help you earn thousands of bonus points each year by knowing when you should — and shouldn’t — use the Amex Gold Card.
Overview of the Amex Gold
The Amex Gold is the perfect "in-between" card: it has some serious benefits and earning potential but a reasonable $250 annual fee.
With this card, you'll earn an impressive 4 points per dollar spent at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in spending per calendar year, then 1 point per dollar) and restaurants as well as 3 points per dollar on flights booked directly with the airline or through Amex Travel.
And beyond this earning potential, this card comes with some serious benefits. You'll get up to $240 in annual credits for dining and Uber, travel perks like baggage insurance*, and up to $100 in hotel credits. Enrollment required for select benefits.
*Eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for details. Policies are underwritten by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company.
Related: Why the Amex Gold is the perfect in-between card
New Amex Gold cardmembers can earn a welcome bonus of 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first six months of card membership. According to TPG valuations, that’s worth up to $1,200. However, you might be able to earn a higher welcome offer through a friend or loved one’s referral link through June 7.
When should you use the Amex Gold?
The Amex Gold isn’t the only card to offer a bonus category on dining, but it might just be one of the most valuable. Cardmembers earn 4 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent, which equates to an 8% return on spending, according to the latest TPG valuation. For that reason, it tops our list of best cards for dining out.
As part of the restaurant category, cardmembers can earn 4 points per dollar on takeout and delivery purchases in the U.S., both directly at restaurants and with services such as Grubhub and Uber Eats.
When it comes to the up to $120 annual dining statement credit, cardmembers can earn up to $10 per month when paying with the Amex Gold Card at participating dining partners.
Finally, with up to $120 in annual Uber Cash, you can not only use that on U.S. Uber rides but also on Uber Eats too, so be sure to link your Amex Gold Card to your Uber account. Enrollment required.
Food is the name of the game with the Amex Gold Card. That’s because, besides restaurants, the card also earns 4 points per dollar spent at U.S. supermarkets on up to $25,000 in purchases per calendar year (it earns 1 point per dollar thereafter). Therefore, you should definitely use the card for your next supermarket run, as it tops our list of the best cards for groceries.
It is possible to end up with a slightly higher return on purchases at U.S. supermarkets by using The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express — it earns 3 points per dollar at U.S. grocery stores on up to $6,000 in purchases per year, and every billing cycle you make 30 or more transactions with the card, you earn a 50% bonus, so your potential comes to 4.5 points per dollar.
That said, the bonus categories on the Amex Gold Card don’t require you to jump through any hoops, such as a minimum number of transactions per month to earn the highest earn rates, and the annual cap for U.S. grocery stores is much higher than that with the Amex EveryDay Preferred.
The information for the Amex EveryDay Preferred card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
While not as strong as some of our other favorite cards, the Amex Gold Card is a great card to use for flights if you don't have a more premium travel card in your wallet. Its 3-point-per-dollar earning rate on flights booked directly through the airline or on Amex Travel is substantial.
Just keep in mind that if you were to use The Platinum Card® from American Express instead, you could earn 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar on flights booked through Amex Travel or directly with airlines, on up to $500,000 of such purchases per calendar year.
When shouldn’t you use the Amex Gold?
For everyday spending
The Amex Gold earns a mere 1 point per dollar on spending outside its specific bonus categories. There are other cards issued by Amex as well as other banks, that can improve upon that.
For instance, The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express might be a better option if you have a business. It has no annual fee (see rates and fees) but earns 2 points per dollar on the first $50,000 spent in purchases each year (then 1 point per dollar after that).
Alternatively, a card such as the Citi® Double Cash Card (see rates and fees) earns 1% back when you make a purchase and another 1% when you pay your statement. This means you can effectively earn 2% back.
In this instance, if you also have the Citi Premier® Card (see rates and fees) or Citi Prestige® Card, you can combine your points into fully transferable ThankYou points. Based on TPG’s valuation of Citi ThankYou points at 1.8 cents each, this means you can earn an effective 3.6% return when you buy and pay with your Citi Double Cash Card.
The information for the Citi Prestige card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
For non-flight travel, such as hotels or rental cars
While the Amex Gold earns 3 points per dollar on flights booked directly with an airline or through Amex Travel, you don’t earn such a bonus on other travel expenses, and it doesn’t offer the same travel protections as some other cards out there. Therefore, using an alternative card for your non-flight bookings makes more sense.
One of the most popular travel rewards cards on the market is the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, with a $95 annual fee. It is currently offering 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. On the travel front, these are the current earning rates:
- 5 points per dollar on travel booked through the Ultimate Rewards Travel portal
- 2 points per dollar on other travel
In addition, you’ll also receive the following non-travel bonuses:
- 3 points per dollar on dining
- 3 points per dollar on select streaming services
- 3 points per dollar on online groceries (excludes Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs)
The Amex Gold Card is among the most rewarding travel cards on the market. But to truly maximize the Amex Gold Card’s earnings, you’ll have to be selective about where you’re using it.
Between the dining and Uber statement credits, the card’s annual fee effectively drops to just $10. Add in maximizing its bonus categories and you’ll be using the card to maximize earnings like a pro in no time.
For more details, check out our full review of the Amex Gold.
Apply here for the American Express® Gold Card with a 60,000-point welcome bonus.
For rates and fees of the Amex Gold Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum, click here.
For rated and fees of the Blue Business Plus Amex Card, click here
Additional reporting by Emily Thompson.