American Express® Gold Card
The Gold card from American Express is an entry-level charge card that can help familiarize customers with the Membership Rewards program and its benefits. The card earns Membership Rewards points, which can be transferred to multiple airlines and other travel partners, or redeemed for statement credits, merchant gift cards or through American Express Travel.
Amex points are worth 1 cent each when redeemed for statement credits or for travel through the Membership Rewards website. However, points can yield a much higher value when they’re transferred to travel partners, which include 17 different airlines.
The card does not offer a sign-up bonus, but it does have bonus-earning categories that give cardholders a way to earn points more quickly with everyday purchases. The Amex Gold card is a good option for domestic travelers who want to try out the Membership Rewards program.
Bonuses and Benefits
Knowing what benefits come with a credit card can help you decide if it’s a good fit for you. Here we cover the bonuses and perks that the American Express® Gold Card offers and the value of the AMEX Membership Rewards® points you earn.
As mentioned, the American Express Gold card does not offer a sign-up bonus, which makes it a less desirable alternative compared to other cards in the Membership Rewards program. However, it’s a decent starter card that lets members become familiar with the rewards program and its many travel partners.
Card members who stay two consecutive nights at a participating Hotel Collection property receive a room upgrade if one is available at check-in and a credit of $75 toward dining, spa and resort activities. There’s no cap on the number of annual stays, so the program can both save you cash and enhance a hotel experience.
Amex Entertainment Access gives cardholders access to ticket pre-sales for concerts and sporting events, as well as for cardholders-only events in selected cities. The cities are limited to Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and major cities in Florida and Texas.
American Express cardholders also get access to preferred seating at some major concert venues. Tickets available through the Preferred Seating program are available to card members at no extra cost and must be purchased with an eligible Amex card. Availability varies by performance, and blackout dates apply.
What You Get
- $75 credit and room upgrade for any two night stay booked through the Hotel Collection
Membership Rewards points do not expire as long as the card remains open and the account is in good standing. Unfortunately, closing the card will make all the points disappear. Cardholders can keep their transferrable points alive by keeping at least one Membership Rewards card active, such as the no-fee Amex EveryDay card. If opening a new credit card account is not an option, transferring Membership Rewards to a travel partner could be another way of keeping them safe.
What is the value of the Membership Rewards® Points?
The Gold card is part of the Amex Membership Rewards program. MR Points can be redeemed at a rate of 1 cent each toward travel on any airline when card members redeem through American Express Travel. While that’s not the best value, award flights booked through Amex Travel do accrue both redeemable and elite qualifying miles.
Amex points transferred to one of the program’s partners can generate a higher value per point, depending on the airline, route, date and booking class, which also affects the cost of revenue flights. Doing a little research to find the right transfer partner for the route and dates you want can pay off handsomely.
American Express Membership Rewards points can be transferred to the following frequent flyer programs: Aeromexico Club Premier, Air Canada Aeroplan, Air France KLM Flying Blue, Alitalia MilleMiglia, All Nippon Airways (ANA) Mileage Club, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, British Airways Executive Club, Delta Air Lines SkyMiles, El Al Israel Airlines Frequent Flyer Club, Emirates Skywards, Etihad Guest, Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles, Iberia Plus, JetBlue TrueBlue, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Virgin America Elevate and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. You can also transfer MR points to the following hotel loyalty programs: Choice Privileges, Hilton Honors, Starwood Preferred Guest and Plenti.
While most partners transfer at a rate of 1:1, not all do. AeroMexico, British Airways, El Al, JetBlue and Virgin America all offer worse rates, though they differ by airline. Choice Privileges is the only hotel offering 1:1 transfers.
Although transferring points to international airlines is free, American Express passes on excise taxes in the amount of $0.0006 per point for all domestic airline transfers. For example, transferring 30,000 Membership Rewards to Delta comes to $18. Although it’s not a lot, small charges like this can add up.
What is CPM and How Is It Calculated?
Cents Per Mile (CPM) is a way to measure the value of miles. It tells you how many cents you get for each mile you redeem by dividing the cash price of the airline ticket (minus taxes and fees charged for an award ticket) by the number of miles the award flight costs. This is a somewhat subjective calculation because the price of the flight in both cash and miles fluctuates by season and availability.
