You realized after years of eating out and the occasional flight that you haven’t been earning as many points as you could be. Now, you’re looking around for a card that offers you a good deal.
The Gold Card from American Express may be the one you are searching for to use during your upcoming domestic trips across America.
Card Summary Table
- Card Bonus & Info (Partner Content)
- Card Provider
- Card Type(s):
- Card Focus:
- Annual Fee
- $0 first year, then $160 each year after
- Rewards Center
- Foreign Transaction FeesNone
- Typical UsersFood Lovers, Frequent Travelers, International Travelers, The Average Spender
- Customer Service Number
- Login Link
- Interest Rates ?
- N/A, this is a charge card
- Late fees ?
- Up to $38, if no payment for 2 billing periods then $38 or 2.99% of the past due amount (whichever is greater)
- Balance Transfers
- N/A, this is a charge card
- Cash Forwarding
- N/A, this is a charge card
The Ideal Cardholder
Sign-Up Bonus and Earnings Categories
There are typically no Membership Rewards bonus points when you sign up for the Gold Card from American Express. However, check the above card summary table for any current available offers.
With the card, you can get 2x points on: all flights booked directly with airlines, travel booked through the AMEX travel portal, U.S. restaurants, and rides with Uber.
The card will cost you $160 per year, but this annual fee is waived for the first year.
Gold Card from American Express Benefits: Travel Portal and Membership Rewards
With the card, you’ll get access to the AMEX Membership Rewards portal, where you can redeem points for travel and transfer them to travel partners.
You will also get access to the Hotel Collection benefit. Using this feature – which can be accessed through the travel portal – will give you a $75 hotel credit per room on up to three rooms if you stay for more than two nights.
The credit can be used for a variety of hotel amenities, including spas, food, and upgrades. You may use this credit as many times per year as you want.
If available, the Hotel Collection will also provide a free upgrade to your room. In addition, it comes with a lowest-price guarantee for your prepaid hotel room.
Other Benefits: Insurances and More
The Gold Card from American Express comes with some travel insurances that can give you peace of mind during your trips. These include a baggage insurance plan for lost or misplaced baggage, as well as travel accident insurance.
Additionally, there are travel service assistants that can help you book travel as needed, and a global assistance hotline in case of an emergency while abroad.
For those times when you’re driving to your destinations, you also get a roadside assistance program and car rental insurance.
You will also have access to American Express ticket sales. These offer presale and VIP tickets to events you may not have been able to buy before. There are also cardmember-only events catered by AMEX.
Using AMEX Offers, you may be able to find offers for additional bonus points in certain categories, so it is wise to check your account often and utilize the offers that come up.
These can be found at the bottom of your account summary page when logging in to your AMEX account.
Lastly, the card comes with no foreign transaction fees, so you can use it internationally if you would like.
Drawbacks of Using the Gold Card from American Express
First, you should be aware that this is one of AMEX’s charge cards, so your balance will be due in full each month, and you cannot carry balances or do balance transfers.
Next, your 2x points for restaurants are only good for restaurants within the U.S. Even if the restaurant chain is based in the U.S., you will not earn extra points outside the country.
This is somewhat contradictory, since the card carries no foreign transaction fees.
If you’re thinking about using the AMEX travel portal to earn 2x points, you should know that they don’t always have the lowest price. Be sure to shop around on travel sites before deciding to book with AMEX.
The lowest price guarantee is nice for prepaid hotels, but you’ll have to deal with finding the better price and submitting a claim on your own if you want to take advantage of it.
Finally, the card costs $160 per year, which can be pretty expensive to make up for unless you’re truly spending large amounts of money in the bonus categories.
Be sure to work out your own math before getting the card; see our Card Math section below for some examples.
Alternative Membership Rewards Cards
The Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express has been phasing in and taking over what the Gold Card from American Express used to be, but with slightly better perks.
You can get 3x points for airfare booked directly with the airline, and 2x points for U.S. gas and supermarkets on the card.
You’ll also get a $100 per year airline fee credit for an airline of your choice. All of this comes at an annual fee of $195, which is only $35 more and is also waived the first year.
But when you factor in the $100 credit, you actually come out quite ahead and have more bonus categories to earn points.
If you are looking for a cheaper card with decent earnings, you could try the The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express ($0/yr) or The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express ($95/yr).
