With its bonus points coming from purchases at restaurants, grocery stores, and for travel, this is a rewards card meant for people who like to eat and roam. That’s because cardholders are well-advised to spend the points they earn by eating on a wide array of travel: airfare, cruises, hotels, and lots of other travel experiences. These generally have the best redemption value. The Gold Card offers plenty of travel perks, too.
No foreign transaction fee
Lots of travel credits and perks
Lots of rewards redemption options
Very high rewards earnings rate on food and airfare purchases
High annual fee
Limited financing options
Narrow rewards categories
- No foreign transaction fee: This is a must-have on travel cards.
- Lots of travel credits and perks: These benefits solidify the Gold Card as a good choice for travelers who want more than points in exchange for their frequent travel purchases.
- Lots of rewards redemption options: Membership Rewards is a flexible program. Even though points values differ by redemption option, it's still nice to have choices.
- Very high rewards earnings rate on food and airfare purchases: The Gold Card has some of the best rewards rates for foodies—especially if they love to travel.
- High annual fee: This card offers a lot of value, but at a steep price. You can get the same rewards earnings rates for no annual fee with the Uber Visa, for example.
- Limited financing options: The Gold Card is a charge card, meaning cardholders are expected to pay their balances in full every month. Amex will allow cardholders to carry a balance from month to month on specific purchases over $100.
- Narrow rewards categories: American Express recently expanded the Gold's restaurants category to include dining purchases worldwide, but other limits remain. If airfare isn't the main source of your travel spending, you can get better travel rewards elsewhere.
American Express Gold Card’s Welcome Offer
Unlike many cards with similar rewards rates, the American Express Gold Card offers a welcome offer—and a good one. You get 35,000 Membership Rewards points if you spend at least $4,000 within the first three months of opening the account. That's a $420 value, based on our estimates that each point is worth 1.20 cents each. (More on this in the Redeeming Rewards section.)
To offer a bit of flexibility during the pandemic, you may have more time to earn your new cardholder bonus, if you haven’t already earned it. For more information, see “Credit Card Deals Help You Earn and Use Travel Benefits During COVID-19”.
Earning Points & Rewards
Every dollar you spend on purchases with this card will earn at least 1 American Express Membership Rewards point. However, you get more points for certain purchases:
- 4 points per $1 spent at restaurants worldwide
- 4 points per $1 spent at U.S. supermarkets, on up to $25,000 spent per year
- 3 points per $1 spent on airfare purchases directly from airlines or through American Express Travel
Because credit card networks use the IRS’ Merchant Category Code (MCC) system to classify purchases, some stores where you might buy groceries (Target, for example, or Costco) are not classified as supermarkets or grocery stores, and grocery purchases there may not earn the 3 point bonus. The same is true for restaurants that are located within other establishments like cruise ships or hotels. Those buys may only earn points at the regular, 1 point per $1 spent, rate.
The bonus for grocery store purchases is capped at the first $25,000 spent on groceries annually.
The value of your Membership Rewards points varies depending on how you use them:
- Book travel: 0.5 cents to 1 cent, depending on type of travel and destination
- Redeem for gift cards: Up to 1 cent
- Pay with points at checkout: 0.5 cents to 1 cent, depending on retailer
- Cover your card charges with a statement credit: 0.6 cents
- Shop the Amex shopping portal: 0.5 cents
Another option is to transfer your points to one of 22 airline or hotel rewards travel partners. In most cases, you can transfer your points at a one-for-one ratio, which means you'll avail yourself of whatever value the other program offers. Factoring in these transfer options, we value Membership Rewards points at 1.20 cents each, on average, when used for travel.
To see how the American Express Gold Card’s point stack up, check out our in-depth analysis of what credit card points are worth.
If you transfer your points, you’ll pay an “excise tax offset fee” of 0.06 cents per point, up to a maximum of $99 per transfer.
How to Get the Most Out Of This Card
Make sure you spend at least $4,000 on this card within the first three months so you earn the 35,000-point welcome offer—this is simply too good to pass up. After that, take a few minutes to enroll in the benefit programs that require sign-ups (more on those below), because taking advantage of those almost make up for the annual fee.
Finally, keep the card in your wallet and use it when you’re at the supermarket or dining out, since this is how you’ll earn the most points.
American Express Gold Card’s Excellent Perks
- $100 annual airline fee reimbursement: Enroll in this benefit to get reimbursed for airline fees on the carrier of your choice. You can get up to $100 back in statement credits each year when you use the card to pay fees for checked bags, in-flight drinks and meals, and in-flight internet (but not for the cost of a ticket or seat upgrades), on your chosen airline.
- Coverage for lost luggage: This plan will reimburse you for up to $1,250 per person on your reservation and $250 for “high-risk equipment” like cameras or sporting equipment.
- Travel accident insurance: If you, your spouse, or your children become permanently disabled or die on a trip paid for with this card, you or your beneficiaries can receive up to $250,000 as compensation.
American Express Gold Card’s Other Features
The Gold Card has several benefits you might like if you're a big traveler, diner, or shopper:
- ShopRunner membership
- Up to $10 per month reimbursed for purchases at participating restaurants and food vendors (enrollment required)
- Access to ticket presales and exclusive events for Amex cardholders
- Travel assistance hotlines for planning and emergency purposes
- Lowest hotel rate guarantee
- Premium roadside assistance, paid for by Amex on up to four covered emergencies per year
- Purchase return protection
- Extra benefits when you use your American Express to put down at least $2,000 on a car purchase
- Supplemental car insurance when you waive coverage from a rental car company
- Extended warranties
- Lowest advertised price match
These benefits are typical of travel rewards cards with annual fees.
American Express consistently gets good marks for its customer service. In fact, according to a 2019 J.D. Power report, it ranked second only to Discover in terms of customer satisfaction. It scored 838 (out of 1,000), well above the industry average of 806.
The company provides 24/7 customer support via phone and chat. Aside from that, you can manage your account through the American Express app, which can also show you any special perks or benefits available near your current location.
American Express offers basic, industry-standard security features. Amex also offers a free credit monitoring service called MyCredit Guide, which is available to anyone, even non-cardholders. It provides a VantageScore 3.0 credit score and other credit watching tools. Cardholders can also check their FICO Score 8 through their account page online or via the app.
American Express Gold Card’s Fees
The Gold Card’s fees are in line with industry standards.