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Oritani Bank Review: Checking, Savings, CD, Money Market and IRA 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 of our network partners.

Oritani Bank’s checking account options

TGIF Checking

This basic, no-frills account does not earn interest, but it’s a solid fee-free checking account.
  • Minimum opening deposit: $1
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: None at Oritani Bank or Allpoint ATMs; 50 cents to $2 on outside ATMs
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $34

The selling point for this account is that it is very easy to open and maintain with such a low opening deposit requirement and no monthly fee or minimum balance to maintain. This account also comes with free online and mobile banking, bill pay, a free MasterMoney debit or Oritani Bank ATM card and a free first order of basic checks.

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Choice Plus Checking

A step above the TGIF account, this one allows you to earn a bit of interest on fairly low balances.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
0.20%$1,000
  • Minimum opening deposit: $100
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $6 (this can be waived)
  • ATM fee: None at Oritani Bank or Allpoint ATMs; 50 cents to $2 on outside ATMs
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $34

This account does earn interest on balances of $1,000 or more. While it does have minimal requirements compared to the TGIF account, the $6 monthly service charge is fairly easy to avoid if you have a monthly direct deposit or maintain a $500 minimum balance. This account also offers free online banking and bill pay, along with an Oritani Bank MasterMoney debit card and a free first order of checks. “Bounce protection” is also a possibility, though you’ll have to contact the bank to learn more about what that entails.

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Nifty-Fifty Checking

A checking account for customers 50 and older.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
0.20%$1,000
  • Minimum opening deposit: $1
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: None at Oritani Bank or Allpoint ATMs; 50 cents to $2 on outside ATMs
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $34

This account is meant for bank customers who are 50 or older. Like the Choice Plus account, this one earns interest on balances of $1,000 or more. There are no monthly balance requirements, as well as no monthly fee, and this account offers unlimited check-writing. It also offers free online banking and bill pay services, a free 3-inch by 5-inch safety deposit box for the first year (with a 75% discount on other sizes), 50 free printed checks, an Oritani Bank MasterMoney debit card and bounce protection, though you will need to contact the bank about what that entails.

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Optimum Gold Checking

A checking account with a higher opening deposit account and lackluster tiered rates.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
0.20%$1,000
0.20%$5,000
0.30%$10,000
0.40%$25,000
  • Minimum opening deposit: $10,000
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $20 (this can be waived)
  • ATM fee: None at Oritani Bank or Allpoint ATMs; 50 cents to $2 on outside ATMs
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $34

This account earns interest at four different tiers. Although the rates aren’t extraordinary, this account does come with a higher opening deposit requirement and a $10,000 minimum monthly balance requirement to avoid a higher-than-average $20 fee. On the plus side, it does come with free transactions at all Oritani Bank ATMs, free FastBanking phone service, free Optimum Gold checks, 50 free printed checks, an Oritani Bank MasterMoney debit card and bounce protection, though you’ll need to call the bank to inquire about what that entails.

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NJ Consumer Checking

The bank’s cheap checking option, with minimal requirements.
  • Minimum opening deposit: $50
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: None at Oritani Bank or Allpoint ATMs; 50 cents to $2 on outside ATMs
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $34

This account does not earn interest. It’s another no-frills checking account option with a low opening deposit requirement, and then no balance requirement after that first minimum deposit. You can write up to eight checks a month for a fee of $3. You also get 50 free printed checks.

How to get Oritani Bank’s checking accounts

If you are a resident of New Jersey, you can open any of the above checking accounts at a branch. You’ll need to come with your government-issued ID, Social Security number and address.

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How Oritani Bank’s checking accounts compare

While most of Oritani Bank’s checking accounts come with low or no monthly fees and balance requirements, the interest rates on the accounts that offer it don’t stack up to the rates on our list of the best online checking accounts. Not only that, but the fact that you can only open an account in person could be an inconvenience if you don’t live near one of its branches. We say consider one of the accounts on our list instead.

Oritani Bank’s savings account options

Platinum Savings

This account offers an OK rate for a fairly high minimum balance requirement.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
1.70%$10,000
  • Minimum opening deposit: $100
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $10,000
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: None at Oritani Bank or Allpoint ATMs; 50 cents to $2 on outside ATMs
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $34

This account is advertised as the bank’s “preferred rate consumer Statement Savings account.” Although it comes with a low opening deposit, the minimum to earn interest is pretty high in comparison. Interest on this account is accrued daily and paid out monthly. This account also comes with online banking services and can be linked to an Oritani Bank checking account. As a savings account, this one is subject to Federal Reserve Regulation D, which limits certain withdrawals and transfers up to six a month.