How we calculate CPM:
The Best Ways to Redeem Membership Points
Transferring your Amex MR points to Air France KLM Flying Blue offers great redemption opportunities when it comes to booking award flights from the United States to Europe. Economy class redemptions cost just 50,000 Flying Blue miles for a round-trip flight operated by a mix of SkyTeam partners, such as Delta, Air France or KLM. In comparison, booking through either Delta SkyMiles or United Airlines MileagePlus programs requires 60,000 miles for round-trip flights to Europe.
Sometimes, Flying Blue offers what’s called Promo Awards — a discount on redemptions between select North American cities and Europe — which offers even better redemption rates. Flying Blue includes countries like Morocco, Israel, Tunisia and Algeria in its definition of Europe. Redemptions to those countries typically cost a lot more through other programs.
Membership Rewards points transfer to Air France KLM Flying Blue at a 1:1 ratio.
Another great Amex transfer partner is Air Canada, which is part of Star Alliance, the largest airline alliance in the world. That means redeeming Air Canada Aeroplan miles can transport passengers to almost anywhere in the world. The program has a couple of sweet spots when it comes to redeeming miles for award flights.
For example, United charges a $75 last-minute booking fee on flights that are booked 21 or fewer days before departure. Aeroplan does not. Although Aeroplan requires the same number of miles for domestic travel longer than 700 miles — 25,000 miles — travelers can save money on the close-in booking fee per ticket.
Another sweet spot includes business-class redemption to Europe. Aeroplan requires 55,000 to 57,500 miles each way to European destinations, depending on the award zone, and United requires 70,000 MileagePlus miles for a one-way flight to Europe in business class. Redeeming with Aeroplan can save passengers quite a bit of miles for those routes. Something to look out for is high fuel surcharges. Aeroplan passes on high fees on some Star Alliance carriers, including Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines.
Austin–New YorkEconomy classMiles price15,000points+$29 feeDollars price$299
Chicago–Los AngelesEconomy classMiles price24,700points+$0 feeDollars price$247
Seattle–DenverEconomy classMiles price18,600points+$0 feeDollars price$186
New York–MoscowEconomy classMiles price51,500points+$251 feeDollars price$810
Los Angeles–ParisEconomy classMiles price49,750points+$300 feeDollars price$1,605
Houston–FrankfurtEconomy classMiles price49,750points+$360 feeDollars price$1,777
Miami–HonoluluBusiness classMiles price80,000points+$20 feeDollars price$2,083
Miami–WashingtonBusiness classMiles price52,900points+$0 feeDollars price$529
Pittsburgh–HoustonBusiness classMiles price50,000points+$13 feeDollars price$827
Washington–PortoBusiness classMiles price88,000points+$503 feeDollars price$5,041
Los Angeles–Tel AvivBusiness classMiles price104,000points+$395 feeDollars price$4,403
Atlanta–MadridBusiness classMiles price88,000points+$654 feeDollars price$4,044
Other ways you can redeem points
Hotel Stays3 partners3 part.
Membership Rewards points transfer to Choice Privilege at a ratio of 1:1, to Hilton Honors at a ratio of 1:1.5 and to SPG at a ratio of 1,000:333, but these options don’t present the best value for your points. MR points are worth more when transferred to airline partners.
Gift Cards4 partners4 part.
The Membership Rewards program partners with 64 merchants, allowing you to redeem points for gift cards. However, a redemption rate of 1 cent per point is as high as it gets, with many merchants offering an even lower value. Save your points and use them toward something else.
Car Rental4 partners4 part.
American Express partners with four car rental agencies, allowing you to book a rental with points if you need a car for your next vacation. Partners include Avis, Hertz and Enterprise.
Cash Back3 partners3 part.
Cardholders have the option to redeem Membership Rewards points as cash back in the form of statement credits applied to their bill, but as with gift cards, this won’t present the best value.
Everyday Earnings with American Express® Gold Card
The Gold card earns 2 points per dollar spent on airfare booked directly with airlines, at U.S. restaurants and on travel booked through Amex Travel. Car rentals do not qualify for bonus points. It is also possible to link the card with Uber and earn 2 points per dollar on eligible rides. All other purchases earn 1 point per dollar. There are no quarterly or annual limits imposed on the number of points cardholders can earn on everyday spending.
