The American Express Gold Card has been as dependable as it is shiny since it debuted in 1996. But even the top rewards cards need an update now and then—and this reboot of the AmEx Gold delivers perks that foodies and travelers will love.
As of October 4, the Gold Card is offering a tasty signup bonus: Cardholders will earn 25,000 Membership Rewards points when they spend $2,000 on the card in the first three months after opening an account. And until January 9, 2019, new Gold Card members can get 20 percent back as a statement credit of up to $100 for spending at U.S. restaurants in the first three months. In other words, if you spend $500 on sushi and steaks in the next three months, you get $100 for free. That’s at least another filet mignon or two.
More importantly, the revamp gives the Gold Card some of the highest rewards in dining, groceries, and travel of any card on the market. It earns:
- Four points per dollar at U.S. restaurants.
- Four points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets for the first $25,000 spent each year.
- Three points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or on AmexTravel.com.
- One point per dollar on everything else.
The key here is how much you’ll earn on everyday spending; for many people, those groceries and meals out add up. Card users also get a $10 monthly dining credit that’s valid on GrubHub/Seamless, and at The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, or participating Shake Shack locations. That’s $120 each year, just for buying burgers.
Additionally, cardholders get a $100 airline credit each year on the U.S. airline of their choice, which includes all the biggest domestic carriers. That’s valid on purchases like baggage fees, food and drink purchases, or airport lounge passes. In total, that’s up to $220 in credits each year. The Gold Card has an annual fee of $250—which isn’t waived the first year—but if you take advantage of all the credits in the first year, you’re actually up $70.
All these changes make the Gold Card stack up well against the best travel rewards cards on the market. The Chase Sapphire Reserve, for example, earns three points per dollar on dining and travel. While you can earn more on taxis and other transportation on the Sapphire Reserve, it’s a wash on airfare, and you’ll earn more points on meals out and groceries on the Gold Card. Plus, the Sapphire Reserve has an annual fee of $450 (with a $300 travel credit). In effect, the Gold Card costs half as much out of pocket, and has just as much earning power—and then some.
A few no-annual fee cards earn four points per dollar on dining out, too, like the Uber Visa and the Capital One Savor Card, but the American Express Gold Card wins out because of the power of Amex’s Membership Rewards points. In other programs, points are redeemed at one cent per point for statement credits; earn 10,000 points, redeem for $100. But with Membership Rewards, you can transfer points to more than a dozen airline partners, including Delta, British Airways, and JetBlue, or hotel partners, including Marriott/Starwood.
Those travel partners offer way more valuable redemptions; for example, 85,000 points is enough to fly round-trip between the U.S. and Japan in business class on All Nippon Airways. On British Airways, a round-trip economy flight between Boston and Dublin is just 26,000. Suffice to say: There are a bunch of sweet spots, and flexible points makes the Gold Card an easy way to cash in on money you already spend.
Most of the time, when credit card companies and airlines make changes to an existing card, it’s worse for the consumer. But the refreshed bonus categories and credits on the American Express Gold Card make it a great choice for travelers, and especially for foodies, whether you dine out or cook at home. Plus, it always just feels nice to have a metal card when you swipe—and through January 9, you can even get it in the oh-so-millennial Rose Gold.