7 ways to make the most of the Amex Gold Card benefits

Aug 27, 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated with the most recent card information. 

There’s a ton to be excited about with the American Express® Gold Card, even during the pandemic.

Although the card’s food-focused bonus spend categories dominated headlines when the card relaunched in 2018, the Amex Gold offers a slate of other perks that can help you save on your travels (for when travel is back on everyone’s radar).

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy)

For more credit card news and travel advice, sign up for the TPG daily newsletter.

The annual fee is $250 (see rates and fees), and isn’t waived the first year, but if you familiarize yourself with the card’s unique benefits, you can easily make it pay for itself.

Maximizing the welcome offer

The Amex Gold card comes with a welcome offer of 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases within the first 6 months. Keep in mind that you could be targeted for a much higher offer through the CardMatch tool or referral offers. Right now, you could earn 75,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months. This special offer is worth $1,500 according to TPG valuations. (Targeted offers are subject to change at anytime)

Amex Membership Rewards points can be redeemed for anything from cash back to lavish flights in a Singapore Airlines first-class suites. However, not all redemption options are equal. You’ll get the most value from this program by transferring points to partner hotel and airline loyalty programs. Here are some of the best uses of 60,000 points (these only require 25,000 points, so you’ll actually have 35,000 left over):

American Flagship First seat (Photo by Zach Griff / The Points Guy)
American Flagship First seat (Photo by Zach Griff / The Points Guy)

Even better, Amex regularly offers transfer bonuses that you can leverage to get as much as 50% extra value from your points. Just remember that we never recommend speculatively transferring points to a program without a specific use in mind, as miles can be devalued at any moment, and transfers can’t be reversed.

Related: How to maximize Amex Membership Rewards points

American Express Gold Card Benefits

4x points on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets

It doesn’t matter if you prefer dining in or out; if you like food (I mean, who doesn’t?), you should have no trouble maximizing the Amex Gold’s bonus spend categories. The card awards 4x points per dollar spent at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets, up to a $25,000 annual cap per calendar year at U.S .supermarkets (1x point thereafter). With our current valuation of 2 cents per point in mind, the Amex Gold yields a whopping 8% return on food purchases, beating out most other credit cards on the market.

In fact, these bonus categories may be valuable enough to open the card even without a welcome bonus.

(Photo by Ali Inay on Unsplash)
Photo by Ali Inay on Unsplash.

Pro tip: Although the Amex Gold doesn’t carry any foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees), the bonus points for grocery purchases are only awarded for spend in the U.S., so you’ll want to hold on to a card such as the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card to earn additional rewards when buying groceries abroad.

The information for the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

3x points on flights

Earning 5x points per dollar spent on airfare booked directly through the airline or Amex Travel, the Amex Gold’s “bigger brother” — the Platinum Card® from American Express — remains the best card for airfare purchases. Starting Jan. 1, 2021, earn 5x points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.

That said, the Amex Gold card is still a solid alternative if you don’t carry the Platinum. The card earns 3x points per dollar spent on flights booked directly through the airline or on amextravel.com, amounting to a return of 6% based on TPG’s valuation. Plus, 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.

If you fly Frontier as a family, you will likely spend money on ancillary fees (JT Genter / The Points Guy)
(Photo by JT Genter / The Points Guy)

$120 in dining credits

You’ll get an up to $120 annual dining credit (allotted in up to $10 increments each month) that can be used at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed and participating Shake Shack locations. Delivery services Grubhub and Seamless are available in most major U.S. cities, and it’s hard to imagine that a purchase at any of these merchants would cost less than $10 a month, so this benefit should be pretty easy to take full advantage of.

Related reading: Promo codes to save money on food delivery

Much like the Saks Fifth Avenue credit on the Amex Platinum, you have to enroll through the Amex website to get this benefit. Also, note the credits expire at the end of each month, so you won’t be able to roll any unused credits over. Enrollment required for select benefits.

The Hotel Collection

Book a stay of two nights or longer through the Amex Hotel Collection to earn double points, a room upgrade upon arrival and an up to $100 credit which can be used toward things like dining, spa and resort activities at the property.

In some cases, you may also score lower rates depending on what Amex has negotiated with the property in question. It’s important to note that although The Hotel Collection may sound like a watered-down version of the Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts Program available to Platinum cardholders, the two programs offer different participating hotels.

Related reading: Guide to The Hotel Collection

Travel Collection Membership

A lesser-known benefit of the Amex Gold card is complimentary access to The Travel Collection, a membership that normally costs $295 per year. In short, the program can help you score significant discounts with 10 airlines, including United, Qantas and Cathay Pacific. You’ll also score the following perks when booking stays of two nights or longer at certain hotels:

  • Daily breakfast for two people
  • Room upgrade upon check-in (based on availability)
  • Guaranteed 1:00 p.m. early check-in
  • Complimentary in-room Wi-Fi
  • A $50 hotel credit

As with the Hotel Collection, this might sound similar to Amex’s Fine Hotels & Resorts program, but the roster of participating hotels is completely different from the issuer’s other hotel programs. The partners in this program are primarily smaller boutique hotels, and The Travel Collection offers a “best rate available” guarantee so you’ll never need to worry about paying more for the additional amenities. Enrollment required for select benefits.

Bottom line

There are many credit cards out there that come loaded with valuable benefits, but their value is only realized if you actually use them.

Luckily, the Amex Gold card makes it pretty easy to do so. Between the annual and dining credits, the card’s annual fee already effectively drops to $30 a year. Throw in the outstanding return on food purchases and perks you get when booking travel, and you’re sure to come out ahead.

Additional reporting by Chris Dong.

For rates and fees of the Amex Gold Card, please click here.

Featured photo by The Points Guy. 

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.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.