Spend on this, not that: When you should (or shouldn’t) use the Amex Gold Card

Sep 28, 2021

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What one cardholder thinks is a high annual fee, another might consider to be quite low. At TPG, we consider the American Express® Gold Card to be right down the middle.

At $250 per year (see rates and fees), it’s certainly not an inexpensive product to carry in your wallet. But it also doesn’t quite reach the territory of $695-per-year cards such as The Platinum Card® from American Express (see rates and fees).

The Amex Gold is in that Goldilocks sweet spot — just right — especially when you consider that it offers up to $240 in annual statement credits that can help offset its annual fee. But to truly maximize the card, you should use it to maximize your earning on certain purchases, but leave it in your wallet for others.

In this guide, we’ll highlight strategies that can help you earn thousands of bonus points each year by knowing when you should, and when you shouldn’t, use the Amex Gold Card.

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In This Post

Overview of the Amex Gold benefits

Before we get into strategies, let’s highlight some of the key benefits and earning rates for the Amex Gold.

  • Earning rates
    • 4x points at restaurants
    • 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 on other eligible purchases
  • Up to $120 annual dining statement credit
    • Earn up to $10 in statement credits per month when you pay with the Amex Gold Card at participating dining partners, including Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, GoldbellyWine.com, Milk Bar, and select Shake Shack locations.
  • Up to $120 in annual Uber Cash
    • Get up to $10 in Uber Cash monthly for Uber Eats and Uber rides in the U.S. You must add the card to the Uber app to receive Uber Cash benefit. This perk is a monthly statement credit similar to the Uber Cash on The Platinum Card® from American Express. Enrollment is required.
  • Up to $100 in hotel credits
    • Cardmembers who use their card to book a stay of two nights or more through Amex’s The Hotel Collection get a $100 onsite credit for qualifying activities. Depending on the property, this could include dining, spa treatments, or other activities.
  • No foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees).
    • Avoiding foreign transaction fees makes this card a great choice to carry abroad and make purchases when traveling internationally.
  • Baggage insurance.
    • If your luggage is lost, stolen or damaged when you’re traveling with a common carrier and you purchased your ticket with the Amex Gold, you’ll be eligible for up to $1,250 in coverage for carry-on baggage and up to $500 for checked baggage.
  • Trip delay reimbursement:
    • If you purchase your trip with the card and your travel is delayed more than 12 hours because of a covered reason, you’ll be eligible for reimbursement of up to $300 for eligible expenses, such as meals, lodging and toiletries. You are allowed up to two claims per account every 12 months.
  • Rental car insurance.
    • Use your card to pay for an entire car rental and decline the agency’s collision damage waiver, and you will receive secondary coverage for damage or theft. There are exclusions to what types of rentals are covered, which regions or territories coverage is available in, and other conditions to be aware of, so be sure to read your benefits guide.

Added together, these perks amount to a good deal of value year in and year out and make the Amex Gold Card a great choice in general for travelers. Now, let’s dive into some more details about truly maximizing the card.

Enrollment required for select benefits.

When you should use the Amex Gold

Seabird Shelter Club restaurant indoor seating
(Photo by Ariana Arghandewal/The Points Guy)

For starters, new Amex Gold cardmembers can earn a welcome bonus of 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first six months of card membership. According to TPG valuations, that’s worth up to $1,200.

While earning that hefty bonus of 60,000 points is a fantastic way to get started, you’ll also want to be able to maximize your earnings for the long haul. Here are the types of purchases where you should use the Amex Gold.

Use the Amex Gold Card for dining

The Amex Gold isn’t the only card to offer a bonus category on dining, but it might just be one of the most valuable. Cardmembers earn 4 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent, which equates to an 8% return on spending, according to the latest TPG valuation. For that reason, it tops our list for best cards for dining out.

As part of the restaurant category, cardmembers can earn 4 points per dollar on takeout and delivery purchases in the U.S., both directly at restaurants and with services such as Grubhub and Uber Eats.

