The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN is a small business charge card with a $175 annual fee that’s waived during the first year.
Business Gold Rewards’ generous rewards program favors popular business spending categories, including airfare purchased directly from airlines; U.S. purchases for advertising in select media; U.S. gas station purchases; U.S. purchases for shipping; and U.S. purchases of computer hardware, software, and cloud computing services made directly from select providers.
As a charge card, Business Gold Rewards doesn’t incur regular interest charges; however, you’re required to pay your balance in full by each statement cycle’s due date. Failure to do so for 2 or more consecutive cycles may result in the closure of your account.
The Business Gold Rewards Card competes with a number of other business credit cards and charge cards, including American Expresses “color” charge card family (Business Platinum, Business Green, and Plum), Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express, and SimplyCash Plus Business Credit Card from American Express. Though American Express doesn’t get into specifics about how it screens card applicants, it definitely positions Business Gold Rewards as a high-end card for very well-qualified applicants. If you have any serious blemishes on your credit, you likely won’t qualify for this card.
When you spend at least $5,000 in purchases within 3 months of opening your account, you earn 50,000 Membership Rewards points. That’s worth up to $500 when redeemed for merchandise at American Express’s Membership Rewards shopping portal.
Earning Membership Rewards
This card earns 3 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent in 1 spending category of your choosing: airfare purchased directly from airlines, advertising, gas stations (including fuel and non-fuel), shipping (including UPS and FedEx), and computer technology (including hardware, software, and cloud computing services).
These categories apply to U.S.-based purchases only, with the exception being airfare, which does not need to be purchased in the U.S. Overall, this benefit is capped at $100,000 in spending per year in the 3x category.
Purchases in the four remaining categories earn 2 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent, up to $100,000 in spending per year in each of the four categories. Beyond the $100,000 caps, purchases in all five categories earn an unlimited 1 point per $1 spent.
Travel purchases made through American Express Travel, the company’s travel portal, earn an unlimited 2 points per $1 spent.
All other purchases earn an unlimited 1 point per $1 spent.
Redeeming Membership Rewards
Redemption minimums start at 1,000 and vary by redemption method. Point values vary as well: Membership Rewards points are generally worth $0.01 apiece when redeemed for merchandise, but just $0.006 when redeemed for statement credits.
The $175 annual fee is waived for the first year, and there is no foreign transaction fee. Late payments, defined as balances left unpaid for more than two consecutive statement cycles, cost $38 or 2.99% of the late balance. Returned payments cost $38.
Pay Over Time
Because the Business Gold Rewards Card is a charge card, cardholders are usually required to pay their balance in full at the end of each billing period. Those who fail to do so risk account closure after two consecutive periods of non-full payment.
However, American Express’s Pay Over Time feature allows longstanding cardmembers to circumvent this requirement. Pay Over Time permits cardholders to carry balances indefinitely, with interest, from month to month. Like carried balances on regular credit cards, Pay Over Time balances accrue interest charges at variable rates, depending on prevailing interest rates.
OPEN Savings Benefit
Business Gold Rewards cardholders are entitled to earn 2 bonus Membership Rewards points per $1 spent (on top of regular earnings) or 5% discounts (credited directly to your statement) with OPEN Savings partner merchants, including Hertz and FedEx. You can choose either option. For a full list of participating merchants, visit opensavings.com.
Additional Business Benefits and Tools
Business Gold Rewards comes with a great lineup of business-friendly benefits, including adjustable employee spending limits on employee cards, expense tagging and tracking, and access to the content-rich OPEN Forum.
The Business Gold Rewards Card’s general value-added benefits include:
- 24/7 global assistance for travelers more than 100 miles from home
- 24/7 roadside assistance for all cardmembers
- Baggage insurance for stolen or damaged luggage
- Extended warranties on all purchased items with original warranties of five years or less
This card requires good to excellent credit.
- Generous Rewards With High Category Caps. This card has a pretty generous rewards program. Its 3x and 2x categories are both capped at $100,000 in spending, allowing you to earn points worth up to $3,000 and $2,000 (respectively) on merchandise in those categories before hitting the spending ceiling. The 1x category isn’t capped at all. This is great for business owners with high spending needs, and a significant advantage over less generous competitors such as Chase Ink Business Cash ($25,000 category limits) and Chase Ink Business Preferred ($150,000 category limit).
