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Citibank Review: Savings, Checking, CD, and IRA CD and Money Market Accounts

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

How Citibank’s checking and savings accounts work

For the most part, you can’t really get an individual checking or savings account at Citibank. Instead, you have to apply for one of five account packages. That means that when you open a checking account, you’ll also get a linked savings account, and vice versa.Some account packages come with a monthly maintenance fee, which applies to the account package as a whole. For example, if there is a $30 monthly fee and you don’t meet the requirements to waive it using either your checking or savings account, the fee will be taken out once that month from your checking account.

To make things less confusing, we’ll go through all of the account packages first describing the checking accounts, because these accounts differ the most between account packages. Then, we’ll describe how the savings account works within each of these packages.

Citibank’s savings account options

Citi® Savings

This account comes with a great rate if you’re eligible. Be sure, however, to read the fine print.

APY

Minimum Deposit Amount

1.60%

<$10,000

  • Minimum opening deposit: $10,000
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $10
  • ATM fee: $2.50 fee per withdrawal on non-Citi ATMs
  • ATM fee refund: None.
  • Overdraft fee: None.

This promotional savings account comes with a great APY that is guaranteed for 12 months. However, there are certain requirements that you have to meet in order to earn this rate. You have to deposit and maintain the minimum deposit amount in order to qualify for the rate. If your balance falls below the $10,000 requirement, the promotional rate will expire and you won’t be able to get it reinstated. Also, the rate associated with this account may not be available in all markets.

You’ll have to open the account in Citi’s Access Account Package, which you can do online. To fund the account, you’ll have to do so via ACH, Direct Deposit, checks, or wires.

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Citi® Savings Account Packages

Generally lackluster interest rates on savings account packages

Citigold® and Citi Priority Savings Account Rates

 

Annual Percentage Yield (APY) by Account Balance

<$10,000

$10,000-
$24,999.99

$25,000-
$49,999.99

$50,000-
$99,999.99

$100,000-
$499,999.99

$500,000-
$999,999.99

$1,000,000+

Standard Interest Rate

0.04%

0.06%

0.10%

0.10%

0.12%

0.15%

0.15%

Citibank Account Package

APY by Account Balance

<$10,000

$10,000-
$24,999.99

$25,000-
$49,999.99

$50,000-
$99,999.99

$100,000-
$499,999.99

$500,000-
$999,999.99

$1,000,000+

Standard Interest Rate

0.04%

0.04%

0.08%

0.08%

0.10%

0.13%

0.13%

Basic Banking and Access Account Packages

APY by Account Balance

<$10,000

$10,000-
$24,999.99

$25,000-
$49,999.99

$50,000-
$99,999.99

$100,000-
$499,999.99

$500,000-
$999,999.99

$1,000,000+

Standard Interest Rate

0.04%

0.04%

0.06%

0.06%

0.06%

0.06%

0.06%

  • Minimum opening deposit: $100
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: For Basic and Access savings accounts, an additional $4.50 monthly maintenance fee applies if they are not linked to checking accounts. For account packages with linked checking and savings accounts, the fee may be charged to the checking account (see above account package descriptions for details).
  • How to waive monthly maintenance fee: For Basic and Access savings accounts, maintain a $500 minimum balance in your savings account or open the savings account with a linked checking account. Requirements for getting maintenance fees waived on other account packages are listed above.

To qualify for the promotional interest rates offered with some of the packages, you’ll need to meet a few requirements. You’ll need to open a new savings account (within an account package) and fund it with at least $25,000. You’ll also need to be 18 years or older, and provide Citibank with a W-9 or W-8BEN. Unfortunately, these promotional interest rates only last for 90 days after you open your account, after which they revert to the much lower standard interest rates.

You can apply for a Citi Savings account online, over the phone or at al branch.

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How Citibank’s savings accounts compare

Although Citibank offers good rates as high as 1.00% APY, it’s for a very short period of time and only if you bring a large amount of cash to the table and still meet other requirements.

Once the promotional period has passed, you’ll be left with piddly interest rates in account packages that may not meet your needs and potentially carry high fees to boot. If you’re looking for a low-fee and high-interest-rate savings account, you can do much better with other banks and credit unions like those in the roundup of the best online savings accounts.

