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Dining is the hot bonus category — with credit cards at all price points offering big rewards in the form of cash back or transferable points. In addition to travel, it’s one of the categories that many of us spend the most on, so cards with bonus dining rewards let us really rack up the points.
While Amex raised the bar last year for earning rewards on travel when it began offering 5x points on airfare with the Platinum Card® from American Express, none of its Membership Rewards points-earning cards offer a very impressive return on dining. Or, rather, they didn’t until now: As we anticipated, Amex has updated the Premier Rewards Gold Card, changing its name to the American Express® Gold Card and transforming it into one of the most competitive cards on the market for dining purchases.
The Amex Gold now earns a stellar 4 points per dollar on US restaurants and 4 points per dollar at US supermarkets on up to $25,000 per year in purchases (then 1 point) as well. Amex is also adding a credit of up to $120 in annual credits toward dining each calendar year. Oh, and the Amex Gold is now a metal card — available in a limited-edition rose gold color until Jan. 9, 2019.
There’s a lot to unpack with the card’s update, so let’s break it down.
Improved Earning Rates
|Bonus Category||Premier Rewards Gold Card (Old)||American Express Gold Card (New)|
|US Restaurants||2x (3.8% return)||4x (7.6% return)|
|US Supermarkets||2x (3.8% return)||4x (7.6% return), capped at $25,000 per calendar year (then 1x)|
|Airfare Purchased Directly From the Airline or Amex travel||3x (5.7% return)||3x (5.7% return)|
|US Gas Stations||2x (3.8% return)||1x (1.9% return)|
|Non-Bonus Spending||1x (1.9% return)||1x (1.9% return)|
Instead of the ho-hum rate of 2x points on US restaurants with the Premier Rewards Gold, the Amex Gold now offers an uncapped 4x on spending at US restaurants. That equates to a whopping 7.6% return based on our valuations. It also earns 4x points at US supermarkets, though this will be capped at the first $25,000 spent each calendar year (then 1x).
The Amex Gold will keep the former PRG card’s 3x points on airfare purchased directly from airline and will earn 1 point per dollar on everything else. The 2x points at US gas stations will no longer be available (ending October 4, 2019 for existing cardholders), so you’ll want to turn to a different card to fuel up.
The huge news here is the 4x points on dining. This catapults the Amex Gold to the top of the pack for eating out (or in), besting the Chase Sapphire Reserve‘s 3x points on dining. The caveat here is that the Amex Gold earns 4x points on US restaurants only, so the CSR is still the card to beat when it comes to dining abroad. (That said, both cards waive foreign transaction fees.)
And we now have yet another strong option for spending at US supermarkets — groceries is one category where Amex is already very competitive, but now the Amex Gold is second only to the Amex EveryDay Preferred Card (with a $95 annual fee), which earns 3x points on groceries for the first $6,000 spent per year, plus a 50% bonus when you use the card 30 times in a billing cycle, in which case you’d earn 4.5x points, equal to an 8.55% return. There’s also the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, also with a $95 annual fee, which earns 6% cash back at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year.
If you’re not an existing Premier Rewards cardholder, you can earn 25,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $2,000 on the Amex Gold in the first three months. Based on our valuations, that bonus is worth $475. It’s not the most impressive points haul compared to other welcome bonuses currently available, but with 4x on dining, your earnings from everyday dining spending could quickly add up. Note that some readers are reporting that they’ve been targeted for a higher 50,000-point welcome bonus through the Amex website — your mileage may vary, but it could be worth checking to see if you’re targeted.
As part of the “We’ll Pick Up the Tip” launch offer, new cardholders can also receive 20% back as a statement credit, up to $100, on dining purchases at US restaurants for the first three months of cardmembership. This is only available to new cardholders who apply by January 9, 2019.
A Higher Annual Fee
The Premier Rewards Gold Card had a $195 annual fee that was waived the first year, but the Amex Gold will have a higher annual fee of $250, and it won’t be waived the first year. However, given the additional perks, it shouldn’t be hard to swallow the extra $55 per year to hold the card, though it was pretty sweet that the issuer previously waived the fee for the first year of cardmembership.
If you’re an existing Premier Rewards Gold cardholder, the new $250 fee goes into effect on April 1, 2019 — so on your next account anniversary following that date. That means you have at least six months to enjoy the new Amex Gold benefits before the new fee takes effect.
Dining Benefits and Other Perks
In addition to the limited-time launch offer that gets you up to $100 back on dining purchases in the first three months, the Amex Gold card is adding a permanent dining credit and keeping its $100 annual airline fee credit.
- $120 annual dining credit — Earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the Gold card at participating dining partners, which include Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Shake Shack locations. This will work similarly to the Saks credit on the Amex Platinum, coming in increments rather than all at once.
- $100 airline fee credit — This benefit from the Premier Rewards Gold Card is sticking around. Get up to $100 per calendar year in statement credits toward incidental fees like checked baggage when you charge them to your card.
- Limited-edition rose gold card — Amex chose a metal design for the new Gold Card, and it will be available in a limited-edition rose gold design for new cardholders who apply by January 9, 2019. Existing cardholders can receive the limited-edition design if they request it by that same date.
- Hotel Collection — This is a perk that carries over from the Premier Rewards Gold Card. You’ll earn 2x points and get a $75 hotel credit when you book a prepaid stay of at least two consecutive nights through the Hotel Collection.
The Premier Rewards Gold Amex has long been a good “tweener” travel rewards card, with some decent bonus categories and a $100 annual airline fee credit with an annual fee waived the first year. But now it’s solidified its identity, shifting to a strong focus on dining and moving from “meh” to top of the pack with rewards in this spending category.
4x points on dining in the US is huge if you have a use for Amex points (and you do, if you’ve really looked at all the great airline redemption options). The Amex Gold should now be your go-to pick for all dining purchases except those made abroad, where you’ll earn just 1 point per dollar but at least won’t be charged foreign transaction fees. Up to $120 in annual dining credits helps justify the higher $250, and for new cardholders, the ability to earn up to $100 back on dining purchases sweetens the rather standard welcome bonus of 25,000 points.
This is an overwhelmingly positive update — the only downside is that the card is losing its bonus on gas purchases. Luckily, though, you have plenty of other solid options for that, and for dining and groceries in the US, the new American Express Gold Card should almost certainly find a place at the top of your wallet.
- Get the American Express® Gold Card in Limited Edition Rose Gold, only available until 1/9/2019.
- Receive 20% back as a statement credit at U.S. Restaurants within the first 3 months, up to $100 back. Offer available to new Card Members who apply by 1/9/2019.
- Plus, earn 25,000 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 US restaurants. Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at US 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 participating dining partners. Enrollment required.
- $100 Airline Fee Credit: up to $100 in statement credits per year for incidental fees at one selected airline.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- Annual Fee is $250.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees