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2018 has been a blockbuster year for credit card launches and revamps of existing cards. With under two months to go before we ring in the new year, there’s one more launch to get excited about. Amex has announced the new American Express® Business Gold Card, which will replace the Business Rewards Gold Card for new applicants (the latter will no longer be open for applications).
In addition to an increase in the annual fee to $295 a year, Amex has overhauled the bonus categories to automatically reward you where you spend the most, and you can now earn 4x points on your top categories, compared to the 3x earning rate of the BGR. Another interesting element is Amex’s decision not to offer a points-based welcome bonus, and instead to offer software services that can be immensely valuable to certain businesses, but less so to others. There’s great value to be found in the Business Gold Card, but Amex is also clearly targeting a narrower segment of the market with this card.
Existing Business Gold Rewards customers can choose to keep their cards or request to be switched to the new Business Gold. We’ll be following up with a post on how to make that decision if you currently have the BGR, so stay tuned for that.
Who Is This Card For?
While many individuals with money-making side hustles are eligible to apply for business credit cards, the Amex Business Gold is clearly targeted at larger, more established businesses. There are no statement credits to offset the annual fee, and overall this card works better for a large company that can write off the expense than for a sole proprietorship who might not be willing to spend that money. The choice to offer business software as a welcome bonus in lieu of points also speaks more to larger companies, and not to the individuals selling things on Ebay or Amazon.
Those considerations aside, though, the new Business Gold Card’s bonus categories and earning structure will appeal to a wide variety of businesses, as they encompass everything from spending at US restaurants to US purchases for advertising and at select technology providers.
As mentioned above, the Amex Business Gold Card does not offer any Membership Rewards points as a welcome bonus. Instead, new applicants will get up to one free year of ZipRecruiter standard and G Suite basic (for up to three users). Amex says that these subscriptions are worth up to $3,100 if you max them out, which would make this one of the most valuable welcome offers on the market. Of course your mileage may vary, and many companies might not have a need for these programs.
ZipRecruiter helps you advertise job openings and find qualified candidate to join your team. Standard is the most basic of the three subscription tiers offered, and normally costs $249 a month or $2,988 for a year. G Suite Basic is the professional version of all things Google, giving your company access to a corporate Gmail domain, docs, calendar, hangouts and other productivity apps. The normal cost is $5 a month or $50 for a year long subscription.
If your company already uses one of these services (especially ZipRecruiter, the more expensive of the two), this bonus could be a great value. That said, many businesses won’t have any need for this software and might also choose to apply for a business card offering a points-based welcome bonus.
It’s also worth noting that if you have ever received a welcome bonus for the Business Gold Rewards Card, you won’t be eligible for this offer. However, you will be able to product-change to this card from any of Amex’s business charge cards, such as the Business Platinum® Card from American Express and the Business Green Rewards Card from American Express.
One of the unique features of the Business Gold Rewards card is the ability to pick your top bonus category from a list of five options. Amex has sort of retained that feature, but also massively improved it. Now, you will automatically earn 4x points in your top two spending categories each month, and Amex has included US restaurants among the options (this isn’t a bonus category on the BGR).
You don’t have to pick a category and commit to it; if your spending habits fluctuate month to month, Amex will make sure you’re getting the most possible bonus points based on where you spend the most. The eligible categories are as follows:
- Airfare purchased from airlines
- US purchases for advertising in select media
- US purchases for shipping
- US purchases at gas stations
- US purchases at restaurants
- US purchases made from select technology providers
Your 4x earning, which equates to a 7.6% return based on TPG’s valuation of Membership Rewards points at 1.9 cents each, is capped at $150,000 a year across all bonus categories. The card earns 1x on all other purchases — i.e., everything that is not your top two monthly select spending categories. If you max out the $150,000 in spending a year, even by combining different bonus categories on a month-to-month basis, you’ll walk away with 600,000 Membership Rewards points, worth over $11,000. This massive earning potential might be enough to encourage existing BGR card holders to switch to the new Business Gold Card.
This card earns full-fledged Membership Rewards points, which can be transferred to any of Amex’s 21 partners, including 18 airlines and three hotels. With all these options to pick from, you’ll be able to find a transfer partner in any of the three major airline alliances and for many non-alliance airlines as well.
You should also keep your eye out for one of the many limited-time transfer bonuses Amex runs. These can be a great way to super-charge the value of your points, getting 10-40% more miles when you transfer to partners like British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Aeroplan or more.
