The American Express® Gold Card is an upgraded American Express charge card without a pre-set spending limit. It’s also a card that rewards cardholders with American Express Membership Rewards® Points for airfare, dining, gas, and grocery spending.
A charge card is one that you need to pay off completely each billing cycle, so there’s no interest. However, since there’s no pre-set spending limit either, you need to keep an eagle eye on spending activity to make sure you can pay off the statement in full at month’s end. Making a late payment can cause you to forfeit Membership Reward points earned during that billing cycle.
In this post, we’ll discuss the American Express® Gold Card terms and how to redeem points. Keep reading for an overview on:
- American Express® Gold Card basics
- How to redeem Membership Rewards points earned
- The fine print details
- The benefits and protections
- The pros and cons
The basics of the American Express® Gold Card3X Membership Rewards® points for flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com and 4X points at restaurants worldwide and U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X).
$100 airline fee credit.
You can get up to $100 airline fee credit on your statement each calendar year to cover incidentals charged by an airline of your choosing. Qualifying incidentals are charges separate from your airline ticket like baggage fees and not ticket upgrades.
- Annual fee
- Rewards Rate
- 3X Membership Rewards® points for flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com and 4X points at restaurants worldwide and U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X).
How to redeem Membership Rewards® Points earned
Through Membership Rewards®, cardholders can transfer points to participating travel and lodging loyalty programs or redeem points for travel bookings, gift cards, statement credits, and other rewards. The value of your points varies depending on how you choose to use them.
Flights, hotels, and vacations
You can pay with points for flights, hotels, and vacations on the American Express Travel site. Using points for flights offers excellent value.
Here’s the point value breakdown on travel and accommodations:
- Flights: $10 per 1,000 points
- Hotels, cruises, and vacation packages: $7 per 1,000 points
Transferring your Membership Rewards® Points
If you choose to transfer your points to another program, generally, 1,000 Membership Rewards® Points will transfer as 1,000 miles, points, or credits.
However, transfers that have a different value include (as of the publication date of this article):
- British Airways and Iberia: 250 Membership Rewards points = 200 Avios
- El AL Israel Airlines: 1,000 Membership Rewards points = 20 Matmid points
- Hilton: 1,000 Membership Rewards points = 1,500 HHonors points
- JetBlue Airways: 250 Membership Rewards points = 200 JetBlue TrueBlue points
- Starwood Preferred Guest: 1,000 Membership Rewards points = 333 Starpoints
- Virgin America: 200 Membership Rewards points = 100 Elevate points
Occasionally, there are transfer specials for participating loyalty programs.
Statement credit and gift cards
Using points to put a dent in your credit card bill won’t be the best use of your points. 1,000 points equals just $6 in a statement credit.
Several of the gift cards through Membership Rewards® will give you more in cash value. For example, 1,000 points can get you a $10 gift card at restaurants, retail stores, and hotels including:
- Hyatt Hotels and Resorts
- Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino
- Maggiano’s Little Italy
- Seasons 52
- Banana Republic
- Crate and Barrel
There’s an entire list of the redemption values for gift cards on the Membership Rewards® site.
Using points for shopping, charitable donations, and entertainment are other redemption options. But, again, these options won’t give you as much value for your points as redeeming for flights and gift cards.
The value of 1,000 points ranges from $5 to $7 when shopping at retailers through Membership Rewards® or at Ticketmaster, Amazon.com, BestBuy.com, or Newegg.com.
The fine print
The American Express® Gold Card has an annual fee of $250. If you spend a lot of money on the card, the fee can be worthwhile. However, if you don’t spend a lot, you might want to consider a no fee option.
In addition – when you transfer points to a U.S. frequent flyer program, there’s a $0.0006 fee charged per point to compensate for the federal excise tax. Although this fee has a lot of zeros in it, the cost may still be impactful if you’re transferring a lot of points. For instance, 100,000 points transferred will cost you $60.
On the plus side, this card has no foreign transaction fee.
Benefits and protections
Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance
If you pay for a qualifying car rental with your American Express® Gold Card, the rental car is covered against damage and theft after declining the collision damage waiver. Rentals that won’t qualify for coverage are trucks, off-road vehicles, full-size sport vehicles, and exotic cars.
If an item you purchase is lost, stolen, or damaged within 90 days of purchase, you may be reimbursed for it.
Pros and cons
Pro: 3X points on travel. If you fly often for work or play, this card rewards you well each time you use it.
Con: The fee. The biggest con here is the annual fee. But, since there are several ways you can earn points in the 3X and 2X categories, you may be able to easily cover this fee throughout the year.
Pro: Membership Rewards. This card is enrolled in the Membership Rewards® Points program and gives you many options for point redemption. The Membership Rewards® site is also incredibly easy to navigate, and there’s no ambiguity in point value. The rewards portal shows examples of exactly what your points are worth for each redemption option.
Con: The fee to transfer points. The ability to transfer points to another program is a pro, but being charged for U.S. frequent flyer program transfers is a tiny gotcha in the fine print.
Pro: No foreign transaction fees. One area in the fees where you do catch a break is with foreign transaction fees. This aspect of the card is fitting since it’s one that rewards you for planning travel.
Who will benefit most from the American Express® Gold Card?
Your ability to earn enough points to surpass the fee will determine whether this is a good card for you.
And if you’re shopping around for a rewards program that will give you the most value for travel, Chase Ultimate Rewards® is an option you should compare to American Express Membership Rewards®.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card*, in particular, is part of the Chase Ultimate Rewards® program and allows you to transfer points to other travel partners as well. Plus, it has an offer that gives 1.25 cents per point for travel. This is slightly more value than what you get for flights with American Express Membership Rewards® since 1,000 points per $10 works out to 1 cent per point.
Before signing up for any rewards card, you should do this type of comparison shopping to figure out which offer will give you the most value for your spending habits.
*The information related to Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.
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