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 American Express® Gold Card shines with strong earnings on everyday purchases at U.S. 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.
The Amex Gold Card strikes a perfect balance with generous earning potential, plus enough perks, benefits, credits, and protections to improve your travel experience with a lower annual fee to match.
Let’s dig a bit deeper into all the benefits the Amex 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
Amex Gold Card
The Amex 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.
1. A Generous Welcome Bonus [$1,320]
While welcome bonuses can vary, the bonus you earn after meeting spending requirements in the first 3 months after card approval can significantly jump-start your earnings. Check for the latest welcome bonus offer and review rates and fees before applying.
2. Generous Earnings at Restaurants, Supermarkets, and for Airline Flights [$2,200]
With this card, you’ll earn:
- 4 Membership Rewards Points per dollar spent at restaurants
- 4 Membership Rewards Points per dollar spent at U.S. supermarkets. Up to $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; after that, earn 1x.
- 3 Membership Rewards Points per dollar spent on flights booked directly with the airline, as well as airfare booked through American Express Travel
- 1 Membership Rewards Point per dollar spent on all other purchases
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.
If you spent $25,000 in a year on 4x earning bonus categories alone, you would earn 100,000 Membership Rewards points.
You can read our expert guide to learn more about all the ways you can earn valuable Membership Rewards points.
Bottom Line: The Amex Gold card offers tremendous earning potential, both initially with the generous welcome bonus and ongoing with dining, supermarket, and airline flight bonus category earnings.
Shopping Discounts, Perks, and Credits
3. Monthly Dining Credits
In addition to earning Membership Rewards points on your purchases, you’ll enjoy up to $120 per year in dining statement credits (up to $10 per month) at participating restaurants, including GrubHub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, and participating Shake Shack locations. Enrollment is required through your Amex portal.
4. Amex Offers [$200]
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.
When you log in to your card 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, or if the offer is for bonus Membership Rewards points, those points will be added to your account after the purchase has been verified.
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 Sam’s Club purchase (the Sam’s Club offer was even applicable for gift cards!).
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!
5. ShopRunner [$30]
ShopRunner is all about taking the hassle out of online shopping by providing free 2-day shipping and easy free returns. There are over 100 stores represented, and members receive ongoing special offers.
Enroll in the service once you receive your card, then 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 Amex Gold card is one of these cards.
We value this perk at just $30 based on a modest estimate of potential savings on shipping rather than the cost of an annual membership which you might not otherwise purchase.
6. American Express Auto Purchasing Program [Value Varies]
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 Amex Gold card to cover at least $2,000 of the purchase price; some dealers will allow you to charge even more.
Shopping Protections [Value Varies]
Hopefully, these are protections you never have to use, but if you do, you’re sure to find economic value in having these coverages.
7. 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 Amex Gold card, and only up to $10,000 per item (maximum $50,000 per year).
8. 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.
Travel Benefits That Add Value
9. The Hotel Collection Benefits [$100]
Cardholders of the Amex Gold card will enjoy an elevated travel experience when booking a 2-night stay at properties included in The Hotel Collection, including perks like:
- Upgraded room at check-in, when available
- $100 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 $100 credit can be used toward food, beverages, spa, resort activities, and other eligible expenses and will be applied at checkout.
You can book up to 3 rooms per stay through American Express Travel or The Hotel Collection website. 1 $100 credit is applied per room per 2-night stay, so your total credit could be a total of $300 if booking 3 rooms.
Additionally, when you pay for your room with your Amex Gold card, you’ll receive double Membership Rewards points! That’s 2 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 hotel loyalty program benefits or stay credit.
Bottom Line: Cardholders can enjoy unlimited savings since the $100 hotel credit can be used each time you book a 2-night stay at The Hotel Collection properties. This is an especially good value as there are plenty of hotels in The Hotel Collection that are conservatively priced (not just high-end expensive properties).
10. Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance [$175]
The Amex Gold card comes with secondary car rental insurance but offers the option to purchase primary Premium Protection for 1 low fee that covers the entire rental period. Prices range from $12.95 to $24.95 depending on location and coverage selected.
