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Advertiser Disclosure

Advertiser Disclosure: Some of the card offers that appear on this website are from companies which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). The site does not review or include all companies or all available products.

Disclaimer: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone. For a full list of our advertisers, see our disclosure page.

Opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed here are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed or endorsed by the issuer. We may be compensated through the issuer’s Affiliate Program. For a full list of our advertisers see our disclosure page.

American Express Gold Card: Is it a Charge Card Worth Getting?

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Image of American Express® Gold Card

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"The Amex Gold Card is a good entry level charge card, though it has few benefits."

Contents

The American Express® Gold Card is one of several charge cards offered by the company. Overall, the Gold Card is a middle-of-the-road charge card which offers less value than some of the more premium alternatives from American Express. Despite this, anyone in the market for a charge card should definitely consider this as an entry-level option. The American Express® Gold Card offers a low annual fee (compared to other charge cards) while still giving cardholders the ability to earn AMEX Membership Rewards, which is a high-value rewards program. 

American Express® Gold Card Pros

  • No preset spending limit, good for individuals with high spending needs
  • Cardholders participate in Amex's Membership Rewards program
  • Up to $75 back per stay when staying two consecutive nights at a Hotel Collection brand (up to $225 in value for 3 rooms each stay, no cap on stays throughout the year)
  • Annual fee of $125 (waived first year) lower than the average AMEX charge card

American Express® Gold Card Cons

  • High annual fee when compared to credit cards
  • Required to pay balance in full each month
  • No bonus signing bonus

Review: Is the American Express® Gold Card a Good Value?

One of the most important aspects of the American Express Gold Card is the fact that it is a charge card - not a credit card. The distinction is an important one as it can lead consumers into something they did not bargain for. A key difference between the AMEX Gold Card and credit cards is that it does not allow you to carry a balance at the end of the month. In other words, you are expected to pay off any charges on the card at the end of each and every billing cycle. If a user fails to adhere to this rule, there will be heavy penalties. Late fees on the American Express Gold can be significantly higher than those of other credit cards when cardholders miss paying off their balances two bills in a row. That's about ~36% on an annualized basis vs. typical credit card APRs of 19% (rates are capped at 29.99% for credit cards). For this reason, if you are not able to pay your balance off completely each month, please think twice before you apply for this card. To read more about the differences between charge cards and credit cards, look to our article here.

On the positive side of things, the AMEX Gold Card offers some fantastic rewards which are exclusive to it, and its premier variations. The most interesting benefit is the “Hotel Collection”. When staying two consecutive nights at a participating hotel booked through American Express travel portal, cardholders can receive up to $75 in hotel credit on qualifying charges, such as room upgrades. AMEX also allows you to get the credit for three rooms per stay, so you can get up to $225 back per stay when you meet this criteria. Because this credit can be used on multiple stays throughout the year, and is not tied to one hotel chain, it is among one of the best hotel-specific benefits we’ve seen. 

One final feature worth noting is the “no preset spending limit”. Though listed as a pro of the card, it can be an adverse feature if used improperly. What do we mean by that? A no preset spending limit allows individuals to make large purchases with no pre-defined credit limit. American Express simply monitors your spending and sets for you a new credit limit month-to-month. This limit is based on things such as your spending patterns and payment history. A feature such as this can be of great benefit to AMEX Gold cardholders who want a little bit more buying flexibility than they can get out of traditional credit cards. However, this might create difficulties for some American Express Gold cardholders.

What are the American Express Gold Card's Benefits, Features, and Perks?

Image of American Express® Gold Card

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Annual Fee $0 Intro Annual Fee for the first year then $160
Purchase APR
Card Details
  • 1 point for every dollar you spent
  • Membership Rewards program allows you to use points for rewards with 500+ brands
  • Baggage insurance
  • Roadside assistance
  • Car rental insurance
  • Global assist hotline
  • Travel insurance
  • Return protection
  • Purchase protection

The AMEX Gold is part of the Membership Rewards family of American Express cards. This particular card, for the most part, earns users 1 Membership Rewards Points® for every $1 they spend. There are two exceptions that offer the opportunity for bonus points. Firstly, whenever booking hotels and flights through Amextravel.com, cardholders can receive 2 points per $1 (recall that this is also how consumers can take advantage of the hotel credit).