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Passbook Savings

This savings account comes with easier-to-meet requirements.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
0.25%$100
  • Minimum opening deposit: $1
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $100
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: None at Oritani Bank or Allpoint ATMs; 50 cents to $2 on outside ATMs
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $34

This account also requires a very low opening deposit. But the minimum balance to earn the APY is also low at $100. This account accrues interest daily and pays it out monthly. It is not eligible for electronic transactions. As a savings account, it’s subject to Federal Reserve Regulation D, which limits certain transactions up to six a month.

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Statement Savings

The bank’s basic savings account.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
0.25%$250
  • Minimum opening deposit: $1
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $250
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: None at Oritani Bank or Allpoint ATMs; 50 cents to $2 on outside ATMs
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $34

This account also comes with the same $1 minimum opening deposit as many of the bank’s other accounts. The minimum balance requirement to earn the rate is fairly low, too. This account accrues interest daily and pays it out monthly. You can access the account via online banking, and you can link it to an Oritani Bank checking account. As a savings account, it’s subject to Federal Reserve Regulation D, which limits certain transactions up to six a month.

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Super Passbook Savings

This account offers the same rate as the regular Passbook Savings, though the balance required to earn it is higher.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
0.25%$250
  • Minimum opening deposit: $1
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $250
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: None at Oritani Bank or Allpoint ATMs; 50 cents to $2 on outside ATMs
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $34

This account claims to be an upgrade from the regular Passbook Savings account, but the rate begs to differ, as it is the same. But as we mentioned before, the balance required to earn it is slightly higher. This account accrues interest daily and pays it monthly. It is not eligible for electronic transactions. As a savings account, it’s subject to Federal Reserve Regulation D, which limits certain transactions up to six a month.

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Super Saver Plus

Once linked to any active Oritani Bank checking account, this account can earn tiered rates depending on your daily balance.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
0.15%$250
0.20%$5,000
0.25%$10,000
0.25%$25,000
  • Minimum opening deposit: $250
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: Varies; see table
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: None at Oritani Bank or Allpoint ATMs; 50 cents to $2 on outside ATMs
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $34

This account must be linked to an active Oritani Bank checking account. From there, you can earn one of four tiered interest rate levels. Interest is accrued daily and paid monthly on this account. As a savings account, it’s subject to Federal Reserve Regulation D, which limits certain transactions up to six a month.

How to get Oritani Bank’s savings accounts

Like with the bank’s other personal accounts, these savings accounts must be opened in person if you meet the requirement of being a resident of New Jersey. Be sure to come with your government-issued ID, Social Security number and address.

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How Oritani Bank’s savings accounts compare

While the Platinum Savings account’s rate is on par with some of the accounts on our list of the best online savings accounts, none of the others are. Not only that, but on that specific account, you need to maintain a pretty steep balance to earn that rate. This — along with the fact that you can’t open any of these accounts online — would lead us to say that you should continue to shop around or consider one of our recommended products.

Oritani Bank’s CD rates

Standard Certificates of Deposit

The bank’s regular CDs, with a minimum deposit of $1,000.
TermAPY
3 months0.25%
6 months0.50%
12-15 months0.90%
18 months1.00%
19-24 months1.25%
30 months0.90%
36 months1.25%
48 months1.50%
60 months1.75%
  • Minimum opening deposit: $1,000
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: $1,000
  • Early withdrawal penalty: On CDs of less than 12 months, the penalty is three months worth of interest at the rate it is earning; on CDs 12 months and longer, it’s six months worth of interest at the rate it is earning

These CDs are pretty standard as far as the minimum deposit requirements and early withdrawal penalties go. Interest on these accounts is compounded daily and credited monthly. The rates are fixed until the maturity date, at which point the interest may remain in the account, be automatically withdrawn by check or transferred to another Oritani Bank account. These certificates will automatically renew for the same term length upon maturity.

