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American Express® Gold Card Review – Benefits & Rewards

By Jason Steele

american express gold cardIf you pay your credit card balance in full and on time every month, a credit card is merely a method of payment, not a method of financing.

There is a credit card designed for those who never carry a balance. The American Express® Gold Card is a charge card that must be paid in full every month. The card offers considerable rewards, but they do come at a price.

Key Features

  • Pay Your Balance in Full. This is a charge card, not a credit card. Failing to pay your balance in full means the account is delinquent and penalty interest rates will apply.
  • Option to Extend Your Balance. Some cardholders may be given the option to extend payment on certain purchases. Customers have to contact American Express in order to request this option, however.
  • One Membership Rewards Point per Dollar Spent. The American Express Membership Rewards program is one of the best credit card rewards programs available. Cardholders earn one point for every dollar charged, with some exceptions. Membership Rewards points can easily be transferred to most major frequent flyer programs. Cardholders receive triple points for airfare, and double points for buying gas and groceries with the card. American Express cardholders also earn bonus Membership Rewards points when they shop online at inSite from American Express.
  • Annual Fee. The $125 fee is waived the first year.
  • Dining Credit at Le Meridien, Sheraton, W, and Westin hotels. To receive the $75 credit, you must book at least two nights through American Express Travel.
  • Purchase Protection. Cardholders receive 90-day accidental damage and theft protection for eligible purchases. Extended warranty protection is also available for qualifying purchases.
  • 24-Hour Roadside Assistance. Cardholders receive up to four roadside service visits a year.
  • Baggage Insurance Plan. Coverage for lost or damaged luggage when traveling on boats, trains, buses, and helicopters.
  • Comprehensive Online Services. Redeem Membership Rewards, pay bills, and access 24/7 customer service online.

Advantages

  1. Membership Rewards Points. Next to the Starwood Preferred Guest Card, the Gold Card is one of the most flexible rewards cards available. You can redeem your points for miles with multiple airline frequent flyer programs. You can also use Membership Rewards to purchase merchandise and gift cards. There are no blackout dates or seat restrictions when you book your rewards flight using American Express Travel. Membership Rewards points do not expire, so you can save your points until you need them.
  2. Dining Credit. Cardholders can use the credit to splurge on room service when staying at an eligible hotel.
  3. Travel Protection Services. American Express provides superior travel services; their Gold Card travel protection plan is top-notch.  Every American Express card includes rental car insurance, but this card takes it one step further with many of the same features as the Platinum Card.

Disadvantages

  1. High Annual Fee. There are plenty of cash back credit cards that offer more than 1% cash back and that have no annual fee. Waiving the fee the first year is a good way to get people hooked on the charge card, but after the first year, cardholders have to pay the $125 annual fee.
  2. Low Reward Rate for Non-Travel Options. There are many gift card and product award redemption options, but they are all worth one cent per point when redeemed. 1% cash back is not a particularly high rate compared to some of the best cash back credit cards, especially for a card with a high annual fee.
  3. High Foreign Transaction Fees. This card, like almost all American Express cards, is subject to a fee of 2.7% on all transactions processed outside of the United states. There are plenty of other credit cards without foreign transaction fees that you can look into.
  4. Charge Card Penalties. A charge card is like a car with a sharp object on the steering wheel instead of an airbag. Drivers simply can’t have an accident because the consequences are severe. If you think that you may occasionally need to carry a balance, you are better off with a standard credit card. Find out how to choose a credit card based on your own unique needs.

Final Word

While it was once a big deal to carry around an American Express® Gold Card, it is no longer an exclusive product. Smart cardholders need to review the card’s terms carefully, to decide if this card will work for them.

By offering a strong rewards program along with purchase and travel protection options, the Gold Card continues to be a competitive charge card without being exceptional in any one particular area.

Do you have an American Express Gold Card? What are your overall thoughts and impressions about the card?

Editorial Disclosure: This content is not provided or commissioned by any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, or airline. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Jason Steele
Jason has been writing about personal finance, travel, and other topics on blogs across the Internet. When he is not writing, he has a career in information technology and is also a commercially rated pilot. Jason lives in Colorado with his wife and young daughter where he enjoys parenting, cycling, and other extreme sports.

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