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The American Express® Gold Card is an exclusive charge card with a $250 annual fee and no preset spending limit. As a charge card, the Gold Card doesn’t incur regular interest charges. However, you’re required to pay your balance in full each month and may be subject to account closure if you fail to do so for more than 2 consecutive months. Keep in mind that this card is reserved for people with truly excellent credit, and thus isn’t appropriate for first-timers or those with any serious fiscal blemishes.
The Gold Card has a generous rewards program built around travel and everyday expenses, and is comparable to other American Express rewards cards, both charge and credit, including The Platinum Card from American Express and the Blue Cash Preferred Card. It’s also comparable to credit cards issued by other companies, including the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card from Chase.
After you spend at least $4,000 within 3 months of opening your account, you get 35,000 bonus Membership Rewards points. That’s worth $350 or more, depending on how you redeem.
This card earns 4 points per $1 spent at U.S. restaurants and 4 points per $1 spent on the first $25,000 in annual purchases at U.S. supermarkets. Purchases on airfare purchased directly through airlines or amextravel.com, but not third-party booking websites such as Kayak and Expedia, earn 3 points per $1 spent. All other purchases earn 1 point per $1 spent.
Keep in mind that American Express doesn’t consider warehouse clubs such as Costco or big-box discounters such as Walmart to be supermarkets, and restaurants contained within hotels may not be considered restaurants for categorization purposes.
You can redeem your accumulated rewards, starting at a minimum of 1,000 points, for a variety of purchases and cash equivalents available at American Express’s Membership Rewards portal: travel, general merchandise, Uber and taxi rides, gift cards, restaurant meals, statement credits, and more.
Points are worth $0.005 to $0.01 apiece, depending on how they’re redeemed. Gift cards and travel (both $0.01 per point) tend to offer the best value, particularly compared with statement credits ($0.006 per point) and general merchandise (as low as ($0.005 per point).
Airline Fee Credit
You’re entitled to up to $100 per year in statement credits to offset fees charged by one airline of your choice. American Express defines “fees” as any non-airfare charges, including checked bag fees, change fees, food and beverage costs, and airport lounge passes. The credits are automatically applied to the statements on which they appear.
Restaurant Spending Credit
Earn up to $10 in statement credits each month on spending with Amex dining partners, up to a total potential savings of $120 per calendar year. Partners include Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Shake Shack, and Ruth’s Chris Steak House. Enrollment is required.
Complimentary Hotel Room Upgrades and Credits
When you book a hotel stay of at least 2 nights with your Gold Card, you get a complimentary room upgrade (subject to availability) and $75 hotel credit. You can use the hotel credit at any time during your stay for dining and incidentals, such as spa treatments and resort services.
Additional Travel Benefits
The Gold Card comes with a host of other travel benefits, including:
- Baggage insurance up to $1,250 per bag and $10,000 per trip
- 24/7 global assistance for cardmembers traveling more than 100 miles from home
- 24/7 concierge service for help with reservations or itinerary planning
Car rental insurance covering loss and damage
The Gold Card’s shopping benefits include extended warranty protection (12 months) on items with original warranties of 5 years or less, purchase protection for stolen or damaged items for 90 days from purchase date, and return protection for rejected returns (up to $300 per item) for 90 days after purchase.
The Gold Card offers a slew of entertainment benefits, including pre-sale ticketing, exclusive (cardholder-only) events such as Broadway shows and concerts, and complimentary preferred seating (front row, orchestra level, lounge section, and so on) for select sporting events and musical performances.
The annual fee is $250, and there is no foreign transaction fee. Returned payments cost up to $39 each, and late payments, defined as any unpaid balance older than 2 months, cost the greater of $39 or 2.99% of the late amount. Balance transfers and cash advances aren’t allowed.
This card requires excellent credit. Any significant credit blemishes are likely to disqualify your application.
- Flexible Redemption Options. The Gold Card accrues Membership Rewards points that can be redeemed for virtually anything: travel, general merchandise, local transportation, gift cards, statement credits, and more. Plus, redemptions start at just 1,000 points, a $5 to $10 value. These are big selling points relative to many hotel and airline rewards cards, which generally require at least 5,000 (and sometimes 10,000 or more) points for redemption, and typically permit redemptions only with specific hotel or airline brands.
- Solid Welcome Offer. The Gold Card has a great welcome offer: 35,000 points, worth up to $350 (and perhaps more), when you spend $4,000 or more within the first 3 months.
- Up to $120 Credit for Frequent Diners. This card’s $10-per-month dining credit is worth up to $120 per year when fully utilized. That’s great news for cardholders who don’t always feel like cooking.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees. This card has no foreign transaction fees, which is a nice perk for frequent overseas travelers. By comparison, Citi ThankYou Preferred has a 3% foreign transaction fee. U.S. Bank FlexPerks Visa Signature has a 2% to 3% foreign transaction fee, depending on denomination, while AmEx EveryDay Preferred‘s foreign transaction fee is always 2.7%.
- No Preset Spending Limits. The Gold Card never comes with preset spending limits, although American Express reserves the right to limit future spending based on purchasing and payment patterns. Many competing rewards cards, including otherwise generous options like Citi ThankYou Premier, do impose spending limits (generally $5,000 and up).
- Great Travel Benefits. This card has a great travel benefits lineup: $100 annual airline fee credit, free hotel room upgrades when available, 24/7 global assist, and baggage insurance worth more than $1,000 per bag. Many other cards aren’t so generous: Citi ThankYou Premier offers baggage insurance and 24/7 assistance, but no room upgrades or airline fee credits.
- High Annual Fee. The Gold Card comes with a $250 annual fee. That’s significantly higher than many other rewards cards, including Citi ThankYou Preferred ($0) and Citi ThankYou Premier ($95). If you don’t take full advantage of the Gold Card’s value-added benefits, such as hotel room upgrades and airline credits, you’re better off with a less expensive card.
- Requires Near-Flawless Credit. Although American Express doesn’t divulge the precise credit score minimum needed for approval, nor does it discuss other screening criteria in detail, it makes no secret of the fact that the Gold Card is for people with excellent credit. If you have any noteworthy blemishes on your credit report, you should not expect to be approved for this card. Rewards credit cards geared toward less-experienced card users, such as Capital One VentureOne, are better fits for applicants with average to good credit, while mid-tier rewards cards such as Citi ThankYou Preferred are better for applicants with very good credit.
- Low Redemption Value for Statement Credits. The Gold Card’s statement credit redemption option values earned points at $0.006 apiece. If you redeem 10,000 points for a statement credit, you get $60. That’s a low redemption rate for this category. By comparison, Capital One Venture, a general-purpose travel rewards credit card with a $59 annual fee, values points at $0.01 apiece.
- Can’t Carry a Monthly Balance for More Than 2 Billing Cycles. As a charge card, the Gold Card requires you to pay your balance in full each month. If you carry a balance for more than 2 consecutive billing cycles, you risk account closure and the forfeiture of any accumulated rewards. If you want the flexibility to carry a balance from month to month, opt for a rewards credit card such as Chase Sapphire Preferred or Capital One Platinum.
Charge cards, such as the American Express® Gold Card, aren’t free of drawbacks. Notably, they require payment in full each month. They typically keep cardholders on very short leashes too – just 2 consecutive months of partial payment can lead to account closure.
On the other hand, with no preset spending limit, there’s no limit on how many Membership Rewards points you can earn with your Gold Card. As long as you pay your balance in full each month, there’s nothing stopping you from using this card – and reaping its rewards – to your heart’s content.