Citibank checking account options

Citigold® Package

Myriad of exclusive deals and perks for people with a lot of cash

APY

Minimum Deposit Amount

0.03%

$0

  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: None
  • ATM fee refund: All ATM surcharges from non-Citibank ATMs are refunded for any statement period you are eligible for Citigold®.
  • Overdraft fee: None

The Citigold® account package is more than just a checking account. To qualify for this account package you’ll need to bring a lot of cash to the table: You’ll need at least $200,000 in all linked Citi accounts, whether they be in your deposit, retirement or investment accounts. If your balances dip below that amount, Citi will automatically convert your account to the Citi Priority account package.

But, if you can meet that high bar, you’ll be eligible for numerous perks, even if the interest rate on this savings account is admittedly quite low. You’ll get a personal team to help you navigate the intricacies of all this account package has to offer — and it offers a lot more than just free checks. You’ll get a personal financial adviser, a concierge service and numerous travel perks, as well as discounts and waived fees on various loans, lines of credit and investments. Plus, you can enroll your checking account in Citi’s ThankYou Rewards® program.

You can apply for a Citigold® account online, over the phone, or by visiting a local branch.

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Citi Priority Account Package

Nice perks for people with less — but still a lot — of money

APY

Minimum Deposit Amount

0.03%

$0

  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $30
  • How to waive monthly maintenance fee: Keep at least $50,000 in linked Citibank accounts, including deposit accounts, retirement accounts and investment accounts.
  • ATM fee: None
  • ATM fee refund: Not available
  • Overdraft fee: None

Unlike the Citigold® account, which has no fees, you’ll pay a high monthly fee of $30 with this account unless you can keep at least $50,000 in other linked Citi accounts. If you’re able to do that, though, you can still take advantage of many of the same perks offered to the premium Citigold® members.

You’re eligible to link your checking account with the Citi ThankYou® Rewards program. This account still waives all banking fees, and offers you discounts and waived fees off of investment products, loans, and lines of credit. And while you may not have an entire team waiting at your fingertips, you still have exclusive access to financial advisors to help you make investment decisions.

You can apply for a Citi Priority account online, over the phone or by visiting a local branch.

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The Citibank® Account Package

Average account with above-average requirements

APY

Minimum Deposit Amount

0.01%

$0

  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $25
  • How to waive monthly maintenance fee: Keep at least $10,000 in linked Citibank deposit, retirement or investment accounts.
  • ATM fee: $2.50 for each non-Citibank ATM use, unless you have at least $10,000 in linked Citibank accounts.
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $10 per day when funds are transferred to cover an overdraft.

If you can’t meet the high minimum balance requirements of the Citigold® or Citi Priority account packages, you might consider the Citibank Account. You can enroll your account in Citi ThankYou® Rewards, and your first order of checks is free.

But, you’ll still need to keep a high account balance of $10,000 in linked Citibank accounts to avoid paying the high monthly fee. In return, you earn interest on this account, but it’s a miniscule 0.01% APY.

You can apply for a the Citibank Account in online, over the phone or at a local branch.

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Basic Banking Package

A no-frills account—but watch out for high fees.
  • Minimum opening deposit: $0
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $12
  • How to waive monthly maintenance fee: You can get out of the maintenance fee if you
    1. are 62 years or older
    2. make one bill payment from your account and one qualifying direct deposit into your account each month
    3. keep at least $1,500 in your checking and/or savings account
  • ATM fee: $2.50 for each withdrawal at a non-Citi ATM.
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $10 per day when funds are transferred to cover an overdraft.

This account is truly a no-frills version of Citi’s premium checking accounts. Not only does it not pay any interest or earn any Citi ThankYou® Rewards points, but you’ll have to watch out for high fees, as well. If you can’t meet the minimum deposit or age requirements, you’ll also be shelling out $12 per month for this austere account.

You can apply for the Basic Banking account online, over the phone or at a local branch.

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Access Account Package

A high-fee checking account—that doesn’t let you write physical checks
  • Minimum opening deposit: $0
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $10
  • How to waive monthly maintenance fee: There are three options:
    1. Keep at least $1,500 in your account
    2. Make a bill payment from your account
    3. Have at least one qualifying direct deposit into your account each month
  • ATM fee: $2.50 for each withdrawal at a non-Citi ATM.
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: None

This is a bit of a bizarre account. In exchange for a slightly lower fee ($2 less), you can get basically the same thing as the Basic Banking account but without the ability to write physical checks. If all you need to do is pay bills online, this account might work for you — but as soon as you need to write a physical check, you’re out of luck with this account.

Besides, the requirements to waive the monthly fee are almost the same, though the Access Account lets you slide by with one fewer bill payment/direct deposit per month. If you meet the requirements to have the Access Account maintenance fee waived, why not at least upgrade to the Basic Account and the ability to write physical checks?

