The American Express® Gold Card features strong perks and rewards for the traveling foodie. It has a high annual fee, but it’s somewhat offset by the introductory bonus, the dining credits and the array of benefits it offers.
Our Rating: 5 Out of 5 Stars
We give the American Express® Gold Card 5 out of 5 Stars for offering exceptional rewards and value. It’s one of the best travel rewards cards available right now. You’ll need a good credit score to get it, plus it has an annual fee of $250 and a pay-over-time APR.
Why we like it:
- 4X points at restaurants
- 4X points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X)
- 3X points on flights booked through airlines or Amex Travel
- $120 dining credit
- Transferable points to a variety of airline and hotel loyalty programs
- No expiration date on rewards points
- No foreign transaction fees
Why it could be better:
- Relatively high annual fee of $250
- Low introductory bonus
- Limited acceptance – Not everyone accepts American Express, especially for international use
Insider Advice: Getting the Most Out of Your Card
- Pay for select purchases: Use the card for dining out and at grocery stores to earn 4X points per each $1 spent and 3X points for flights. For other categories, use a different card to earn more rewards.
- Use the $120 dining credit: Use the card at participating partners, like Grubhub, Boxed and The Cheesecake Factory to get up to $10 in statement credits each month. This way, you can receive up to $120, but you’ll need to enroll before you get the credits.
- Claim the introductory bonus: If you spend $4,000 on the card in the first 6 months, you get 60,000 bonus points.
- Check your benefits: The American Express® Gold Card offers some valuable benefits that are especially helpful in creating a relaxed vacation. You’ll get a Lowest Hotel Rate Guarantee, Personalized Travel Service and the Global Assist Hotline. You’ll have to enroll for select benefits and terms and limitations apply.
- Redeem with point transfers: Transfer your points to travel loyalty programs at airlines and hotels to get the best value.
- Tap and go: The Gold Card offers contactless technology, allowing you to pay for purchases simply by tapping it on compatible checkout terminals.
With this card, you can earn the equivalent of 0.5% – 8% cash back on your purchases, depending on what you buy.
It’s good for getting lots of points fast if you frequently eat out, cook at home or travel.
One downside is you lose the ability to earn 2X points per $1 spent at gas stations. If you’re looking to earn rewards at the pump, it will probably be worth looking for another rewards card in addition to this one.
When spending at the 4X rates, you could earn a cashback equivalent of up to 8% or potentially more, depending on how you redeem. Purchases of flights at the 3X rate could yield as much as 6% cash back or more.
Your points never expire as long as your account is open, so you can build up points without worrying about losing them.
Depending on how you redeem your points, they can be worth anywhere from 0.5 to 2 cents each and in some cases even more.
Point transfers will offer the best value, allowing you to earn up to 2 cents per point or more, depending on the deal you get.
We recommend holding onto your points until you can find a point transfer for about 2 cents or more. But you can redeem your points in other ways, too:
- Flights, hotels, or car rentals
- Statement credits
- Gift cards
- Shop through partner retailers
- Charitable donations
For travel redemptions, flights will offer the best value at 1 cent per point. Statement credits offer a very poor value at just 0.6 cents per point. Gift cards and certain travel redemptions are slightly better at a maximum of 1 cent per point, but point transfers can offer double that value.
Transferring to loyalty programs
You can transfer your Membership Rewards points to a number of frequent traveler programs that cover several popular airlines and hotel chains.
There’s a fee of $0.0006 per point when transferring to U.S. airlines but no charge for any other transfers. The typical conversion rate is 1:1, although some offers provide higher rates.
Some loyalty programs offer less favorable transfer rates. One example is JetBlue, where 1 Membership Rewards point is only equal to 0.8 JetBlue points.
Note that the transfer rates are subject to change with occasional promotional offers of better-than-usual rates.
Although the American Express® Gold Card allows you to earn rewards quickly, the card offers a lot of value through its benefits, too. Depending on which benefits you use, you could easily get at least $250 in value from the card per year, which is enough to offset the annual fee.
- $120 dining credit: Earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at participating restaurants and merchants, including Grubhub, Seamless and Boxed.
