2018 American Express Gold Card Review – WalletHub Editors
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The Verdict: The American Express® Gold Card offers lots of rewards, especially on travel and dining purchases. But it costs a pretty penny, too.
Amex Gold gives 20% back in statement credits at U.S. restaurants for the first three months (up to $100 saved), an initial bonus of 25,000 points for spending $2,000 in the first three months, up to $10 per month for dining with Amex dining partners, and up to $100 per year for fees charged by one airline. That’s not all, either. Amex Gold cardholders also earn 4 points per $1 spent at U.S. restaurants, 4 points per $1 spent at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 spent each year), 3 points per $1 spent on eligible flights, and 1 point per $1 on everything else (American Express is a WalletHub partner). That’s the good news.
The bad news is that the American Express Gold Card has a $250 annual fee. That’s more than 15 times what the average credit card charges. And Amex Gold is far from ideal if you want to carry a balance from month to month. Some purchases may be eligible for that, thanks to Amex’s Pay Over Time feature, but you’d be paying interest at a pretty high rate.
So if you’re a big-spender with good credit or better who likes to eat and travel, Amex Gold could be a good card for you. Otherwise, you can probably do better. Continue reading below to learn more.
- 20% Back at U.S. Restaurants for 3 Months: If you apply for the Amex Gold Card by 1/9/19, you’ll get 20% back each time you dine out for the first three months your account is open. You can save up to $100 with this limited-time promotion.
- 25,000 Bonus Points: The Amex Gold Card’s 25K-point “sign-up” bonus is available to new cardholders who spend at least $2K within three months of opening an account. This bonus is worth roughly $213, according to WalletHub’s calculations. The average initial bonus is 15,732 points/miles or $139 cash back.
4 Points per $1 at U.S. Restaurants: Amex Gold has one of the highest restaurant rewards rates on the market. The 4 points per $1 that you’ll earn dining out domestically works out to about 3.4% cash back. And there’s no limit to the amount you can earn in this category.
Pretty much any place you’d think of as a restaurant qualifies, from fast food to fine dining. But it ultimately depends on the establishment’s merchant category code. A restaurant inside a hotel or casino may not count, for example, if the merchant is classified as a hotel or casino.
4 Points per $1 at U.S. Supermarkets: Amex Gold’s dining rewards cover every day eating at home, too. But people tend to spend more at the supermarket than at restaurants over the course of a year. So Amex limits your bonus earning rate of 4 points per $1 at U.S. supermarkets to $25,000 spent on groceries per year.
After that, you’ll get 1 point per $1. Purchases at superstores and warehouse clubs also earn you just 1 point per $1 spent.
- 3 Points per $1 on Eligible Flights: Amex Gold rewards cardholders with the equivalent of 2.55% back on airfare purchased directly from airlines or through amextravel.com. The downside to this offer is that you can’t really shop around for the best deals on flights.
$100 in Annual Airline Credits: Amex Gold cardholders automatically receive statement credits, up to $100 per year, for incidental fees charged by one designated airline. This would cover checked baggage fees as well as the cost of in-flight meals and entertainment, for example. But it does not apply to airline tickets themselves or things like upgrades, buying airline miles, etc.
You can pick your airline from Amex’s list at any time. But after you’ve made a selection, you can only change it once per year, in January.
$250 Annual Fee: One year with Amex Gold could pay for 15 years and change with the average credit card, which has an annual fee just shy of $16. That’s not to say the Gold Card isn’t worth it. Many people can still get plenty from it, even with the fee considered. But this should help put things in perspective.
Low Point Value: Credit card points and miles are worth about a penny apiece on average. American Express Membership Rewards® points are on the wrong side of that average, equaling about 85% of 1 cent each. Knowing this will make it easier to estimate how much value you can get from the Gold Card’s rewards.
Limited Financing Capabilities: Amex Gold is a charge card, which means you must pay for most purchases in full by the due date. With a normal credit card, you have the option of paying only part of your balance by the due date and the rest over time. But Amex Gold does allow cardholders to pay for some $100+ purchases over time.
You can set your account to Pay Over Time Direct, which means Amex will automatically review all purchases of $100 or more for eligibility. Or, you can opt for Pay Over Time Select, which allows you to designate eligible purchases from your current statement or the previous one for review by Amex. American Express may approve or decline Pay Over Time requests based on things like your payment history, current account status, and credit standing.
- Above-Average APR: Just because you can pay off eligible Amex Gold purchases over time doesn’t mean you should. The APR for such purchases is slightly higher than the average among credit cards for people with good credit (19.88%), which Amex Gold requires for approval. And even that average rate is way above what you want to be paying, especially while 0% APR credit cards are still available to people with good credit scores.
Other Things to Consider
- No Foreign Transaction Fee: International purchases, whether you’re traveling abroad or shopping online from foreign merchants, won’t cost you extra with Amex Gold, thanks to its $0 foreign fee. The average credit card adds 1.51% to every international charge. And many American Express credit cards charge a foreign transaction fee of 2.7%.
$120 in Restaurant Credits per Year: You can sign up for statement credits of up to $10 per month for dining at Amex’s restaurant partners: Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth's Chris Steak House and stand-alone Shake Shack locations. You can enroll through your online account or by calling the number on the back of your card.
Limited-Edition Rose Gold Version: If you apply by 1/9/19, you’ll have the option of getting a limited-edited rose gold Amex Gold Card. It’s also made of metal.
Good or Excellent Credit Required: You need a credit score of 700 or higher for good Amex Gold Card approval odds. You can check your latest credit score for free on WalletHub to see where you stand.
Compared To The Competition
There are lots of great credit cards out there offering extra rewards on travel and dining. So it’s worth seeing how the American Express Gold Card compares to some of its most popular competitors.
American Express® Gold Card
The Platinum Card® from American Express
Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard®
Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card
|Annual Fee||$250||$550||None 1st yr, $89 after||None 1st yr, $95 after|
|Rewards Bonus||25,000 points||60,000 points||60,000 miles||$500|
|Rewards Rate||1 - 4 points / $1||1 - 5 points / $1||2 miles / $1||1 - 4% Cash Back|
|Purchase Intro APR||Not Offered||Not Offered||Not Offered||Not Offered|
|Transfer Intro APR||Not Offered||Not Offered||0% for 12 billing cycles|
Transfer Fee: 3% (min $5)
|Regular APR||See Rates & Fees||N/A||17.99% - 24.99% (V)||16.24% - 25.24% (V)|
|Editors’ Rating||3.4 / 5||3.0 / 5||5.0 / 5||4.9 / 5|
|Details, Rates & Fees||Learn More|
Rates & Fees
Rates & Fees
Rates & Fees
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