The American Express Gold Card has kept its place in my wallet from the day I was approved for it, and remains today as my daily driver credit card. Its value comes from the card’s sign up bonus, reward categories (4x back on dining/groceries), and secondary benefits. Here is a comprehensive review of the credit card.
Cashback / Rewards Categories
One of the primary reasons that I have kept the American Express Gold Card past the first year and use it daily, is the rewards / cashback. The AMEX Gold offers 4x on dining and 4x on supermarkets. This means that whether you cook at home or eat at a restaurant, you are earning 4 Membership Rewards points for every $1 you spend. Essentially, you’re getting 4% back on every purchase in these categories. Please keep in mind that while there is no cap to how many points you can earn at restaurants, you can only get 4x on the first $25,000 you use per calendar year on groceries. While everyone’s spending is different, I know for sure that I won’t get close to spending $25,000 at supermarkets, so this limit doesn’t really apply to me.
There is also 3x on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com. This means any flights booked directly with, an airline like through delta.com, you can get the 3x. However, booking on Expedia will not get you the 3x multiplier. This category isn’t as broad as the Chase Sapphire Reserve‘s travel category, which includes pretty much anything you can consider as travel (flights, hotels, taxis, Uber, etc.). I generally will use my Chase Sapphire Reserve or my American Express Platinum Card (5x when booked directly with an airline) when booking a flight. If you do not have an alternative card with extra cashback / rewards on flights, the AMEX Gold is a solid option.
50,000 Point Sign-up Bonus
The current public sign-up bonus offer is 50,000 Membership Rewards points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. To get the 50k point offer, just go to the American Express website in Incognito mode on your Internet browser.
These points can be redeemed for gift cards and statement credit, but both are incredibly weak redemptions. For the best value, I would recommend transferring these points to a hotel or airline transfer partner. I will get to this in the next section.
If you’re worried about the $4,000 spend requirement in order to obtain the bonus, I completely understand. If you do not spend this much, please do not spend extra money just to obtain the bonus. However, there are ways to adjust your normal routine for help meeting this amount. For useful tips on meeting the minimum spend requirement on the American Express Gold Card, please refer to our previous post: How to Meet the Credit Card Minimum Spend Requirement.
American Express Membership Rewards (MR) points are great to use on travel. You can redeem your points for flights and hotels directly with Amex Travel on their website. However, you can usually get a much better value by transferring your points to one of AMEX’s 20 or so airline and hotel transfer partners. With most of these partners, you can convert your AMEX points to airline or hotel currency at a 1:1 ratio. For instance, transferring 50,000 AMEX MR points to transfer partner, All Nippon Airways (ANA) would yield you 50,000 ANA miles.
You can also redeem your AMEX points for statement credit, but as mentioned before, this is a weak redemption. At a lousy 0.6 cents per point, that means that 50,000 points would give you $300 statement credit. $300 may sound good, but you can get way more value out of those points by transferring to an airline.
For instance, a First Class one-way flight from New York to Frankfurt on Singapore Airlines would be $5,700 if booked today in cash. However, you can get the same flight for 76,000 points. If you had converted that 76,000 to statement credit, it would only be worth $456, instead of the $5,700 flight you could use it for.
$120 Dining Credit
The $120 Dining Credit that the American Express Gold Card offers is another reason why I hold onto this card. It is important to note that the dining credit is not a flat $120 you can use anywhere or all at once. Rather, it is a credit for $10 every month to be used at select merchants.
These merchants are:
-The Cheesecake Factory
-Ruth’s Chris Steak House
-Participating Shake Shack locations
If you use your AMEX Gold at any of these places, you will receive up to $10 back in statement credits each month. This will happen within a few days after your purchase posts. If you spend $15 at The Cheesecake Factory, for instance, you will receive a $10 credit back on your account. Please note that these credits do not stack or carry over per month. They expire at the start of every new month, so be sure to use them if you have a need for them. This is where I will note that this is only a benefit that should weigh on your decision if you buy from any of these places. I work in Midtown in New York, so I know I’ll use the Seamless credit each month.
$100 Airline Credit Fee
This benefit mainly impacts frequent flyers. The $100 credit can be spent on baggage fees, in-flight purchases, and other incidental fees (phone reservation fees, itinerary change fees, etc). You cannot use the $100 credit to buy flights. This makes this credit way more inflexible than the Chase Sapphire Reserve‘s $300 travel credit, which can be used for pretty much anything travel related, as mentioned above.
While officially, the $100 airline credit can only be used for incidental fees, there is a well-known trick that allows you to buy airline gift cards with it. For instance, buying two $50 Delta E-Gift Cards has been known to trigger the $100 fee credit reimbursement. Also, because this $100 annual credit resets every calendar year, you get another $100 credit on January 1. Therefore, within your first 12 months as an American Express Platinum Cardholder, you’ll get $200 in airline fee credit. If you use the gift card trick, that is $200 in airline gift cards your first year.
Keep in mind that as time passes, AMEX has been fixing the clerical errors that lead to this trick working. Check online to see recent success stories of people doing this, as only certain airline gift cards (and certain gift card amounts) will trigger this bonus. Do not do this until you confirm that it still works.
The card also has many purchase protections that will reimburse you for damaged or stolen goods within a certain time frame after purchase. Here are the terms for purchase protection, as outlined by American Express:
Purchase Protection can help protect your purchases for up to 120 days* from the date of purchase if it is stolen or accidentally damaged. The coverage is limited up to $1,000 per occurrence, up to $50,000 per Card Member account per calendar year.americanexpress.com
There is also no foreign transaction fees, but this is becoming a more common trend with many credit cards.
Overall, this is a fantastic card to have for daily use. While there may be a $250 annual fee, with the sign-up bonus, reward earning potential, dining/airline credits, and other benefits, it is worth it for me. From the sign up bonus alone, you can earn back $300 bare minimum in cash back, or double or higher if you redeem them for flights.
Even at the bare minimum of $300, if you maximize your dining credits and airline credits, thats a total value of $520 the first year. This means after the fee, you’re netting $220.
Please feel free to leave questions you may have in the comments section. If you feel that this was in any way helpful and would like to help us out too, please feel free to use our referral link to apply for this card. Please note that to maximize your personal benefit, only use our link if the offer is for at least 50,000 welcome points.