Who should (and who shouldn’t) get the Amex Gold card?
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Editor’s note: This story has been updated with the latest information.
When it comes time to apply for your first (or fifth) premium-ish rewards card, the American Express® Gold Card shouldn’t be ignored. In fact, this TPG staffer says that he’s even more loyal to his Amex Gold now during the pandemic than ever before.
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The Amex Gold Card has an annual fee of $250 (see rates and fees), which effectively drops to $10 in true out-of-pocket cost when fully use the monthly statement credits at select restaurants and the new Uber Cash benefit. It has relevant bonus points categories such as global dining and U.S. supermarkets, plus it earns valuable American Express Membership Rewards points. And it’s back in the fancy Rose Gold color option, too.
Let’s dive into why else the Amex Gold is a great card to consider, and who should — and who shouldn’t — get the Amex Gold Card.
The annual fee on the Gold Card is $250 (see rates and fees) — and it’s not waived for the first year. To compensate, the card offers up to $240 in annual benefits.
This breaks down to up to $10 a month (up to $120 a year) dining credit at participating locations such as Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required. Additionally, you’ll also receive up to $120 annually ($10 per month) in Uber Cash, which can be used on Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S. Just make sure to add your Gold Card to your Uber account first.
The bonus categories are also impressive, earning:
- 4x points at restaurants worldwide
- 4x points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in spending per calendar year; then 1x point)
- 3x points on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
- 1x everywhere else
The card is offering a welcome bonus of 60,000 Membership Rewards points (worth $1,200 based on TPG’s latest valuations) after spending $4,000 in the first six months. However, you could be targeted for a higher 75,000-point bonus (after spending $4,000 in the first three months) through CardMatch or a referral link (offer subject to change at any time).
You can also earn double points and a property credit of up to $100 when you book a prepaid hotel stay of two nights or longer through the Amex Hotel Collection.
Related: Full review of the Amex Gold
Who should get the Amex Gold card?
People who spend a lot on dining and U.S. supermarkets
Statement credits are a great way to offset a high annual fee on a credit card, but you don’t apply for a new rewards card to break even. You do it to get ahead.
The 4x bonus categories on worldwide dining at restaurants and on U.S. supermarket purchases (up to $25,000 per calendar year; then 1x for U.S. supermarket purchases) amount to an 8% return, based on TPG’s valuation of Membership Rewards points at 2 cents each. It almost goes without saying that people who spend heavily in these categories will get the most value out of this card.
The Amex Gold is not the first credit card to offer bonus categories on dining worldwide and at U.S. supermarkets, but it might be the most valuable one. Earning four Membership Rewards points per dollar beats out the 3x Ultimate Rewards points on dining offered by the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
It’s possible to end up with a slightly higher return on purchases at U.S. supermarkets by using the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express, but the bonus categories on the Gold Card don’t require you to jump through any hoops, such as a minimum number of transactions per month to earn the highest earn rates. This card doesn’t have any foreign transaction fees if you decide to travel with it (see rates and fees).
The information for the Amex EveryDay Preferred 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.
People looking to complete the Amex trifecta
The two biggest weak spots in the Amex Gold Card’s bonus categories (travel and everyday spending) can be easily fixed by pairing it with one of two other strong Amex cards: The Platinum Card® from American Express or The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express.
No matter how much money you spend on dining and groceries a year, you’ll likely want to combine multiple cards into the Amex trifecta to maximize your bonus-category earning.
If you combine these three cards and use each one for its bonus categories, you’ll end up earning anywhere from 2-5x points, or 4-10% back on nearly all of your purchases. And these cards really fit together like puzzle pieces, with the Amex Platinum providing luxury perks, such as lounge access and hotel elite status, that the Gold Card doesn’t, and the Blue Business Plus elevating your base earning rate on non-bonus spending from 1x to 2x (on the first $50,000 in eligible purchases each calendar year; then 1x) without costing you a penny in annual fees (see rates and fees).
People who can max out the $240 in annual statement credits
One of the toughest things for many new points enthusiasts to wrap their heads around is the value of a premium credit card. No matter how much personal value you get out of some of the perks, you still end up paying hundreds in fees each year for the right to use them.
The Amex Gold makes that math much simpler if you can max out both of its monthly benefits.
The up to $120 per year dining credit is broken down into $10 a month, similar to the Uber credit that comes with the Amex Platinum, but it also is pretty easy to maximize. I can’t think of a single purchase at any of the partner dining merchants (Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, Boxed and participating Shake Shack locations) that would cost less than $10 a month, so if you eat out or order in once every 30 days this should be easy to take advantage of.
The new Uber Cash benefit of up to $120 annually can also be used on U.S. rides and U.S. Uber Eats orders.
If fully using the Uber Cash benefit and the dining credit sounds like something you can do, you’ll effectively end up paying $10 a year to keep the Amex Gold, making it one of the cheapest cards relative to the benefits it offers. And it should be easy to earn back that last $10 by taking advantage of one or more Amex Offers, where you can earn discounts on purchases you likely would have made already.
People who are over 5/24 with Chase
Whether you have years of established credit or are new to the points world entirely, at TPG we almost universally recommend that you start by applying for Chase credit cards because of the pesky 5/24 rule. Simply put, this rule means that you will be automatically rejected for most Chase cards if you’ve opened five or more credit cards in the last 24 months.
The question of what you should do after you’ve maxed out your five slots with Chase gets a little trickier, but the Amex Gold could be a great answer. Not only will you immediately begin earning a valuable transferable points currency, but the 4x bonus categories will help you earn your next award flight or hotel stay that much faster.
Having access to multiple types of points makes all of your points more valuable, as it gives you more options to pick from for any specific trip you want to take. For certain Star Alliance redemptions, being able to pick between Aeroplan and ANA (by transferring Amex points) or United (transferring Chase points) could end up saving you hundreds of dollars or thousands of miles.
People targeted for a 75,000-point bonus
The public welcome offer on the Amex Gold is currently 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months, but there’s now a higher 75,000-point offer through CardMatch after meeting minimum spend requirements. Note: The targeted offer is subject to change at any time.
Since Amex has a “once per lifetime” policy with welcome offers, it always makes sense to see if you can get a higher offer. If you get the full 75,000 bonus points, they would be worth $1,500, according to TPG valuations.
Who shouldn’t get the Amex Gold card?
The Amex Gold has the potential to be a very lucrative card, but there are several groups of people who might struggle to get good value from it.
People who are under 5/24 and want more Chase cards
As mentioned above, Chase’s 5/24 rule is one of the most important considerations in building a starter strategy for credit cards. Five cards can seem like a lot to someone who has never even had one before, but those slots go by quickly and once you’ve used them up, it takes a while to get them back.
The Amex Gold is probably going to be around for a while, so there’s no reason to fire off an application for it right now if it means compromising your strategy with Chase.
People who live outside the U.S.
If you’re outside the U.S., that means the 4x earned on the Amex Gold card at U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 each calendar year; then 1x) and the up to $120 dining credit and Uber benefit do you no good. In fact, if you live outside the U.S., this card is much less valuable. The other perks, such as 3x on flights and an up to $100 credit when booking through the Amex Hotel Collection, can easily be overshadowed by other premium rewards cards.
People who won’t max out the statement credits
The up to $120 Uber Cash benefit on the Amex Gold card can be easy for some people to use, but not everyone uses Uber/Uber Eats in the U.S. or has eligible restaurants available in their area. Also, the up to $120 dining credit might be tougher to use if you enjoy cooking at home or don’t eat at any of the partner restaurants. Ordering delivery just to use the free $10 credit might end up costing more than it saves if you wouldn’t otherwise be using Uber Eats.
If that’s the case, you’re left with a card that might cost you more out of pocket than the ultra-premium cards such as the Amex Platinum or the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
You’re left footing a larger bill and getting fewer perks in return, as the Amex Gold doesn’t offer any form of lounge access, elite status or even a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit (up to $100).
People who’ve previously had an Amex Gold card
I personally appreciate Amex’s rule on bonus eligibility. It’s easy to understand that if you have previously earned the bonus on a credit card, you will not be eligible to earn it again.
Although the Amex Gold underwent a heavy makeover, it is still technically the same product that was known as the Premier Rewards Gold Card. This means that people who previously have had the old version will not be eligible for a bonus on the new product even if the old card has been closed.
People who want travel coverages and primary rental car insurance
The Amex Gold card isn’t one of the best credit cards with travel protections. For example, the rental car insurance you get with the card is secondary, which means it only applies to expenses not covered by other insurances you have. On top of that, the card also doesn’t have any trip delay or trip interruption coverage.
Now, compare that to the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which provides primary rental car insurance when you pay for the entire rental with your card (or with Chase Ultimate Rewards points) and decline the rental company’s collision coverage.
The Sapphire Reserve also has amazing trip-delay protection: When you pay for at least part of your fare with the card you can have eligible expenses (up to $500 per ticket) reimbursed if your travel is delayed for six hours or more or requires an overnight stay. Eligible purchases that can be reimbursed with this coverage include lodging, transportation, toiletries, clothing or food expenses you incurred as a result of the delay.
The Amex Gold is a valuable option for U.S.-based customers who spend heavily on dining and groceries at U.S. supermarkets and are looking for an in-between, “premium-lite” card that offers good returns without an obscene price tag.
If you can max out all the benefits this card has to offer, it might become a cornerstone of your wallet. But if you live or frequently travel outside of the U.S. or can’t max out both of the annual benefits, stop and think about whether this is the best card for you.
Check the CardMatch Tool to see if you’re targeted for any special offers. These offers are subject to change at any time.
Additional reporting by Chris Dong
Feature photo courtesy of American Express.
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