|"The Amex Gold Card is a good entry level charge card, though it has few benefits."|
- American Express® Gold Card Review
- Features, Benefits & Perks
- Amex Gold Card Comparisons
- Is the Amex Gold Worth It?
- Resources & FAQs
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
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, American Express may not always be the best judge of what kind of spending you are ready for. This might create difficulties for some American Express Gold cardholders.
|Annual Fee||$0 Intro Annual Fee for the first year then $160|
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.
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 the best deal possible.
Below is a range of point values for the AMEX Membership Rewards based on redemption for various purposes.
|Redemption Option||Point Values|
|Paying off a charge||0.006|
|Shopping on Amazon||0.007|
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.
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.
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.
For individuals interested in the American Express Membership Rewards program, the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express is the best option 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 some of the best rates in the entire American Express lineup. You can receive 3 points on the dollar when booking flights through amextravel.com, 2 points when shopping at gas stations and 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.
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 on top 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.
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 Card - 18 month BT offer card to not just the Amex Gold Card, but close to any other credit card on the market. The Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer 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 Card - 18 month BT offer. The one benefit the Amex Gold Card has over the Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer is the participation in Membership Rewards. However, when pure value is compared, users can get more out of the Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer. Just like the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, the Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer 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.
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.
The Barclaycard Arrival Plus is among the best travel rewards cards available. Costing $36 less than the AMEX Gold, the Arrival Plus credit card from Barclaycard 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 Barclaycard Arrival Plus gives back 2.1 cents for each dollar spent to cardholders. When used as cash back for all other purchases, Barclaycard users get a return of $0.01 per dollar. Even at this lower return rate, the Barclaycard matches some of the AMEX Gold Card’s top rewards rates. Unless a consumer is specifically interested in the American Express Membership Rewards Program, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus is far superior to the AMEX Gold Card.
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.
|Card||Annual Fee||2-yr Net Rewards Rate||Bonus Value||2-yr Rewards Value|
|Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®|
|$89 - Waived first year||2.92%||
|Graph Card||Read Review||More Details|
Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months
|Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express|
|Graph Card||Read Review||
Terms and Limitations Apply
Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months
|American Express® Gold Card|
|$0 Intro Annual Fee for the first year then $160||0.51%||
|Graph Card||Read Review||
Terms and Limitations Apply
Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months
|The Platinum Card® from American Express|
|Graph Card||Read Review||
Terms and Limitations Apply
Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months
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.
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 among the best ways 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
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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.