Who should (and who shouldn’t) get the Amex Gold?

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with the latest information. 

When it comes time to apply for your first (or fifth) premium-ish rewards card, don’t ignore the American Express® Gold Card.

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The Amex Gold has an annual fee of $250 (see rates and fees), which effectively drops to $10 in true out-of-pocket cost when you fully use the monthly statement credits at select restaurants plus the Uber Cash benefit. It has relevant bonus point categories such as dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets, plus it earns valuable American Express Membership Rewards points. And it’s available permanently in the fancy Rose Gold color option, too.

Let’s explore the reasons why the Amex Gold is a great card to consider, along with who should — and who shouldn’t — apply for it.

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Key benefits

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

The annual fee on the Gold Card is $250 (see rates and fees), and it’s not waived for the first year. To compensate, the card offers up to $240 in annual benefits.

This breaks down to up to $10 a month (up to $120 a year) in dining credits at participating locations such as Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, Boxed and some Shake Shack locations. Enrollment is required.

Additionally, you’ll receive up to $120 annually ($10 per month) in Uber Cash, which can be used on Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S. Just make sure to add your Gold Card to your Uber account first. Enrollment is required for select benefits.

The bonus categories are also impressive, earning:

  • 4 points per dollar spent at restaurants  worldwide plus take out and delivery in the U.S.
  • 4 points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in spending per calendar year; then 1 point).
  • 3 points per dollar on flights booked directly with the airline or with American Express Travel.
  • 1 point per dollar everywhere else.

You also earn double points and receive a property credit of up to $100 when you book a prepaid hotel stay of two nights or longer through The Hotel Collection with Amex Travel.

The card is offering a welcome bonus of 60,000 Membership Rewards points (worth $1,200 based on TPG’s latest valuations) after you spend $4,000 in the first six months.

However, you could be targeted for a higher welcome offer through CardMatch or a referral link (offers subject to change at any time).

Related: Full review of the Amex Gold

Who should get the Amex Gold?

People who spend a lot on dining and at U.S. supermarkets

(Photo by Hannah Beier/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Statement credits are a great way to offset a high annual fee on a credit card, but you don’t apply for a new rewards card to break even. You do it to get ahead.

The 4 points per dollar earned on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarket purchases (up to $25,000 per calendar year; then 1 point per dollar for U.S. supermarket purchases) amounts to an 8% return based on TPG’s valuation of Membership Rewards points at 2 cents each. It almost goes without saying that people who spend heavily in these categories will get the most value out of this card.

The Amex Gold is not the first credit card to offer bonus categories on dining at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets, but it might be the most valuable one. Earning 4 Membership Rewards points per dollar beats out the 3 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on dining offered by the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

It’s possible to end up with a slightly higher return on purchases at U.S. supermarkets by using the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express, but the bonus categories on the Gold Card don’t require you to jump through any hoops, such as a minimum number of transactions per month, to earn the highest earn rates. The Amex Gold also doesn’t have any foreign transaction fees if you decide to travel with it (see rates and fees).

The information for the Amex EveryDay Preferred card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

(Photo by Nick Ellis/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Nick Ellis/The Points Guy)

People looking to complete the Amex trifecta

The two biggest weak spots in the Amex Gold’s bonus categories (travel and everyday spending) can be easily fixed by pairing it with two other strong Amex cards: The Platinum Card® from American Express or The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express.

No matter how much money you spend on dining and groceries a year, you’ll likely want to combine multiple cards into the Amex trifecta to maximize your bonus category earning.

If you combine these three cards and use each one for its bonus categories, you’ll end up earning anywhere from 2–5 points per dollar, or 4–10% back, on nearly all of your purchases. And these cards really fit together like puzzle pieces, with the Amex Platinum providing luxury perks, such as lounge access and hotel elite status, that the Amex Gold doesn’t, and the Blue Business Plus elevating your base earning rate on non-bonus spending from 1 point to 2 points per dollar (on the first $50,000 in eligible purchases each calendar year; then 1 point) without costing you a penny in annual fees (see rates and fees).

People who can max out the $240 in annual statement credits

One of the toughest things for many new points enthusiasts to wrap their heads around is the value of a premium credit card. No matter how much personal value you get out of some of the perks, you still end up paying hundreds in fees each year for the right to use them.

(Photo by Shutterstock)

The Amex Gold makes that math much simpler if you can max out both of its monthly benefits.

The up to $120 per year dining credit is broken down into $10 a month. If you eat out or order in from one of the partner dining merchants (Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, Boxed and participating Shake Shack locations), it should be easy to maximize this $10 monthly benefit. Enrollment is required for select benefits.

Related: Your guide to food delivery promo codes

The Uber Cash benefit of up to $120 annually can be used on U.S. rides and U.S. Uber Eats orders. Enrollment is required.

If fully using the Uber Cash benefit and the dining credit sounds like something you can do, you’ll effectively end up paying $10 a year to keep the Amex Gold, making it one of the cheapest cards relative to the benefits it offers. And it should be easy to earn back that last $10 by taking advantage of one or more Amex Offers, where you can earn discounts on purchases you likely would have made already. Enrollment is required for select benefits.

People who are over 5/24 with Chase

Whether you have years of established credit or are new to the points world entirely, at TPG we almost universally recommend that you start by applying for Chase credit cards because of the pesky 5/24 rule. Simply put, this rule means that you will be automatically rejected for most Chase cards if you’ve opened five or more credit cards in the last 24 months.

(Photo by Eden Batki / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eden Batki/The Points Guy)

The question of what you should do after you’ve maxed out your five slots with Chase gets a little trickier, but the Amex Gold could be a great answer. Not only will you immediately begin earning a valuable transferable points currency, but the bonus categories also will help you earn your next award flight or hotel stay that much faster.

Related: How to use Amex Membership Rewards points 

Having access to multiple types of points makes all of your points more valuable, as it gives you more options to pick from for any specific trip you want to take. For certain Star Alliance redemptions, being able to pick between Aeroplan and ANA (by transferring Amex points) or United (transferring Chase points) could end up saving you hundreds of dollars or thousands of miles.

People targeted for a higher welcome offer

The public welcome offer on the Amex Gold is currently 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first six months, but you may be targeted for a higher offer through CardMatch. (Note: The targeted offer is subject to change at any time.) Since Amex has a once-per-lifetime policy with welcome offers, it always makes sense to see if you can get a higher offer.

Who shouldn’t get the Amex Gold?

The Amex Gold has the potential to be a very lucrative card, but there are several groups of people who might struggle to get good value from it.

People who are under 5/24 and want more Chase cards

As mentioned above, Chase’s 5/24 rule is one of the most important considerations in building a starter strategy for credit cards. Five cards can seem like a lot to someone who has never even had one before, but those slots fill quickly and once you’ve used them up, it takes a while to get them back.

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

The Amex Gold is probably going to be around for a while, so there’s no reason to fire off an application for it right now if it means compromising your strategy with Chase.

If you want a card such as the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card in the near term, you might as well lock that in first.

Related: The power of the Chase Trifecta: Sapphire Reserve, Ink Preferred and Freedom Unlimited

People who live outside the U.S.

If you’re outside the U.S., this card is far less valuable, as the 4 points per dollar earned on the Amex Gold at U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 each calendar year; then 1 point) and the up to $120 dining credit and Uber benefit do you no good. The other perks, such as 3 points per dollar on flights and an up to $100 credit when booking through The Hotel Collection, can easily be trumped by other premium rewards cards. Enrollment is required for select benefits.

People who won’t max out the statement credits

The up to $120 Uber Cash benefit on the Amex Gold can be easy for some people to use, but not everyone uses Uber/Uber Eats in the U.S. or has eligible restaurants available in their area. Also, the up to $120 dining credit might be tougher to use if you enjoy cooking at home or don’t eat at any of the partner restaurants. Ordering delivery just to use the free $10 credit might end up costing more than it saves if you wouldn’t otherwise be using Uber Eats. Enrollment is required for select benefits.

(Photo by Poike / Getty Images)
(Photo by Poike/Getty Images)

If that’s the case, this card might cost you more out of pocket than the ultra-premium cards such as the Amex Platinum or the Chase Sapphire Reserve. You’re left footing a larger bill and getting fewer perks in return, as the Amex Gold doesn’t offer any form of lounge access, elite status or even a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit.

People who’ve previously had an Amex Gold

Amex’s rule on bonus eligibility states that if you have previously earned the bonus on a card, you will not be eligible to earn it again. This includes the Premier Rewards Gold Card, the old version of the Amex Gold, as it is still technically the same product despite undergoing a heavy makeover.

There are a couple exceptions to the once-per-lifetime rule: Some people have been able to get approved and receive the welcome bonus again if it’s been seven years or longer since they last had the card, and sometimes Amex sends targeted application offers without the “lifetime” language that states the welcome offer isn’t available to those who have had the card before.

People who want travel coverages and primary rental car insurance

The Amex Gold isn’t one of the best credit cards with travel protections. For example, the rental car insurance you get with the card is secondary, which means it only applies to expenses not covered by other insurances you have. On top of that, the card also doesn’t have any trip delay or trip interruption coverage.

Rental Cars in a lot
(Photo by alexfan32/Shutterstock)

Now, compare that to the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which provides primary rental car insurance when you pay for the entire rental with your card (or with Chase Ultimate Rewards points) and decline the rental company’s collision coverage.

The Sapphire Reserve also has amazing trip delay protection: When you pay for at least part of your fare with the card, you can have eligible expenses (up to $500 per ticket) reimbursed if your travel is delayed for six hours or more or requires an overnight stay. Eligible purchases that can be reimbursed with this coverage include lodging, transportation, toiletries, clothing or food expenses you incurred as a result of the delay.

Bottom line

The Amex Gold is a valuable option for U.S.-based customers who spend heavily on dining and groceries at U.S. supermarkets and are looking for an in-between, “premium-lite” card that offers good returns without a hefty price tag.

If you can max out all the benefits this card has to offer, it might become a cornerstone of your wallet. But if you live or frequently travel outside of the U.S. or can’t max out both of the annual benefits, stop and think about whether this is the best card for you.

Even if you decide against applying for the Amex Gold, make sure to check out TPG’s list of the best travel credit cards to find the right card to meet your travel goals.

Check the CardMatch tool to see if you’re targeted for any special offers. These offers are subject to change at any time.

Additional reporting by Benét J. Wilson.

For rates and fees of the Amex Gold, click here.

For rates and fees of the Blue Business Plus, click here.

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum, click here.

Featured photo by Ryan Patterson/The Points Guy.