Want to earn a ton of Amex Membership Rewards points? Well, the American Express Gold Card might be the best way to do so, without fully diving into the luxury travel card market.
The Platinum Card from American Express is the one that people like to throw down at dinner to show off, bu if you’re more substance over style, you might want to reach for the Amex Gold Card instead. And to be fair, Amex Gold looks pretty jazzy as well.
Here’s what this impressive rewards card has to offer, from the welcome bonus to bonus categories, to other perks that can help offset the cost of the $250 annual fee. You may just find out it’s the perfect key to unlocking amazing travel using points, thanks to Amex’s airline transfer partners.
Amex Gold Welcome Bonus
You’ve just gotta start with the welcome bonus, right?
If you’re going to test out a card to see if it’s a good fit for the long-term, there’s nothing like a little incentive to give it a try, and with the Amex Gold Card, you can expect welcome bonuses to between 35,000 and 50,000 Membership Rewards points, though targeted offers for up to 75,000 points do appear every few years.
Typically, the minimum spend requirement to earn the welcome bonus on an Amex Gold Card often sits around $2,000 and must be completed within 3 months, or 90 days of opening the card.
Hot tip: American Express will only let you get the welcome bonus of a particular card once per lifetime. Keep in mind that getting this card will impact your 5/24 status with Chase — which limits approvals to people with under 5 new cards in a 24 month period. Amex has its own set of application and bonus rules you should know.
Great Bonus Categories
While the Amex Platinum is pretty much the champion of perks, the Amex Gold’s bonus categories and lower annual fee are the main reason it can be better for earning Membership Rewards points. Here’s a quick breakdown of the bonus categories you’ll enjoy on all spending with the Amex Gold Card, including…
- 4X Amex Points on dining (worldwide)
- 4X Amex Points at US supermarkets up to $25,000 per year
- 3X Amex Points on flights purchased directly from an airline or via Amex Travel
Off the bat, 4X at US supermarkets really jumps out. A $100 restaurant tab would earn 400 American Express Membership Rewards Points. Even if you’re ordering out and picking up take out, that’s a lot of points to take home too.
Notably, American Express expanded the dining bonus category from US restaurants only, to all restaurants including those abroad. Since the Amex Gold doesn’t have any foreign transaction fees, this is a huge upgrade for all meals while traveling.
And, let’s be honest, if you’re going to splurge on an amazing Michelin Star restaurant, you might as well earn 4X Amex points.
Amex Gold x Membership Rewards Points
Earning points just to earn points is silly. Well, actually, not earning points at all is sillier.
The reason the Amex Gold Card is so valuable is that it has some fantastic airline points transfer partners – 19 of them to be exact – which allow you to convert your Amex Points into airline miles or hotel points, with top brands.
By transferring Membership Rewards to airline partners, you’ll have access to some amazing ways to book flights or hotels using points, unlocking luxury travel, or just a lot more of it.
These American Express Membership rewards Transfer Partners include:
|Amex Membership Rewards Transfer Partners|
|Aer Lingus AerClub||El Al Matmid|
|Aeromexico Club Premier||Emirates Skywards|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||Etihad Guest|
|Air France-KLM Flying Blue||Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles|
|Alitalia Millemiglia||Iberia Plus|
|ANA Mileage Club||JetBlue TrueBlue|
|Avianca LifeMiles||Qantas Frequent Flyer|
|British Airways Executive Club||Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles||Virgin Atlantic Flying Club|
Side tip: Check out some of the amazing ways you can use Amex Membership Rewards points.
Airlines aside, Amex also partners with 3 hotel chains: Choice Privileges, Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy. While more options are good, you’re generally better off thinking of Amex Membership Rewards points as a way to transfer points to airline partners for flights.
Monthly Dining Credit
Additionally, you can trigger the credit by using the card at mainstream spots like The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed and Shake Shack — with the exception of those in airports, ballparks, racetracks or stadiums. There’s nothing wrong with a little cheesecake to use the dining credit, if in doubt.
To take advantage of this perk, be sure enroll your card before making any purchases, or you won’t receive the statement credit as planned. Even if it’s only $10 bucks, it’d still be a waste not to take advantage of a good perk.
$100 Airline Fee Credit
The Amex Gold $100 annual airline fee credit is also handy way to get value from the card right away, and make the $250 annual fee seem like a breeze. To use it, you’ll first need to select an airline, and then find an acceptable way to spend it. Like…
- Checked bag fees
- Overweight or oversized bag
- Seat assignment
- Inflight amenities such as food and beverage
- Ticket change
- Phone booking
- Inflight entertainment (not WiFi)
- Lounge day passes
- Annual lounge membership
Yep, unlike broad travel credits from some other cards, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Amex airline fee credit only applies to one preselected airline, and only for certain types of purchases – aka not gift cards or just booking a flight — so make sure you have an airline selected before making a qualifying purchase, like the ones above.
Here’s a list of the airlines on which you can choose to use the Amex fee credit, that comes along with the Amex Gold Card…
- Alaska Airlines
- American Airlines
Remember, you can only select one airline, so choose wisely.
You’ll notice that you can’t get the statement credit for just straight up purchasing a ticket, or for paying the taxes/fees on a ticket booked with points, or paid upgrades. It’s these kinds of restrictions that require you to put a little thought into how you can use the Amex Gold airline credit.
Another super handy way to help offset the annual fee on the Amex Gold Card is through the use of Amex Offers, which bring money back, or extra points on certain purchases. It’s not out of the question to see $300 off a $1000 airline purchase, or $50 off $200 at Amazon, or something similar, and offers are constantly popping up.
During covid-19, Amex created a variety of offers for Peloton and other home workout gear, to get customers discounts on things they want or need for life at home. How do you find out about the offers? It’s easy, just login to your account, or AmexOffers.com.
As travel recovers, keep an eye out for some great travel, dining and shopping offers as brands look to incentivize new purchases. While you certainly don’t need to go out of your way to use the offers, they can provide some great savings or help you earn bonus points on purchases you planned to make anyway.
The Hotel Collection
As an Amex Gold cardholder, you’ll have access to The Hotel Collection. If you don’t have elite status with a hotel chain, using the Amex Gold to book one of these hotels can give you some perks that might make you feel like you do. Not to mention the fact that you can earn 2X Membership Rewards points on prepaid bookings.
When you book a 2-night stay (or longer) at one of these properties, you’ll receive a $100 credit to use on dining, spa and resort activities at the hotel. You’ll even be eligible for a room upgrade if space is available at check-in.
Keep in mind that these bookings through Amex Travel will mean you aren’t eligible for elite status benefits and you won’t earn hotel points with the chain. If you have elite status, you’ll want to weigh your status benefits versus the perks you get by booking through Amex Travel.
Should You Get The Amex Gold Card?
The Amex Gold Card should definitely be on your radar. If you’re a dining person, who enjoys a side dish of travel, it’s hard to imagine a better suited card, without a crazy annual fee to justify.
The bonus categories offer great ways to earn tons of Amex points to help you book your next fun adventure, and with the Amex Transfer Partners, you’ve got lots of cool ways to spend the points you earn. It never hurts to be the friend that says “oh, just give me cash” as they earn 4X Points on meals.
You can check out the latest offers for the Amex Gold Card here.