- Car Rental
- All Other Purchases
For the double points to apply, airfare, prepaid hotels rooms, cruises and vacation packages must be booked directly with Amex Travel. Direct airline bookings also qualify for double points, as do Uber rides if your card is linked with the app.
Dining includes fast food, fine dining and anything in between, such as cafes, lounges and bars. However, only those establishments located in the United States are eligible, so international travelers are out of luck.
No Foreign Transaction Fees
You’ll never pay a fee to use this card, even while traveling abroad.
Earn Elite Status Fast
The Gold card does not offer cardholders accelerated access to elite status with any loyalty programs.
Fees: the cost of Having American Express® Gold Card
The American Express Gold card carries an annual fee of $160 (waived for the first year). Assuming Amex MR points are worth at least 1.81 cents each, you’ll have to spend $8,840 on the card after the first year to break even if none of your spending falls into a bonus-earning category. If you spend about $2,000 a month, you’ll pay off the card in five months. Depending on how you value your Membership Rewards points, your personal spending requirements may differ.
- Annual Fee
- $0 first year $160 after that
- Foreign Transaction Fee
- Late Payment Fee
- Up to $38
See What It Takes to Cover an Annual Fee:
We strongly recommend to spend not less than $2,947 per months to cover the annual fee in three months.
The waived annual fee for the introductory year gives cardholders the opportunity to get familiar with the Membership Rewards program. However, when the fee kicks in, it’s rather high compared with similar rewards cards on the market. You’ll have to decide for yourself whether other perks make this card a keeper.
We’ve broken out our estimates for the first- and second-year net earnings you’ll get with the American Express® Gold Card. Is the card worth getting, and should you keep it after you get the sign-up bonus? Let’s find out.
These estimates are based on an annual monthly spend of $2,000
Top 5 Benefits of the American Express® Gold Card
Although it’s not the most rewarding travel card in the industry, the Amex Gold card offers a few benefits for those looking to get familiar with how travel rewards programs work.
- The Hotel Collection: Cardholders earn 2X Membership Rewards points on stays at The Hotel Collection properties booked via American Express Travel. Those who book two or more consecutive nights will receive a $75 credit per room that they can spend on dining, spa and resort activities. Additionally, the benefit includes room upgrades, based on availability at check-in.
- Earning Potential: You’ll get bonus points on airfare booked directly with airlines and for dining at U.S. restaurants. Uber rides also earn double if tie your Amex card to your account. These are categories in which domestic travelers often spend the most, and there’s no cap on other everyday spending.
- Amex Offers: Amex Offers is a program designed specifically for American Express cardholders that allows them to save money with participating merchants. The limited-time offers are connected to your Amex card. Once you enroll in the offer, you get statement credits after spending requirements are met. Depending on how often you shop with participating stores and dining establishments, it’s possible to save hundreds of dollars annually with Amex Offers.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees: Foreign transaction fees, which are typically applied to purchases made outside the U.S., can be as high as 3 percent per transaction. Carrying a card, like the Amex Gold, that waives those fees can save globetrotters quite a bit of money.
- Travel Insurance: The Amex Gold card includes some travel insurance benefits for those members who use the card to purchase an entire fare. Benefits include baggage insurance, car rental loss and damage insurance and travel accident insurance.
Should You Get the American Express® Gold Card?
If you’re looking for a card that waives the annual fee for the first year, offers rewards multipliers for select categories of purchases and earns flexible points, then the Gold Card from American Express is a decent choice. Card members who mostly travel domestically and frequently eat out at U.S. restaurants will benefit most from the card.
The rewards are flexible. They can be redeemed through American Express Travel and with Amex’s airline and hotel partners. Merchant gift cards and statement credits are also an option, though they aren’t as valuable. Having access to different redemption options means your rewards are safe when individual loyalty programs devalue their currencies.
While there are other Membership Rewards cards with similar annual fees that offer more value, the Amex Gold card is great for someone starting out in the hobby and learning about how to use transfer partners for maximum value. The good news is that trying out the card won’t cost you anything, and you can decide whether the benefits outweigh the annual fee after one year.
Need more info? Check out our frequently asked questions. If you have other questions, please click on “Ask Now” below.