Both earn 1x points for everything, and have bonus categories:
- The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express earns 2x points in U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year. (Terms and Conditions Apply)
- The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express earns 3x points in U.S. supermarkets with the same limit, and also earns 2x points at U.S. gas stations. (Terms and Conditions Apply)
Both cards earn bonuses if you make a minimum number of transactions per month. The minimums are 20 and 30 transactions for a 20% or 50% bonus, respectively.
Final Thoughts: A Summary of the Card
Overall, the card has potential to build your Membership Rewards account through airfare purchases and dining at U.S. restaurants if those are big categories for you.
It still offers some fringe benefits that help with travel. The annual fee is a bit high at $160, but it is waived the first year. However, you may be better off with the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express.
Finally, you’ll have access to the Membership Rewards portal, so you can access transfer partners with your rewards points.
Great Card If
- You’re looking for a card with some bonus categories to earn Membership Rewards points
- You spend a lot on flights and in restaurants
- You stay in hotels frequently and could utilize the Hotel Collection benefit
Don't Get If
- You can’t spend enough to make up for the $160 annual fee in rewards
- You already have the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express
- The Membership Rewards travel partners do not provide value to you
U.P. Pro Tips
If you use the Gold Card from American Express in the AMEX travel portal, you may be able to earn 3x points per dollar. This includes the bonus point from the travel portal as well as an additional point from the airline.
To get this extra point, the charge must come directly from the airline, but it’s a great way to potentially earn extra points!
How To Use the Gold Card from American Express: The Upgraded Way
Best Way To Maximize Points
Earning Membership Rewards points can be done in a few different ways. Here are some easy ways to ensure you maximize the amount of points you are earning:
Tip #1: Make sure you are booking your flights directly through the airline. With American Express Membership Rewards cards, you will not earn bonus points if you use certain travel portals and other travel services.
Tip #2: Check American Express Offers in your account portal frequently. You may be able to add additional 2x point bonus categories for a period of time!
Tip #3: Refer a friend to the card. You can typically earn 5,000 points or more for referrals, which is a great and easy way to make some extra points.
Best Way To Redeem Points
When you redeem points in Membership Rewards, you will have multiple options. These include gift cards, shopping, statement credit, and more.
Not all of these offer value of $0.01 per point, which is the very minimum you would want to redeem for when using your Gold Card from American Express rewards.
Here are all the ways you can redeem with American Express for a value of $0.01 or above:
Option #1: American Express Gift Cards ($0.01). When using the gift card redemption, the American Express and certain other cards will be worth $0.01 per point, but others are less.
Option #2: Donate to Charity ($0.01). You can donate points to a number of different charites at a value of $0.01 per point.
Option #3: Pay for Uber Rides ($0.01). Pay for your Uber ride with points at a value of $0.01 each.
Option #4: Book Flights in the AMEX Travel Portal ($0.01). Your flight bookings can be paid partially or all with points, and you will get a value of $0.01 per point.
Option #5: Transfer to Travel Partners ($0.01-0.02+). You will easily find a value above $0.01, and often at $0.02 or above when you transfer to one of the AMEX travel partners.
American Express has both hotel and airline partners through its Membership Rewards program. Here is the full list for each category.
AMEX Airline Partners: Club Premiere Aero Mexico, MilleMiglia Club Alitalia, All Nippon Airways (ANA), Air France / KLM Flying Blue, British Airways Executive Club, Asia Miles, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, Air Canada Aeroplan, Hawaiian Airlines, Delta SkyMiles, JetBlue TrueBlue, Virgin America Elevate, Emirates Skywards, Iberia Plus, KrisFlyer, Etihad.
Other partners that you get with the card include Uber, certain charities, Amazon.com, Best Buy, and more through Membership Rewards.
So, is the Gold Card from American Express worth spending $160 per year to earn extra Membership Rewards points?
You can find out by doing some calculations.
A Quick Recap on the Card Stats
Here is the cost and earnings summary for the card:
|Annual Fee||Points for Airlines and U.S. Restaurants||Points for Everything Else|
|$0 year one, then $160/yr||2x||1x|
*Terms and Conditions Apply
Recall that this card also comes with access to the Hotel Collection, which gives you a $75 credit for hotel stays over 2 nights booked through the program.
