American Express Launches New Gold Card With Great 4x Bonus Categories

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American Express® Gold Card

American Express just refreshed their Premier Rewards Gold Card and renamed it “American Express Gold Card.” It is now a metal card.

Most importantly the card raises the bar for points-earning at restaurants worldwide and US grocery stores, while retaining strong points-earning on airline spend. And they’ve added a new monthly credit for dining.

This was already the most underappreciated card. It was just refreshed 3 years ago but that’s an eternity in the rewards card space.

Today’s changes to the product – for me – make it the most rewarding card for ongoing spend, although it’s still important to use another card for spending outside of bonus categories because you never want to earn just one point per dollar on anything.

Initial Bonus Offer to Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards Points

American Express is offering 35,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $4,000 on eligible purchases in the first three months of cardmembership.

American Express Gold Card: Best Points-Earning Card for Ongoing Spend?

There’s a standard (boring) formula for cards these days, commonly referred to in the industry as “3, 2, 1” — triple points on spend with a card’s own brand, double points on some other category, and one point per dollar one everything else.

That’s not the case here. They’ve gone to four points per dollar in two different categories. Here’s the bonus earn structure:

  • 4X Membership Rewards points at restaurants worldwide
  • 4X Membership Rewards points at U.S. Supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in purchases annually, then 1 point per dollar spent)
  • 3X Membership Rewards points on flights booked directly with airlines and

The card will no longer offer 2 points per dollar on gas, though current Premier Rewards Gold Card Members will continue to receive that bonus until October 4, 2019.

American Express Gold Card Earns One of the Most Valuable Currencies

American Express Membership Rewards points transfer to,

  • Star Alliance: Aeroplan, ANA, Singapore
  • oneworld: AsiaMiles, British Airways, Iberia
  • SkyTeam: Aeromexico, Alitalia, Air France KLM, Delta
  • Non-alliance: Etihad, Emirates, El Al, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Aer Lingus, Virgin Atlantic
  • Hotels: Choice, Hilton, Starwood (soon to be Marriott)

The real winner here is ANA for its really great Star Alliance award chart — sure they require roundtrip bookings, but nothing wrong with a throwaway Tokyo – Honolulu coach return segment when booking first class US-Asia.

Etihad, Singapore, and Air France KLM have really useful spots though all participate with other transferable currencies. Etihad lets you book American Airlines awards at American’s pre-devaluation miles pricing. Singapore and Air France offer lots more award space to people using their miles instead of partner points.

Hawaiian is useful for booking their own metal flights to Hawaii, especially now that you can no longer use American miles to fly between the mainland and Hawaii on Hawaiian.

Airline Fee Credit

Since mid-2015 the card has offered a $100 airline fee credit: up to $100 in statement credits per year for incidental expenses like baggage fees at one selected airline.

The offering has been similar to the larger airline fee credit offered with The Platinum Card® from American Express. In my experience what that means is selecting American Airlines as my preferred airline and then a $100 electronic gift card gets reimbursed. Since it’s not supposed to work that way this could change at any time.

Another thing to note is that the benefit is based on calendar year not cardmember year. So if you get the card now you can use the $100 credit still in 2018, and then at the beginning of 2019, meaning getting $200 in credits during your first cardmember year.

Ongoing Dining Credit

The new American Express Gold Card has a $120 annual dining credit which gives enrolled cardmembers up to $10 per month in statement credits for using the card at Shake Shack, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Grubhub/Seamless.

As you can see from 4 points per dollar on restaurant spend, and a monthly dining credit, American Express really wants to capture cardmember dining spend. That’s the new battleground card issuers are fighting over.

I hosted a panel at Cardcon last month which included the Capital One executive who runs the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card which offers $0 annual fee the first year (then $95); 4% back on dining (and entertainment), 2% at grocery stores, and 1% everywhere else.

We talked about capturing business from new affluent consumers through their dining spend, an approach based on the oft-repeated insight that millennials prefer experiences over things, and the social aspect to paying for a meal with friends (and so the extent to which card design on a good dining card matters, and becomes a talking point, to socially sell the product to others).

Worth It

The new American Express Gold Card has $120 in potential dining credits. And the increased points-earning alone should be worthwhile for anyone spending $128 a month in dining and groceries [$1536 in annual spend produces an extra 2 points per dollar worth 1.8 cents apiece in my estimation or $55.30 in value]. If you spend more than that you come out ahead even without the dining credit.

Think about it another way. The $100 airline fee credit and $120 dining credit cover costs if you use them both. In the past the airline fee credit could be taken based on calendar year and so twice in the first cardmember year, easily putting you ahead in year one when combined with the dining credit.