The Gold card from American Express is a charge card, which means card members cannot carry a balance and must pay off all charges in full every month. Additionally, no credit limit is set, which offers flexibility for your spending patterns.
Eligible members might be invited to enroll in the Pay Over Time feature, which allows members to carry a balance on purchases that are $100 or more, similar to a regular credit card. Interest rates are calculated based on creditworthiness, but we do not recommend accruing interest because it can wipe out any rewards you earn in the blink of an eye.
One redemption option available to customers is booking through American Express Travel, where members can redeem points for a flight (or other travel) at a rate of 1 cent each. For example, a $300 ticket requires 30,000 Membership Rewards points.
But what if you’re short on points? Well, it’s possible to redeem 25,000 points and pay $50 with your card to cover the difference. You can redeem any number of points toward a flight, but the redemption rate remains the same. Before finalizing you booking, make sure to check how many miles it would cost to book the same fare with a partner airline by transferring points to make sure you’re getting the best value per point.
Both cards earn Membership Rewards points that can be transferred to multiple airline and hotel partners. As you might have noticed, the American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card charges a higher annual fee of $195 after the introductory year. What does the Premier Rewards card offer that the standard Gold card does not?
For starters, the Rewards Gold card has a sign-up bonus of 25,000 points. It also earns 3 points per dollar spent on airfare booked directly with airlines, 2 points per dollar at U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets, and 1 point for all other purchases. Additionally, the Premier Rewards Gold card comes with a $100 airline fee credit that can be used for baggage fees, seat selection, in-flight meals and more.
Although the Gold card has a lower annual fee, it offers fewer opportunities to earn points and fewer travel benefits as opposed to the Rewards Gold card. It might be worth it to some travelers to pay a higher annual fee in exchange for more perks.
Compare American Express Credit Cards
American Express offers several other personal cards, such as Amex EveryDay, the American Express Green card and Blue from American Express.
Other American Express Credit Cards
|American Express® Green Card||Amex EveryDay® Credit Card||American Express® Blue|
|Sign-up bonus||0 points||0 points||10,000 points||0 points|
|Annual Fee||$0 first year, then $95||$0 first year $160 after that||$0||$0|
|APR On Purchases||N/A||14.24% to 24.24% Variable±||16.49% to 21.49% Variable±|
|Second Year Value||$434||$434||$434||$120|
The Amex EveryDay card has a welcome offer of 10,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first three months. The card earns 2 points per dollar spent at U.S. supermarkets (capped at $6,000 annually) and 1 point for all other purchases. Additionally, the card earns 20 percent more points when cardholders make at least 20 transactions in a billing period. MR points accrued with this card can be transferred to travel partners. Best of all, this card has no annual fee.
The Amex Green card earns 2 points per dollar spent with American Express Travel and 1 point for all other purchases. Points accumulated with this card can be transferred to travel partners. It’s $95 annual fee, which is waived for the first year, is lower than the Gold card.
Blue from American Express earns 2 points per dollar spent with Amex Travel and 0 point for all other purchases. MR points accrued with this card can be redeemed toward flights or hotels booked with Amex Travel, but they cannot be transferred to travel partners. The card has no annual fee.
Compare the American Express® Gold Card to Other Cards
As discussed earlier, the Amex Gold card is a decent starter card. However, there are a few other credit cards offering rewards that are worth mentioning for someone getting deeper into this hobby.
The Starwood Preferred Guest Amex card is a hotel card that earns Starpoints, the currency of the Starwood hotels. Starwood properties include some well-known brands, such as Sheraton, Westin and Le Méredien, to name a few. Starpoints can be redeemed toward hotel rooms or flights when transferred to over 30 airline partners. The SPG card offers a 25,000 points sign-up bonus after spending $3,000 in the first three months of card membership. The annual fee of $95 is waived for the first year.
The Citi ThankYou Preferred card is part of the ThankYou Rewards line-up of credit cards. It comes with a welcome offer of 0 points after making $0 in purchases within three months of opening an account. The card earns 2 points on dining and entertainment, and 0 point for everything else. The ThankYou Preferred Card does not carry an annual fee.
