Mommy Points: My Favorite New Credit Card of 2018
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
What's late December if not a time to look back on the year? Or in this case, look through our wallets. As the year closes, there is one credit card that we added to the mix in 2018 that is, by far, my favorite rewards credit card addition of the year.
The American Express® Gold Card turned out to be my favorite new-to-me credit card of 2018 for a number of reasons. It doesn't have a 100,000+ welcome bonus, or 10x bonus categories, or come with a free pony. But what it lacks in stand-out features, it more than makes up for by having several areas of serious strength that align quite well with common family expenses.
4x Points Eating Out
I have a family and we like to eat, and sadly, much of that eating isn't done from home-cooked meals. So, we are doing very well earning four points per dollar at US restaurants with our Amex Gold. Sorry, Chase Sapphire Reserve, I still love you and will use you when dining internationally, but 4x Membership Rewards points are worth more to me than 3x Ultimate Rewards points on dining.
20% Back on Dining With Limited Time Offer
If you get the Amex Gold by Jan. 9, you can also enjoy 20% back on dining in the form of a statement credit for the first three months, up to $100 per account. When I got close to $20 back on buying the family's ham and sides from a local ham shop for the holidays, I was downright giddy. Add another $20+ cashback for catering my daughter's school holiday party with chicken nuggets, drinks and sides from a fast food restaurant and we will, for sure, max out that $100 in statement credits in short order.
The 20% back in statement credits has been generally posting within a couple of days of the eligible dining transaction.
In addition to the limited time 20% dining bonus, on an ongoing basis, the card provides $10 in monthly statement credits at participating dining partners such as Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth's Chris Steak House and participating Shake Shack locations.
4x at the Grocery Store
The Amex Gold is now also my go-to for grocery shopping, as it racks up four points per dollar at US supermarkets, up to $25,000 per year. Earning 8% in rewards is an obvious win for groceries, but also for the occasional retailer gift card sold in the grocery store. I also picked up several of those gift cards during the holidays while grocery shopping, resulting in easy 4x points on a variety of supermarket purchases.
$100 Airline Credit
By getting the Amex Gold just before the end of the calendar year, I was able to use the $100 annual airline fee credit in 2018, and will soon be able to use a fresh $100 credit in Jan. 2019 since it is offered on a calendar year basis. I used part of my credit in 2018 on a $50 Delta e-gift card (off-label use, but it worked) and hope to use the rest on some upgraded seat assignments that are still processing.
The public welcome bonus for this card is 25,000 bonus Membership Rewards points after new cardmembers spend $2,000 on the card in the first three months. By TPG calculations, 25,000 Membership Rewards points are worth $500 if maximized with transfer partners (like SAS, which we used to book business class round-trip flights to Europe for just 88k Membership Rewards points).
However, you can potentially do better than that if you are targeted or are referred by a current cardmember to take advantage of a potential 50k point welcome bonus.
This card has a $250 annual fee, but between the $100 in dining statement credits available in the first three months for new cardholders until Jan. 9 and the $100 airline fee credit available each calendar year, I'm going to be at $300 in benefits by the end of January. That doesn't even factor in the welcome bonus points, saving money with Amex Offers, or four points per dollar I'm now earning on lots of my family's everyday purchases when grocery shopping or eating out.
At this rate, the Amex Gold is quite likely going to have a long and happy life in my wallet, unless of course something even better comes along in 2019. If you do get the Amex Gold card, here are some things to do as soon as you receive the card to maximize the benefits. And remember to act quickly as the 20% dining statement credits and exclusive rose gold colors are both only available until Jan. 9, 2019.
What was your favorite credit card that was added to your wallet in 2018?