If you value points at $0.01 each, you would need to earn 16,000 per year in order to make up the annual fee, and more than that to earn any value with the card.
The Value of the Card Using the Model Families
As always, we’ll use our model families to help you determine the usefulness of the card. Comparing their yearly spend to your own, it’s easy to see how many points you can earn.
We’ll assume they put all spending except the “Other” category on their card, including travel, food, and gas.
The following table gives the total points earned each year they use the card:
|Family||Airlines||Restaurants||Everything Else||Total Points Earned|
*Total rewards points earned each year the model families use the Gold Card from American Express
The True Value of the Points Earned
So the model families earn anywhere from 33,000 to 57,900 points per year on their cards. At face value ($0.01 per point), these are worth $330 to $579 per year.
This definitely makes up the $160 annual fee of the card, which is good.
However, be aware that the Membership Rewards portal has multiple redemption options, and many of them are worth less than $0.01 per point. Using these will significantly reduce your point value.
For instance, if you use points for statement credit, you will only get a value of $0.006 per point. This lowers the value of the points to $198 to $347.40, which is much less significant.
However, you can easily get $0.02 or more per point, per redemption by utilizing transfer partners. The value of your points then goes to $660 to $1,158+.
Adding in Fringe Benefit Value
Of course, if you add in the value of fringe benefits, your card becomes even more valuable. The only benefit worth considering for this is the Hotel Collection.
For every hotel stay booked through the program for 2+ nights, you get $75 to use with services at the hotel, such as spa, room service, or movie rentals.
If this is something you would utilize, then you can add it in to your personal value of the card.
For the families, we will assume they utilize the benefit 4, 5, and 6 times per year, respectively. They are then getting $300, $375, and $450 in extra value per year.
Other Ways to Earn More Points
These examples don’t take into account the full ability of the card to earn points, since there are other partnerships and potential offers that could boost your point bank.
First, you have a partnership with Uber, which gives you 2x points when you ride with them. If you spend $50 to $100 per month in rides with Uber, you could earn an extra 600 to 1,200 points per year.
Also, if you find deals in your AMEX Offers portal, then you could easily find other businesses with which to earn more points. For instance, there may be a 2x points deal at Amazon.com or other common businesses.
Note that if you use the American Express Travel Portal, then you can also earn bonus points for travel purchases (perhaps even earning an extra bonus point on top of your 2x points for flights!).
Math Conclusion and Final Thoughts
The value of this card can make up for the yearly fee of the card if used in the manner shown above. This includes both normal spending and use of the Hotel Collection.
Using both benefits together takes the total value of the card up to over $960 for the Kennedys and above $1,608 for the Hartnells.
If you have the card, this math proves that owning and using your card should be worth it.
Taking into account any additional partnerships or potential offers, you can boost those points even more!
The Gritty Details: Everything Else You Need To Know
Know that with American Express cards, you can generally only get the sign-up bonus for a card once in your lifetime even if you have other Membership Rewards cards.
When you do meet the spend for your sign-up bonus, you may need to wait a couple of months before it posts to your account. However, some people report their points show up almost instantly.
Make sure that you are sticking to businesses within the U.S. when trying to earn bonus points: AMEX does not earn bonus points for international businesses, even if they are U.S.-based.
As a charge card, there is no set credit limit, but there is a ceiling that adjusts based on your current credit score. Remember that anything you charge must be paid off in full each month.
Other Unique Features
The details of each of the fringe benefits can be found in the following paragraphs. For any benefit that uses a third party service, you will be charged for that service unless noted otherwise.
Hotel Collection – When you book a room using the Hotel Collection, you will receive a $75 credit to spend on dining, spa, and resort services as long as you have booked more than 2 nights.
You will also receive a complimentary upgrade when it is available. If your property is part of a loyalty program, you can still earn points and utilize your elite status.
Personalized travel service – AMEX has a great collection of agents that can be called to research and book travel for you. While the hotline is free, they may use other services to fulfill your request.
Roadside assistance – A roadside assistance hotline is available if you ever need it for a breakdown while driving. The services include towing, jump starts, and tire changes.
Global assistance – While traveling abroad, you will have access to this hotline which can be used for emergencies to help coordinate things you might need, such as a lawyer.
