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American Express Gold Card review: An ideal rewards card for foodies and travelers

The Amex Gold Card offers solid perks for those who love travel and dining. But is it right for you?

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Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

The American Express® Gold Card is a high-value rewards card for consumers who enjoy spending more on dining and travel. Cardholders can benefit from a competitive rewards program as well as a variety of high-end perks that help to offset the cost of the $250 annual fee (see rates and fees).

When Select crunched the numbers and analyzed more than 200 credit cards, we found that consumers could earn substantial rewards with the Amex Gold Card over a five-year period. Unlike other credit cards, this one allows you to carry a balance for certain charges, but not all. (See our methodology for more information on how we chose the best cards.)

Below, Select breaks down the rewards, benefits and fees associated with the American Express® Gold Card to help you decide if it's the right card for you.

American Express Gold Card review

American Express® Gold Card

On the American Express secure site
  • Rewards

    4X Membership Rewards® points at Restaurants (plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.) and at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X), 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com, 1X points on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases within the first 6 months of card membership

  • Annual fee

    $250

  • Intro APR

    Not applicable

  • Regular APR

    17.49% - 24.49% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    N/A

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

See rates and fees and our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • Up to $120 dining credit annually ($10 a month) for purchases made with Grubhub, Goldbelly and other eligible restaurants (after a one-time enrollment)
  • Up to $120 Uber Cash annually ($10 a month) for U.S. Uber Eats orders and U.S. Uber rides (card must be added to Uber app to receive the Uber Cash benefit)
  • Strong rewards program with 4X points earned at restaurants and 3X points earned on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com
  • Baggage insurance plan covers up to $1,250 for carry-on baggage and up to $500 for checked baggage that is damaged, lost or stolen
  • No fee charged on purchases made outside the U.S.

Cons

  • No introductory APR period
  • $250 annual fee
  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $1,074
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $2,969

Rewards totals incorporate the points earned from the welcome bonus

Welcome bonus

The American Express® Gold Card offers a valuable welcome bonus to help get your points balance started. Once you're approved for the card, you'll have the chance to earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 within the first six months of card membership. If you're able to meet the minimum spending requirement, you'll end up with at least 64,000 Membership Rewards® points under your belt.

Amex points are worth anywhere from 0.7 cents per point to 2 cents per point. If you transfer your points to travel partners you can get around the 2 cents per point in value (or more when redeeming for luxury value)— meaning the 60,000 bonus points could be worth around $1,200 in travel.

Keep in mind that to achieve the biggest bang for your buck, the Membership Rewards® points you earn should be redeemed for travel with American Express's airline and hotel partners — other options such as cashing them out or exchanging them for gift cards will net you a much lower redemption value.

Benefits and perks

While the American Express® Gold Card comes with great perks, it also carries a $250 annual fee. It's important to be realistic about whether not you'll utilize all the available benefits — if you don't see yourself using too many of them, a different card may be a better option.

The Amex Gold Card comes with the following features:

  • $120 per year in Uber Cash to use for rides or dining via Uber Eats, broken down into $10 per month
  • $120 in dining credits, broken down into $10 in statement credits per month, when you order food through restaurants and dining delivery services including Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack franchises around the U.S. Enrollment required.
  • Access to special benefits including a $100 experience credit when you book stays at The Hotel Collection properties through American Express Travel, with a minimum two-night stay requirement
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Access to the Amex Global Assist Hotline and Personalized Travel Service
  • *Travel insurance including baggage coverage and rental car loss and damage insurance

If you're someone who enjoys dining out often or uses Uber for either rides or food delivery, you can easily justify the annual fee by taking advantage of the available spending credits.

How to earn and redeem Membership Rewards® points

Earning Amex Membership Rewards® points

By spending with the Amex Gold Card, you'll earn:

  • 4X points per dollar for dining at restaurants worldwide, and delivery and takeout within the U.S.
  • 4X points per dollar for shopping at U.S. supermarkets on up to $25,000 per year, then 1X points
  • 3X points per dollar on flights booked directly via the airline or through Amextravel.com
  • 1X points per dollar for all other purchases

Select calculated how many rewards the average American could earn if they were to optimize the way they used their Amex Gold Card. We worked with the location intelligence firm Esri, which provided us with a sample annual spending budget of $22,126.