If you do decide that this account is right for you, you for a Citi Access account online, over the phone or at a branch.

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How Citibank’s checking accounts compare

Citibank’s premium account packages (Citigold® and Citi Priority) offer a lot of perks by way of waived fees and free services. However, unless you have deep pockets, you’ll likely be limited to considering The Citibank Account, Basic Banking or Access Account. These accounts come with high monthly account maintenance fees unless you can qualify for one of the ways to waive these pesky fees.

All of Citi’s checking accounts — even the ones with the nice premium perks — offer very low yields, especially compared to high-interest checking accounts available elsewhere.

Citibank CD Rates

Small earnings, but small early withdrawal penalties as well.

CD Rates for Citigold® account holders

CD Term

APY by Deposit Amount

Below $10,000

$10,000-
$24,999.99

$25,000-
$49,999.99

$50,000-
$99,999.99

$100,000+

3month

0.05%

0.05%

0.05%

0.05%

0.05%

4month

0.05%

0.05%

0.05%

0.05%

0.05%

5month

0.05%

0.05%

0.05%

0.05%

0.05%

6month

0.07%

0.07%

0.07%

0.07%

0.07%

7month

0.10%

0.10%

0.10%

0.10%

0.10%

8month

0.07%

0.07%

0.07%

0.07%

0.07%

9month

0.10%

0.10%

1.75%

1.75%

1.75%

10month

0.10%

0.10%

0.10%

0.10%

0.10%

12month

0.25%

0.25%

0.25%

0.25%

0.25%

13month

0.20%

0.20%

2.00%

2.00%

2.25%

18 month

0.25%

0.25%

2.35%

2.35%

2.35%

2year

0.50%

0.50%

0.50%

0.50%

0.50%

30month

0.25%

0.25%

0.25%

0.25%

0.25%

3 year

0.70%

0.70%

0.70%

0.70%

0.70%

4year

0.75%

0.75%

0.75%

0.75%

0.75%

5year

0.80%

0.80%

0.80%

0.80%

0.80%

CD Rates for Citi Priority account holders

CD Term

APY by Deposit Amount

Below $10,000

$10,000-
$24,999.99

$25,000-
$49,999.99

$50,000-
$99,999.99

$100,000+

3 month

0.05%

0.05%

0.05%

0.05%

0.05%

4 month

0.05%

0.05%

0.05%

0.05%

0.05%

5 month

0.05%

0.05%

0.05%

0.05%

0.05%

6 month

0.07%

0.07%

0.07%

0.07%

0.07%

7 month

0.10%

0.10%

0.10%

0.10%

0.10%

8 month

0.07%

0.07%

0.07%

0.07%

0.07%

9 month

0.10%

0.10%

1.75%

1.75%

1.75%

10 month

0.10%

0.10%

0.10%

0.10%

0.10%

12 month

0.25%

0.25%

0.25%

0.25%

0.25%

13 month

0.20%

0.20%

2.00%

2.00%

2.25%

18 month

0.25%

0.25%

2.35%

2.35%

2.35%

2 year

0.50%

0.50%

0.50%

0.50%

0.50%

30 month

0.25%

0.25%

0.25%

0.25%

0.25%

3 year

0.70%

0.70%

0.70%

0.70%

0.70%

4 year

0.75%

0.75%

0.75%

0.75%

0.75%

5 year

0.80%

0.80%

0.80%

0.80%

0.80%

CD Rates for The Citibank Account, Basic Banking, and Access Account packages

CD Term

APY by Deposit Amount

Below $10,000

$10,000-
$24,999.99

$25,000-
$49,999.99

$50,000-
$99,999.99

$100,000+

3 month

0.05%

0.05%

0.05%

0.05%

0.05%

4 month

0.05%

0.05%

0.05%

0.05%

0.05%

5 month

0.05%

0.05%

0.05%

0.05%

0.05%

6 month

0.07%

0.07%

0.07%

0.07%

0.07%

7 month

0.10%

0.10%

0.10%

0.10%

0.10%

8 month

0.07%

0.07%

0.07%

0.07%

0.07%

9 month

0.10%

0.10%

1.75%

1.75%

1.75%

10 month

0.10%

0.10%

0.10%

0.10%

0.10%

12 month

0.25%

0.25%

0.25%

0.25%

0.25%

13 month

0.20%

0.20%

2.00%

2.00%

2.25%

18 month

0.25%

0.25%

2.35%

2.35%

2.35%

2 year

0.50%

0.50%

0.50%

0.50%

0.50%

30 month

0.25%

0.25%

0.25%

0.25%

0.25%

3 year

0.70%

0.70%

0.70%

0.70%

0.70%

4 year

0.75%

0.75%

0.75%

0.75%

0.75%

5 year

0.80%

0.80%

0.80%

0.80%

0.80%

  • Minimum opening deposit: $1,000
  • Early withdrawal penalty:
    • For CDs with terms of one year or less, you’ll pay 90 days’ worth of interest.
    • For CDs with terms of over one year, you’ll pay 180 days’ worth of interest.