Is This the New Best Rewards Card?

Earning Chase points and American Express points are similar in value. Chase has United, which trumps Delta, and Hyatt which offers better value for transfers than American Express’ Marriott relationship (and far more than Amex’s Hilton relationship). But American Express has more transfer partners. Both have Air France and Singapore. American Express has Etihad, ANA, and Aeroplan.

The question, for me, then is whose card earns the most points? This is a more valuable card for restaurant spend than Sapphire Reserve and basically matches on airfare. It also gives 4 points per dollar on US grocery store spend. (Sapphire Reserve can also be tough to get approved for, my expectation is that approvals for this card will be easier.)

What is lacks is bonus spend on travel that isn’t airfare. However if you have a card with your preferred hotel chain you’re well-covered there already.

Three points per dollar on airfare is trumped by The Platinum Card® from American Express which offers five. It’s the single best return on grocery store spend, and most people don’t put out more than $2000 a month to grocery stores. It’s the single best return on restaurant spend as well, and that’s uncapped. This is a real home run for ongoing earn for spend.

Of course you should still put unbonused spend on a card that offers more than one point per dollar. For instance The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express earns 2 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on your first $50,000 in charges each year and the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card will earn at least 1.5 points per dollar spent each billing cycle you use the card at least 30 times.

I’m Going to Start Using This Card

I used to have a Premier Rewards Gold card, so I do not expect to be eligible for a new cardmember bonus signing up. My wife is a current cardmember, I’m thrilled for the new benefits on the American Express Gold Card, and so I expect that I’ll become an authorized user on her account. Then I’ll put all of my US restaurant and grocery store spend on the card — and she can pay the bill.

American Express® Gold Card

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Editorial note: any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. Comments made in response to this post are not provided or commissioned nor have they been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any bank. It is not the responsibility of any advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either. Terms and limitations apply to all offers.


  1. Gary,
    I have this credit card from last year and got the annual fee waiver for the first year but forgot to get the 25,000 membership rewards bonus which I truly regret.My anniversary year is coming up in November and I used up the 100 usd travel credit. I live overseas and may not be taking full advantage of the credit card. My next upcoming trip to the USA is in May 2019.
    My question is should I keep or ditch this credit card?

  2. Gary – I have had a standard gold card for many years. Do I have the card you are referencing in this post?

  3. If you have the Amex Offer on the Gold Card for Shoprite grocery stores earning 1 extra Membership Rewards point per dollar spend you are cumulatively getting 5 Membership Reward points for dollar. It expires at the end of the year. Shoprite also sells gift cards. I plan on maximizing as much as I can.

  4. is the rose gold card a ‘new” card that would allow someone who had the gold card previously to get bonus points?

  5. The $120 dining credit is, in theory, nice, but personally I find the partners in this benefit to be next to useless. They should work on expanding the participating restaurants.

  6. @ Gary — Please, category spend cards for small purchases like restaurants and groceries are generally a bad deal. You are better off with cards that deliver big benefits like Citi Prestige 4th night free, DL/AA EQMs/EQDs, Hyatt QNs, and (yes, a category bonus of) 5x on airfare.

  7. i have applied, and they’ve given me the number online, first time i’ve seen that offered, and got additional for the good wife, and kids.

    up until recently i had been utilising the Plat $200 benefit via the UA gift fund, that is no longer available, now i will be looking to utilise this product’s $100.

    any suggestions on most convenient appreciated.


    This “overlapping” of benefits, under which inferior cards get better benefits than more expensive ones, is a very bad policy on AMEX’s part. It will undermine loyalty, the basis of the AMEX program’s success. Platinum holders will become more willing to switch to Chase or Citi.

  9. The point about never earning one point per dollar is an interesting one. But what do you do about unbonused spend outside the US? I don’t know of any card (other than Capital One) without a FTF that gives more than one point outside of any bonus categories.

  10. @dbeach: There are a few non-FTF cards that offer more than 1 point / 1% on general spending outside the US. A couple that come to mind are Navy Federal Credit Union (both with annual fee and non-AF versions), USAA (no AF), Alliant Credit Union (AF) and PenFed (no AF). I’m sure there are at least a few more.

  11. I got lucky with the timing this time. My annual fee posted on 9/19 at the old $195. Called and got a modest retention offer. Then, boom, AmEx ups the game on this card. This just became my restaurant and grocery card. And the Roadside Assistance benefit on this card is better than most. Overlooked benefit on this card.

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