33 Benefits and Perks of the American Express® Gold Card

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card update: The Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express has been replaced with the new American Express® Gold Card. For more details, see here >

Finding an everyday spending card that doubles as a travel rewards card and earns valuable Membership Rewards Points on all those purchases is a sweet yet productive combination.

The new American Express® Gold Card shines with strong earnings on everyday purchases at supermarkets and restaurants, a variety of ways to earn/redeem rewards, plenty of mid-tier travel benefits, perks, savings, and special offers. And this card does it all without a super-premium annual fee!

Many premium travel rewards credit cards come with annual fees as high as $550. With those cards, you typically receive a package of corresponding premium travel benefits such as complimentary lounge access, Global Entry fee reimbursement, and even a large statement credit toward travel purchases.

In contrast, you’ll find no-annual-fee travel rewards cards that offer minimal travel benefits and protections.

The American Express® Gold Card strikes a perfect balance with generous earning potential, plus enough perks, benefits, credits, and protections to improve your travel experience — all with an annual fee of $250.

Let’s dig a bit deeper into all the benefits the American Express® Gold Card has to offer, and see why this card is quickly earning a place in the savvy consumer’s wallet.

Earn Valuable Membership Rewards Points Plus More

The American Express® Gold Card has strengths as both an everyday earning card and a travel rewards card, since it has the earning elements for both and strong redemption value for the traveler.

Generous Earnings With Restaurants, Supermarkets, and Airline Flights

Let’s first take a look at the card’s generous earning potential.

With this card, you’ll earn:

  • 4 Membership Rewards Points per dollar spent at U.S. restaurants
  • 4 Membership Rewards Points per dollar spent at U.S. supermarkets
  • 3 Membership Rewards Points per dollar spent on flights booked directly with the airline, as well as airfare, prepaid hotels, vacation packages, or cruises booked through American Express Travel
  • 1 Membership Rewards Point per dollar spent on all other purchases

You can also earn a generous welcome bonus after meeting the spending requirements on the card.

Membership Rewards points are valuable because they are flexible and can be redeemed in several different ways. Your Membership Rewards points also don’t expire as long as you have an active Membership Rewards-earning credit card open.

You can read our expert guide to learn more about all the ways you can earn valuable Membership Rewards points.

Additional Dining, Airline, and Hotel Credits

In addition to earning Membership Rewards points on your purchases, you’ll enjoy these benefits and credits.

  • $120 per year statement credits ($10/month) at participating restaurants, which include GrubHub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, and participating Shake Shack locations.
  • $100 annual airline credit. Up to $100 in statement credits per year for incidental fees with a selected airline.
  • $75 hotel credit with a 2-night stay at an American Express Hotel Collection property.

That’s $295 in value if you utilize all these credits, plus the $75 hotel credit can be received multiple times with every 2-night stay.

Bottom Line: The American Express® Gold Card delivers hundreds of dollars of additional dining and travel benefits each year with high points-earning levels for everyday spending.  

Using the Card — Costs and Fees

Charge Card vs. Credit Card

Unlike a credit card where you can carry a statement balance from one month to the next, the American Express® Gold Card is a charge card — you’ll need to pay off your balance each statement period, though there is no predetermined or set spending limit.

Special pay-over-time options may be added to your account at the discretion of American Express to extend repayment, including Select and Pay Later, Sign and Travel®, and the Extended Payment Option.

Note that you can still incur card fees for late payments and returned payments. Your first late or returned payment incurs a $27 fee, and this increases to $38 if you have another late or returned payment within 6 subsequent statement periods.

Negating the Annual Fee

While the card does charge a $250 annual fee, the earnings rate makes it easy to accumulate Amex points quickly. The value you receive for Membership Rewards points when redeemed for travel contributes to a very low break-even point for owning this card.

For example, you would need to spend just $6,250 per year in 4% earning categories to offset the annual fee. This assumption is based on a conservative value of 1 cent per Membership Rewards point, but it’s possible to earn much more when transferring points to travel partners.

Also note that there is no extra annual fee for up to 5 additional cards on the same account. The fee for each card over 5 is $35 annually.