    However, you can withdraw the interest at any time without paying a penalty.

Citibank says that it offers different rates depending on which account package you open up a CD with. (That’s right — you can’t just go to the bank and open a CD. You need to have an existing account with them first.) But, as you’ll see above, the rates actually are the same for each type of account package.

If you already have an account package with Citi and you’d like to apply for a CD, you can do so online, over the phone or at a branch. All you’ll need to provide is basic information about yourself (including your Social Security number), have a physical address in the United States, and have a valid form of ID.

If you have “issues with your credit history” or are depositing more than $100,000 into your CD, you cannot do so online or over the phone — you’ll have to go and visit a Citibank branch in person.

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How Citibank’s CDs compare

Citibank offers very low rates on its CDs, especially compared to high yield CDs you can get elsewhere without having to mess around with account packages.

One clear advantage of Citibank CDs is that the early withdrawal penalties are relatively low. For example, the early withdrawal penalty on a five-year Citibank CD is 180 days’ worth of interest. Discover Bank — which offers much better CD rates — charges a whopping 18 months’ worth of interest if you withdraw the cash early from Discover’s five-year CD. However, Citi’s CD rates are so low, you’d be better off putting money in a high-yield savings account — the best ones offer rates higher than Citi’s CDs — and not worrying about early withdrawal fees. That wouldn’t necessarily be a good strategy in a falling-rates market, but since rates hit a historic low after the financial crisis, we’ve been in a rising-rates market.

Unless you a) already have an existing account with Citibank, b) don’t want to go through the hassle of opening a CD at another institution (it’s not hard, we promise), and c) think that there’s a high likelihood that you’ll withdraw the money early and don’t want to open accounts elsewhere, we wouldn’t recommend a Citibank CD.

Citibank IRA accounts

Guaranteed low returns, especially when compared to equity investments

Citibank offers banking IRAs in two flavors: as CDs (with the rates listed in the section above), or as a money market account at an interest rate of 0.20% APY*. These rates are extremely low, especially when compared to higher-yielding IRA CDs.

In general, the returns on IRA CDs and money market accounts don’t even come close to the kind of gains you need to be making while growing your retirement accounts, and Citibank’s banking IRAs are no exception. For example, equities (i.e., stocks and bonds) earn average returns of around 7% per year — far higher than the piddly 0.50% APY that you can get in a best-case scenario with a Citibank CD.

In fact, the rates that Citi offers for banking IRAs are far lower than typical inflation levels (around 3% per year). This means that even if you opt for the highest rates that Citi offers, your money won’t even keep pace with inflation over time and you’ll be left with less and less each year (albeit at a guaranteed rate).

Overall review of Citibank

Although Citibank offers some great credit cards (such as the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer and Citi® Simplicity Card), they fall short in the deposits department.

Citibank does offer some nice perks, such as some accounts being eligible for Citi’s ThankYou® Rewards program. The Citigold® and Citi Priority account packages come with features that can save you money and make your life easier, if you have the deep pockets required for these account packages.

All-in-all, while there are some bright spots to Citibank’s accounts, you can earn higher rates and pay lower fees at other banks and credit unions.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Lindsay VanSomeren
Lindsay VanSomeren |

Lindsay VanSomeren is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Lindsay here

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Reviews

American Express Green Card Review

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

The iconic American Express® Green Card has undergone a fresh makeover. Thanks to a revamp that rolled out in October 2019, the American Express® Green Card is now a compelling choice for those who want rewards and perks for travel, but aren’t ready to shell out for a premium travel card with an annual fee in the $500 range. This card does charge a $150 annual fee, but if you take full advantage of the annual credits you get for having it, you can mitigate the cost of the annual fee.

Plus, the new card is made mostly out of plastic reclaimed from beaches, islands, and coastal communities — so it can be considered “green” both in color and environmentally.

