American Express Gold Card Review

Premier Gold AmexThe American Express Gold Card delivers the solid benefits and services that are typical with American Express from flight and hotel bookings to dining out rewards and merchandise redemption. This card has an annual fee of $175 which is waived for the first year.

New members are currently eligible to earn 25,000 bonus Membership Rewards points after making a minimum of $2,000 in purchases on the card within the first three months of activation.   As with other American Express charge cards the balance is due in full each month.

Earning Membership Rewards points is accelerated with the Premier Rewards Gold Card. Cardholders receive three points for every eligible dollar spent on airfare that is booked directly with an airline. Supermarket and gas station purchases earn card members two points per eligible dollar spent. All other qualifying purchases earn one point per dollar charged on the card. Membership Rewards points can be redeemed for merchandise, gift cards, dining and entertainment, and travel. When you book your flight at the website, you can also use Membership Rewards points to pay for all or part of your ticket. There are no blackout dates or seat restrictions when choosing this option to book your travel. American Express Membership Rewards can also be transferred to most hotel and airline loyalty points programs.

The Facts

Here we’ve broken down the specific details of the American Express Gold Card to assist you in determining if it’s the right card for you.

The Good:

Significant signup bonus:

New account holders are eligible to earn 25,000 bonus Membership Rewards points. To receive these points, you must spend at least $2,000 on the card within the first three months of card activation. This time period begins immediately upon approval so the actual time you have to make these qualifying purchases may be somewhat less depending on how long it takes to receive your card. 25,000 points can be redeemed for up to $250 in gift cards which means you’ll easily recoup the cost of the second year annual fee, plus more, within the first three months you have the card.

No interest charges:

The American Express Gold Card requires card members to pay the entire balance due each month so no interest charges accrue.

Easy to earn Membership Rewards points:

There are three different point levels by which card members can earn rewards:

  • Three Membership Rewards points- earned for every dollar spent on flights booked directly with airlines and charged to the card.
  • Two Membership Rewards points- earned for every dollar spent on groceries at stand-alone supermarkets and at stand-alone gas stations. Note that only purchases made on the card at S. supermarkets and gas stations are eligible.
  • One Membership Rewards point- earned for every dollar spent on all other purchases.

Wide variety of redemption rewards:

Card members have the ability to redeem their Membership Rewards points for numerous rewards.

  • Gift cards– points can be redeemed for gift cards that include many top brands for dining, retail, and travel.
  • Dining and Entertainment– points can be used for access to movie, theatre, music, and dining rewards.
  • Travel– points can be transferred to over 20 frequent traveler programs.
  • Merchandise– points can be redeemed for merchandise from leading retailers through

The Hotel Collection:

Cardholders are eligible to receive up to a $75 hotel credit on qualifying charges plus a room upgrade at check-in, when available. A booking requires a minimum stay of two consecutive nights and must be reserved and paid for with your American Express Gold Card.

Membership Rewards Pay with Points:

Members can use points to book a trip online by visiting the American Express Travel website. Membership Rewards points can be redeemed to pay for all or part of your flight, prepaid hotel reservation, cruise or vacation booking.

The Bad:

Foreign Transaction Fees:

The American Express Gold Card is targeted at people who travel a lot so it is hard to understand how this card still charges members foreign transaction fees on all purchases made outside of the U.S. At 2.7% of the total amount of each purchase, these fees can quickly add up especially for cardholders who often travel abroad.   Frequent travelers might want to consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Barclay Arrival Plus cards. Both offer generous rewards programs without any foreign transaction fees.

High annual fee:

The annual fee is waived the first year but after that, card members must pay $175 yearly. Again, compared to the Chase Sapphire Preferred ($95) and the Barclay Arrival Plus ($89), the $175 membership fee is fairly steep.

The Ugly:

Approval is not guaranteed:

Not everyone who applies for the American Express Gold Card will be approved. While each situation is different, people with lower credit scores might not qualify for this card. Cardholders are required to pay the entire balance in full each month so it stands to reason that the credit requirements are a bit stricter.

No pre-set spending limit does not mean unlimited spending:

American Express adjusts your purchasing power based on your use of the card and payment history, along with your credit history and financial resources. The initial amount you are allowed to charge each month is determined at the time of approval and may increase or decrease over time depending on your spending habits. If you prefer to have a specific spending limit (and the ability to pay over time), you should consider other cards which offer these options.