Bottom Line: Supermarket spending alone can more than offset the cost of the annual fee, but the sign-up bonus, additional earning potential in bonus categories, credits, and benefits can deliver value far beyond the cost. 

Redeeming Valuable Membership Rewards Points

With so many ways to earn Membership Rewards Points, they’ll add up quickly. Now, let’s take a look at the options available and the level of value you can expect when redeeming your points.

Redeem Points With American Express Travel

The American Express Travel website is simply an online travel agency booking site similar to Orbitz or Kayak. However, since the portal caters to American Express cardholders, you’ll find their customer service exceptional.

Below is the value of 10,000 Membership Rewards points when redeemed on the American Express Travel website.

Redeem membership rewards points
You receive the highest value for your Membership Rewards Points on Amex Travel when redeeming for flights instead of hotels, cruises, or vacation packages. Image courtesy of Amex Travel.

Note that the best value for your Membership Rewards points is to use them for booking flights. There are fees for using American Express Travel, but these are minimal compared to the peace of mind that if something goes wrong during your trip, you’ll have their customer service team to help make it right.

The fee for domestic flights is $6.99, or $10.99 for international flights.

If you have enough points in your account to cover the total cost of your flight, you may have access to Insider Fares that can offer a small discount on select airfares. You must use your points to pay for the entire airfare to take advantage of Insider Fares.

Hot Tip: When you’re not using Membership Rewards points to book with American Express Travel, you’ll want to use your American Express® Gold Card to pay for your purchase — you’ll be earning 3 points per dollar spent!

Everything you need to know about booking travel through the American Express Travel website can be found in our expert guide.

Transfer Points to Airline Partners

British Airways plane at night
Transfer your Membership Rewards points to any of 17 different airline transfer partners. Image courtesy of Christine Krzyszton.

Having choices when it comes time to redeem your Membership Rewards points is a good thing! The value you receive for different redemption options, however, varies greatly. When redeeming your points for airline miles, you’ll notice that transfer ratios depend on the frequent flyer program you’re transferring points to.

There are 17 different airline transfer partners:

Amex Airline Transfer PartnerMin TransferTransfer Ratio
(Amex > Partner)
Transfer Time
AeroMexico
2,0001:1.62-12 days
Air Canada2,0001:1Almost Instant
Alitalia2,0001:1Almost Instant
Aer Lingus2,0001:1Newly launched, collecting data
ANA
2,0001:1
2-3 days
British Airways
2,0001:1Almost Instant
Cathay Pacific2,0001:1Up to 1 Week
Delta Air Lines2,0001:1Almost Instant
EL AL2,00050:1Almost Instant
Emirates2,0001:1Almost Instant
Etihad Airways1,0001:1Almost Instant
FlyingBlue AirFrance/KLM2,0001:1Almost Instant
Hawaiian2,0001:1Almost Instant
Iberia2,0001.25:11-3 days
JetBlue2,0001:1Almost Instant
Singapore Airlines2,0001:11-2 days
Virgin Atlantic2,0001:11-2 days

You’ll find plenty of opportunities for good deals when transferring Membership Rewards points to airline partners.

Hot Tip: One sweet spot is transferring Membership Rewards points to British Airways for “Avios,” their term for redeemable frequent flyer miles. Their award chart is distance-based and offers some great opportunities for short-haul flights.

For instance, outside of the U.S., flights that are 650 miles or less can cost as few as 4,000 Avios. You can actually build an open-jaw itinerary by flying into one city, returning from another, and using short-haul flights to journey between them.

If you’d rather fly in premium class, consider transferring your Membership Rewards points to the Singapore Airlines Krisflyer program and booking with a domestic airline partner such as United Airlines. Both airlines are partner members of the Star Alliance, but United Airlines charges less for some business and first class award tickets.

Bottom Line: Airline partners within the same alliance can charge different amounts for award flights on the same route. Check award charts on partner airlines within the same alliance to find the best award ticket pricing. Utilize that airline’s frequent flyer program for your Membership Rewards points transfer to make your points go further!

Find the Sweet Spot When Transferring to Hotel Partners

Hilton Hotel Berlin at night
Hilton is one of the Membership Rewards hotel transfer partners. Image courtesy of Christine Krzyszton.

In addition to transferring your Membership Rewards points to airline partners, you have the option to transfer them to your choice of 3 hotel loyalty programs.

Amex Hotel Transfer PartnerMin TransferTransfer Ratio
(Amex > Partner)
Transfer Time
Choice Privileges1,0001:1Almost Instant
Hilton Honors1,0001:2Almost Instant
Starwood Preferred Guest1,0001:2Almost Instant

Transferring Membership Rewards points to hotel loyalty programs is not always a good value. However, knowing there are some gems to be found can make the treasure hunt worthwhile.

Hot Tip: Always check the hotel transfer partner’s website for opportunities where the cash cost of the room is high but point redemption options are relatively low. When you find this combination (and you will!), it can yield good value when transferring your Membership Rewards points to that hotel partner. 

Before transferring any Membership Rewards points to airline or hotel partners, you’ll want to be sure you have an active frequent flyer or hotel loyalty account with the program where you want the miles or points to end up.

You’ll also want to allow time for the points to transfer into the loyalty program. Some transfers happen nearly instantly, while others take a few days or more.

One of our experts has put together a strong collection of the best ways to redeem Membership Rewards points, including some creative Choice Hotel program suggestions. You’ll also find a vast selection of airline transfer partner sweet spots on the list that will help make your Membership Rewards points go further.

Bottom Line: It is possible to get substantially more than 1 cent of value per Membership Rewards point when transferring your points to travel partners. However, note that once you transfer to any of these partners, the transfer cannot be reversed!

When 10,000 Membership Rewards Points Are Worth $100

When you choose to redeem your points for travel, gift cards, merchandise, statement credits, services, or donate to charity, Membership Rewards points can be worth anywhere from .5 cents to 1.0 cent per point.

Redemption OptionThe Value of 10k Membership Rewards Points
Select retailers: Amazon, Best Buy, Newegg, Staples, Boxed, Seamless, Rite Aid, and Amex Express Checkout$70
Select Gift Cardsup to $100
Ticketmaster® or AXS$50
 Donate to Charity with MembersGive $100 up to 500,000 points per year; $50 above 500,000
 Expedia$70
Prepaid hotels, vacations, cruises, booked with Amex Travel $70
Flights booked with Amex Travel$100
 New York City Taxi Fares$100
 Statement Credit $60
Amex Shopping Mall Portal$50

Let’s look at the redemption options that deliver the best value on the chart of 1 cent per point. Booking flights with American Express Travel, certain gift cards, NYC taxis, and charitable donations through the American Express MembersGive program all offer value of 1 cent per point.

Booking Flights Through American Express Travel

Amex Travel is similar to other online travel agencies like Orbitz. You select the flights you want and pay for them with Membership Rewards points, cash, or a combination of points and cash. You’ll receive 1 cent per Membership Rewards point when booking flights, which is among the best values for your points.

However, American Express Travel charges fees: $6.99 per domestic airline ticket and $10.99 per international ticket.

Gift cards
You’ll have a vast selection of gift card redemption options, but some deliver less value than others. Image courtesy of Amex Travel.

Redeeming for Select Gift Cards

Realizing a full 1 cent in value for your Membership Rewards points is easy when you redeem your points for select gift cards — you’ll find dozens of $100 gift cards available for 10,000 Membership Rewards points.

Gift card categories include Air/Lodging, American Express, Car/Rail, Dining, Experience, and Retail.

CategoryRedeeming 10,000 Membership Rewards Points = $100 Gift Card
Air/LodgingBellagio Las Vegas, Carnival Cruise Lines, MGM Resorts International
Car/RailAmtrak, Avis, Hertz
DiningLegal Sea Foods, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, P.F. Chang’s
ExperienceJackson Hole Mountain Resort, Steamboat Ski Resort
RetailCoach, Gap, Nike, Home Depot, Staples, Saks Fifth Avenue

Unfortunately, the category that allows you to redeem your Membership Rewards points for American Express gift cards is a poor choice, as you’ll receive only .5 cents in value per point.

These are just a sampling of the available gift cards; there are dozens of choices. You can view a complete list of gift cards available on the Membership Rewards website (even if you don’t have a Membership Rewards-earning credit card yet).

