American Express Gold Card Review

Due to its bonus structure, the American Express Gold card is one 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.

The Important Stuff

  • Earn 35,000 bonus after spending $2,000 in three months of being approved for the card.
  • $250 (not waived for the first year)
  • 4x points on US supermarkets and restaurants up to $25,000 per calendar year; 3x on flights booked with airline or amextravel.com; 1x on everything else back on all purchases
  • $100 airline fee credit; monthly cash-back statements with Seamless, Grubhub, etc.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • NerdWallet suggests a needed credit score above 690 to be approved for this card

Who should get this card?

Someone who…

  • has good credit and is looking for a mid-premium travel rewards card.
  • puts a good amount of their spend on groceries from supermarkets and US restaurants.
  • values Amex membership rewards more than Chase Ultimate Rewards.

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 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.

While the card is great, the current public sign-up bonus isn’t. The public offer bonus has been as high as 50,000 points recently, so the current 25,000 public offer isn’t great. It could be worth waiting until a 50,000 sign-up bonus comes back.

The card also comes with several perks that can be useful. The $100 airfare credit has to be on just one airline and is supposed to be for things such as checked bags or inflight purchases, but there are many data points to suggest it also works with Delta, Southwest or American Airlines gift cards. 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 dependent 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 though 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.

Airlines:
  • Aer Lingus AerClub
  • AeroMexico Club Premier (1000 MR = 1,600 Premier Points)
  • Air Canada Aeroplan
  • Flying Blue (KLM & Air France)
  • Alitalia Millemiglia
  • ANA Mileage Club Miles
  • Asia Miles
  • Avianca LifeMiles
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Delta Skymiles
  • El Al Israel Frequent Flyer Club
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Etihad Guest
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Iberia Plus
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
Hotel
  • Choice Hotels
  • Hilton Honors (1000 Membership Rewards = 2,000 HHonors Points)
  • Starwood Preferred Guest/Marriott Rewards

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. 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.

 

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