Credit card review: American Express Business Gold Card
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with the latest card information. It was originally published on Nov. 9, 2018.
Amex Business Gold Card Overview
The American Express® Business Gold Card is a great choice for business owners looking to maximize their points earning from a single card, with 4x bonus categories that automatically reflect your highest spending areas each month. The biggest downside though is a relatively high annual fee, with no statement credits to offset it. Card Rating*: ⭐⭐⭐½
*Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG’s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
Over the past few years, Amex has heavily revamped its charge card portfolio by adding and changing perks across the Green, Gold and Platinum cards. While the exact changes vary by card, the theme is pretty clear: Higher annual fees and more perks. The American Express® Business Gold Card certainly meets those criteria, with a $295 a year annual fee (see rates and fees) and a powerful business-friendly 4x bonus category, but it’s now the only Amex charge card that doesn’t offer any sort of statement credit to offset its cost. 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.
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.
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 U.S. restaurants to U.S. purchases for advertising and at select technology providers.
The structure of these categories, namely the fact that you’ll automatically earn 4x points in your top two spending categories from the list of eligible bonus categories (more on that later), means this card appeals to someone who wants to rack up travel rewards without putting in too much work. This card is meant to be a one-stop-shop that you can swipe for everything, leaving you more mental bandwidth to focus on your business.
Current welcome offer
For a while Amex surprised many people by eschewing a traditional points-based bonus, instead offering free business software to new applicants. Now the card is back to offering a points bonus with broader appeal; new applicants can earn 35,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 in the first three months. TPG values Membership Rewards points at 2 cents each, making this bonus worth a respectable (though certainly not groundbreaking) $700. This is the same amount of points you can earn on the personal version, the American Express® Gold Card, although the business version requires an extra $1,000 of spending.
It’s also worth noting that if you have ever received a welcome bonus for this card or the old Business Gold Rewards Card (what this product used to be called before the name change), 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.
Most of the perks from the old Business Gold Rewards Card rolled over to the new version, which is unfortunate, as this card now has a harder time justifying its increased annual fee. These include 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) (see rates and fees).
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 (see rates and fees), which isn’t waived for the first year as it was 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 (see rates and fees) in value from the bonus categories and benefits alone, but many businesses should have no trouble doing that.
One of the unique features of the Amex Business Gold card is the way your bonus categories shift every month to match your spending patterns. You’ll automatically earn 4x points in your top two spending categories each month, meaning 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 directly from airlines
- U.S. purchases for advertising in select media
- U.S. purchases for shipping
- U.S. purchases at gas stations
- U.S. purchases at restaurants
- U.S. purchases made from select technology providers of computer hardware, software, and cloud solutions
Your 4x earning, which equates to an 8% return based on TPG’s valuation of Membership Rewards points at 2 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 notyour 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 $12,000. This massive earning potential might be enough to encourage businesses to opt for this card, even without many of the valuable perks customers are coming to expect these days.
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 such as British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Aeroplan or more.
The Amex 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% (when booking through amextravel.com) 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.
Related reading: The Ultimate Guide to Amex Pay With Points
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 much lower annual fee of $95.
The other competition comes from within the Amex family. The Amex Business Platinum, despite a higher annual fee of $595 (see rates and fees), could actually be cheaper in the long term, thanks to its $200 annual airline incidental credit and $200 annual Dell statement 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 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 specifically whether you can spend enough to recoup your $295 annual fee (see rates and fees).
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.
For rates and fees of the American Express Business Gold Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express Business Platinum card, please click here.
Featured photo by The Points Guy
- Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $5,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Gold Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.*
- 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.*
- Pay Over Time Option: A flexible payment option to help manage cash flow on purchases of $100 or more.*
- Access to the Working Capital Terms program: get additional funding beyond what you can spend on Business Gold with this flexible funding solution designed to pay U.S. based vendor invoices directly when cards are not accepted.*
- *Terms Apply
- See Rates & Fees