Worked like a charm: How I discovered a new (favorite) restaurant thanks to the Amex Gold dining credit

Feb 18, 2021

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Many top travel rewards credit cards come with an array of perks designed to entice new cardholders and retain the business of existing ones. Issuers dangle carrots like bonus categories and travel credits in the hopes that new applicants bring in more than enough revenue — through annual fees, interest charges and interchange fees — to cover the cost of providing those benefits.

In addition, these perks can provide valuable exposure for small businesses or other brands, leading to not just a one-time purchase but creating a long-term customer.

And sometimes, this works to perfection.

Recently, I discovered a new (favorite) restaurant less than 2 miles from my house — and it was all thanks to the monthly dining credit offered on my American Express® Gold Card.

Related: Back by popular demand: Amex Gold Card in sleek Rose Gold metal

A couple of Saturdays ago, my wife and I were discussing dinner plans. Neither one of us felt like cooking, and since we’ve been avoiding indoor dining in our home state of Florida due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, that left takeout and delivery as the remaining two options.

That’s when I realized that we were approaching the end of January, and I hadn’t yet utilized the monthly dining credit on the Amex Gold card ($10 each month; up to $120 annually toward purchases at select restaurants — including Ruth’s Chris, The Cheesecake Factory and participating Shake Shacks). Living in a small town makes most of these eateries challenging to visit, but thankfully, we do have access to popular food delivery services here.

Including Grubhub, one of the participating dining partners.

When I launched the Grubhub app and selected pickup (to avoid the additional fees of having the food delivered), I found a number of chains nearby that didn’t strike our fancy. However, my interest was piqued by a local establishment called Indian-Cafe. My entire family loves Indian food, and I was stunned to see that this particular restaurant was rated 4.9 stars on Google. With a wide-ranging menu of traditional dishes, it seemed like a great option.

Amazingly enough, I had never heard of it, despite it being just 1.8 miles from my house.

I placed the order on Grubhub, and less than 15 minutes later got the notification that it was ready. I hopped in my car, and just four minutes after pulling out of my driveway I was parking at the restaurant.

Upon arrival, I realized why this restaurant was new to me. It’s actually inside a Sunoco gas station — hardly the first place I go when looking for high-quality food.

The front of the Indian-Cafe in Fort Pierce, Florida
(Photo by Nick Ewen/The Points Guy)

The unassuming exterior was a sign of what awaited me inside. At the back of the small convenience store was a simple counter, behind which was a prep area and small kitchen. The smell was tantalizing — and a hint of the delicious dinner I was about to take home.

There were just a few employees working, but my order was ready and waiting.

The inside of Indian-Cafe, a restaurant in Fort Pierce, Florida
(Photo by Nick Ewen/The Points Guy)

Less than 10 minutes after pulling out of the parking lot, my family was digging into our meal — and it did not disappoint. My chicken madras had the perfect level of spice, my wife loved her lamb saag and my daughter said her beef samosa was delicious — but my favorite dish was the chicken tikka roll, which was chicken tikka wrapped in garlic naan to effectively create an Indian-themed burrito.

I paid for the order using my Amex Gold card, and our total came to $45. Just three days after the purchase, the $10 statement credit posted to my online account.

A screen shot of the $10 monthly dining credit on the Amex Gold card
(Screenshot courtesy of American Express)

Less than a week after that initial meal, we again ordered dinner from Indian-Cafe — this time through Uber Eats. We combined the Uber Cash on the Amex Gold ($10 per month; for up to $120 annually) with the existing Uber benefit from my Platinum Card® from American Express ($15 per month, plus a $20 bonus in December; for a total of up to $200 annually) (for services in the U.S. only). We did cut down on the quantity of food this time, spending just 45 cents out of pocket — even with an extra $2 contribution directly to the restaurant. Note: You must add the Amex Gold card to the Uber app to receive Uber Cash benefit.

Related: Your Amex Gold checklist: Here are 4 things to do when you first get the card

This is the textbook case of a win-win-win situation for all parties involved. American Express cements the Amex Gold’s spot in my wallet; the restaurant gets not only initial revenue but future business from a new, loyal customer; and I can now get delicious Indian food within 5 minutes of my house.

If you live outside a major U.S. city and are concerned that the perks on the Amex Gold card aren’t for you, I’d strongly encourage you to pull up the Grubhub, Seamless and Uber Eats apps to see which local dining establishments appear. (Just be sure to register for the dining credit before making your purchase.)

And if there’s one you’ve never tried before, give it a whirl the next time you’re looking for takeout. You may be surprised at just how easy it is to utilize these benefits — and you may stumble across a terrific restaurant in the process.

Now, if you’ll excuse me — talking about this food has made me hungry, and I’m in the mood for a chicken tikka roll from my new favorite dining spot.

Featured photo by The Points Guy.

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