If you rent a vehicle just 10 days each year, you could pay $200 or more for car rental protection — Amex Premium Protection could save you plenty.
Use your Amex 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.
For a complete description of the rental loss and damage coverage, access the Amex Gold card benefits guide for coverage details.
Bottom Line: The Amex Gold card delivers hundreds of dollars of additional dining and travel benefits each year with high points-earning levels for everyday spending.
Additional Travel Benefits and Protections
11. Lowest Hotel Rate Guarantee
Book your prepaid hotel with American Express Travel — if you find the same room for a lower price before taxes and fees, you’ll receive a refund for the difference.
12. 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).
13. Baggage Insurance Plan
Never worry about lost, damaged, or stolen luggage when you purchase your plane, train, ship, or bus ticket with your Amex Gold card. Coverage is provided for up to $1,250 for carry-on baggage and $500 for checked baggage. Limits, exclusions, and restrictions apply.
14. Personalized Travel Service
1 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.
Using the Card — Costs and Fees
15. Negating the Annual Fee
While the card does charge an annual fee, the generous 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 receive much more value when transferring points to travel partners.
Bottom Line: U.S. supermarket spending alone can more than offset the cost of the annual fee, but the welcome bonus, additional earning potential in bonus categories, credits, and benefits can deliver value far beyond the cost.
Redeeming Valuable Membership Rewards Points [Value Varies]
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.
16. 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 its customer service exceptional.
Below is the value of 10,000 Membership Rewards points when redeemed on the American Express Travel website.
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 its customer service team to help make it right.
The fee for domestic flights is $6.99, or $10.99 for international flights.
Hot Tip: When you’re not using Membership Rewards points to book with American Express Travel, you’ll want to use your Amex Gold card to pay for your flights — you’ll be earning 3 points per dollar spent!
17. Transfer Points to Airline Partners
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.
|Amex Airline Transfer Partner||Min Transfer||Transfer Ratio|
(Amex > Partner)
|Air Canada||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|Aer Lingus||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|Avianca LifeMiles||1,000||1:1||Almost instant|
|British Airways||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|Cathay Pacific||1,000||1:1||Up to 1 Week|
|Delta Air Lines||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|Etihad Airways||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|Flying Blue Air France/KLM||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|Singapore Airlines||1,000||1:1||1-2 days|
|Virgin Atlantic||1,000||1:1||1-2 days|
You’ll find plenty of opportunities for good deals when transferring Membership Rewards points to airline partners.
One sweet spot is transferring Membership Rewards points to British Airways for Avios, BA’s term for redeemable frequent flyer miles. Its 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 1 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!
18. Find the Sweet Spot When Transferring to Hotel Partners
In addition to transferring your Membership Rewards points to airline partners, you have the option to transfer them to your choice of a few hotel loyalty programs:
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 suggestions at Choice Hotels. 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!
19. 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 0.5 cents to 1 cent per point.
|Redemption Option||The Value of 10k Membership Rewards Points|
|Select retailers: Amazon, Best Buy, Newegg, Staples, Boxed, Seamless, Rite Aid, and Amex Express Checkout||$70|
|Select gift cards||Up to $100|
|Ticketmaster or AXS||$50|
| Donate to charity with MembersGive|| $100 up to 500,000 points per year; $50 above 500,000|
|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.
20. 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.
21. 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.
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 0.5 cents in value per point.
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 card yet).
22. Paying for NYC Taxis
You’ll receive a value of 1 cent per point when using your Amex 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.
23. Making a Charitable Donation
American Express offers charitable giving via its 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 and the value decreases to 0.5 cents 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.
Everyday Benefits and Protections
24. 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.
25. American Express Preferred Seating
Receive access to premium seating at select cultural and sporting events when available.
26. 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.
27. 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.
28. 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.
29. Annual Summary
Download the annual summary of your account to keep track and manage all of your expenses.
The Amex Gold card is a clear winner with strong rewards in the dining category! Consider the same level of rewards for 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 Amex Gold card.
I wouldn’t struggle with this annual fee either, since most people’s yearly supermarket spending alone would easily earn enough rewards to offset its 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!
For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, click here.