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Why I became even more loyal to the Amex Gold during the coronavirus pandemic

Sept. 03, 2020
9 min read
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The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has forced travelers to rethink their credit card rewards strategy from the ground up.

This is especially true for more premium credit cards that have seen their value propositions completely upended. Normally, customers would pay several hundred dollars in upfront annual fees and slowly recoup that value through luxury travel perks, but that system has had to change with people not traveling right now.

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In response to this unprecedented slowdown in travel, issuers have added limited-time perks, statement credits and bonus categories across dozens of cards this year already. The keywords here are limited time. While it's entirely possible that some of these promotions get extended, you shouldn't get used to these new benefits, as most of them will disappear over the coming months.

Related reading: Amex announces limited-time perks for select Amex Membership Rewards, Delta, Marriott and Hilton cards

The American Express® Gold Card is perhaps the most popular card that hasn't had any limited-time COVID-19-related benefits added to it. Still, this pandemic, and the way it's changed people's spending patterns, has helped cement the Amex Gold's spot in my wallet for many years to come.

Read on to see why I love this card so much and will happily be renewing it even without any limited-time perks this year.

Related reading: The Amex Gold will need to offer some temporary perks to convince me to renew

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Amex Gold overview

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy)

The American Express® Gold Card is relatively unique in an industry with a lot of similar card options. For starters, it straddles the line between premium and entry-level with a $250 annual fee (see rates and fees).

The welcome offer is 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first six months of card membership. Select applicants may be targeted for incredible a 75,000-point offer by checking the CardMatch Tool. Note: These offers are subject to change at any time.

The annual statement credit for the card:

  • Up to $120 annual dining credit. Earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the Gold Card at participating dining partners (up to $120 total per calendar year), including Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar, and selectShake Shack locations. Enrollment required. This perk is a monthly statement credit similar to the annual Uber credit on The Platinum Card® from American Express, which helps offset its $695 annual fee (see rates and fees). It's easy to enroll through the Amex website to get this Amex Gold benefit. Enrollment required for select benefits.

Another reason the card is such a fan favorite has to do with its foodie-friendly bonus categories. Amex Gold cardholders earn 4x Membership Rewards points per dollar on dining at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets (U.S. supermarkets capped at $25,000 in purchases per calendar year, then 1x).

The card also earns 3x points per dollar on flights booked directly with the airline or at amextravel.com and 1x everywhere else.

Related Reading: American Express Gold card review

Great for dining and groceries year-round

(Photo by Michael Berman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Berman/Getty Images)

If you'd asked me at the beginning of 2020, I would have said that travel was one of the most important things in my life. While I'm itching to get back on the road as soon as it's safe to do so, this pandemic has also helped us separate our wants from our needs and reminded us what's truly essential.

There isn't much more essential than food, and that's an area where the Amex Gold leads the pack. Its 4x bonus categories for dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per calendar year; then 1x) are among the best out there. And when coupled with the up to $10 monthly dining credit, they help make this card a one-stop-shop for dining out, cooking at home or relaxing on the couch with takeout or delivery. Enrollment required for select benefits.

Related reading: The best credit cards for dining out, taking out and ordering in

At the moment we're seeing many cards offering bonus points on grocery purchases, temporarily displacing the Amex Gold from its spot near the top of the list. It's worth remembering though that many of these bonuses are capped and all of them have expiration dates.

For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® -- with its $550 annual fee -- had previously offered 5x points per dollar on your first $1,500 in monthly grocery purchases -- but that ended on June 30, 2020.

However, Chase did add new limited-time perks and bonus categories through Sept. 30, 2020.

  • 5x points on Instacart delivery and pickup orders — on up to $3,000 across the three-month promotional period
  • Up to $50 in statement credits towards an Instacart Express membership (annual or monthly)
  • 5x points at gas stations — on up to $1,500 across the three-month promotional period
  • 10x points on select streaming services (such as Spotify or Netflix) — on up to $1,500 across the three-month promotional period

Related reading: The best grocery credit cards for 2020

Once this limited time promotion ends, the Amex Gold will remain a top choice in these popular categories while many of its current competitors go back to earning a measly 1x.

High value with a modest annual fee

While the Amex Gold offers some great bonus categories, it's the high points multiplier that seals the deal. There aren't many cards out there that offer the ability to earn 4x transferable points per dollar or higher in any categories, let alone essential ones such as dining out and groceries.

(Photo by Eric Helgas / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eric Helgas / The Points Guy)

In fact, only two other transferable points-earning cards come to mind as offering 4x points or higher: The Citi Prestige® Card and The Platinum Card® from American Express. The Citi Prestige, at $495 a year, offers 5x points per dollar in air travel and restaurants. The Amex Platinum earns 5x on airfare booked directly with the airline or Amex Travel (starting Jan. 1, 2021, earn 5x points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year). Also, earn 5x points on prepaid hotels booked through Amex Travel. The information for the Citi Prestige has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

These cards carry annual fees of $495 and $695 respectively, much more than the $250 annual fee (see rates and fees) that the Amex Gold charges. Of course, all three cards offer various statement credits to help offset the annual fee, but you're still looking at twice the upfront cost with those other cards.

Many people simply don't travel enough to justify holding an ultra-premium credit card or aren't interesting in putting in the work necessary to maximize all the benefits to break even on the cost of the higher annual fees. The Amex Gold offers premium earning rates at a much more accessible price point. I'd personally much rather the card keep its 4x earning rate than raise the annual fee in exchange for a higher multiplier.

Bottom line

More often than not you have to pay a premium annual fee in order to unlock valuable bonus categories and benefits. I've always loved that the Amex Gold offers strong earning rates at a very accessible price point.

If anything, the slowdown in travel has only reminded me why I love this card so much. While there are a number of cards temporarily displacing it with limited-time bonus categories, once those promotions expire the Amex Gold will reclaim its spot near the top of my wallet — where I expect it to stay for many years to come.

Apply here for the American Express® Gold Card with a 60,000-point welcome offer.

Check the CardMatch Tool to see if you've been selected for 75,000-point welcome bonus (offers subject to change at any time).

Additional reporting by Chris Dong.

For rates and fees of the Amex Gold Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, please click here.

Featured image by ISABELL RAPHAEL/THE POINTS GUY
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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TPG featured card

Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site

Rewards

3 - 4X points
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.

Intro offer

60,000 points
Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

Annual Fee

$250

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees