The Amex Gold will need to offer some temporary perks to convince me to renew
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In early May, Amex announced several temporary perks for several cards in an effort to convince cardholders to keep their accounts open as travel has halted in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express, one of the best premium travel credit cards, have been collecting dust in my wallet in recent months as I am not traveling. Many of the best perks (lounge access, 5X Membership Rewards earning on select travel and a $200 annual airline fee credit) have been rendered practically useless during the pandemic.
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Amex responded by adding statement credits on select streaming and wireless telephone services through the end of the year. That’s in addition to the $100 Saks Fifth Avenue yearly credit and the $15 Uber credit cardholders get each month. I haven’t taken an Uber ride in months but I’m still getting value out of the benefit by making UberEats purchases.
Another card in my wallet, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, added statement credits for wireless telephone services and shipping to offset a nearly $600 annual fee. In addition, Amex upped the statement credits on Dell purchases from $200 per year to $400. Just last week, I took advantage of the statement credit to purchases a Bluetooth speaker and stacked it with several Amex Offers I found in my account.
Other cards, including the American Express® Green Card and several co-branded Marriott, Delta and Hilton cards also added several temporary perks.
Related reading: A complete guide to credit card benefit changes
But one card that was notably missing from the announcement: the much-loved American Express® Gold Card.
It was a massive disappointment, as I consider the Amex Gold to be one of the best mid-tier cards on the market. As I find myself using my Amex Gold a lot more in recent months, while other premium cards collect dust in my wallet or may get canceled altogether, it got me wondering if I can justify the $250 annual fee (see rates and fees). We’ve reached out to American Express to see if anything is in the works, but in the meantime, here’s what temporary perks I would like to see on the Amex Gold.
Bonus Category Increase
The 4x bonus already on the card for dining worldwide and at U.S. supermarkets on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases is great, but amid the pandemic when the Gold card seems like the best for everyday purchases, I would love to see Amex up those bonus category to 5x (or more!) It would — unquestionably — become my go-to card for dining during the pandemic, even over the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card which currently offers 3x points (up to $1,500) in grocery purchases per month through June 30.
After all, the Amex Gold is best known for its high earnings on dining around the world, even though it also earns 3x points on flights booked directly from the airline or amextravel.com.
Before the pandemic, the Amex Gold was already one of my favorites for day-to-day purchases. Living in New York means lots of eating out, so earning 4x points per dollar spent at restaurants worldwide and U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 a year, then 1x) meant I’d earn thousands of points a month.
Now, many restaurants in Brooklyn are open for takeout, so I’ve been using my Gold card a lot as I help to support small businesses. I’m also earning a healthy 4x Amex Membership Rewards points on restaurants. In recent weeks, I’ve been racking up a ton of Amex Membership Rewards points through either to-go purchases or through apps such as Seamless. I’ve also been earning points through quick supermarket runs and grocery deliveries, though I haven’t had much luck earning 4x points at bodegas.
More dining credits
One reason I got the Amex Gold was for the excellent monthly dining credit.
If you’re like me and to dine out often (or order in using delivery services such as Seamless) then you should be able to put the dining credit to good use. If you’re not familiar, Amex Gold cardholders get a to $120 annual dining credit, spread out over 12 months. You’ll receive up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the Amex Gold at participating dining partners, including Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, some Shake Shack locations and Boxed.
Amid the pandemic, with restaurants closing early, I find that I’m using delivery apps more often and earlier in the month. Before the coronavirus crisis, I could go a week without using the credit. Now I’m using up the dining credit in the first four days of the month. I would love to see Amex up the dining credit from $10 to $15 per month, and potentially add other partners.
Airline fee credit extension
To be clear, I’d love to see the airline fee credit extended across all Amex cards. I already used the Amex Gold’s $100 annual airline fee credit earlier this year to cover the taxes on my last pre-pandemic Delta flight, to Mexico City. But for those who haven’t — especially those who don’t plan to fly again this year — I’d like to see the credit either rolled over to 2021 or available to use on other purchases.
The airline fee credit works the same as the credit on the Amex Platinum and Biz Platinum cards. You must designate a qualifying airline, which you can change once a year. As it stands, many cardholders will likely be unable to use their airline fee credit in 2020 and hence may have trouble justifying the Amex Gold’s $250 annual fee (see rates and fees).
The Amex Gold is easily one of my favorite premium cards, and the first card I pull out of my wallet for everyday purchases like groceries and dining. But I was pretty disappointed to see it didn’t get any temporary perks like other premium cards.
While $250 isn’t the highest annual fee (see rates and fees), I’m now weighing whether I want to keep it over my Chase Sapphire Preferred, which has a $95 annual fee and better temporary earnings. The Amex Gold is one of my favorite rewards cards, but right now, I’m not sure I can justify the annual fee.
Featured photo by Eden Batki / The Points Guy
For rates and fees of the Amex Gold Card, please click here.
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