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Official Application Link: The American Express® Gold Card (25,000-point bonus offer)

The Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express is the latest travel rewards card to get a significant revamp. The card’s been rebranded as the American Express® Gold Card, and Amex tweaked its benefits to include a strong focus on food, doubling its earning rate at US restaurants and supermarkets to an impressive 4x points. The card also offers up to $120 in dining credits each calendar year, and comes with a sleek new metal design — you can nab a limited-edition rose gold version until Jan. 9, 2019.

The annual fee has increased from $195 (waived the first year) to $250 (not waived the first year), but considering the new benefits, the Amex Gold could be well worth it.

Who Is This Card For?

If you like to eat out (or order in through delivery services like Seamless) and you can make good use of American Express Membership Rewards points, this card is a no-brainer. It could also be a good pick if you want the opportunity to earn some serious rewards with your credit card but are wary of paying an annual fee in the $450-$550 range.

Current Bonus

The Amex Gold card is debuting with a welcome bonus of 25,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $2,000 in the first three months. Based on TPG’s latest valuations, that bonus is worth $475. To be honest, it’s not the most impressive, considering that we see 50,000 to 100,00-point bonuses on other cards regularly. But it’s in line with the standard public bonus on the old Premier Rewards Gold Card, though some people were targeted for higher amounts on that card.

Amex also has a special launch offer on top of the welcome bonus, available through Jan. 9, 2019: Receive 20% back as a statement credit, up to $100, on dining purchases at US restaurants for the first three months of cardmembership. This statement credit will apply to purchases made by both the primary cardholder and any authorized users, but each card account is eligible for up to a total of $100 in statement credits across all cards on the account.

Earning

The most exciting changes that come with the new Amex Gold card are definitely the bonus categories. Here’s how they break down, with a side-by-side comparison to the old Premier Rewards Gold Card:

Bonus Category Premier Rewards Gold Card (Old) American Express Gold Card (New)
US Restaurants 2x (3.8% return) 4x (7.6% return)
US Supermarkets 2x (3.8% return) 4x (7.6% return), capped at $25,000 per calendar year
Airfare Purchased Directly From the Airline 3x (5.7% return) 3x (5.7% return)
US Gas Stations 2x (3.8% return) 1x (1.9% return)
Non-Bonus Spending 1x (1.9% return) 1x (1.9% return)

 

The new American Express Gold Card is a significant step up bonus category-wise, almost across the board. The 4x on US restaurants is an especially strong earning rate  — equal to a 7.6% return based on our valuations. The only bummer is that the bonus is limited to dining in the US, as opposed to the broader worldwide dining bonus category on cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

4x points at US supermarkets is also very strong, though note that it’s capped at the first $25,000 you spend per calendar year (then 1x). But even with the cap, the Amex Gold becomes one of the very best cards for grocery spend, which is obviously a common expense that almost everyone incurs. And the card keeps the same 3x points on flights purchased directly from the airline or at amextravel.com. The only bonus category to suffer with the Amex Gold revamp is US gas stations; the new card will now only earn 1 point per dollar on these purchases.

Redeeming

The Membership Rewards points you’ll earn with the Amex Gold can be transferred to 20 travel partners, consisting of 17 airlines and three hotels. For instance, you can transfer points to Etihad Guest to book business-class flights to Europe on American Airlines for 50,000 miles each way, among other great redemption options available through this unsung program. ANA also provides plenty of value, especially if you can leverage one of the transfer bonuses Amex frequently runs to score a first-class flight for well under 100,000 points. On the hotels side, you can transfer points to Choice Hotels, Hilton and the combined Marriott/SPG program.

You’ll generally get the most value from your Amex points by transferring them to a partner, though that isn’t your only redemption option. You can also use points to cover charges on your billing statement, to shop on Amazon, to cover Uber rides, to buy gift cards and more. And you can use points to book travel directly through Amex. Read our guide on “Redeeming American Express Membership Rewards for Maximum Value” for more info on maximizing your Amex points.

Perks

The Amex Gold brings one new food-focused perk to the table:

$120 Annual Dining Credit — Earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the Gold Card at participating dining partners. The list is as follows: Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House and participating Shake Shack locations. This statement credit functions similarly to the Saks credit on the Amex Platinum in that it isn’t allotted all at once. Also note that you’ll need to enroll through the Amex website to get this benefit.

