American Express Gold Card Review: Are The Perks Worth the Annual Fee?

If you spend a lot on dining and travel, the American Express Gold Card may prove to be an asset for your wallet.
5 minute read | 6/21/19June 21, 2019

After an overhaul in October 2018, the American Express Gold Card emerged from being an average travel card to a dining rewards powerhouse. The revamped earning structure boasts a generous rewards rate at restaurants worldwide and U.S. supermarkets, up to $120 in dining credits each calendar year, and many competitive travel benefits.

With a slew of perks and a sleek metal design, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement. But before you decide if it’s right for you, take a closer look at how the card works and benefits to consider.

Big Rewards for Dining Out

American Express Gold Card

American Express Gold Card

American Express Gold Card

Benefits

  • 35,000 Bonus Points welcome offer
  • High rewards rate in certain categories
  • $100 airline fee credit
  • No foreign transaction fee

Drawbacks

  • No lounge access benefit
  • Has annual fee

Who should get this card?

We’ve all got to eat, and if you love to dine out — or dine in — this card can offer excellent returns. With 4X points earned at restaurants worldwide and U.S. supermarkets as well as a $120 dining credit, you can find great value in this card if you spend regularly in these categories.

Along with the many perks for self-professed foodies, you also earn rewards on travel. With 3X points earned on flights booked directly with airlines or through AmexTravel.com, a $100 airline fee credit, and a $100 hotel credit when you book a stay through The Hotel Collection, the American Express Gold Card can keep you rightfully satisfied if you enjoy traveling. If you’re looking to travel abroad, foreign transaction fees won’t be an issue either, as there are none.

Cards like the American Express Gold Card are typically geared toward people with good to excellent credit, and since it’s a charge card, you’ll need to be able to pay off your balance in full each month — unless, of course, you’re taking advantage of the Pay Over Time feature.

If you rarely travel or dine out and can’t put the annual credits to good use, a cashback credit card like the Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express might make more sense instead of paying the $250 annual fee associated with the Amex Gold Card.

Card basics

Annual Fee $250
Welcome Bonus Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards points after you make $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months
Recommended Credit Score Excellent, Good
Foreign Transaction Fee None

Top card benefits

  • Generous welcome offer: Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards points after you make $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • $120 dining credit: After enrolling, you can earn up to $10 in statement credits each month at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth's Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations for an annual savings of up to $120.
  • $100 airline fee credit: Cardholders can select one qualifying airline and receive up to $100 per calendar year in statement credits when incidental fees, like checked bags or inflight meals, are charged to your card.
  • No foreign transaction fee: You can travel abroad without having to worry about racking up fees every time you swipe your card.
  • Payment flexibility: It’s a good rule of thumb to pay off your balance each month, but if you need the flexibility, the Pay Over Time benefit allows your to carry over a balance with interest on eligible charges of $100 or more beyond the month’s due date.

Earning & redeeming

Best ways to earn

The American Express Gold Card is an excellent choice for foodies who enjoy traveling.

You can earn 4X points per dollar spent at restaurants worldwide, as well as 4X points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets, up to $25,000 per year. After that, the rewards rate goes down to 1X point per dollar.

Not to be overshadowed, the American Express Gold Card also offers 3X points per dollar spent on travel and one point per dollar spent on all other purchases.

Category Rewards rate
Restaurants worldwide 4X points
U.S. Supermarkets 4X points on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X
Travel 3X points
Everything else 1X points

Maximizing your redemptions

The value of your Membership Rewards points will vary depending on how you redeem them but generally ranges between 0.5 cents to one cent each.

If you consider getting an equal match on your points as collecting the most value, the clear winner is transferring them to an eligible frequent traveler program. If that doesn’t work for you, there are still plenty of ways to redeem rewards, but you might not get the maximum value for each point.

Maximum Value Value per point
Transfer to frequent traveler program 1:1
Moderate Value Value per point
Redeem for paid travel 0.7 cents to 1 cent
Shop Amazon 0.7 cents
Statement credit 0.6 cents
Lowest Value Value per point
Gift cards 0.5 cents to 1 cent
Shop with merchant partners 0.5 cents

Common questions

What credit score do you need to get an American Express Gold Card?

Just like other premium rewards cards, you’ll need good to excellent credit to qualify, so aim for a FICO score above 670 for the best chance of getting approved.

Do you get access to airport lounges?

Unfortunately, no. While the American Express Gold Card comes with a variety of travel benefits, you would need The Platinum Card from American Express in order to gain complimentary access to American Express lounge networks.

Is the American Express Gold Card worth it?

If you can maximize the $220 in annual credits and are a big spender in the card’s bonus categories, the American Express Gold Card may be worth every penny, even with the $250 annual fee.

Does the American Express Gold Card pair well with other cards?

Yes, especially when combined with other strong American Express cards within the Membership Rewards program, such as The Platinum Card from American Express and the Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card.

Other cards to consider

If the benefits of the American Express Gold Card don’t offset the annual fee in your eyes, a card with comparable rewards and a lower annual fee may be a smarter choice.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card offers a generous sign-up bonus that can help kickstart your travel plans and is an excellent option if you like to travel and dine out. If, however, you see more restaurants and entertainment expenses in your future, you may want to consider the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card, which offers generous cash back that can keep you entertained and satisfied for quite some time.

Big Rewards for Dining Out

American Express Gold Card

American Express Gold Card

American Express Gold Card

Special Offer

Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards points after you make $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months

See how these cards compare:

Chase Sapphire Preferred
Chase Sapphire Preferred
  • 60,000 point sign-up bonus
  • 2X points on dining and travel, 1 per $1 spent on everything else
  • 25% more value when redeeming rewards for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Premium travel protection benefits
  • No foreign transaction fees
Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card
Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card
  • $400 cash back sign-up offer
  • 4% cash back on dining and entertainment
  • Postmates Unlimited membership through December 2019
  • No foreign transaction fees

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