Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information and offers.
When it comes time to apply for your first (or fifth) premium-ish rewards card, don’t ignore the American Express® Gold Card.
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 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.
Key Amex Gold benefits
The Gold Card’s $250 annual fee (see rates and fees) might seem steep at first, but it’s mostly offset if can take advantage of the up to $240 in annual credits the card offers.
Cardholders get up to $10 monthly (up to $120 a year) in dining credits at participating locations such as Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar, and select 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 Amex Gold also has impressive earning categories:
- 4 points per dollar 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 per dollar).
- 3 points per dollar on flights booked directly with the airline or through American Express Travel.
- 1 point per dollar everywhere else.
Currently, the Amex Gold 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 of card membership.
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
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.
People looking to complete the Amex trifecta
While the Amex Gold is strong on its own, it’s even better as a part of the Amex trifecta, alongside The Platinum Card® from American Express or The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express.
Since the Amex Platinum earns 5 points per dollar on flights and the Blue Business Plus earns 2 points per dollar on all other purchases (on the first $50,000 in eligible purchases each calendar year; then 1 point), combining these cards allows you to earn anywhere from 2-5 points per dollar on nearly all of your purchases.
Related: The best Amex card combo
People who can maximize the $240 in annual statement credits
One of the greatest ways the Amex Gold adds value is through its dining and Uber credits. If you’re able to max them out, you’ll bring the card’s effective annual fee down to just $10.
The up to $120 per year dining credit is broken down into $10 monthly. If you eat out or order in from one of the partner dining merchants (Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations), you should maximize this $10 monthly benefit easily. Enrollment is required for select benefits.
Additionally, you’ll get $10 deposited to your Uber account monthly to use on U.S. rides and U.S. Uber Eats orders. Enrollment is required.
If you can maximize these credits, you’ll easily justify the Amex Gold’s annual fee.
People who are over 5/24 with Chase
At TPG, we almost universally recommend that you prioritize applying for Chase credit cards because of the pesky 5/24 rule. Simply put, this rule means you will be automatically rejected for most Chase cards if you’ve opened five or more credit cards in the last 24 months.
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 will also help you earn your next award flight or hotel stay much faster.
People targeted for a great 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 of account opening, 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.
Related: How to use the CardMatch tool
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 had one before, but those slots fill quickly, and once you’ve used them up, it takes a while to get them back.
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.
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.
Related: Earning points and miles as an expat
People who won’t max out the statement credits
The up to $120 Uber Cash benefit and dining credits on the Amex Gold can be easy for many people to use, but no card perk is a great fit for everyone. Enrollment is required for select benefits.
If you’ll end up spending money you otherwise wouldn’t in order to take advantage of the Uber and dining benefits, you’re better off getting a card that comes with benefits you’ll more naturally use.
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. If you’ve had the card before, you’ll likely want to get a different card that allows you to earn a welcome bonus.
People who want more comprehensive travel protections
The Amex Gold isn’t among 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.
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 maximize all the benefits this card offers, 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 annual benefits, stop and think about whether this is the best card for you.
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 Emily Thompson and 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.