American Express has polished up one of its signature products, taking it from a ho-hum travel card to a dining rewards powerhouse.
On Oct. 4, 2018, the issuer replaced the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express with a newer version, dubbed the American Express® Gold Card. The new card comes with an annual fee of $250, rather than the previous fee of $195; the fee also will no longer be waived in the first year. Overall, the changes are a major improvement for existing cardholders and a lure for foodies who plan to apply for the card soon, despite the higher annual fee.
The positive changes
Of all the new benefits on the American Express® Gold Card, here are the most notable ones:
More rewards for food spending. The previous version of this card offered 2 points per dollar spent at U.S. supermarkets and U.S. restaurants. This version doubles that, offering 4 points per dollar spent on those same purchases (for up to $25,000 in spending at U.S. supermarkets per year). Terms apply. According to NerdWallet’s valuations, Membership Rewards are worth 1 cent each on average.
An added dining credit. The new card comes with an annual $120 dining credit, which comes in increments of up to $10 in statement credits each month. The credit can be applied when using the card at participating Shake Shack locations, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Grubhub and Seamless. Terms apply.
Metal construction. New and existing cardholders can opt for the new metal version of the Gold Card. For a limited time, a limited-edition rose gold metal card will be available through Jan. 9. They can call to request either one.
The negative changes
While most of the changes were positive, some weren’t. Here are the negative ones:
A higher annual fee that isn’t waived the first year. The previous card came with an annual fee of $195, waived the first year. Now, the annual fee is $250, and it’s not waived the first year. Terms apply. After the first year, that’s a 28% increase.
Lower rewards at the pump. The previous version of the card offered 2 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent at U.S. gas stations. With these changes, you’ll earn only 1 point per dollar spent on these purchases. Terms apply.
What does it mean for existing cardholders?
Rewards and benefits will update. You’ll have access to the higher rewards rates and dining credit right away if you already have the card, the issuer confirms. Starting Oct. 4, 2019, current cardholders will no longer get 2 points per dollar spent at U.S. gas stations.
A higher annual fee will take effect soon. You’ll have to start paying the new annual fee of $250 on account anniversaries after April 1, 2019.
You’ll have the option to get a metal card. You can request a new metal version of the card by calling AmEx’s customer service line. Through Jan. 9, you can request the limited-edition rose gold design.
Key features of the new American Express® Gold Card
Welcome offer: Earn 25,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Terms Apply. There’s an additional bonus for those who apply by Jan. 9, 2019: Receive 20% back as a statement credit at U.S. Restaurants within the first 3 months, up to $100 back.
Annual fee: $250.
- 4 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent at U.S. restaurants.
- 4 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent at U.S. supermarkets for the first $25,000 in spending in this category each year.
- 3 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on flights booked directly with airlines and amextravel.com.
- 1 Membership Rewards point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Terms apply.
- $100 airline fee credit.
- $120 annual dining credit (up to $10 available per month), which can be used at participating Shake Shack locations, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Grubhub and Seamless. Cardholders receive this benefit as a statement credit.
- Access to the Travel Collection by Travel Leaders Group benefit, which gets you access to travel discounts. To get the discounts, you need to enroll and contact the program’s Travel Collection Specialist.
- Terms apply.
Photo courtesy of American Express