Also, since the middle of 2014, American Express offers a special Membership Rewards rate whenever you use your card to pay for Uber – you can receive 2 points for every $1 spent. With Uber expanding to more and more cities, this is an extra perk that AMEX charge cardholders can take advantage of.

We've covered other aspects of Amex's Membership Rewards program for potential cardholders who'd like more information.

The Value of an AMEX Membership Rewards Point

Membership rewards have some of the most robust redemption options. American Express Gold Card users can use their points to shop (both through online vendors and Amazon), buy gift cards, pay off a charge on your bill, book flights and hotels, pay for Uber rides, and transfer points for airline frequent flyer miles or hotel points. Depending on how exactly you choose to use your Membership Rewards Points®, a point's worth can be quite different.

The greatest possible value comes from transferring your Membership Rewards Points® to airline and hotel loyalty programs. Through this, AMEX Gold cardholders have the potential to earn $0.012 or more per point, depending on how they are transferring and using those rewards. Note that not all transfers are equal though – as the conversion between Membership Rewards and loyalty points at different companies is not always 1:1.  Additionally, the points of these various loyalty programs are not all great, with the value of some being as low as half a cent. Make no mistake, there is still a lot of value to be had from transferring your points – just research beforehand to make sure you are getting a solid deal.

Below is a range of point values for the AMEX Membership Rewards based on redemption for various purposes.

Redemption Option Point Values
Shopping 0.005
Gift Cards 0.01
Paying off a charge 0.006
Shopping on Amazon 0.007
Booking Flights 0.01
Booking Hotels 0.0075
Uber 0.01

We arrived at these point values by drawing upon a sample of products and services offered directly from the American Express website, then comparing the point cost to a real dollar-equivalent. Here is a simple example calculation to illustrate how we arrived at the value for points redeemed at Uber. The AMEX website indicates that a $23.50 Uber ride will require 2,350 points to pay off. $23.50 / 2,350 Membership Rewards Points® = $0.01 per Point. 

How about your rewards rate, when using the AMEX Gold Card? Well, if you earned those 2,350 points through general purposes it will translate to a 1% rewards rate as follows: In order to earn 2,350 Membership Rewards Points® at a rate of 1 point per $1, you must spend $2,350. In return, when exchanging the points with Uber, you get back $23.50. It follows that $23.50 Earned / $2,350 Spent = 0.01 = 1% return, or reward rate.

While this rate is not good, things start looking better when your spending incorporates Uber and amextravel.com Membership Awards. If you start varying your spending habits to include those two categories your rewards rate for something like Uber your reward rate will vary between 1% to 2%.

Finally, note that when redeeming your points on gift cards, your best value is to exchange points for retail gift cards. Those can carry point values of up to $0.01, compared to American Express Gift Cards which translate to values of $0.005. 

Hotel Stay Perk

One of the best features of the Gold Card from American Express is the possibility of receiving hotel credit for hotel stays. Amex Gold cardholders who stay at least two consecutive nights at a hotel belonging to the “Hotel collection” can benefit from this perk. Each stay fitting this criteria qualifies cardholders to receive up to $75 per room in hotel credits, which can be used towards anything from late night room service to upgrades to a more spacious suite with better views. Furthermore, cardholders can get this reward up to three rooms per stay, so the credit can be as high as $225 back per stay. This reward can be used as many times a year as a user wishes. If you're traveling a lot and staying in participating hotels - and with over 500 participating hotel brands - this benefit is a nice addition.