- Lots of Reward Redemption Options. Business Gold Rewards allows you to redeem accumulated Membership Rewards points for just about anything, including general merchandise, travel, and cash equivalents (gift cards and statement credits). Some competing cards, such as Capital One Spark Cash (cash equivalents only) and Spark Miles for Business (travel purchase offsets only), are less flexible.
- OPEN Savings Benefit Helps You Earn at Popular Merchants. Business Gold Rewards’ OPEN Savings Benefit increases your earning power at popular merchants, including Hertz and 1800Flowers.com. Whether you prefer additional Membership Rewards points or straight 5% discounts, this benefit gives you a little something extra for purchases you’re likely to make anyway – particularly if you ship a lot, travel frequently, or regularly send gifts to clients.
- No Foreign Transaction Fee. Business Gold Rewards doesn’t have a foreign transaction fee, a nice perk for cardmembers who travel outside the U.S. often. The U.S. Bank BusinessEdge WorldElite MasterCard, a competing business credit card, has a foreign transaction fee of 2% to 3%.
- Solid Welcome Offer. The Business Gold Rewards Card’s welcome offer is worth up to $500 (50,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend at least $5,000 in purchases within 3 months of sign-up). That’s more than the U.S. Bank BusinessEdge family and Capital One Spark Classic for Business, both of which have no welcome offers at all. Chase Ink Business Cash’s welcome offer is a mere $200.
- Lots of Value-Added Benefits. The Business Gold Rewards Card has a number of attractive value-added cardmember benefits, such as 24/7 global assistance and roadside assistance. Neither is available to Chase Ink Business Cash or Ink Business Preferred customers.
- Relatively High Annual Fee. Though it’s waived in the first year, the Business Gold Rewards Card’s $175 annual fee is higher than that of many competing cards, including the Business Green Rewards Card from American Express OPEN ($95), Chase Ink Business Preferred ($95), and Capital One Spark Miles for Business ($59). This is a big drawback for cardmembers who don’t spend heavily enough – and thus earn rewards fast enough – to offset the annual outlay.
- Strict Qualification Requirements. The Business Gold Rewards Card is a high-end credit card with very strict qualification standards. If American Express deems that your credit isn’t good to excellent, or that your business lacks adequate cash flow, you won’t be approved for this card. Some competing cards, such as the American Express Blue Business Plus and the Capital One Spark family, have somewhat looser (though still choosy) underwriting standards.
- Usually Need to Pay in Full Each Month. Unless you’re approved for American Express’s Pay Over Time feature, which typically requires a long period of predictable repayments and responsible card usage, because this is a charge card, you’re required to pay your Business Gold Rewards balance in full each month. This is a potential deal-breaker for business owners who wish to make large, one-off purchases, perhaps for new equipment or inventory, and pay over several months. If you want the flexibility to carry a balance, look to competing business credit cards – not charge cards – such as American Express’s Blue Business Plus and the U.S. Bank BusinessEdge, which allow all cardholders to carry balances.
- No Native Payment Processing System. Business Gold Rewards doesn’t integrate directly with an in-house payment system. This is inconvenient for mobile business owners who wish to accept payments on the go and sync their business spending via Business Gold Rewards with their cash flow. Chase’s Checkout system, available to Ink Business Preferred and Ink Business Cash cardholders, offers this opportunity.
The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN is a member of American Express’s “color” business charge card family, which also includes the Plum Card, Business Green Rewards, and Business Platinum. Blue Business Plus is a credit card, though it does share the Membership Rewards program.
Since it belongs to a larger card family, it’s helpful to think of the Business Gold Rewards Card as part of a business charge card ladder. Each rung on this ladder offers progressively more generous rewards and benefits. If your credit or cash flow doesn’t qualify you to stand on a higher rung, you can start lower and try to work your way up.
Business Gold Rewards occupies a middle rung on this ladder. If your business is very small, just starting out, or both, set your sights on Business Green Rewards, a less exclusive charge card option. If things go well, you have the opportunity to work up to Business Gold Rewards. And, if things really take off, there’s an even higher rung on the ladder: the generous (though costly, with a $450 annual fee) Business Platinum card.