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

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, including American Express, see our disclosure page.

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, 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.

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

Image of American Express® Gold Card
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 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
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 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.

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 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. 

AMEX Gold Card vs Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer

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.

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 Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard

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.

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.

Edit Monthly Spend: $1,430
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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.

Bonus Value

The bonus field shows our estimate for the value of the card’s sign-up 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.

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 sign-up 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.

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.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®
$89 - Waived first year 2.92%
$420
Earn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days - that's enough to redeem for a $400 travel statement credit
$1,052
Graph Card Read Review More Details
Annual Fee $89 - Waived first year
APR 16.99%, 20.99% or 23.99% Variable

Card Details

  • Enjoy 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days - that's enough to redeem for a $400 travel statement credit toward an eligible travel purchase
  • Earn 2X miles on all purchases
  • Get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem
  • Miles don't expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing
  • No foreign transaction fees on purchases made while traveling abroad
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on Balance Transfers made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable APR will apply, 16.99%, 20.99% or 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • There is a fee for balance transfers.

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 68,640 x $0.011 = $721
Bonuses
40,000 x $0.011 = $420
Less Annual Fees -$89
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 1,052
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
$0 1.80%
$100
Get $100 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. You will receive $100 back in the form of a statement credit.
$650
Graph Card Read Review More Details

Terms and Limitations Apply

Annual Fee $0
APR 13.99%-24.99% 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.
  • No annual fee.
  • 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 13.99% to 24.99%.
  • Expanding merchant acceptance: Over 1 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in the last year.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise.
  • Terms Apply.

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 550 x $1 = $550
Bonuses
0 x $1 = $100
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 650
American Express® Gold Card
$0 Intro Annual Fee for the first year then $160 0.51%
$0
$183
Graph Card Read Review More Details

Terms and Limitations Apply

Annual Fee $0 Intro Annual Fee for the first year then $160
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

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 34,320 x $0.01 = $343
Less Annual Fees -$160
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 183
The Platinum Card® from American Express
$550 -2.10%
$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

Terms and Limitations Apply

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.
  • New! Up to $200 Uber Savings Annually.
  • 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. Terms Apply.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 a year in baggage fees and more at one airline. Terms Apply.
  • Terms Apply.

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

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

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 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

* 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.

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.