The American Express® Gold Card couldn’t get away with charging a hefty $250 annual fee if it didn’t offer lots of good perks in return. The travel benefits that shine brightest include a significant welcome bonus (which can net you solid value in the AmEx Travel Portal) and a 3-points-per-dollar payout on qualifying travel spending, which adds up fast for big purchases like plane tickets and hotel stays. Terms apply.
But the current pandemic is shining a light on some of the less-appreciated rewards. Here are five underrated reasons why you need an American Express® Gold Card.
4x points at restaurants and grocery stores
For many of us, the COVID-19 crisis has changed how we get food. Dining out isn’t as feasible, meaning people must either get to cooking their meals or order takeout or delivery. Either way, the American Express® Gold Card is an attractive option.
Its 4 point per dollar for both restaurants and grocery stores puts it above some well-regarded competitors’ popular dining rewards, like the 3 points per dollar offered by Chase Sapphire Reserve® and the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card. Terms apply.
This card also pays 4 points per dollar on qualifying purchases made at grocery stores, up to $25,000 in a calendar year — perfect if you’re trying to master your culinary skills or just stocking up on bleach and toilet paper. Terms apply.
» Learn more: Five reasons to get the American Express® Gold Card
$120 dining credit
This perk isn’t automatic — you have to enroll. But once you do, you’ll get a $10 per month statement credit every month that you charge $10 or more with a handful of dining partners, which include The Cheesecake Factory, Shake Shack, Ruth’s Chris and, key for our times, food delivery services Grubhub, Seamless and Boxed. Taking full advantage of this benefit is $120 in complimentary food a year. Terms apply.
AmEx Offers: Deals for points and discounts
Once you have an American Express card, you can log in to your account and navigate to "Offers," where you’ll find limited-time deals to earn points or discounts at select retailers. These aren’t passive rewards — you have to "add" each deal to your card, which means keeping tabs on which retailers are offering bonuses on any given day. It’s a nice opportunity for anyone who finds themselves in possession of more time than usual these days. There’s no telling which merchants will be offering deals or what the deals may be, but it's worth keeping an eye on. Terms apply.
Recent offers on certain American Express cards have included $20 back when you spend $100 at Wayfair, $15 back when you spend over $50 with California Pizza Kitchen and bonus points on every purchase at Macy’s.
Flexible points redemptions
If you’re shopping for rewards cards, you may have already observed that some cards pay points or miles for specific travel providers, like American Airlines or Marriott hotels. Others emphasize cash back while others offer points in their own programs — points whose value can seem mysterious until you get to know the rewards program.
The American Express® Gold Card is in that last group. The points you earn are called Membership Rewards Points and offer some advantages over other types of rewards, especially co-branded cards that earn airline miles or hotel points.
Want to use your Membership Rewards points for travel (someday)? You can either book directly with AmEx, where your points are worth up to 1 cent each. Or you can transfer them to a partner airline, hotel or other travel programs. You can also use your points to shop at Amazon or even use them to get a credit on your statement offsetting purchases you made with the card.
In other words, these points have a lot of versatility. Since it’s so hard to know when we’ll be comfortable to board a plane again, it’s nice to have the option to purchase products or get statement credits. Just be sure you are looking at the value you get for each transaction.
Global Assist travel hotline
Maybe you’re eager to travel as soon as you feel safe doing so. Maybe you have to travel, like it or not. Either way, AmEx’s Global Assist Hotline can be a comfort. This offers cardholders a 24-hour, seven days a week lifeline for travel emergencies. Terms apply.
These include assistance with medical or legal needs, passport referrals, emergency cash wired to you and assistance with missing luggage. The only two caveats are that you must be at least 100 miles from home and, while the hotline’s services are free, any costs you incur through third-party service providers are your responsibility. Terms apply.
The bottom line
With 4x earning potential, a nice dining credit and access to bonus perks such as AmEx Offers and Global Assist, the American Express® Gold Card makes a strong case for a flexible point earning card that should be in your rotation. And don’t forget about the welcome offer: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months. Terms Apply.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:
Airline miles and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Premium travel rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card