The Business Gold Card will also be the third card in the Amex business card portfolio, following the Business Platinum Card from American Express and the Business Centurion card, to offer a Pay With Points redemption bonus. You’ll earn a 25% rebate when paying with points through your Business Gold Card, as opposed to 35% with the Business Platinum and Centurion. You do need to have the full amount of points in your account at the time of booking, but this option will let you lock in a minimum redemption value of 1.33 cents per point. As an added bonus, you’ll earn miles (and elite credit) on flights booked this way, as Amex books them as revenue tickets. This bonus is valid on business and first-class tickets with any airline or all classes of tickets (including economy) with the airline of your choice.
Most of the perks from the old Business Gold Rewards Card are rolling over to the new version, including double points on purchases made through Amex Travel and benefits when booking through the Amex Hotel Collection (double points and a $75 property credit on stays of two nights or more). You’ll also have access to Amex Offers and the same travel, rental car and baggage insurance policies.
One of the greatest benefits of business credit cards is the ability to keep large purchases from affecting your personal credit report. As a charge card, the Business Gold Card doesn’t come with a pre-set spending limit, and purchases are approved on a case-by-case basis. This means that if you have a good history with Amex, you don’t have to worry about “maxing out your card” and can spend freely to support your business. Charge cards normally have to be paid in full at the end of the month, but Business Gold cardholders will be automatically enrolled in Amex’s Pay Over Time program, allowing you to space out and structure your payments (interest rates apply).
This card also offers a number of great tools to help you manage your business expenses. For a flat fee of $50 a year (waived the first year), you can add up to 99 employee cards and earn points on their purchases. You can also easily designate an employee as account manager, allowing someone other than the primary accountholder to be responsible for reviewing statements, adding new employees and making payments. Amex also offers a receipt match feature, which lets you upload receipts from your desktop or mobile, tag and annotate transactions, and even sync this data with QuickBooks.
Unfortunately, there’s no type of statement credit to offset the $295 annual fee, which isn’t waived for the first year as it is on the older Business Gold Rewards Card. Out of the entire middle to upper tier of Amex card offerings, this is the only serious contender with a high annual fee and no statement credits. You’ll have to make sure that you’re able to get more than $295 in value from the bonus categories and benefits alone, but most businesses should have no trouble doing so.
Which Cards Compete With The Business Gold Card?
The most obvious competition to the Business Gold Card would be the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card. If you’re picking your next business card to top up your points balances, look no farther than the 80,000 Ultimate Rewards point welcome bonus on the Ink Preferred (after spending $5,000 in the first three months). TPG values that bonus at $1,600, and it shouldn’t be hard for any business to get good value out of those points. While the Ink “only” offers 3x on its business bonus categories (travel, shipping, internet phone and cable and select social media advertising), it offers 3x on all of them up to $150,000 a year, instead of only two bonus categories a month. It also has a lower annual fee of $95.
The other competition comes from within the Amex family. The Amex Business Platinum, despite a higher annual fee of $450, could actually be “cheaper” long-term thanks to its $200 annual airline incidental credit. While it only has one bonus category to speak of (5x on flights and pre-paid hotels booked through Amex Travel), it comes with other premium perks such as Gold elite status with Hilton and Marriott, a Priority Pass Select membership and access to Centurion Lounges around the world. If you’re in the market for a card that will enhance your travel experience top to bottom, the Business Platinum might give you more bang for your buck.
The new Business Gold Card is certainly not for everyone, but for larger companies looking for a no-hassle one-card strategy that still earns travel rewards, this could be a great option. Much of the mental calculus around this card boils down to how much you’re able to spend on the 4x bonus categories and whether or not you get any value out of the ZipRecruiter and G Suite welcome offer. The 25% Pay With Points rebate is another great benefit to factor into your decision as well. In many ways, these changes represent an improvement to a card that didn’t have a clearly defined purpose before. While perhaps fewer businesses are likely to click with the new card, those that do are likely to be the exact customers Amex wants most: large, established, heavy-spending corporations. And for those companies, Amex has a solid value proposition in the Business Gold Card.
- More Rewards: Get 4X Membership Rewards® points on the 2 select categories where your business spent the most each month †
- †4X points apply to the first $150,000 in combined purchases from these 2 categories each calendar year.*
- Airline Bonus: Get 25% points back after you use points for all or part of an eligible flight booked with Amex Travel, up to 250,000 points back per calendar year.*
- Exclusive Offers: Get up to 1 year free on subscriptions to both G Suite Basic for up to 3 users and ZipRecruiter Standard, a combined value up to $3,188.*
- Pay Over Time Option: A flexible payment option to help manage cash flow on purchases of $100 or more.*
- Expense Management Tools: Connect to Quickbooks, access SpendManager℠, receive a Year-End Summary, and more.*
- Add Employee Cards with a no annual fee option. Earn rewards on employee purchases and track employee expenses with spending limits, alerts, and summary reports.*
- *Terms Apply
- See Rates & Fees