Paying for NYC Taxis

You’ll receive a value of 1 cent per point when using your American Express® Gold Card for rides in New York City taxis.

American Express has arranged to allow cardholders to use Membership Rewards points when paying for VeriFone and CMT-enabled taxis in New York City. You’ll be prompted on the payment screen within the taxi to use points to pay for your fare.

Making a Charitable Donation

American Express offers charitable giving via their MembersGive program. You’ll receive a value of 1 cent per Membership Reward point for donations up to 500,000 points in a calendar year. Above 500,000 points, the value decreases to .5 cent each.

Hot Tip: Using a value of 1 cent per Membership Rewards point as a guideline helps you determine whether you’re getting a good redemption value for your points. 

Card Travel Benefits and Protections

$100 Airline Fee Credit

Enjoy a statement credit of up to $100 per calendar year for incidental airline fees. Prior to claiming the credit, the cardholder must designate a specific airline. This can be done online or by calling the number on the back of the credit card. Once that airline has been selected, it can only be changed once each year in January.

This process may seem a bit cumbersome, but you’re rewarded with a $100 credit toward typical incidental airline fees charged on your card, such as baggage fees and separate charges for seat upgrades.

No Foreign Transaction Fees

Like many other credit cards, The American Express® Gold Card does not charge a foreign transaction fee. A common foreign transaction fee is 3% of the total purchase amount made outside the U.S, so not incurring these fees helps your dollar go further abroad.

Hot Tip: While you won’t be charged foreign transaction fees when using your American Express® Gold Card outside the U.S., restaurant and supermarket 4X earnings only apply U.S. merchants. You’ll be earning 1 point per dollar spent on the card for these categories outside of the U.S.  

Lowest Hotel Rate Guarantee

Book your prepaid hotel with American Express Travel — if you find the same room for a lower price before taxes/fees, you’ll receive a refund for the difference.

Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance

Use your American Express® Gold Card to reserve and pay for your entire car rental, decline the rental car company’s collision damage waiver, and you’ll be covered if the car is stolen or damaged.

Rental vehicles are covered for the first 30 consecutive days with protection that will pay up to a maximum of $50,000 for repair or replacement of the vehicle. Restrictions apply as some vehicle types are not covered, and the coverage is secondary to your own personal coverage.

For a complete description of the rental loss and damage coverage, access the American Express® Gold Card benefits guide to this coverage.

Travel Accident Insurance

Injury due to accident may provide coverage via the American Express® Gold Card. Accidental death/dismemberment coverage will provide up to $250,000 for injury and up to $3,500,000 for death.

Full terms and conditions are provided in the card’s guide to travel accident insurance.

Global Assist Hotline

Having access to 24/7 medical, legal, financial, or emergency assistance services when traveling more than 100 miles from home can save the day. Examples of these worldwide services include passport replacement, wiring money, and assistance with lost luggage. (Note that the cardholder is responsible for any costs charged by the service providers.)

Baggage Insurance Plan

Never worry about lost, damaged, or stolen luggage when you purchase your plane, train, ship, or bus ticket with your American Express® Gold Card. Coverage is provided for up to $1,250 for carry-on baggage and $500 for checked baggage. Limits, exclusions, and restrictions apply.

Premium Travel Benefits the Discerning Traveler Will Enjoy

Hotel room with welcome amenity
Book a 2-night stay at The Hotel Collection properties and receive a $75 credit to spend at the hotel. Image courtesy of Christine Krzyszton.

The Hotel Collection

Cardholders of the American Express® Gold Card will enjoy an elevated travel experience when booking a 2-night stay at properties included in The Hotel Collection.

Hotel Collection
Image courtesy of American Express.
  • Upgraded room at check-in, when available
  • $75 credit to use at the hotel
  • Ability to pay with points
  • Double points for prepaid bookings

Cardholders must book a minimum of 2 consecutive nights and pay with their card or Membership Rewards Points. The $75 credit can be used toward food, beverages, spa, resort activities, and other eligible expenses and will be applied at check out.

You can book up to 3 rooms per stay through American Express Travel or The Hotel Collection website. One $75 credit is applied per room per 2-night stay, so your total credit could be a total of $225 if booking 3 rooms.

