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If you’re considering applying for the recently refreshed American Express® Gold Card, odds are you were drawn to one of two things: the incredible rewards for foodies (namely 4x points on purchases at US restaurants and US supermarkets, and the $120 annual dining credit).
The big picture highlights of the Amex Gold make it a great card — from the $220 in annual statement credits that almost entirely offset the $250 annual fee (See Rates & Fees) to the 4x bonus categories, which TPG values at a 7.6% return on spend. While the Amex Gold Card isn’t as weighed down with perks and benefits as some of it’s premium competition, it does offer a few solid and underrated perks that help seal the deal. Here are 5 of our favorites:
1. Charge Card vs. Credit Card
The American Express Gold Card is a lot of great things but there’s one thing that it’s not: a credit card. The Amex Gold (and corresponding American Express® Business Gold Card) as well as the entire family of Platinum cards, are actually charge cards. This has very little bearing on the way you use your card (and you shouldn’t be carrying a balance anyway if your goal is to earn points or miles), but it can offer some nice benefits.
Charge cards don’t come with a preset spending limit, and your transactions are approved on a case-by-case basis. You also have to pay your bill in full at the end of the month. This style of card was designed to give flexibility to big spenders, but it gives them another bonus as well. Since there’s no limit on your card, it’s impossible to calculate your utilization ratio. If you spend $5,000 in a month, $5,000/(no preset limit) doesn’t return a simple percent that FICO can use. Generally speaking, your monthly statement balance will appear on your credit report, but it won’t factor into the utilization calculation, similar to business cards.
Of course, you shouldn’t violate the 10 commandments of travel rewards and spend money you don’t have just because there’s no preset limit, but the ability to keep large purchases from affecting your credit score is a nice tool to have in your arsenal.
2. The Amex Hotel Collection
While Amex opted to go with a more restrictive travel bonus category than Chase (only offering 3x points on flights booked directly with the airline or through Amex Travel), they did include a hotel specific benefit which carried over from the old version of the Amex Gold Card.
When you use your Gold Card to book hotels through The Amex Hotel Collection, you’ll earn 2x points and enjoy a $100 property credit and space-available room upgrades on stays of 2 nights or longer. This might be a good option to consider if you don’t have a card that gives more bonus points for hotel bookings. And on short, cheap, stays, the $100 property credit can end up being a pretty serious rebate.
3. Baggage Insurance
The rest of the perks on this list fall under the category of “you hope you never need them, but if you do, you’ll be so thankful you have them.” Baggage insurance is one of those perks, especially since some airlines do a surprisingly poor job of remembering to put bags on the plane.
If you purchase the entire fare of your common carrier ticket with your Amex Gold Card, you’ll be eligible for up to $1,250 in reimbursement if your carry on bag is lost, stolen or damaged, and up to $500 if it’s your checked bag. There are two important things to point out here, the first being that there’s no insurance for luggage delay (which seems to a bit of a hobby over at American Airlines). The second is that you must purchase the entire ticket with your card to be eligible, so simply paying taxes on an award ticket would not count. This fits well with the bonus categories on the card, as anything other than purchasing the full fare (directly with the airline or through Amex Travel) will only earn you a meager 1 point per dollar.
4. Car Rental Insurance / Roadside Assistance
If you charge a rental car to your Amex Gold Card and decline the collision damage waiver at the counter, Amex will cover you if your car is damaged or stolen. This is secondary coverage that kicks in after and in addition to your own personal policy, and there are exclusions to be aware of. For instance, rentals in Australia, Italy and New Zealand are not covered, certain types of ATVs, limousines, and exotic cars are excluded, and coverage only applies for the first 30 days of the rental. This also does not insure against injury to you, your passengers or others, or against damage to property.
If you need emergency roadside assistance in the US, such as towing (up to 10 miles), jumpstarting your car, or if you lock yourself out, Amex will provide these services 24/7 free of charge up to 4 times a year. Terms and conditions apply, see the Amex website for details.
5. Purchase & Return Protection / Extended Warranty
The Amex Gold Card also comes with a variety of purchase protections. For example, if you drop your recently bought (in the last 120 days) phone, you may be eligible for up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per calendar year to replace lost, stolen or damaged items.
Have you ever tried to return something at a store only to be told they don’t accept returns? If you try within 90 days of the purchase and the merchant won’t take it back, Amex may refund the full purchase price, up to $300 per purchase and up to $1,000 per calendar year if the purchase was made entirely with your Gold Card.
You’ll also enjoy extended warranty protection when you use your Gold Card for a purchase. You can get up to 2 extra years added to a manufacturer’s warranty of 5 years or less. Terms and conditions apply.
There are other perks you might not be aware of, such as free 2-day shipping from Shoprunner and preferred seating at concerts. Many of the perks listed here are not unique to the Amex Gold Card and I wouldn’t say they tip the scale one way or another in terms of deciding whether this card is right for you. They really act as a secondary reward, if you make a financial commitment to American Express, they’ll reciprocate and help you out when your travel plans go off the rail or your expenses unexpectedly surge for a month. Most of these perks will sit quietly in the background, and if you’re lucky, you’ll never need them. But if and when things go wrong, knowing what you’re entitled to can really help save you a nice chunk of change.
For rates and fees of the American Express Gold Card, please click here.
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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 35,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 in the first three months.
- Earn 35,000 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 U.S. restaurants. Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. 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 Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Shake Shack, and Ruth's Chris Steak House. This is an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.
- $100 Airline Fee Credit: up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year for incidental fees at one selected qualifying airline.
- Choose to carry a balance with interest on eligible charges of $100 or more.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- Annual Fee is $250.
- Terms apply.
- See Rates & Fees