When it comes to the $120 annual dining statement credit, cardmembers can earn up to $10 per month when paying with the Amex Gold Card at participating dining partners (listed above).

Finally, with up to $120 in annual Uber Cash, you can not only use that on U.S. Uber rides, but also on Uber Eats too. so be sure to link your Amex Gold Card to your Uber account.

Enrollment required.

Use the Amex Gold Card for groceries

(Photo by d3sign/Getty Images)

Food is the name of the game with the Amex Gold Card. That’s because, besides restaurants, the card also earns 4 points per dollar spent at U.S. supermarkets on up to $25,000 in purchases per calendar year (it earns 1 point per dollar thereafter). Therefore, you should definitely use the card for your next supermarket run, as it tops our list of the best cards for groceries.

It is 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 — it earns 3 points per dollar at U.S. grocery stores on up to $6,000 in purchases per year, and every billing cycle you make 30 or more transactions with the card, you earn a 50% bonus, so your potential comes to 4.5 points per dollar.

That said, the bonus categories on the Amex 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, and the annual cap for U.S. grocery stores is much higher than that with the Amex EveryDay Preferred.

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.

Use the Amex Gold Card to pay for flights

While not the best overall card for flights out there, the Amex Gold Card should definitely be on your radar since its 3-point-per-dollar earning rate on flights booked directly through the airline or on Amex Travel, is substantial.

Just keep in mind, if you have the Amex Platinum Card, for instance, you could earn 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar on flights booked through Amex Travel or directly with airlines, on up to $500,000 of such purchases per calendar year.

When you shouldn’t use the Amex Gold

While the Amex Gold Card is great to use in the cases above, it’s not the best rewards card for all purposes. Here are two major examples where you’ll want to opt for a different card.

Don’t use the Amex Gold Card for everyday spending

The Amex Gold earns a mere 1 point per dollar on spending outside its specific bonus categories. There are other cards, issued by Amex as well as other banks, that can improve upon that.

For instance, if you have a business, The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express might be a better option. It has no annual fee (see rates and fees), but earns 2 points per dollar on the first $50,000 spent in purchases each year (then 1 point per dollar after that).

Alternatively, a card such as the Citi® Double Cash Card earns 1% back when you make a purchase and another 1% when you pay your statement. This means you can effectively earn 2% back.

In this specific instance, if you also have the Citi Premier® Card or Citi Prestige® Card, you can combine your points into fully transferable ThankYou points. Based on TPG’s valuation of Citi ThankYou points at 1.7 cents each, this means you can earn an effective 3.4% return when you buy and pay with your Citi Double Cash Card.

The information for the Citi Prestige 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.

Don’t use the card for non-flight travel, such as hotels or rental cards

(Photo by Chris Dong/The Points Guy)

While the Amex Gold earns 3x on flights booked directly with an airline or through Amex Travel, you don’t earn such a bonus on other travel expenses, and it doesn’t offer the same travel protections as some other cards out there. Therefore, it makes more sense to use an alternative card for your non-flight bookings.

One of the most popular travel rewards card on the market is the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, with a $95 annual fee. It is currently offering 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. On the travel front, these are the current earning rates:

In addition, you’ll also receive the following bonuses:

  • 3 points per dollar on dining (up from 2x)
  • 3 points per dollar on select streaming services
  • 3 points per dollar on online groceries (excludes Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs)

Bottom line

The Amex Gold Card is one of the most rewarding travel cards on the market. But to truly maximize the Amex Gold Card’s earnings, you’ll have to be a little selective about where you’re using it.

Between the dining and Uber statement credits, the card’s annual fee already effectively drops to just $10 a year. Add in the various bonus categories and you’ll be using the card to maximize earnings like a pro in no time.

Apply here for the American Express® Gold Card with a 60,000-point welcome bonus.

Featured photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy.

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

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum, click here.

For rated and fees of the Blue Business Plus Amex Card, click here

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $80 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
17.24%-26.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

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