Chase Sapphire Reserve is a premium rewards card with an array of perks designed for more advanced travelers. The card comes with a sign-up bonus of 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points (after spending $4,000 in three months) that can be used toward travel via the Chase Travel Portal at a rate of 1.5 cents per point. Ultimate Rewards points can also be transferred to a variety of travel partners, such as United Airlines, Southwest Airlines and Hyatt, to name a few. The Chase Sapphire Reserve card comes with a $300 travel credit, Priority Pass Select Membership and a $100 Global Entry/TSA fee reimbursement, among other benefits. The card’s annual fee is $450 , and it is not waived for the first year.
Card Terms and Conditions
While it's easy to focus on the rewards offered by the American Express® Gold Card, it's worth taking a closer look at the terms and conditions. There's a lot to consider as you think about how you're going to use the card. Will you carry a balance, get a cash advance or maybe make a big purchase? Below is a rundown of the various interest rates, purchase protections, security features and mobile banking options that come with the Amex card.
- Intro APR:
- See Terms and Conditions
- Intro APR for balance transfers:
- See Terms and Conditions
- Ongoing APR:
- See Terms and Conditions
- Minimum Grace Period:
- See Terms and Conditions
- Extended Warranty Protection:
- The length of your warranty can be matched for up to 1 additional year when you use your American Express card for purchases that come with an original U.S. manufacturer's warranty of 5 years or less. Coverage is limited to the actual amount charged on your card for the item for up to $10,000 per item and $50,000 per calendar year.
- Purchase Protection:
- Helps protect eligible purchases made on your card when they're accidentally damaged, stolen or lost. Covers up to 90 days and $10,000 per occurrence, for a total of $50,000 per calendar year.
- Return Protection:
- If a merchant does not accept a return, you can get up to $300 per eligible item, for a maximum of up to $1,000 annually per card account. Must be claimed with 90 days of the purchase.
Cash Advance Features
- Ongoing APR:
- See Terms and Conditions
- Cash Advance Fee:
- See Terms and Conditions
Security and Protections
American Express provides its card members with all the security features a cardholder would expect. The Amex Gold card offers account alerts, banking on the go, chip technology and even access to your FICO score, all to help protect customers against fraudulent transactions and identity theft.
- Account alerts:
- Set up alerts to get notified when a large transaction posts to your account, there is an unauthorized withdrawal, or if your bill is due.
- Banking on the Go:
- Track your account with the Amex Mobile app.
- EMV Chip Technology:
- Get global acceptance and enhanced security at merchants that use chip enabled terminals.
- Credit score reports:
- Monitor your credit history for unusual activity, including recently opened accounts and inquiries made on your history.
American Express cards are compatible with NFC (near-field communication) payment options, such as Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay. More and more stores, both physical locations and online, let customers use mobile wallet apps, which are quick, safe and simple to use.
Amex Mobile App: Unlock what membership has to offer with this app. Discover nearby offers, explore rewards and get fraud alerts while easily managing your account from virtually anywhere.
Moblie Wallet: The Gold card is compatible with Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay.
Additional Cardholder Benefits
Although earning bonus points and using them toward travel and merchandise are pretty important factors when considering which credit card to get, there are other benefits to being an Amex Gold cardholder.
American Express Travel Benefits
- Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance:
- The benefit provides secondary coverage of rental vehicles and offers secondary collision damage or theft waiver when the cardholder uses the card to pay for the rental and declines the collision damage waiver offered by the rental company. Coverage kicks in after your primary insurance has exhausted its allowance. The plan covers the cost to fix or replace the car, pays $5,000 of medical expenses per person and up to $200,000 for loss of life.
- Baggage Insurance Plan:
- Card members receive secondary coverage for their checked and carry-on luggage. It’s possible to get a reimbursement of up to $3,000 per passenger for a lost bag when the entire fare is purchased with the Gold card or Membership Rewards points.
- Roadside Assistance:
- Premium roadside assistance covers cardholders up to four times per year when they're in their car and need towing (up to 10 miles), winching, lockout service, battery jump, flat tire change or fuel delivery (up to 2 gallons). Coverage is available in the United States, District of Columbia, Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
- Travel Accident Insurance:
- The benefit covers unexpected events, bodily injuries and loss of life when using a common carrier to travel. To be covered, card members must purchase the entire fare with their Gold Card or Membership Rewards points. The plan pays up to $250,000 for loss of one hand or one foot or sight in one eye and up to $500,000 for loss of both hands, feet, eyes or life.