“Hotel Collection” participating brands include:

American Express "Hotel Collection" Brands
Fairmount Hotels & Resorts Citi Center Las Vegas
Loews Hotels Omni Hotels & Resorts
MGM Resorts, Las Vegas Radisson Blu Hotels & Resorts
Destination Hotels & Resorts Thompson Hotels
Hilton Worldwide The PUBLIC Hotel Chicago
Preferred Hotel Group KSL Resorts

Shopping Benefits with the Gold Card

The American Express Gold Card offers consumers some added protection on their purchases. Firstly, Amex provides a one year extended manufacturer’s warranty (limited to warranties spanning 5 years – capped at $10,000 per occurrence). Also, if an item you bought using the Amex Gold Card is accidentally damaged or is stolen, American Express will cover the damage for items worth up to $1,000. 

Finally, if a problem occurs where you wish to return within 90 days of purchase, and you used the Gold Card for the transaction, American Express will refund the cost of your purchase if the vendor refuses to accept the return.

American Express® Gold Card Comparisons

How does the AMEX Gold Card look when compared to other credit and charge cards? Below we summarize the most important differences between the Gold Card and some other popular options consumer face, when shopping around for a card.

American Express® Gold Card vs Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express

For individuals interested in the American Express Membership Rewards program, the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express is one of our favorite options among American Express's charge cards. The card offers a fantastic signing bonus – 25,000 points when you spend $2,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of receiving your card. On top of this bonus, Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express cardholders collect Membership Reward points at solid rates. You can receive 3 points on the dollar when booking flights through amextravel.com, 2 points when shopping at U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets, and 1 point on all other purchases.

The above features and perks make the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express a much better offer than the regular AMEX Gold Card. The American Express® Gold Card has an annual rate of $160 - $35 less than the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express. While this may seem high at first, if one maximizes the rewards made available by the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express this difference can be more than made up for.

A final feature of the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express worth mentioning is premium roadside assistance. While the Gold card offers a 24/7 roadside assistance hotline, the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express takes it one step further. Up to 4 times a year, cardholders can have their towing and roadside repair charges covered by American Express.

American Express® Gold Card vs Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

One of the better cards offered by American Express is the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express. If you find that you don’t want to deal with the hassle of managing rewards points, or if none of the Membership Rewards are particularly of any interest to you, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express may be for you. This card is relatively simple to use, especially when compared to the AMEX Gold Card. Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express cardholders receive 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 annually), 2% back on U.S. gas stations and 1% cash back on other eligible purchases. This card is not part of the Membership Rewards program, therefore you will not accumulate any points or have to worry about redeeming rewards online to get maximum value. Instead, your cash back rewards are simply applied to your monthly credit bill.

Another important distinction between the AMEX Gold vs Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, is that the latter is not a charge card. The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express works like the majority of U.S. credit card. You do not have to pay back the entire balance at the end of the month, like you would with the AMEX Gold charge card.

The Gold Card still comes out as a solid card for consumers who wish to be a part of the Membership Rewards Program, as well as enjoy some of the benefits exclusive to the gold cards – such as the Hotel Collection’s $75 credit. If you are unsure of whether these benefits should be enough to tip you in the Gold Card’s favor, consider this last bit of information. The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express has no annual fee, while the AMEX Gold costs you $125 annually (after the first year). If that price is still reason enough to take advantage of American Express’ Membership Rewards, the Gold Card may be the better option for you. 

AMEX Gold Card vs Citi® Double Cash Credit Card

Consumers looking for the simplest possible rewards program, which requires no point management or paying attention to spending categories will prefer the Citi® Double Cash Credit Card card to not just the Amex Gold Card, but close to any other credit card on the market. The Citi® Double Cash Credit Card provides users with 1% cash back across all their spending, then another 1% when those purchases are paid off. There is no redemption or no extra hassles. The rewards are simply applied to all charges on your monthly statement. If you try to use the Amex Gold Card in a similar way, the best you can hope for is a low 0.6%. 

There are few reasons to apply for the Amex Gold over the Citi® Double Cash Credit Card. The one benefit the Amex Gold Card has over the Citi® Double Cash Credit Card is the participation in Membership Rewards. However, when pure value is compared, users can get more out of the Citi® Double Cash Credit Card. Just like the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, the Citi® Double Cash Credit Card comes with no annual fee. As a result, a consumer should feel strongly that the exclusive benefits on Membership Rewards are worth the $125 yearly cost, if they choose this card over the two cash back card options.