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Promo CDs, Loyalty CDs

The bank’s promotional CDs, with an opening deposit of $1,000.
TermAPY
6 month Promo CD1.50%
6 month Loyalty CD1.75%
12 month Promo CD1.60%
12 month Loyalty CD1.85%
15 month Promo CD1.75%
24 month Promo CD1.75%
24 month Loyalty CD2.00%
60 month Promo CD1.75%
60 month Loyalty CD2.00%
  • Minimum opening deposit: $1,000
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: $1,000
  • Early withdrawal penalty: On CDs of less than 12 months, the penalty is three months worth of interest at the rate it is earning; on CDs 12 months and longer, it’s six months worth of interest at the rate it is earning

These are Oritani Bank’s promotional CDs, which are offered from time to time for various terms. These will automatically renew at a traditional term that is determined at the time the account is opened at maturity. There is a seven-day grace period following maturity during which principal may be added to or withdrawn without penalty.

How to get Oritani Bank’s CDs

Oritani Bank’s CDs are the lone product that is open to anyone, even if they don’t live in New Jersey. But you still have to visit a branch to open one either way, so that’s likely not a win for potential out-of-state customers.

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How Oritani Bank’s CD rates compare

Although the bank claims its CD rates are competitive, only the promotional rates prove to be on par with the accounts on our list of the best CD rates. If there’s one product to go for at Oritani Bank, it’s these CDs. Get one while you can if it’s convenient for you to visit a bank branch in person and you’ve done your research to know this is the best product available to you.

Oritani Bank’s money market account options

Money Market

Oritani Bank’s basic money market account, offering three tiers.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
0.20%$1,000
0.20%$5,000
0.30%$10,000
  • Minimum opening deposit: $100
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: Varies; see table
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $10 (this can be waived)
  • ATM fee: None at Oritani Bank or Allpoint ATMs; 50 cents to $2 on outside ATMs
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $34

Oritani Bank’s money market accounts can be opened with a fairly low deposit, though the $10 monthly fee is only waivable if a minimum $1,000 balance is maintained. It comes with a free first order of Money Market checks, an Oritani Bank ATM card or MasterMoney debit card with no monthly charges, online banking and bill pay services, FastBanking phone service, statements with check images online or by mail, automatic transfers to other Oritani Bank accounts, direct deposit capability and bounce protection (though you’ll need to contact the bank about what that protection entails). This account allows for unlimited deposits and in-person withdrawals. But as a savings account, it is subject to Federal Reserve Regulation D, which limits pre-authorized withdrawals and transfers up to six a month.

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Diamond Money Market

This money market account offers a higher rate than the regular account.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
1.05%$0.01
0.45%$250,000
  • Minimum opening deposit: $100
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: Varies; see table
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $10 (this can be waived)
  • ATM fee: None at Oritani Bank or Allpoint ATMs; 50 cents to $2 on outside ATMs
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $34

Like with the regular Money Market account, this account can be opened with a fairly low deposit, though the monthly $10 fee is only waivable if a $1,000 average balance is maintained. Offering a higher rate at two tiers, the Diamond Money Market account also comes with a free first order of Money Market checks, an Oritani Bank ATM card or MasterMoney debit card with no monthly charges, online banking and bill pay services, FastBanking phone service, statements with check images online or by mail, automatic transfers to other Oritani Bank accounts, direct deposit capability and bounce protection (though you’ll need to contact the bank about what that protection entails). This account allows for unlimited deposits and in-person withdrawals. Keep in mind, though, that as a savings account, this one is subject to Federal Reserve Regulation D, which limits pre-authorized withdrawals and transfers up to six a month.

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Premier Money Market account

The bank’s “premier” money market account doesn’t live up to its name as far as the rates are concerned.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
1.50%$0.01
0.45%$250,000
  • Minimum opening deposit: $10,000
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: Varies; see table
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $10 (this can be waived)
  • ATM fee: None at Oritani Bank or Allpoint ATMs; 50 cents to $2 on outside ATMs
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $34

This account requires a higher opening deposit of $10,000, though the monthly $10 fee is only waivable if that $10,000 balance is maintained. It also offers a slightly higher rate at the first tier than with the Diamond Money Market account. The Premier Money Market account comes with the same account features as the Money Market and Diamond Money Market accounts. But as with all savings accounts, this one is subject to Federal Reserve Regulation D, which limits pre-authorized withdrawals and transfers up to six a month.

How to get Oritani Bank’s money market accounts

Like all of Oritani Bank’s personal banking products, its money market accounts must be opened at a branch. You must also be a New Jersey resident to open these accounts. Be sure to come with your government-issued ID, Social Security number and address.

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How Oritani Bank’s money market accounts compare

As far as rates are concerned, none of Oritani Bank’s money market accounts stack up against the competing accounts on our list of the best money market account rates. Not only that, but a few of the tier levels require an astronomical balance to even earn these subpar rates. Add to that the fact that you have to open these in person, and we say give these money market accounts a hard pass.