Baggage insurance – You will have baggage insurance that covers you for up to $1,250 for a carry on bag and $500 for a checked bag. It may also cover travel companions who you booked travel for.
Travel accident insurance – A travel accident insurance benefit covers you in case something terrible happens on travel with a common carrier. Limits depend on the type of accident, but cover hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Car rental insurance – You will be covered for the value of your rented car as long as it is under $50,000. You must decline the agency’s waiver, and this is secondary coverage.
Entertainment access – American Express purchases tickets to events around the world and offers them to their cardholders. Some may be difficult to get otherwise, so it is good to check.
Tickets include concerts, shows, VIP events, and more.
Photo Credits/Credit/Copyright Attribution:
Girl Holding Credit Card: NAS CRETIVES/Shutterstock
Goal Posts: Mark Herreid/Shutterstock
Refer a Friend Card: Manczurov/Shutterstock
Added Value Graph: Constantin Stanciu/Shutterstock
This is a premium card that offers bonus points for spending on airfare and in U.S. restaurants. You also get a number of fringe benefits with the card.
This card is a part of the Membership Rewards (MR) program, which allows you to earn and pool points from all other MR cards to be used for various redemptions.
Most notably, you can use the points to transfer to travel partners, where they can be redeemed for over $0.02 per point.
It also offers the Hotel Collection benefit, which gives you up to a $75 service credit for a 3+ night stay at a hotel booked with the program.
In addition, the card comes with travel insurance options that include travel accident, rental car, and baggage coverage.
If you earn enough with the card to make up for the $160 per year annual fee, then the benefits will be worth it to you.
The card earns 1-2x points per dollar, with the larger bonus categories being for airfare and U.S. restaurants. As a benefit of Membership Rewards, you can also earn 2x points on Uber rides.
These points accrue in Membership Rewards along with all points earned from other Membership Rewards cards, and can be used for a variety of awards, the most valuable of which is airline travel partners.
You also get access to the Hotel Collection benefit, which offers up to a $75 credit for hotel services when you book 3 or more nights.
There are also fringe benefits such as travel accident insurance, car rental insurance, roadside and global assistance hotlines, and baggage insurance.
Yes, your earned points accrue into your Membership Rewards account.
The travel partners available are offered through the Membership Rewards program. There are both airline and hotel travel partners.
There are 18 different travel partners in all.
You will not lose the points you earn with your Gold Card from American Express as long as you keep at least one Membership Rewards card open and in good standing.
Points earned accrue in a common pool, and are not tied to the card itself.
Points earned through purchases typically post at the end of each billing statement, while points earned via partnerships or other means may take a few weeks longer to post.
There is no official way to waive the annual fee, though it is waived for the first year you have the card. Other than that, you may be able to strike a deal with customer service.
The card will cost you $160 annually.
No, the card has no foreign transaction fees.
No, this is a charge card; it does not have an APR since the balance must be paid off in full each month.
With the redemption methods of Membership Rewards, any points you earn can be valued from $0.005 to over $0.02 per point.
To use your rewards, you must sign in to your American Express account and travel to the Membership Rewards page.
From there, you will find all the different ways you can utilize your points. Some points can be used directly with partners, such as through Amazon or Uber.
Inside Membership Rewards, click on the menu button "Travel". A screen comes up with two options: one for booking travel and the other for transferring points.
Click on the points transfer option, and you will be brought to a page with all the partners. Then click on the desired partner and enter your loyalty account information to transfer points.
You must have already signed up to a loyalty program in order to transfer points.
Sign in to your American Express account in order to access your account details and navigate to Membership Rewards.
Call the number on the back of your card to cancel, or cancel online by sending a secure message to AMEX through you account.
Before you cancel, consider how long you have had the card and how that might affect your credit history. Canceling could damage your credit score considerably if it's one of your oldest cards.
Also consider increasing your credit limit on another card in order to make up for the decrease in your available credit after canceling this card.
As an alternative to completely canceling, you can try changing products within the charge card tiers. None of these options have a $0 annual fee, however.
Many people receive direct communication from AMEX to upgrade from the Gold Card from American Express to The Platinum Card® from American Express.
If you do not receive such communication, however, contact AMEX customer support and ask if you are eligible for an upgrade.
It is a charge card, so there is no limit. You are expected to pay it off in full every month.