AMEX Gold Card vs The Platinum Card® from American Express

A more apples-to-apples comparison can be made when looking at how the American Express Gold Card compares to other charge cards. The most premier of charge card options is The Platinum Card® from American Express. This card comes with a hefty annual fee of $550. This higher than average price tag is a result of exclusive benefits, which carry a lot of value for those who can take advantage of them. There is no overlap between AMEX Gold or The Platinum Card® from American Express cardholders. With a price tag nearly three four times as high as the Gold card, The Platinum Card® from American Express is aimed at frequent travelers who would otherwise spend money on the card’s benefits. 

What benefits does The Platinum Card® from American Express offer? Access to over 600 airport lounges, TSA Pre membership, and up to $200 per year in statement credit on participating airline incidental fees to name a few. If these benefits sound like something you may be interested in, there is a chance The Platinum Card® from American Express may be worth the $550 fee.

When it comes to rewards rates, the AMEX Gold Card offers better long-term potential due to the double points earned through amextravel.com. In the short-term however, The Platinum Card® from American Express offers better point value, due to the 60,000 signing bonus that you get after spending at least $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months.

Amex Gold Card vs Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is among the best travel rewards cards available. Costing $30 less than the AMEX Gold, the Venture credit card from Capital One is a good option to consider for frequent travelers. This card has a much simpler redemption system, where cardholders can redeem their points on either travel statement credits or as a straight cashback card.

When redeemed as travel statement credit, the Venture gives back 2% each dollar spent to cardholders, when miles are redeemed for travel statement credit. When used as cash back for all other purchases, Venture users get a return of $0.01 per dollar. Even at this lower return rate, the Venture matches some of the AMEX Gold Card’s rewards rates. Unless a consumer is specifically interested in the American Express Membership Rewards Program, the Venture is far superior to the AMEX Gold Card.

Credit Card Comparison Tool

Our interactive visualization tool below shows how the Amex Gold charge card and its other card alternatives compare on a number of metrics, such as rewards rate, APRs, annual fees, etc. Personalize the inputs by clicking the pencil icon, and enter your projected monthly spending to get an idea of how the various cards compare based on your own financials.

Assumptions Based On Monthly Spend of: $1,430 Edit
General:
U.S. Gas Stations:
U.S. Supermarkets:
Airlines:
Hotel:
U.S. Restaurants:
Office:
Utilities:
Computing:
Card Annual Fee 2-yr Net Rewards Rate

The Net Rewards Rate is equal to the Rewards Value over two years divided by the total spending. The total spending is equal to the values entered into the tool and multiplied by 24 months. See the rewards Value note to see details on how it is calculated.

The estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone. They are not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. All estimates are based on the spend assumptions entered above (which you can edit).

Bonus Value

The bonus field shows our estimate for the value of the card’s welcome bonus. If the bonus is point or mile based, we multiply the total bonus points/miles by our estimate for their value to arrive at a dollar equivalent. We display $0 if there is no bonus or if the user doesn’t qualify for the bonus based on the current spending entered into the tool. All estimates are based on the spend assumptions entered above (which you can edit).

The estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone. They are not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

2-yr Rewards Value

The Rewards value is calculated by adding together the rewards earned from charging purchases to the card over two years and any welcome bonuses (if applicable). They are then multiplied by our estimated point/mile value, with any annual fees (if applicable) subtracted. All values are based on our own estimates for the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using a card and on the spend assumptions entered above (which you can edit).

The estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone. They are not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that 3.18%
$500
Receive 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 within the first 3 months
$1,091
Graph Card Read Review More Details and Value Calculation

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 68,640 x $0.01 = $686
Bonuses
50,000 x $0.01 = $500
Less Annual Fees -$95
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 1,091

*The value estimate is calculated using ValuePenguin.com rewards point value.

