American Express Gold Card: Earn Membership Rewards Fast

by John Terry | Last Updated:  October 2, 2019

Due to its bonus structure, the American Express Gold Card is one of the more popular American Express Cards on the market, and it’s also a great card for someone getting into the points and miles game.

Because the American Express Gold Card earns 4x at worldwide restaurants and 4x at grocery stores, it’s easy to rack up a lot of points very quickly on everyday expenses.

The Important Stuff

Who should get this card?

Someone who…

The Details

Analysis

While this card comes with a $250 annual fee, it provides great bonuses on everyday spending. It comes with 4x points on US supermarket purchases as well as worldwide restaurants. Additionally, you’ll receive 3x on airfare purchases with the airline or amextravel.com and 1x on everything else. It’s a great card for starters – it’s on our list of the best starter credit cards to earn points and miles.

The card also comes with several perks that can be useful. While the $100 airfare credit used to be better when you could buy Southwest or Delta gift cards, it’s still not horrible.

The cardholder has to select a single airline for the $100 airfare credit each calendar year. It can be used on things like checked bags or inflight purchases. The possible airlines are:

The credit can be used on the following items:

Assuming you’re planning on spending $100 on one of those airlines, it theoretically knocks down the annual fee by $100.

The $10 monthly restaurant credit is fine – probably better depending on where you live. It comes in the form of a statement credit and will work at Seamless, Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse or Shake Shack. It’s great if you frequent those sites/restaurants, and again would knock down the annual fee even more.

It also comes with a lesser-known perk, but one that could be valuable. If you book a hotel through The Hotel Collection with American Express Travel, stay at least two nights, you will receive a $75 hotel credit as well as a room upgrade. Probably not applicable to many, but a fun perk. It also comes with purchase protection and lost baggage benefits to other premium cards.

How to earn Membership Rewards

Everyday Spend

The earning potential through everyday spend is perhaps the best thing about the American Express Gold Card. You can earn 4x the points at US restaurants and supermarkets, 3x on airfare and 1x on everything else. Food is typically a large amount of someone’s spend – and this captures most of your food spend at a high bonus rate. You can earn even more Membership Rewards when you pair this card with either the American Express Platinum card (5x points on airfare). It’s our favorite card for US supermarket and restaurant purchases.

Amex Offers

We wrote an entire article specifically about finding value in Amex Offers. But, in short, they allow for bonus points or cash back. This can be not only an easy way to earn thousands of bonus points for making purchases you were already going to make but also a good way to recoup some of the annual fee through statement credits.

Ways to redeem Membership Rewards

Travel Partners

The transfer partners for Membership Rewards do have some overlap with Chase. In general, Chase has better hotel transfer partners while American Express has better airline partners. There are 18 airline transfer partners and three hotel partners. Regardless, having a transferable points card makes redeeming much easier.

One of the best redemptions using American Express Membership Rewards is for an around the world trip in business class.

[table id=4 /]

AmexTravel.com

When you log in to your American Express account on AmexTravel.com, you can use some or all of your points to book a flight, hotel, cruise or vacation package. It’s very similar to redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards through the Chase Travel Portal.

The only thing to know is that in order to use points, you must you at least 5,000 of them.

Final Thoughts

The American Express Gold Card is a mid-level premium card – it has some perks and good bonus categories, but also isn’t a true premium level card like the American Express Platinum card of a Chase Sapphire Reserve card. It doubles as a great card that everyday people can earn lots of points thanks to the bonus categories of grocery stores and restaurants.

If you’re not quite ready for a card that carries a $250 annual fee, a good conservative alternative would be the American Express Everyday Preferred Card. Similarly, if you don’t eat out, don’t get this card, get the American Express Preferred card because of the higher grocery bonus.