- Up to $120 in Uber Cash: Add the Gold Card to the Uber App to get up to $10 in Uber Cash per month. This is good for U.S. Eats orders and rides only.
- The hotel collection: Get a $100 credit for qualifying charges and room upgrades when available. To qualify, you have to book a hotel stay of at least two nights through American Express Travel or other eligible American Express travel services. This perk is available for every eligible booking.
- Lowest hotel rates guarantee: If you find your room being advertised for a lesser price you can be reimbursed for the difference, as long as you file a claim before check-in. All stays must be booked through American Express Travel to qualify.
- Amex offers: Receive discounts and extra point offers from dozens of participating merchants. Offers are limited and enrollment is required.
- Complimentary ShopRunner membership: Enroll in ShopRunner to get free two-day shipping and returns with select retailers.
- Personalized travel service: Call to get personalized assistance with booking hotels, flights or ground transportation.
- Extended warranty: Eligible manufacturer’s warranties can be extended by up to two years.
- Purchase protection: Eligible purchases made with the card are protected for 120 days against accidental damage or theft. Residents of New York, Indiana, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands only have up to 90 days.
- Global Assist Hotline: If you lose your passport or need help with customs, you can call the Global Assist Hotline for assistance.
- Baggage insurance plan: Get up to $1,250 in coverage for carry-on luggage and up to $500 for checked baggage in case your luggage is lost, stolen, or damaged.
- Car rental loss and damage insurance: Decline the rental company’s own insurance on eligible vehicles and you’ll get coverage against theft and damage.
The Terms and Fees
It’s simple: The Gold Card has an annual fee of $250.
You’ll typically have to pay off your balance in full by the statement due date each month or you’ll get hit with late fees and penalties.
However, purchases over $100 may be eligible for the American Express Pay Over Time program. This perk allows you to spread your payments over several months, but that balance will be subject to interest charges, so we recommend avoiding it.
Eligible charges can be included in a Pay Over Time balance up to the Pay Over Time Limit. Eligible charges include purchases, foreign transaction fees and annual membership fees. The following are ineligible for Pay Over Time: cash advances, including cash and other cash equivalents, certain insurance premiums and any other fees owed to American Express. Pay Over Time Limit applies to the total of the Pay Over Time, cash advance and Plan balances.
All charges not added to a Pay Over Time balance, a monthly payment plan or a cash advance balance must be paid in full each month by the payment due date.
There are no foreign transaction fees, making it a good option for those who travel regularly. However, American Express isn’t widely accepted internationally, so it makes sense to have a Visa or Mastercard that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, too.
The Bottom Line
If you love food and travel, the American Express® Gold Card offers exceptional rewards and benefits.
To decide whether or not it’s right for you, consider how often you travel and eat out. If you make several trips a year or eat out once a week or more, you’ll quickly gain rewards. Most people spend several hundred dollars at grocery stores per month as well, which will give members quite a few points.
Between its rewards and airline and dining credits, plenty of cost-saving features help offset the $250 Rates & Fees annual fee.
What credit scores do I need to qualify for the American Express® Gold Card?
You’ll need good credit scores to apply for the American Express® Gold Card.
That means you’ll want credit scores of 670 – 739 for FICO or 700 – 749 for VantageScore.
If your scores don’t ride in those ranges, you could still have a chance at getting the card. Credit card issuers look at many factors when considering you for credit. But acceptance is not guaranteed, even if your scores meet their minimum requirements.
Qualifications and requirements
- Must be 18 to apply
- Personal information: Name, date of birth, Social Security number, U.S. citizenship status
- Address and contact information: Home address, phone number, email address
- Financial information: Total annual income, source of income
Frequently Asked Questions
What are my rewards points worth?
Your Membership Rewards points are typically worth 0.5 – 2 cents, depending on your redemption method. You could usually see a cash back equivalent of .5% – 8% based on where you shop and how you redeem.
What kind of travel credits do I get with the American Express® Gold Card?
You’ll get a $100 repeatable hotel credit and an annual $120 dining credit.
Alternatives to the American Express Gold Card
Lots of different rewards credit card options are out there and some of them may fit better with your spending and travel habits. If you have good to excellent credit, be sure to compare offers from several cards to find the best one for you. Here is a short list of options:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
- American Express® Gold Card