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4 reasons why this popular dining card is now my top choice as cities reopen

Sept. 25, 2020
7 min read
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In some shape or form, we've lived with the pandemic for more than six months. My home is New York City, a place ravaged by the crisis earlier this year. While the spring and early summer months looked bleak, there is reason to be hopeful as we head into the fall.

Travel is restarting again. Schools are reopening. And daily life from outside my Manhattan window is in (nearly) full swing.

That is it to say, New York is alive, contrary to what some people might say. And as the pace of life picks up, I've remained steadfast in my commitment to one credit card in particular: the American Express® Gold Card.

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It's not blind loyalty to the Amex Gold but, in fact, a testament to how my spending and behavior have shifted these last several months. With less travel out of town, I've adapted to a reopened -- and yes, different -- New York City.

(Photo by The Point Guy)
(Photo by The Point Guy)

Here's why the Amex Gold is my go-to card to earn a plethora of points as the city rallies back. The card has a $250 annual fee (see rates & fees).

Outdoor dining is king

New York has quickly become an enclave of outdoor dining establishments. It's likely here to stay even though indoor dining is returning on Sept. 30, 2020.

Outdoor dining is my new favorite New York City activity. Here's dim sum from Buddah Bodhai in Chinatown. (Photo by Chris Dong/The Points Guy)

Earlier this summer, New York made it easier for restaurants to set up outdoor dining spaces on sidewalks and city streets. And dozens of streets across the boroughs closed to vehicular traffic to allow for more tables. I've greatly appreciated this new era of New York City dining, where for instance, you can now eat your favorite Chinatown dishes outdoors -- all with a side of social distancing.

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Related: These are the best times to visit New York City

These "parklets" have finally made it to New York, extending the sidewalk for outdoor dining. (Photo by Chris Dong/The Points Guy)

Dining outside has made me appreciate New York even more for what it is, no matter if that means your meal might be interrupted by sirens, angry cabbies or a flock of eager pigeons.

Of course, the card that I use for all of this is the Amex Gold. Over the last few months, dining out (including takeout and delivery in the U.S.) has been my top spending bonus category and the 4x Membership Rewards points (worth 8 cents, per TPG valuations) per dollar goes a long way towards redeeming for my next trip.

Related: How I saved 40,000 points and $250 in fees with this ongoing hotel promotion

More one-on-one meetups

While everyone has their own threshold of comfort for personal interaction during the pandemic, I've been having more small, one-on-one meetups with friends and colleagues.

That often means grabbing coffee and going for a walk -- or getting pizza and heading to the park.

Pizza to go from Rubirosa, one of my favorite spots in the city. (Photo by Chris Dong/The Points Guy)

For all of these social interactions, it's centered around -- you guessed it -- food and drink. Small social gatherings outside, whether it be a picnic, have been my method of human activity.

And once again, my Amex Gold reigns supreme for the 4x points you earn on food, coffee and basically anything that you can consume.

Related: A full review of the Amex Gold

Ice cream in South Street Seaport
Van Leeuwen's ice cream in South Street Seaport (Photo by Chris Dong/The Points Guy)

Using my dining credit to pay for lunches

To me, one of the biggest perks of the Amex Gold is up to $120 in annual dining credit, broken down into $10 monthly statement credits. I had previously written about how I maximize that credit to the fullest, using them to "pay" for a couple of meals per month.

Essentially, my (not-so-secret) secret is Grubhub “Perks.” Many restaurants on the platform will offer first-timer promotions or discounts at off-peak hours. Merchants can also include ongoing earned rewards as part of the offering.

I then use those promotions with my up to $10 per month Amex Gold credit to get one or two meals per month. Enrollment required for select benefits.

Related: Promo codes to save you money on food delivery

Still spending more on groceries

In the spring, grocery purchases, including grocery delivery. surged as shoppers were eager to have their essentials shipped straight to their door. Besides a few cards that had limited-time pandemic bonuses, the Amex Gold was my top pick for supermarket shopping.

Use Pay Yourself Back to offset purchases, like groceries. (Photo by Yagi Studio/Getty Images)
(Photo by Yagi Studio/Getty Images)

The Gold earns 4x points at U.S. supermarkets, capped at the first $25,000 you spend per calendar year (then 1x).

While I am grocery shopping less -- and eating out more -- my weekly haul of goods from Trader Joe's still gets me quite a few points. It all adds up, and I appreciate that the Amex Gold will get me 4x on essentially anything food-related that I need in the city.

Related: These are the best cards for groceries

Bottom line

With fewer trips planned during the pandemic, I have been spending more time in my own city. That means taking advantage of what's on offer outside, including eating my way through the five boroughs.

The Amex Gold is the best card for that, in my book. And, best of all, you can have your Amex points and eat it, too.

Related: A guide to navigating COVID card bonuses and benefits

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

Featured image by (Photo by The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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