The budget included six main categories: groceries ($5,174), gas ($2,218), dining out ($3,675), travel ($2,244), utilities ($4,862) and general purchases ($3,953). Here's a breakdown of how many Membership Rewards® points you could potentially earn in each category, annually:

  • Groceries: 20,696
  • Gas: 2,218
  • Dining out: 14,700
  • Travel: 3,957 (assuming about $570 is spent on flights, which earns 3x points)
  • Utilities: 4,862
  • General purchases: 3,953
  • Total: 50,386

All spending considered, you could end up earning 110,386 Membership Rewards® points within the first year, including the welcome bonus. Over a five-year period, cardholders could potentially earn 311,930 Membership Rewards® points, although the total amount would depend more on an individual's annual spending habits.

If you're trying to rack up a large amount of Membership Rewards® points in a hurry, consider adding other American Express credit cards that also earn them, such as The Platinum Card® from American Express or The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express to your wallet to bump up your balance.

Redeeming Membership Rewards® points

As you continue to earn more Membership Rewards® points, you'll be able to put them toward a wide range of redemption options, including:

  • Transferring them to partner airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Redeeming them for travel through Amextravel.com
  • Covering charges on your American Express credit card
  • Paying with points at checkout with retailers such as Best Buy, Amazon and Dell, among others
  • Redeeming them for gift cards, exclusive access to entertainment experiences and using them for Preferred Seating at certain sports and cultural events
  • Purchasing merchandise directly through American Express

The best option of all of these, however, is the first one since you'll be able to earn a much greater value by transferring your Membership Rewards® points directly to partner airline or hotel loyalty programs, such as the following airline partners:

  • Aer Lingus
  • AeroMexico
  • Air Canada
  • AirFrance/KLM
  • ANA
  • Asia Miles
  • Avianca Life
  • British Airways
  • Delta Air Lines
  • Emirates
  • Etihad
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Iberia
  • JetBlue
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Qantas

Hotel loyalty program partners include the following:

  • Choice Hotels
  • Hilton Honors
  • Marriott Bonvoy

To transfer your points, all you need to do is connect the loyalty program for your airline or hotel program of choice in the American Express customer portal, then transfer over the number of points needed for your booking. Some programs will show your points transfer immediately, while others may take a few days to process the transaction.

While this may seem like a cumbersome process, it's a truly great way to score premium travel perks such as luxury hotel suites and first class flights for free (or almost free) using your points. For example, if you wanted to fly first class from the U.S. to Europe in a luxury Delta One Suite, which typically costs thousands of dollars, you could instead redeem your Membership Rewards® points by transferring them to Delta SkyMiles or even Virgin Atlantic after that since it's one of Delta's partners. You'd only need to transfer 50,000 points for this redemption, which the welcome bonus from the American Express® Gold Card would cover.

Rates and fees

The card has a $250 annual fee. It has no foreign transaction fees. (See rates and fees)

Late payment fees can be up to $40.

Card comparison

The American Express Gold Card is a great choice for consumers who regularly dine out, purchase groceries and travel. But how does it match up against other cards that earn transferable rewards? Select analyzed the cards below and how they fare against the Amex Gold Card.

American Express Gold Card vs. The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express is an excellent option for consumers who spend regularly on travel — especially those who prefer to enjoy luxury benefits along the way.

To start, you can earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 within the first six months of card membership. You'll also be able to select your preferred metal card design, either a classic Platinum Card®, the Platinum x Kehinde Wiley or the Platinum x Julie Mehretu.

As you spend with the card, you'll earn:

  • 5X points per dollar for flights booked directly with the airline or through American Express Travel, up to $500,000 per calendar year
  • 5X points per dollar on prepaid hotels booked via American Express Travel
  • 1X points per dollar for all other eligible purchases

The Amex Platinum card comes with a long list of benefits, including spending credits for travel and major retailers — $200 in credits annually for airline fees charged with the card, $200 for hotels prepaid through American Express Travel, $300 credits annually for Equinox streaming and membership, $100 in statement credits for shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue, $200 in Uber Cash each year ($15 monthly, with a $20 bonus in December), $155 Walmart+ credits and $240 in digital entertainment credits for streaming services such as Audible, Disney+, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM and The New York Times — access to The Global Lounge Collection, $189 to use for CLEAR® membership, access to global dining via Resy, comprehensive travel insurance, complimentary American Express concierge services and complimentary status with certain hotel loyalty programs, among other perks.