Additionally, when you pay for your room with your American Express® Gold Card, you’ll receive double Membership Rewards points! That’s 3 points for every dollar spent.

Keep in mind that booking through any third party (including Amex Travel) versus booking directly on the hotel’s website can result in not receiving your elite benefits or stay credit in the hotel’s loyalty program.

Hot Tip: Cardholders can enjoy unlimited savings since the $75 hotel credit can be used each time you book a 2-night stay at The Hotel Collection properties. This is an especially good value; there are plenty of hotels in The Hotel Collection that are conservatively priced (not just high-end expensive properties). 

Personalized Travel Service

One call gives you expert advice and personalized travel services. You can get assistance with flights, hotel bookings, and ground transportation, though fees do apply for flight bookings.

Everyday Benefits and Protections

Premium Roadside Assistance

Emergency services like changing a flat tire, jumpstarting your car, getting a tow, or replacing a dead battery are only a phone call away. Whether you’re at home or traveling, you’ll have access to 24/7 assistance. Included services are provided at no cost up to 4 times a year.

Entertainment Access

You’ll feel like a VIP with exclusive access and advance notice for shows, concerts, and sporting events near you. You’ll also get invited to cardmember-only events.

American Express Preferred Seating

Receive access to premium seating at select cultural and sporting events when available.

Shopping Discounts, Perks, and Protection

Amex Offers

Believe it or not, some American Express cardholders aren’t aware of Amex Offers — but they should be! Amex Offers can save you hundreds of dollars a year or more.

Amex Offers
A list of Amex Offers is available when you log in to your credit card account online. Image courtesy of American Express.

Once you’ve logged in to your account online, you’ll find the Amex Offers and Benefits listed below your account information and current summary. Just add the offer you think you might use to your card by clicking the “Add to Card” button.

When you use your card at that merchant, the offer will automatically be applied as a statement credit.

Amex Offers can be quite lucrative! Previous offers have included $75 back for spending $75 or more at AT&T, and an offer for 10% back on every Sams Club purchase (the Sam’s Club offer didn’t exclude gift cards either).

Hot Tip: Adding Amex Offers to one of your American Express cards can eliminate it from the list of your Amex offers for different cards. Be sure to review the offers on each card so you’ll add the best offers to your desired cards!

ShopRunner

ShopRunner is all about taking the hassle out of online shopping by providing free 2-day shipping and easy free returns. There are about 140 stores represented, and members receive ongoing special offers.

Just log in to the ShopRunner website before shopping at your favorite retailer to receive the benefits of free shipping and returns.

A normal ShopRunner membership costs $79 per year, but it’s included free as a perk on dozens of credit cards. Fortunately, your American Express® Gold Card is one of them!

You’ll need to enroll in the service once you receive your credit card.

Car Rental
Save money on your next car purchase with American Express Auto Purchasing Program. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Auto Purchasing Program

The American Express Auto Purchasing Program is a sleeper — you don’t hear much about it, but it can save you plenty and give you peace of mind when you’re shopping for a vehicle!

First, you’ll get to see what others paid for the car you want. How valuable is that?! You’ll also get a guaranteed savings certificate so you know what you’ll be saving even before you visit a dealership.

If you purchase your vehicle at one of the selected certified dealers, you can use your American Express® Gold Card to cover at least $2,000 of the purchase price; some dealers will allow you to charge even more.

Purchase Protection

Eligible purchases are protected when accidentally damaged, stolen, or lost. Purchase protection provides coverage for eligible items purchased within the past 90 days, and can even include coverage for your cell phone.

There is a $10,000 limit per occurrence and a $50,000 limit per calendar year.

Cell Phone Protection
Even your cell phone is protected when you use your American Express® Gold Card for the purchase.

Return Protection

Need to return a purchased item but the merchant won’t accept it back? If you paid for an eligible item and attempted to return it within 90 days of the purchase date, you may receive a full refund with return protection.

The coverage is limited to $300 per item and $1,000 in a calendar year; other limitations apply.