Annual Fee $0 intro for first year; $95 after that
APR 14.49% - 24.49% (Variable)

Card Details

  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • New! Earn 10 miles per dollar on hotels when you pay with your Venture card at hotels.com/venture; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that

Note: The information in this box was provided by Capital One® and is not part of our independent analysis.

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
$0 2.04%
$150
Get $150 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. You will receive $150 back in the form of a statement credit.
$700
Graph Card Read Review More Details and Value Calculation

Terms and Limitations Apply

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Point Value Rewards Value
Spending Rewards 550 x $1 = $550
Bonuses
0 x $1 = $150
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 700

*The value estimate is calculated using ValuePenguin.com rewards point value.

Annual Fee $0
APR 14.49%-25.49% Variable
*Rates and Fees

Card Details

  • $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%).
  • 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores, 1% back on other purchases.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate, currently 14.49% to 25.49%.
  • Over 1.5 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in 2017.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise.
  • No annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
The Platinum Card® from American Express
$550 -2.21%
$0
Earn 60,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases on your new card in your first 3 months
$-757
Graph Card Read Review More Details and Value Calculation

Terms and Limitations Apply

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Point Value Rewards Value
Spending Rewards 34,320 x $0.01 = $343
Less Annual Fees -$1,100
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months -757

*The value estimate is calculated using ValuePenguin.com rewards point value.

Annual Fee $550
APR N/A
*Rates and Fees

Card Details

  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Up to $200 for Uber rides annually. Credit and Uber VIP status available to Basic Card Member only.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • As a Platinum Card Member, you can enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

Bottom Line: Is the American Express Gold Card Worth It?

Should you apply for the AMEX Gold charge card? For the majority of individuals, the AMEX Gold Card is not a worthwhile investment. There are more rewards and value to be had with the AMEX Gold Premier Rewards Card, for a marginal increase in annual fees. The Premier Card is more difficult to get approved more, as it requires a better credit score than the Gold Card. However, assuming that both cards are available, consumers in the market for a Membership Rewards card should apply for the American Express Gold Premier card instead. 

Finally, it cannot be stressed enough how important it is to understand the difference between charge cards, like the American Express Gold Card, and other credit cards. If you cannot afford to pay your balance in full each month you should not apply for any charge cards.

American Express Gold Card Resources

Here are a number of frequently asked questions related to the AMEX Gold charge card that consumers typically have.

Is the Amex Gold Card Difficult to Get?

As with most charge cards, the Gold Card requires good to excellent credit in order to obtain. Since it comes with no preset spending limit, American Express needs to feel confident that a consumer has a good grasp on their personal finances and that they will be able to pay off any debts they amass each month.

How do I apply for the American Express Gold Card?

You can apply online at https://www304.americanexpress.com/credit-card/gold/25330, or call AMEX at (800) 243-3888 to apply for the charge card with a representative.

How are Membership Rewards Redeemed?

Points accumulated using your AMEX Gold Card can be redeemed on their online portal located here: http://www.membershiprewards.com

How do I use my American Express Gold Card with Uber?

To start taking advantage of all Uber offers, Gold Card users must download the Uber App onto their phones. They must then make the AMEX Gold Card their payment option. After doing so, you will earn double points on all trips you pay for using this card. You will also unlock the ability to pay using your Membership Rewards point balance. Remember that this is a solid way of redeeming your points, as you get a value of $0.01 per point and rewards rate of 2% when doing so.

Comments and Questions

* See the online credit card application for details about terms and conditions. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. When you click on the "Apply Now" button, you can review the credit card terms and conditions on the issuer's website.

Info about the following cards: American Express® Gold Card, Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express, Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card, Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, Hilton Honors Surpass® Credit Card, American Express® Blue Sky, American Express® Green Card, The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express, The Plenti® Credit Card from Amex, Blue from American Express®, Platinum Card® from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz, Bluebird, Centurion® Card from American Express, Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, and Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card has been collected independently by ValuePenguin. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program. 

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Advertiser Disclosure: Some of the offers that appear on this website are from companies which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). The site does not review or include all companies or all available products. For more information please see our Advertiser Disclosure.