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Why Families Need the Amex Gold Card: Earn 4x on Groceries and Dining

Oct. 10, 2018
5 min read
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Just when you think you have your credit card strategy all figured out, a bank goes and changes everything. In this case, the shake-up is a very positive thing for families who like their miles and points as the American Express® Gold Card is now a top dog for spending at US supermarkets and at restaurants worldwide. The old Premier Rewards Gold Card awarded two Membership Rewards points per dollar in those categories, but the American Express Gold Card buries much of the competition by offering four Membership Rewards points per dollar at US supermarkets and on dining -- among other family-friendly perks!

Top Card for Families at US Supermarkets

Families need lots of groceries, and having a card that pays a bonus at grocery stores is a must for maximizing miles and points. The American Express Gold Card is one of the best cards out there for weekly grocery trips as it awards four points per dollar at US supermarkets, on up to $25,000 in eligible spending per year (then 1 point). While having a cap is a little bit of a bummer, frankly this cap is not bad. Most families I know don't spend more than $2,083 per month at the supermarket, so it is essentially a cap in name only unless you are a huge grocery spender.

Photo by Parinda Yatha / EyeEm / Getty Images

Technically speaking, the Amex EveryDay Preferred Card potentially does better than 4x earned by the Amex Gold Card at US supermarkets as it awards three points per dollar in that same category and also provides a 50 percent bonus on all points earned that billing cycle if you have 30 or more transactions. However, the 3x earned on that card is capped at $6,000 spent at US supermarkets each year (then 1x), and it is only better on the earnings side if you have 30 transactions that month to trigger the 50 percent bonus. If I had to choose, I'd take 4x points guaranteed on $25k at US supermarkets per year, rather than potentially earn 4.5x on up to $6,000 per year.

Amex Gold Card Beats Chase Sapphire Reserve for Dining

For a few years, the king of the best cards for families who eat out (for those who like to earn points) has been the Chase Sapphire Reserve at three Ultimate Rewards points awarded per dollar spent on dining. While TPG currently values Chase Ultimate Rewards points just a tiny bit more than Amex Membership Rewards points, the math still works in favor of four Membership Rewards points valued at a total of 7.6 cents > 3 Ultimate Rewards points valued at a total of 6 cents.

Not only is the 4x points per dollar earned while dining at restaurants not capped, but it is actually even better than that. The Amex Gold Card also gives a $10 statement credit each month (up to $120 per calendar year) when you dine at participating restaurants. These "restaurants: include: GrubHub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth's Chris Steak House and participating Shake Shack locations (excludes Shake Shack locations in ballparks, stadiums, airports and racetracks). New parents -- eating at Cheesecake Factory with toddlers is pretty amazing as they bring out a free "baby plate" consisting of banana slices and small pieces of bread upon request!

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Photo by Andrea Bacle Photography

Other Bonus Categories

The Amex Gold Card provides 3x Membership Rewards points on flights booked directly with airlines or on, but that doesn't entice me all that much as I prefer the 3x on travel with my Chase Sapphire Reserve with more built-in airline protections. However, 3x isn't bad. Do note that this card does not award 2x at US gas stations the way the old Premier Rewards Gold Card did. That's not a huge deal though as you can just pick another card for gas purchases (or grab a gas station gift card at the grocery store).

$100 Airline Fee Credit

The old Premier Rewards Gold Card provided a $100 Annual Airline Fee Credit to use toward incidental airline fees such as baggage fees, seat assignment fees and even some in-flight purchases. This is just like the annual credit for The Platinum Card® from American Express, just for $100 each year instead of $200. You need to pick a qualifying airline each year for the credit, but there are lots of ways to make this credit work for you.

Assuming you fly enough to make use of the $100 credit, it is very helpful in knocking down your true annual cost for having this card. The $250 annual fee absolutely stings, but it doesn't sting as much once you use the annual $100 airline fee credit.

Photo by Andrea Bacle Photography

Bottom Line

The terms for the Amex Gold Card state that the welcome offer is not available to applicants who have or have had this card or the Premier Rewards Gold Card, so keep that in mind when deciding if you and/or your partner may want to apply for this card.

An Amex Gold Card might not have been in your family's wallet before, but if you spend a fair amount at US supermarkets and on dining, it might be time to rethink that strategy and possibly add the card to your lineup.