7 American Express Gold Card Benefits That Far Outweigh Its Annual Fee

The perks will more than make up for the card’s steep annual fee.
Last updated Mar 10, 2020 | By Ben Luthi
People Enjoying American Express Gold Credit Card Benefits

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The American Express Gold Card is packed with valuable rewards and benefits that make it an easy choice for everyday spenders and frequent travelers. Even with a steep annual fee, you’ll get excellent dining and travel perks that can help make up for the cost.

Here’s what you need to know about the American Express Gold Card benefits — and why it might be a good fit for you.

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American Express Gold Card at a glance

If you’re considering a card that offers excellent value on dining and travel, as well as at U.S. supermarkets, the American Express Gold Card could be a good match for you. You’ll earn up to 4X points per dollar on some of these spending categories, which can go a long way with the card’s flexible rewards program.

American Express Membership Rewards are worth between 0.5 cents and one cent apiece when you redeem them directly through the credit card issuer — a value that’s nothing to write home about. But if you transfer points to a loyalty program that is one of American Express’ travel partners, you could potentially squeeze a lot more value out of them. This includes loyalty programs like Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy.

These airline and hotel partners have dynamic rewards programs, which means the redemption rate can vary based on when and how you redeem. With the right redemption, you could get far more value than just one cent per point.

The card is also appealing because of its metal design. It is, however, a charge card, which means you’ll need to pay your balance in full each month. It also does not have an intro APR offer on purchases or any special balance transfer intro offer.

While it does charge a $250 annual fee, that can easily be made up for with the American Express Gold Card’s benefits. So let's take a look at these perks, which include travel benefits and much more.

Top 7 American Express Gold Card benefits

It’s natural to feel apprehensive about such a high annual fee, but depending on how you use the card, the American Express Gold Card’s benefits could easily outweigh the card’s yearly cost. Here’s what you’d have to look forward to.

1. Generous welcome offer

Welcome bonus: Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards points after you make $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months after account opening

As a new cardholder, you’ll earn a welcome bonus when you sign up for the card and meet its minimum spending requirement. While the number of bonus points you can earn with a new card may sound low compared with other top travel credit cards, the minimum spend requirement is manageable for even the smallest budget.

You can redeem the points through American Express Travel, but if you redeem the points strategically through transfer partners, they could be worth far more than what you might get from a bigger bonus that provides less flexibility.

2. High-earning bonus categories

A welcome bonus is nice, but if you’re going to hold onto a card for a long time, having solid ongoing rewards rates is crucial. With the American Express Gold Card, you’ll earn 4X Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year) and at restaurants worldwide, 3X on flights booked directly with airlines or on Amextravel.com, and 1X on all other eligible purchases.

All other purchases will net you just one point per dollar, but if you spend a lot in the card’s bonus categories, you could easily make up for the lower base rewards rate.

Plus, you can always pair the card with another one that offers a high rewards rate on every purchase — for example, the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card or the Citi Double Cash Card — to avoid leaving money on the table.

3. Airline fee credit

You’ll get up to $100 annually in airline fee credits, which are good for incidental fees, including checked baggage fees and inflight meals. The annual airline fee credit is not good for airfare. The only caveat is you need to choose one qualifying airline each calendar year, for which you can use the statement credit. If you’re not loyal to any single airline, that could make it difficult to max out the airline credit every year.

4. Dining credits

Cardholders get up to $120 in dining credits each month — that’s $10 per month — when using the card at select restaurants and food delivery services. This includes Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations.

If you regularly dine out or order in, it could be easy to take advantage of this benefit.

5. Premium hotel credit

If you book at least two consecutive nights with a property in The Hotel Collection, you’ll get a $100 hotel credit to spend on qualifying dining, spa, and resort activities. You’ll also get a room upgrade if there’s one available.

6. Amex Offers

American Express provides access to the Amex Offers platform on all of its cards. You can sift through and activate offers through your online account or mobile app and earn cash back or extra bonus points when you redeem them.

7. Flexible payment option

While the American Express Gold is a charge card, you have the option to carry a balance on eligible purchases of $100 or more. While it’s generally best to pay your bill on time and in full each month to avoid interest charges, having this flexibility can be helpful in the right situation.

Additional Amex Gold Card benefits

As you can see, you might have an easy time getting enough value out of the American Express Gold Card benefits to make up for its annual fee. If that isn’t enough, though, here are some ancillary benefits that could help make the card even more worth your while.

American Express Gold Card benefits Benefit details
No foreign transaction fee You’ll save up to 3% on every purchase you make abroad
Rental car insurance Offers up to $50,000 in secondary coverage; primary coverage is available at a low cost
Baggage insurance plan Provides coverage of up to $1,250 on carry-on baggage and up to $500 on checked baggage if lost, damaged, or stolen
ShopRunner membership Get free two-day shipping on select items with more than 100 online retailers
Amex Preferred Seating Gain access to premium seats for select cultural and sporting events
Exclusive access to ticket presales Get tickets before the general public for Broadway shows, concert tours, family and sporting events, and more
Trip accident insurance Offers up to $250,000 in coverage if you sustain accidental death or dismemberment when traveling on a common carrier
Purchase protection Get up to $10,000 per claim in coverage if a recently-purchased item is accidentally damaged, stolen, or lost
Return protection Offers up to $300 per claim if you try to return an eligible item you purchased with the card within 90 days and the merchant won’t take it back
Extended warranty protection You’ll get up to two extra years added to the original manufacturer’s warranty on eligible items with warranties of five years or less

Is the Amex Gold Card worth it?

The American Express Gold Card benefits make the card an appealing choice for all kinds of consumers. The travel benefits are appealing in particular. If you're a frequent traveler and you think you’ll get a lot of value out of the perks the card provides and spend a lot on dining and at U.S. supermarkets, it could be a no-brainer. The annual savings this card will earn you will far outweigh the annual fee.

If, however, you’re turned off by any mention of an annual fee (regardless of the value a card offers) or you’re not confident you’ll break even each year, it may be worth considering a different rewards card.

The bottom line on Amex Gold Card vs. Amex Platinum

The Platinum Card from American Express is one of the best travel rewards cards out there, offering premium travel perks that are tough to beat. If you travel often and want complimentary airport lounge access, Uber credits, elite hotel and car-rental status, a statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, and more, the American Express Platinum may be worth considering.

But if the idea of a $550 annual fee sounds too daunting or you don’t travel enough to take advantage of the perks, the American Express Gold Card can give you benefits that are easier to use, plus much better rewards rates on everyday spending.

Big Rewards for Dining Out

Benefits

  • 35,000 Membership Rewards point welcome offer
  • High rewards rate in certain categories
  • Up to $100 airline fee credit
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Terms apply