Is the American Express® Gold Card Really Worth It?

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There are so many travel rewards credit cards out there that it can be overwhelming at times. You might be wondering which card is right for you, and which cards are actually worth the cost of the annual fees they charge.

The American Express® Gold Card offers lots of benefits for a middle-of-the-road annual fee. However, you might be curious about the value you can get out of this card and whether it’s worth the annual cost.

In this post, I will go over all the key benefits of the American Express® Gold Card and help you determine how much value you might get from the card’s perks and benefits.

Key Benefits of the American Express® Gold Card

The American Express® Gold Card is popular for a reason: it offers great points-earning potential and nice perks for a reasonable annual fee.

Earn Lots of American Express Membership Rewards Points

The American Express® Gold Card has impressive points multipliers that make it a great card to keep in your wallet for everyday purchases, such as at

  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at restaurants worldwide and U.S supermarkets (capped at $25,000 per calendar year, then 1x.)
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.

As you can see, the bonus categories on this card can make earning lots of Membership Rewards points a breeze!

Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, or Shake Shack
The American Express® Gold Card is a great choice for foodies. You will earn 4x Membership Rewards points at restaurants worldwide. Image courtesy of American Express.

$120 Dining Credit

Earn up to $10 in statement credits each month when you use your Gold Card to make purchases at the following restaurants and food delivery services:

  • Grubhub
  • Seamless
  • The Cheesecake Factory
  • Ruth’s Chris Steak House
  • Boxed
  • Shake Shack (participating locations)

$100 Airline Fee Credit

Earn up to $100 in statement credits each year with your selected airline (airline must be designated before charges are made). This credit will be applied to incidental fees charged to your Gold Card by the airline, including checked bag fees or an inflight meal.

The Hotel Collection

The American Express® Gold Card gets you access to The Hotel Collection. This group of exclusive hotels offers special benefits to Gold Card members when booking a stay of at least 2 nights at select properties in the collection. You can enjoy the following benefits with The Hotel Collection:

  • $100 hotel credit to spend on dining, spa, or resort charges
  • Room upgrade when available

Travel Insurance

The Gold Card comes with 2 types of travel insurance:

  • Baggage insurance: This plan covers your bags if they are lost, damaged, or stolen. In order to be eligible, you need to use your Gold Card to purchase the entire cost of the ticket (plane, train, ship, or bus).
  • Car rental loss and damage insurance: Pay for the entire cost of the rental with your Gold Card and decline the coverage offered by the car rental agency. You will be covered if the rental car is damaged or stolen.

Amex Offers

Amex Offers are not exclusive to the Gold Card, but they can be very valuable — so you should know how to use them!

American Express Offers are a group of special deals and discounts available through your American Express credit card. They offer statement credits, discounts, and bonus Membership Rewards points for making select purchases.

Amex Offers
Don’t forget to add an Amex Offer to your card before you plan on using it! Image courtesy of American Express.

Depending on how much you use these, Amex Offers can be extremely lucrative.

To find your Amex Offers, first log in to your American Express account. Then scroll down to Amex Offers & Benefits right under your Account Activity.

You will see a long list of offers that are available to add to your American Express® Gold Card — just be sure to click Add to Card before you use the offer!

Check back often because these offers change frequently.

Bottom Line: For a full list and explanation of benefits offered by the American Express® Gold Card, check out our list of 33 benefits and perks of the American Express® Gold Card.

How Much Value Can You Get From the American Express® Gold Card?

Let’s take a look at the dollars and cents now — we’ll discuss how you can at least match (if not exceed) the annual fee using the benefits of the American Express® Gold Card.

Also note that for these examples, I am not taking into account the welcome bonus offered by the card. Generally, any welcome bonus offered by a travel rewards credit card will easily offset the fee for the first year.

Airline Fee Credit

The first thing you should consider is the airline fee credit of $100. This should be a no-brainer for any traveler, since it can be applied to things like checked bag fees or inflight meals. Based on crowdsourced data, this credit will sometimes be applied to airline gift cards too.

Since this credit is so easy to use, it’s basically as good as $100 cash in your pocket.

Grocery Stores

The next thing you should look at is the value of the Membership Rewards points you can earn from this card’s bonus categories.

Hot Tip: For these calculations, I am valuing Membership Rewards points at a conservative 1 cent each. This is a value you can easily get by redeeming your Membership Rewards points through the Amex Travel Portal. But keep in mind you can often get much higher value from your points by transferring them to one of American Express’ hotel or airline partners.

Earn 4x points at Grocery Stores
The American Express® Gold Card will rack up points 4x faster at grocery stores. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com.

In my opinion, one of the most intriguing perks of this card is earning 4x points at U.S. grocery stores. This is a bonus category that everyone uses on a consistent basis.

Let’s say your family spends $100 on groceries weekly (a conservative estimate if your family is anything like mine!). That means you spend $5,200 per year on groceries. Since you are earning 4 points per dollar at grocery stores, this means you will end up with 20,800 Membership Rewards points.

Those points are easily worth $208! Along with the $100 airline fee credit, that already more than makes up for the annual fee.

Hot Tip: Here’s another way to look at it. Let’s assume that Membership Rewards points are worth a conservative 1 cent per point. If you spend at least $6,250 at grocery stores each year, the bonus points you earn (25,000) will completely cover the cost of the annual fee. That’s easy to do considering that most grocery stores carry more than just food these days!

Restaurants and Dining

Earning 4x points at restaurants worldwide is a great perk of the Gold Card! Whether you only eat out once a week or you’re in a restaurant more than you’re at home, this perk will help you earn lots of valuable Membership Rewards points fast.

