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There has been a ton of hype over the American Express® Gold Credit Card since it launched. Now that the initial excitement has died down, it’s time for a clear-headed review of the card. This is a great product for its primary audience: people who spend a lot on U.S. dining and at U.S. supermarkets. So here’s the full American Express Gold Credit Card Review 2020.

There’s a new welcome offer to also be excited about. New American Express® Gold Card cardholders can earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $4,000 on eligible purchases within the first 6 months.

Learn more: Johnny Jet Recommended Credit Cards

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American Express Gold Credit Card Review. Credit: American Express

American Express Gold Card Welcome Offer

As mentioned above, new American Express® Gold Card cardholders can earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $4,000 on eligible purchases within the first 6 months.

Note that American Express has begun denying welcome offers to many people. You’ll find out whether you’re eligible when you attempt to apply for the card.

Learn more: Johnny Jet Recommended Credit Cards

Amex Gold Annual Fee

The American Express Gold credit card carries a $250 annual fee (See Rates and Fees). This is expensive compared to a card with similar benefits and no annual fee. However, there are several ways to help offset this fee.

Like the Platinum card, there are ways to get back most of the annual fee. However, make no mistake: cash-back benefits are designed for breakage and these are harder to collect than you’d guess.

First Offset

The first offset is a $100 airline fee credit. Get up to up to $100 in statement credits annually for incidental fees at one selected qualifying airline. This is relatively difficult to use in practice, however, because you have to nominate a specific airline for which the credit is used. To maximize the credit, buy two $50 airline gift certificates from either Southwest or American Airlines, both of which reliably credit as fee offsets.

Of course, you’re then stuck with gift cards, so be sure that you’d fly either of these airlines. The “gift certificate trick” also works with Delta, although it is less reliable because some gift certificate orders are processed through a partner website.

Second Offset

The second offset with the American Express® Gold Card is the hardest one to use. On paper, Amex offers a $120 dining credit, but it’s heavily restricted. It’s not a $120 lump sum but is instead dribbled out at $10 per month. Miss using the credit in a given month? It’s gone, and won’t carry over to subsequent months.

While Amex uses the term “dining credit,”, the credit is effectively a discount valid only at the following merchants:

  • Grubhub
  • Seamless
  • Cheesecake Factory
  • Ruth’s Chris Steak House
  • Boxed
  • Shake Shack (only at participating locations)

Note that enrollment is required. If you order frequently from food delivery services (i.e. GrubHub), you’ll be more likely to maximize this benefit. Amex is banking on you not doing this.

If you were to max out the dining and airline credits, you’d be saving $220, $30 less than the $250 annual fee.

Learn more: Johnny Jet Recommended Credit Cards

Membership Rewards Points Earnings

The headline points earnings are eye-popping at 4x at restaurants worldwide and at U.S. supermarkets, and 3x on airfare. However, when you read the fine print, you’ll find that Amex’s generosity has limitations.

While this probably won’t affect most people, 4x points earnings are only at U.S. supermarkets (you can earn 4x points at restaurants worldwide, including for takeout and delivery). More painfully, supermarket earning is capped at $25,000 per year; spending beyond this threshold credits just one point per dollar (there is no cap on bonused restaurant spend).

The 3x on airfare also has a loophole: travel purchased from online travel agencies (like Expedia, Vayama, or Priceline) is excluded. You must purchase airfare directly from the airlines or from American Express Travel in order to be eligible for the 3x rate. Given that the best fares are often sold by online travel agencies, this is a significant limitation.

If you’re looking to earn unlimited points on dining and travel, you may want to instead consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred. While the Preferred only earns 2x points per $1 spent on dining and travel, there aren’t as many limitations. You can earn transfer your points to Chase’s many travel partners and earn an unlimited amount of points on dining and travel worldwide.

Plus, you won’t have to pay any foreign transaction fees. The American Express Gold credit card annual fee is also much lower, at only $95.

Learn more: Johnny Jet Recommended Credit Cards

Foreign Transaction Fee

There is no foreign transaction fee (See Rates and Fees) with the American Express® Gold Card. However, do note that Amex sets its own exchange rates. Depending upon the currency, these can be more or less favorable than Visa or MasterCard. Additionally, you may find that American Express cards aren’t accepted super widely abroad.

Tip: If you want to/plan to travel and would like to utilize credit card perks, check out our list of the best travel credit cards. If you plan on traveling internationally, you’ll want to check out our post on the best credit cards for international travel.

Purchase Protection

If an item you buy is damaged, stolen or lost within 120 days, you can be reimbursed. The maximum you can get reimbursed is $10k per occurrence and $50k per year.

Note that for residents of New York, Indiana, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Northern Mariana Islands, coverage duration is 90 days.

Learn more: Johnny Jet Recommended Credit Cards

American Express Gold Card Return Protection

According to Amex, “If you try to return an eligible item within 90 days from the date of purchase and the merchant won’t take it back, American Express may refund the full purchase price excluding shipping and handling, up to $300 per item, up to a maximum of $1,000 per calendar year per Card account, if you purchased it entirely with your eligible American Express® Card. Purchases must be made in the U.S. or its territories.”

Amex Gold Credit Card Car Rental Insurance

Amex offers its standard secondary car rental insurance. This is comparable to MasterCard but is more limited than Visa.

Baggage Insurance

With the American Express® Gold Card, you can get insurance coverage for over $500 in checked bags and $1,250 in carry-on bags.

Roadside Assistance

The key benefit with the American Express Gold Card is 10 free miles of towing as well as jumpstarts and flat tire assistance. Up to 4 claims a year are allowed.

Final Thoughts on the American Express Gold Credit Card Review

Overall, the benefits of this card are pretty good, but not as good as they might first seem. If you make a lot of purchases each year on dining and at supermarkets, this card could treat you quite well. However, there are other cards out there (like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Capital One Venture) that offer returns on spending that are almost as good without as many gotchas to watch out for.

Learn more: Johnny Jet Recommended Credit Cards

For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, please click here

Caroline Lupini

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 2x total points on up to $1,000 in grocery store purchases per month from November 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021. Includes eligible pick-up and delivery services.

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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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