Oritani Bank’s IRA options

IRA CD rates

IRA Standard Certificates

Oritani Bank’s regular CDs available to open within an IRA, with a $1,000 opening deposit.
TermAPY
3 months0.25%
6 months0.50%
12-15 months0.90%
18 months1.00%
19-24 months1.25%
30 months0.90%
36 months1.25%
48 months1.50%
60 months1.75%
  • Minimum opening deposit: $1,000
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: $1,000
  • Early withdrawal penalty: On CDs of less than 12 months, the penalty is three months worth of interest at the rate it is earning; on CDs 12 months and longer, it’s six months worth of interest at the rate it is earning

These are Oritani Bank’s CDs opened within an IRA. They, too, are pretty standard as far as the minimum deposit requirements and early withdrawal penalties go. Interest on these accounts is compounded daily and credited monthly. The IRA CD rates are fixed until the maturity date, at which point the interest may remain in the account, be automatically withdrawn by check or transferred to another Oritani Bank account. Like with the regular CDs, these certificates will automatically renew for the same term length upon maturity.

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Promo IRA CDs, Loyalty IRA CDs

The bank’s promotional IRA CDs, with a $1,000 opening deposit.
TermAPY
6 month Promo CD1.50%
6 month Loyalty CD1.75%
12 month Promo CD1.60%
12 month Loyalty CD1.85%
15 month Promo CD1.75%
24 month Promo CD1.75%
24 month Loyalty CD2.00%
60 month Promo CD1.75%
60 month Loyalty CD2.00%
  • Minimum opening deposit: $1,000
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: $1,000
  • Early withdrawal penalty: On CDs of less than 12 months, the penalty is three months worth of interest at the rate it is earning; on CDs 12 months and longer, it’s six months worth of interest at the rate it is earning

Oritani Bank’s promotional certificates of deposit extend to its IRA CDs, which are also offered from time to time for various terms. Like with the regular ones, these will automatically renew at a traditional term that is determined at the time the account is opened at maturity. There is a seven-day grace period after maturity during which principal may be added to or withdrawn without penalty.

How to get Oritani Bank’s IRA CDs

Although these IRA CDs are available to anyone even if they live outside of New Jersey, you still have to visit a branch to open one. To do so, you’ll need to come with your government-issued ID, Social Security number and address.

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on Oritani Bank’s secure website

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How Oritani Bank’s IRA CD rates compare

Like with the regular CD products, Oritani Bank’s standard IRA CDs don’t compare to those on our list of the best IRA CD rates. But its promotional rates do, so if this bank is a convenient option for you (convenient enough that you can visit a branch to open an account, anyway), there’s no reason to not at least consider one of these products when doing your research.

IRA Savings

This account can be opened as a traditional or Roth IRA.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
0.25%$250
  • Minimum opening deposit: $1
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $250
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: N/A
  • ATM fee refund: N/A
  • Overdraft fee: N/A

This IRA Savings account can be opened as a traditional or Roth IRA. If you go the traditional route, some or all of your contributions may be tax deductible, which is dependent on your adjusted gross income. The interest can grow tax-deferred until you decide to withdraw it. If you open it as a Roth IRA, your interest can grow tax-free when withdrawn as a qualified distribution, though your contributions are not tax deductible. As with all savings accounts, this one is subject to Federal Reserve Regulation D, which limits certain transfers and withdrawals up to six a month. This account may also be subject to an additional early withdrawal penalty by the IRS if you withdraw funds before age 59½.

How to get Oritani Bank’s IRA savings account

As with all of Oritani Bank’s deposit accounts, you must open the IRA Savings account in person if you qualify to do so by being a resident of New Jersey. Be sure to come with your government-issued ID, Social Security number and address.

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on Oritani Bank’s secure website

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Overall review of Oritani Bank’s banking products

When you look at the rates across the board for Oritani Bank’s personal banking products, none of them is anything to get excited about, save for its promotional CDs and IRA CDs, which you can open even if you’re not a New Jersey resident. But for those, like with all its personal banking products, you have to open them at a branch, which is sure to be a huge inconvenience for those who don’t live near one. If this alone causes you to give the bank a general pass, we can’t say we blame you.

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.

Emilia Benton
Emilia Benton |

Emilia Benton is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Emilia 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.

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.

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.

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Taylor Gordon
Taylor Gordon |

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