Let’s assume you eat out twice a week and spend $30 each time — that’s $60 spent at restaurants each week, for a total of $3,120 each year. Since you will earn 4 points per dollar, you will end up with 12,480 Membership Rewards points. Conservatively, those points are worth $124.80.

Now, you can even take that a step further. If you ordered from Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, or Shake Shack once a month, you would also earn $120 in statement credits (up to $10 per month).

That’s a total of $244.80 just from dining out at restaurants — it almost covers the entire annual fee without taking into account any of the other benefits the Gold Card offers.

Hot Tip: If you are a business owner, you might want to consider the American Express® Business Gold Card. This card offers expanded categories that earn 4x points, plus perks for business owners like free G Suite service, a free Zip Recruiter subscription, and other business expense management tools.

The Hotel Collection

If you are headed away for a long weekend, consider booking your hotel through The Hotel Collection. If you stay at least 2 nights, you will get a $100 credit to spend on dining, spa, or resort activities.

Plus, you are eligible for an upgrade if one is available — and you’ll still earn 1 point per dollar spent on your hotel stay.

Let’s say you spend 2 nights at a hotel that costs $250 per night, spending $500 per stay. You will get a $100 credit to use for dining, spa, or other resort activities, and earn 500 Membership Rewards points.

Do that twice in a year, and you have $210 in value from your Gold Card ($200 in credits from 2 hotel stays plus $10 in points value from those stays).

Again, this is another benefit that almost covers the annual fee all by itself!

The Hotel Collection
Get access to discounts and perks through The Hotel Collection. Image courtesy of American Express.

Other Benefits

There’s no doubt that this card comes with lots of other great benefits like baggage insurance, car rental loss and damage insurance, global assist hotline, return protection, and roadside assistance.

Those benefits absolutely add value to the Gold Card, but we won’t use them here to calculate whether the card is worth its annual fee.

Hot Tip: Personally, I like calculating a card’s value with things I can control, like where and how much I use the card. So, my estimates of value are very conservative! If there are other benefits that you know you will use or you really find valuable, be sure to include those in your personal calculations.

$650+ Value From the American Express® Gold Card

Now that we know the key benefits of the American Express® Gold Card, let’s look at a black and white example of how much value you can realistically get from this card.

PurchasePoints Earned Each YearValue of Points or Statement Credit
Groceries: $100/week20,800$208
Airline fee credit: 1 round-trip flight for 2 people each checking 1 bagN/A$100 statement credit
2 round-trip flights each costing $300 purchased through AmexTravel.com1,800$18
The Hotel Collection: 2-night stay at a $250/night hotel500$100 statement credit + $5 point value
Dining out at a restaurant 1x per week at $30/visit6,240$62
$120 dining credit: Eating/ordering 1x per month at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, or Shake ShackN/A$120
$500 in miscellaneous monthly spend (including gas, clothing, entertainment, etc.)6,000$60
Total35,340$673

In this example, you could easily get almost $700 in value from your American Express® Gold Card without even taking into account benefits like Amex Offers or Travel Insurance.

This is a pretty conservative estimate — I’m sure most of us spend a lot more than this during the course of our everyday lives (and of course, we are taking more than 1 trip per year! ;))

But I wanted to do the math this way to show you that it’s easy to get tons of value out of this card without being a world traveler or big spender.

Bottom Line: You can easily earn enough Membership Rewards points to offset the cost of the card’s annual fee without being a huge spender or constant world traveler.

Final Thoughts

The American Express® Gold Card is a great travel rewards credit card with a mid-range annual fee. The card offers lots of perks like great bonus categories for maximum points earning, $100 airline fee credit, $120 dining credit, and access to The Hotel Collection.

Earning 4x points in categories like grocery stores and restaurants makes this card a smart choice for your everyday spending. Even if you aren’t a big spender or taking tons of trips throughout the year, you can easily get $600-$700 in value or more from this card each year, making it a great choice for many different types of consumers.

Wondering how this card stacks up against The Platinum Card® from American Express? Don’t miss our comparison piece: The Platinum Card® from American Express vs The American Express® Gold Card.


Featured Image: Courtesy of AmericanExpress.com

FAQ

Is it worth getting an American Express® Gold Card?

The American Express® Gold Card has a moderate annual fee, but it comes with plenty of benefits to easily offset that cost. This card earns 4x points at U.S. grocery stores and restaurants. If you spend at least $6,250 in these categories combined, you will offset the cost of the card. Plus you can earn other credits including an airline fee credit of $100 annually and a dining credit of $120 annually ($10 per month at participating restaurants).

Does the American Express® Gold Card have a limit?

The American Express® Gold Card does not have a pre-set spending limit. But that doesn’t mean you have access to unlimited spending. Your purchasing power will adjust based on the use of your card, payment and credit history, and financial resources.

Is the American Express® Gold card metal?

Yes, rest assured when you get the American Express® Gold Card, you will be receiving the hefty metal design that many consider to be a bit of a status symbol (or at the very least, fun to plop down to pay a bill)!

How much is the annual fee for the American Express® Gold Card?

The annual fee for the American Express® Gold Card is $250 (See Rates & Fees). This includes up to 5 additional cards. If you have 6 or more additional cards, the annual fee is $35.

Katie Seemann

About Katie Seemann

Katie is an Ohio native who caught the travel bug after spending a semester in college in Nottingham, England. In addition to exploring England, she visited Ireland, Scotland and the Netherlands during that time and loved every minute of it (everything except the hostel in Scotland – that’s an experience she doesn’t intend on repeating!) In 2015, Katie discovered the world of points and miles, and since then she’s earned countless points and has an embarrassingly large number of credit cards in her wallet (which she needs a spreadsheet to keep track of!)

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