There is, however, a steep $695 annual fee (See rates and fees) for this card, so if you're debating between the two, be realistic about which benefits you'll reasonably take advantage of to help offset the cost of the annual fee. If you're a big traveler and want airport lounge access and hotel benefits like elite status with Marriott and Hilton, than the Amex Platinum is probably the better fit.

But, it's also key to analyze your own spending habits. If you tend to spend a ton on travel, the Amex Platinum Card may be the better fit, but if your expenses are comprised mostly of grocery shopping and dining, the Amex Gold Card will likely earn more rewards. Since both cards carry significant annual fees, it's important to determine if your budget can handle the additional cost.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

On the American Express secure site
  • Rewards

    Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year, 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel, 1X points on all other eligible purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after spending $6,000 within 6 months of card membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.

  • Annual fee

    $695

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    See Pay Over Time APR

  • Balance transfer fee

    N/A

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit Needed

    Excellent/Good

See rates and fees, terms apply.

American Express Gold Card vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is constantly rated as one of the best travel credit cards on the market because of its low annual fee (just $95) and valuable points-earning and rewards opportunities. Upon approval, you'll be able to earn a lucrative welcome bonus of 60,000 Ultimate Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 within the first three months of card membership.

As you spend with the card, you'll earn:

  • 5X points per dollar on travel purchased directly through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, not counting hotel stays that qualify for the included $50 Anniversary Hotel Credit
  • 3X points per dollar on dining at restaurants
  • 3X points per dollar on online grocery purchases (not counting Target®, Walmart® or wholesale clubs)
  • 3X points per dollar on certain streaming services
  • 2X points per dollar for additional travel purchases
  • 1X points for all other purchases

The card comes with excellent travel benefits as well, including no foreign transaction fees, extensive travel insurance including rental car coverage and a variety of transfer partners, including the following 14 airline and hotel loyalty programs:

  • Aer Lingus AerClub
  • Air Canada Aeroplan
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Flying Blue (KLM and Air France)
  • Iberia Plus
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
  • United Airlines MileagePlus
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • IHG Rewards Club
  • Marriott Bonvoy
  • World of Hyatt

If you're deciding between both cards, it's important to analyze each issuer's transfer partners for their rewards. For example, if you enjoy flying Southwest Airlines, the Chase Sapphire Preferred may be the better choice for you, but if you prefer Delta Air Lines, the Amex Gold Card would be the better pick.

The Amex Gold Card also has a few spending credits to be mindful of. If you aren't able to use those to help bring down the cost of the annual fee, the Sapphire Preferred may be the better option, as its annual fee is only $95.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

On Chase’s secure site
  • Rewards

    $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X points on dining, 2X points on all other travel purchases, and 1X points on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

  • Annual fee

    $95

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    16.74% - 23.74% variable on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

Terms apply.

 

Who the American Express Gold Card is best for

This card is best for consumers who spend regularly at grocery stores and restaurants but aim to travel with their hard-earned rewards. Cardholders can quickly rack up points with the Gold card's large multipliers and get big value when transferring rewards to Amex's travel partners.

Keep in mind that some perks, such as the included dining and Uber credits, require a bit of planning to fully maximize, but if you know you can visit some of the participating restaurants or order an Uber ride or meal a few times each month, you can make it work.

Bottom line

The American Express® Gold Card provides a range of benefits for consumers who are looking to earn first-class rewards on travel, grocery shopping and dining. And while its $250 annual fee may seem steep, if you take advantage of all the annual statement credits and other credit card benefits, you can easily offset the cost and make it worth your while.

For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, click here.

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.

For rates and fees of The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express, click here.

*Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Car Rental Loss or Damage Coverage is offered through American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.