NOTE- This article has been updated to reflect the changes to the Gold Card that took effect on October 4, 2018.
Many of the card benefits have stayed the same since the update. The major things that have changed are the points earning structure, the addition of a $120 dining credit, and the fact that the Gold Card is now a metal card. Further explanation can be found below.
The Amex Gold Card is a solid charge card with some great benefits. IMPORTANT – if you are not familiar, a charge card is different from a credit card. A charge card’s balance must be paid off in full every month. You cannot carry a balance on a charge card like you can on credit cards. It is an excellent way to build credit, especially if you don’t trust yourself with a large credit limit. Amex will tell you there is no limit on your charge card, but depending on your credit and income, they will limit certain large transactions. You can check the amount of a large purchase online and it will tell you beforehand if the purchase would be approved.
Along with an airline fee credit and some great point benefits you get access to some of the American Express features offered to Platinum Card holders for a fraction of the annual fee. With all that said, is the Gold Card right for you? Stick with me and by the end of the article you should be able to make the call yourself.
Keep in mind- intro/welcome bonus offers can change almost daily. It also depends on if you’re already and Amex customer, and what other cards you hold. Typically, the welcome bonus for this card floats around 25,000 American Express MR (Membership Rewards) points for $2,000 of spend in the first three months of card ownership. . For me, I happened to get a great offer of 50,000 MR points for $2,000 spend in the first three months. Currently, this offer is not open to the public, but can be achieved using a referral link like the one I provided above. With calculated value of MR points floating around 1.6 cents per point, that gives a great value of about $800. As you can see with that welcome offer alone, the annual fee is paid for several years to come.
Note- With the changes that took effect, the annual fee did increase from $195 to $250 per year. This is effective immediately for new customers. For existing customers, this fee will not take effect until 2019-2020 depending on when you applied for the (old) PRG card.
This card earns MR points in the following manner: 3X points on flights booked directly with an airline, 4X points on US supermarkets and US restaurants. No other cards come close to this value in either of those categories, never mind both of them together! It is worth noting that with this card you are restricted to US merchants, whereas other comparable cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred offer similar points earnings without the US restriction. You also get 2X points for anything booked directly through Amex Travel. This includes offerings through the Hotel Collection- this collection offers benefits like a $75 credit for dining, spa and resort activities when you stay at a participating hotel for at least 2 nights.
Note- The previous 2X at gas stations has been eliminated with the updates. New applicants will earn 1X at gas stations. Existing cardholders will enjoy this benefit until some time in 2020 as per an American Express representative I recently spoke to.
Bonus– An often overlooked and underused perk included on almost all Amex cards is the “American Express Offers” section in your online portal. This is a place where you can add additional discounts or multiplied points earnings to each of your cards. An example of a great one I just made use of was 2,000 bonus points for a $50 Amazon purchase. Bearing in mind you would typically only earn 50 MR points for such a purchase, I hopped on that offer instantly. It is important to remember when adding these offers that it only adds it to the card you have selected. So if you have multiple cards, be sure you’re adding it to the one you intend to make the purchase with. Lastly, when it comes to these offers- if you think you may use it, just add it to your card. These offers are often limited to a certain number, and once they’re gone, they’re gone.
Perks worth noting
NEW) $120 Dining Credit- Along with updated points earning, there is a new $120 per year dining credit added to the Gold Card. This credit will reimburse you ($10 per month for $120 total per year) for purchases made at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, The Cheesecake Factory, GrubHub Seamless, and participating Shake Shack locations. This is a great way to further justify the slightly higher annual fee.
1) Fee Credit – The first perk worth noting here is the annual airline fee credit of $100. This is a credit that can be used for incidental airline fees such as checked bags and even in-flight purchases for food, Wifi etc. You get $100 per year for each year of card ownership. If you are a frequent traveler, or even once per year, this is an easy way to take your effective annual fee down from $250 to $150. This is a great perk on this level of card, as it comes reasonably close to the $200 credit offered by the Platinum Card which carries a hefty $550 annual fee.
NOTE- you must select ONE airline for this perk, and this can only be changed once per year. So make sure to think it over before making your selection.
2) Purchase Protection and Extended Warranty – The purchase protection feature through American Express is overwhelmingly underutilized. This is a great feature that protects eligible items that are lost, stolen or damaged within 90 days of purchasing them on your PRG card. In these unfortunate situations, you simply call Amex to file the claim, send in supporting documentation, wait for your claim to be reviewed, and assuming it is approved- you are reimbursed for the full purchase price up to $10,000. This feature is further complimented by the extended warranty. In the event you are outside of the 90 days of protection, purchasing eligible items with your PRG card will extend the manufacturer’s warranty by an additional 12 months, putting your mind at ease a little bit further.
3) Premium Roadside Assistance – This is a great feature to have that can get you out of some sticky situations. If you are stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire, needing a jump, start, or any other minor services, you simply call the American Express Roadside Assistance Hotline, and a representative will contact a third party for you to arrange assistance. Amex will then reimburse you for those services. This works for eligible expense up to 4 times per year.
4) Complimentary Shoprunner Membership – American Express has partnered with Shoprunner, which is a company that gives you free 2-day shipping for a variety of online businesses. This is a membership that usually charges a fee, but is free with your American Express card. Although you won’t see every store you may want on the list, it is nice to have that option when you happen to be making a purchase at one of the participating merchants.
5) Insurance – The Gold card also comes with several types of insurance. There are: baggage insurance, car rental insurance, and travel accident insurance.
Baggage insurance covers loss up to $1,250 for carry-ons and $500 per checked bag. Although that may not cover everything, it is a great reassurance. It is worth noting that you may qualify for this credit and end up getting your items back in the end.
Car rental insurance covers you when a car rental is lost or stolen. This perk is a little bit limited when it comes to saying exactly what will be covered. It basically states that in the event a rental that was charged FULLY to your card is damaged or stolen, you must submit supporting documentation and “eligible” expenses may be reimbursed. It does not take the place of primary rental car insurance, but it definitely does not hurt.
Lastly, travel accident insurance is a service that covers the grave event of your death on a trip that was booked using your Gold card. This provides an unlisted amount of compensation to your loved ones in the event of your unexpected passing while abroad
Does the Gold Card make sense for you?
In my opinion, this card makes complete sense to anyone that flies semi-annually and spends a decent amount of money dining out or at the grocery store. It is easy to get positive expected value with this card even with the slightly intimidating $250 annual fee.
The Amex Gold Card is a great card for everyday use considering the earning categories and the protections given with each purchase. It gives you a taste of what having a premium charge card like the Platinum is like, without that substantial $550 fee. American Express has some of the best customer service out there, and I have had nothing but great experiences with my several cards I have through them.
The updates make this an extremely competitive card and seem to overshadow any and all relevant competing cards. Amex MR points are some of the highest valued points out there, and to be earning 4X on both dining and supermarket spend is unrivaled.
Note- I received no compensation from American Express. I would receive a small bonus (In MR points) for any approved cards through the link in the beginning of the article. Any support is much appreciated. Thanks for reading!