Where the American Express® Green Card stands out

American Express® Green Card

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American Express® Green Card

Annual fee
$150
Rewards Rate
Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on all eligible travel, from subway swipes and window seats to hotel stays and city tours.
Credit required
excellent-credit
Excellent/Good

Rewards. Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on all eligible travel, from subway swipes and window seats to hotel stays and city tours. This is an inclusive travel category, which gives you the chance to earn rewards in a lot of different ways.

CLEAR annual credit. CLEAR uses your eyes and fingerprints to confirm your identity. It can be used at a variety of airports, stadiums, and other venues. When you use this card to pay for your CLEAR membership, you can get up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year. However, because a CLEAR membership costs $179 a year (or $15 a month), note that you’ll still have to pay a portion of your membership costs out of pocket each year.

LoungeBuddy annual credit. When you use this card to purchase airport lounge access via LoungeBuddy, you can get up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year.

Additional benefits

Welcome offer. Earn 30,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. If you use your points for flights through American Express Travel (a value of 1 cent per point), that’s worth $300.

Away credit. New cardmembers who apply by Jan. 15, 2020, can earn statement credits of up to $100 after making a purchase such as a suitcase or weekender bag from Away — a company that sells its travel gear online directly to consumers and aims to offer better prices than you might be able to find when shopping big-name brands in retail stores.

Baggage insurance plan. When you buy your ticket using this card, you can get coverage of up to $1,250 for carry-on baggage and up to $500 for checked baggage. Terms apply.

Where the American Express® Green Card falls short

Annual fee. The American Express® Green Card has an annual fee of $150. This is a bit more than many mid-level travel cards, which tend to charge annual fees of around $95. However, it’s worth noting that $150 annual fee for the American Express® Green Card is less expensive than premium travel cards such as The Platinum Card® from American Express, which charges an annual fee of $550.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

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The Platinum Card® from American Express

Annual fee
$550
Rewards Rate
5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and 5X Membership Rewards® points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
Credit required
excellent-credit

Excellent

Compare it with the American Express® Gold Card

Another American Express card that serves consumers who like to travel and dine out is the American Express® Gold Card. While the annual fee of $250 is a bit more costly than the American Express® Green Card, some cardholders might find the rewards and annual credits worth the expense. Here’s how the cards compare:

 American Express® Green CardAmerican Express® Gold Card
Welcome offerEarn 30,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.35,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months.
RewardsEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on all eligible travel, from subway swipes and window seats to hotel stays and city tours.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).
Regular purchase APRSee Rates & FeesSee Rates & Fees
Annual fee$150$250
Foreign transaction feeNoneNone

For annual statement credits, the American Express® Gold Card offers the following:

Airline fee credit of up to $100. You can choose one qualifying airline per calendar year and receive up to $100 in statement credits to go toward incidental fees.

Dining credit of up to $120. You can earn up to $10 in statement credits each month for an annual savings of up to $120 when you pay with this card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations.

American Express® Gold Card

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American Express® Gold Card

Annual fee
$250
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).
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

Before factoring in the cards’ annual fees, you can save up to $220 each year from the American Express® Gold Card’s statement credits and up to $200 each year from the American Express® Green Card’s statement credits. Which one is better just depends whether you value credits that go toward incidental airline fees and dining purchases or credits that go toward airport security and airport lounge access. The statement credits effectively reduce the American Express® Gold Card’s annual fee to $30, while the American Express® Green Card’s statement credits can more than recoup the cost of the card’s annual fee, but leaves you to pay $79 a year to make up the yearly price of a CLEAR membership.

Read: Best Travel Credit Cards

When it comes to rewards, the American Express® Gold Card has a higher earning rate per $1 spent on dining than the American Express® Green Card. It also offers U.S. supermarkets as a rewards category, which the American Express® Green Card does not. However, the American Express® Green Card rewards a much broader category of travel purchases than the American Express® Gold Card.

The bottom line

So, is it worth having the American Express® Green Card? If you travel and dine out frequently, it’s a good choice. The annual fee is slightly more expensive than cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (with an annual fee of $95) and the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card (with an annual fee of $0 intro for first year; $95 after that), but it offers strong value in its ongoing rewards and in its annual credits.

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Glen Luke Flanagan
Glen Luke Flanagan |

Glen Luke Flanagan is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Glen Luke here

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Credit Cards, Reviews

American Express Gold Card: Good Travel Rewards for a Fee

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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 Card

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).

$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.

American Express® Gold Card

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Terms Apply | Rates & Fees

American Express® Gold Card

Annual fee
$250
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).
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

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.

Other rewards

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.

Purchase Protection

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.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Taylor Gordon
Taylor Gordon |

Taylor Gordon is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Taylor here