And these benefits from the Premier Rewards Gold will remain:

$100 Annual Airline Fee Credit — Each calendar year, you’ll receive up to $100 in statement credits toward incidental airline fees such as baggage fees and in-flight purchases. You have to pick a qualifying airline for the credit, and you can only change this once a year, so be sure to choose a carrier you’ll be flying with at least once.

The Hotel Collection — When you book a stay through the Amex Hotel Collection, you’ll earn 2x points on your purchase and enjoy a $75 credit toward dining, spa and resort activities at the property. Note that the credit only applies to stays of two consecutive nights or longer.

Baggage Insurance — If your luggage is lost, stolen or damaged when you’re traveling with a common carrier and you purchased your ticket with the Amex Gold, you’ll be eligible for up to $1,250 in coverage for carry-on baggage and up to $500 for checked baggage.

Photo by Matheus Frade on Unsplash
Earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the Gold Card at participating dining partners, (Photo by Matheus Frade on Unsplash)

If you can maximize the annual dining and airline credits on this card for a total of $220 per year, you’ve almost offset the entire $250 annual fee, which means you only need to get an additional $30 worth of value each year from the card to come out ahead.

Which Cards Compete With the Amex Gold?

With an annual fee that’s higher than sub-$100 cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card but considerably lower than the $450-$550 premium cards, the Amex Gold is somewhat of a “tweener.” So while there’s no perfect direct comparison on the annual fee front, there are several cards that offer similar bonus categories and perks.

One of the most obvious comparisons is the Sapphire Preferred itself, with a $95 annual fee that’s waived the first year and 2x earnings on all dining (and travel) purchases. We value Chase points marginally higher than Amex points, but you’re still looking at an effective return of 4% with the CSP vs. 7.6% with the Amex Gold on dining purchases. The CSP also doesn’t offer any annual statement credits like the Amex Gold does.

On the premium end of things, the Chase Sapphire Reserve deserves a mention, as it’s been the reigning champ for the highest return on dining spending for some time now, with a 3x earning rate. But the Amex Gold now tops that card’s 6% return, and handily — the downside being it’s just for dining in the US. The Sapphire Reserve has a $450 annual fee, and as you’d expect, it offers considerably more perks than the Amex Gold, like a $300 annual travel credit and a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit.

If you’re enticed by the Gold Card’s 4x bonus at US supermarkets, you could also consider the Amex EveryDay Preferred Card from American Express. It earns 3x points at US supermarkets on the first $6,000 spent each year, and if you make at least 30 purchases in a billing cycle you’ll get a 50% bonus. That means you’d get a return of 8.55% with the bonus. This card also has a much lower annual fee ($95), but note the much lower cap on bonus earnings for US supermarket purchases each year.

Bottom Line

With this revamp, Amex transformed the Premier Rewards Gold Card from a somewhat generic travel card to a food-focused powerhouse. 4x points on US restaurants and US supermarkets make this card a very strong pick for pretty much all food purchases. And who doesn’t love food? While the annual fee has increased by $55 and is no longer waived the first year, up to $220 in annual statement credits — between the dining credit and the airline fee credit — helps make up for that. And the new metal design is spiffy, The welcome bonus of 25,000 points won’t turn heads, but the American Express Gold Card could still rack you up plenty of points through everyday use when you’re eating, either at home or out and about.

American Express® Gold Card

With some great bonus categories, the American Express Gold Card has a lot going for it. The card offers 4x points at US restaurants, at US supermarkets (up to $25,000; then 1x), and 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or through amextravel.com. It is currently offering a welcome bonus of 25,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 in the first three months.

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More Things to Know
  • Get the American Express® Gold Card in Limited Edition Rose Gold, only available until 1/9/2019.
  • Receive 20% back as a statement credit at U.S. Restaurants within the first 3 months, up to $100 back. Offer available to new Card Members who apply by 1/9/2019.
  • Plus, earn 25,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $2,000 on eligible purchases with your new card within the first 3 months.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at US restaurants. Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at US supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the Gold Card at participating dining partners. Enrollment required.
  • $100 Airline Fee Credit: up to $100 in statement credits per year for incidental fees at one selected airline.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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