Extended Warranty

Warranties always seem to expire just when you need them. With extended warranty coverage, you’ll receive up to 1 additional year of warranty coverage for eligible purchases that have a U.S. manufacturer’s warranty of 5 years or less.

Coverage is limited to the amount you charged on your American Express® Gold Card, and only up to $10,000 per item (maximum $50,000 per year).

Additional Services

Personal Loans for Select Cardholders

Cardholders can be pre-approved for loans between $3,500 and $40,000. These personal loans come with no origination fee or pre-payment penalty and have fixed rates as low as 6.98%. There’s also no credit score impact to apply.

24/7 Card Member Services

Whether it’s replacing a lost card or simply asking a billing question, you can talk to a representative and get assistance 24/7.

Mobile Access

Get fraud alerts, find offers near you, and manage your account no matter where you happen to be with the Amex mobile app.

Annual Summary

Download the annual summary of your account to keep track and manage all of your expenses.

Final Thoughts

The American Express® Gold Card is a clear winner with strong rewards in the dining category! Consider the same level of rewards for grocery and supermarket purchases, and you’ve got an everyday spending card with serious earning potential.

Plus, if you’re a traveler, you’ll enjoy the fact that the card earns 3 Membership Rewards Points per dollar for flights purchased with the airline and with American Express Travel. Add in the stellar redemption options for travel, and we see this card can function as both an everyday spending card and a travel rewards card.

If you’re put off by the high annual fees of most premium travel rewards cards and fewer benefits/earnings on many cards that don’t carry an annual fee, you might find a happy medium with the American Express® Gold Card.

I wouldn’t struggle with the $250 annual fee either, since most people’s annual supermarket spending alone would easily earn enough rewards to offset that cost.

Having access to flexible reward redemption options offers a lot of value as well. Perhaps you need to top off your frequent flyer account and book a last-minute award ticket, or you choose to redeem your rewards for a Home Depot gift card to take care of that unexpected home repair. You have that option here.

For everyday spending and travel rewards you’ll use, you’ll find plenty of value in this mid-tier travel rewards card!

FAQ

What is the interest rate on this card?

Since the American Express® Gold Card is a charge card and not a credit card, you will be required to pay off the balance each statement period. For that reason, there is no interest rate on the card.

Is the American Express® Gold Card worth the annual fee?

The annual fee charged on the American Express® Gold Card is $250 each year.

To receive ongoing benefits that exceed the annual fee, you’ll need to be spending in purchase categories that multiply the points you earn: flights, U.S. restaurants, and U.S. supermarkets. If you’re doing that and taking advantage of the airline fee credit, Amex offers, and other value-added benefits, this card is worth far more than the annual fee.

Does the card charge a foreign transaction fee?

No. This card does not charge a foreign transaction fee on any purchases outside the U.S.

How does the $100 credit for airline fees work?

To receive the $100 credit each year for incidental airline fees (such as baggage fees), you must first select a specific airline. You can do that by signing in to your account and choosing an airline. You can change the designated airline once a year in January.

You will receive a statement credit in 2-4 weeks after you have charged the incidental airline fee on your American Express Gold Card. Note that the fee must be charged separately from the airline ticket.

Can I get my Membership Rewards points back after I transfer them to a partner airline or hotel?

No. Once a transfer request has been processed, it cannot be reversed.

What if I can't pay off my balance when it is due?

Cardholders may qualify for special options that allow them to pay off balances over time, but you must apply for these programs and be approved by American Express. The pay-over-time options charge interest and can incur late fees/penalties.

How much are Membership Rewards points worth?

How much your points are worth will depend on your redemption choice. Generally, you will find redemption options that result in a value between .5 cent and 1 cent per Membership Rewards point. However, there are some redemption options (such as specific transfers to airline and hotel partners) where you can exceed the 1 cent per point value.

Can I get cash-back instead of redeeming my Membership Rewards points?

While you can’t receive cash-back in the form of a check in the mail or money in your bank account, you can redeem your Membership Rewards points for statement credits at the rate of .6 cents per point. A redemption of 10,000 points would equal a $60 statement credit. That said, it is not the best value for your points.

Do my Membership Rewards points expire?

As long as you have at least 1 active Membership Rewards-earning credit card open, your points do not expire.

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