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Credit Cards

Is the Amex Gold Card's $250 annual fee worth the cost? Here's how to know

The Amex Gold Card is a premium card with a $250 annual fee. Here are the best card member perks that can make it worthwhile.

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Kara Birnbaum / CNBC

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

The American Express® Gold Card is a great card for dining out, ordering takeout and traveling, but it comes with a relatively high $250 annual fee (see rates and fees).

Cardholders can make up the cost with up to $240 in food-related credits every year and a $100 credit on eligible hotel stays, but paying $250 for a card isn't within everyone's budget.

If you order food for pickup or delivery with popular services like Uber Eats, GrubHub and Seamless at least twice a month, you can easily recoup the card's annual fee. Alone, the food-related credits effectively reduce the card's $250 annual fee to $10 — all with little work done on your part — and its additional perks only raise the value.

Ahead, we break down the benefits and credits of the Amex Gold card so you can decide if the $250 annual fee is worthwhile.

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 $6,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

  • Annual fee

    $250

  • Intro APR

    Not applicable

  • 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.

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

Value of Amex Gold card benefits

In order to recoup the American Express® Gold Card's $250 annual fee, you’ll need to take advantage of the card’s benefits. We crunched the numbers to find out how much each perk is estimated to be worth.

  • Up to $120 per year in dining credits: Receive a $10 statement credit every month for purchases made with Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed and participating Shake Shack locations (after a one-time enrollment).
  • Up to $120 per year in Uber Cash: Up to $120 per year ($10 in Uber Cash every month) that you can apply toward U.S. Uber Eats orders and Uber rides in the U.S. Add your Gold card as a payment method in your Uber account to benefit.
  • Up to $100 credit at eligible hotels and resorts: When you stay a minimum of two consecutive nights at a property in The Hotel Collection, you’ll receive a $100 experience credit when you book through American Express Travel. Experience credit varies by property.

On top of that, the card offers a generous rewards program:

  • 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

Based on a sample annual spending budget from the location intelligence firm Esri, the average American would earn just over 50,000 points each year (not including the welcome bonus) for putting all of their expenses on the Amex Gold. Considering Amex points can be worth up to 2 cents apiece when transferred to airlines and hotels, you'd earn up to $1,000 worth of travel rewards each year just for using your card.

Additionally, Amex provides shopping offers, known as Amex Offers, at a variety of retailers, like restaurants, hotels and department stores. These offers let you receive a statement credit or points on eligible spending after you activate. The value varies by card member, so it’s not simple to estimate how much you can earn per year. Combined, however, Amex card members have saved over $931 million since January 2010.

Don't miss: What credit score do you need to qualify for the American Express Gold Card?

Can you waive the Amex Gold's annual fee?

Unfortunately, the American Express® Gold Card's annual fee is something that normally can't be waived. However, if you're considering downgrading or canceling your card, you can try calling Amex customer service and asking for a retention offer. While they may not be able to waive your annual fee, they might offer bonus points or a statement credit to help offset the fee.

Alternatives to the Amex Gold card

If you’re not eager to pay $250 for the Amex Gold card, consider alternative cards, like the American Express® Green Card or the American Express Cash Magnet® Card, that are more affordable. The Green card is geared toward restaurant, transit and travel rewards, while the Cash Magnet is an easy-to-use cash-back card.

And if the annual fee doesn’t bother you, consider The Platinum Card® from American Express, which offers more luxurious travel perks, including up to $200 in annual Uber Cash (benefit renews annually), up to $200 in annual airline fee credits, airport lounge access and much more. Terms apply.

No annual fee and cash back

American Express Cash Magnet® Card

Information about the American Express Cash Magnet® Card has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the cards prior to publication.
  • Rewards

    Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn a $200 statement credit after spending $2,000 in purchases within your first 6 months of card membership.

  • Annual fee

    None

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 15 months on purchases from the date of account opening, N/A for balance transfers

  • Regular APR

    19.24% - 29.99% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    N/A

  • Foreign transaction fee

    2.7%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

See rates and fees, terms apply.

More manageable annual fee

American Express® Green Card

Information about the American Express® Green Card has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.
  • Rewards

    3X Membership Rewards® points on travel, transit purchases, and on eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide (including takeout and delivery in the U.S.) and 1X Membership Rewards® points on all other eligible purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Plus, earn 20% back on eligible travel and transit purchases made during your first 6 months of Card Membership, up to $200 back in the form of a statement credit.

  • Annual fee

    $150

  • Intro APR

    Not applicable

  • Regular APR

    See Pay Over Time APR

  • Balance transfer fee

    N/A

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

  • Terms apply.

Luxury travel benefits

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 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $8,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 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.

Bottom line

If your food delivery bills are high, the American Express® Gold Card can help you save on eligible orders through the dining credit and Uber Cash perk. And if you like to travel, booking a stay at The Hotel Collection can help you save up to $100 per eligible trip.

But if you prefer meal prep over takeout or don't plan on using the Amex Gold's food-centric credits, you would need to maximize the card's rewards program to offset the annual fee. This requires more work and even more spending — approximately $6,250 to $25,000 in purchases is required to offset the annual fee, depending on the categories you spend in.

The quickest way to recoup the Amex Gold's annual fee is to spend a combined $6,250 at U.S. supermarkets and restaurants, assuming a conservative 1 cent per point valuation (though it's easy to get more value than that).

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

For rates and fees of the American Express Cash Magnet, click here

For rates and fees of the Platinum card from American Express, click here

For rates and fees of the American Express Green Card, click here

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.
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