With lots of no-annual-fee credit cards out there, the $250 annual fee on a card like the American Express® Gold Card can be hard to justify. Plus, with the pandemic leaving so many travelers grounded, the card’s emphasis on travel rewards may be less appealing.
But there’s more to this card than just travel benefits. The American Express® Gold Card has an attractive rewards earning structure for people who spend a lot of money at U.S. supermarkets and restaurants, in addition to some valuable dining statement credits each month. Terms apply.
So even for users who aren’t traveling much these days, the benefits could prove worth more than the annual fee. Below is a quick overview of the benefits, followed by some points to consider when deciding whether the American Express® Gold Card is worth it for you.
Perks of the American Express® Gold Card
The American Express® Gold Card can be a great option during “normal times,” offering the following welcome bonus: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months. Terms Apply.
Cardholders earn 4 American Express Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on dining (including international restaurants and takeout), as well as on the first $25,000 spent at U.S. supermarkets annually. Plus, earn 3 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines and amextravel.com, and 1 point per dollar on all other spending. Terms apply.
The annual fee is worth it if you…
Spend a lot of money on food
The 4 points per dollar you earn for spending on groceries at U.S. supermarkets, dining and takeout purchases is much higher than many rewards cards. Keep in mind the 4x on U.S. supermarket spending applies to up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then it reverts to 1x. Others only offer 1 point per dollar on the same spend, so this card can provide a hefty boost for your points accrual. Terms apply.
Use the credits for airline fees and dining
The American Express® Gold Card comes with several hundred dollars in annual credits: $100 for airline incidental fees (through 2021), and up to $120 annually in dining (up to $10 per month at specific delivery services including Grubhub, Seamless, Boxed and a few restaurants). The $100 airline credit is set to leave the card as a benefit in 2022 but you’ll still be able to take full advantage of it in 2021.
Speaking of 2021, American Express is adding a new benefit to the American Express® Gold Card that includes an additional $120 per year in the form of Uber Cash. These Uber Cash credits come in $10 monthly increments, which can be used toward Uber Eats. This accounts for another $120 of value. Terms apply.
If you make use of the full amount of all three credits, you’ll pick up $340 worth of value, exceeding the card’s annual fee.
This card carries no foreign transaction fees. Foreign transaction fees on other cards can add up to 3% on every transaction made outside of the states — a hefty expense for frequent international travelers. Terms apply.
Nerd tip: AmEx is not accepted everywhere internationally, so it’s a good idea to also carry a Visa or Mastercard as a backup.
Can earn the welcome offer
Aim to hit the spending minimum without carrying over a balance or paying interest charges. You don’t want to miss out on tens of thousands of points, especially on a card with a significant annual fee.
The annual fee is not worth it if you…
Prefer cash back. Redeeming AmEx Membership Rewards points for maximum value can be complicated since points vary in value based on how you redeem them. Trading points for flights or other rewards can be limiting if you’re someone who prefers the simplicity of cash back or statement credits.
Rarely fly. If you don’t fly often, the American Express® Gold Card may not be worthwhile for you, since it’ll be harder to get any value from the $100 airline fee credit or the ability to earn 3 extra points per dollar spent on flights booked directly with airlines. Terms apply.
The bottom line
The American Express® Gold Card is great for some, but a money-losing proposition for others. If you’re a regular traveler who spends a lot on dining and at U.S. supermarkets, you can easily get more value out of this card than you pay in annual fees.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2020, including those best for: