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American Express Gold Card: Uniquely Positioned for Foodies and Travelers

American Express Gold Card: Uniquely Positioned for Foodies and Travelers

We all need to eat. And with the price of food increasing, it makes a difference if you can get something back each time you buy groceries, dine in or order takeout.

The American Express® Gold Card can help you extract extra value from everyday food purchases. From restaurants and U.S. delivery to groceries at U.S. supermarkets, the Gold Card offers some of the most competitive reward rates around, along with a generous welcome offer and other benefits. 

This is a great combo card for avid travelers, as well, offering top value when points are redeemed for flights or transferred to airline partners. It also boasts no foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees) and a few additional travel perks.

While the $250 annual fee (see rates and fees) is a bit higher than comparable cards, if you’re able to use the Gold Card’s annual credits or qualify for the welcome offer, it becomes much more reasonable.

The rewards categories cover some of the biggest segments of spending for most consumers, offering a lot of potential value without requiring too much work. Read on to learn more about the rewards program and credits — and to make sure you get the best value for your points.

In this article

Intro OfferEarn 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months.

APRSee Pay Over Time APR

Recommended Credit Excellent/Good

Reward Rates

  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.

Annual Fee$250

Intro Purchase APRN/A

Late Payment Fee Up to $40

Foreign Transaction Fees None

Penalty APR See Rates & Fees

  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.

Rewards program

The Gold Card focuses its reward structure on dining and travel categories. Cardholders earn 4x Membership Rewards points (AmEx’s reward currency) on restaurants, including takeout and delivery in the U.S., 4x points on groceries at U.S. supermarkets on up to $25,000 in purchases per calendar year (then 1x), 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com, and 1x points on all other eligible purchases.

If you were to redeem those Membership Rewards points toward flights booked through the American Express travel portal, receiving 1 cent per point, that would translate into 4% back on restaurants and U.S. supermarket purchases, and 3% on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com. That’s usually the highest redemption rate you can get with most cards — but the Gold Card’s rewards program isn’t as lucrative for other redemption methods.

Welcome offer

The current welcome offer for the Gold Card is 60,000 points after spending $4,000 on eligible purchases in the first six months of account opening, which is worth $600 when redeemed toward flights through American Express Travel. On average, this requires $667 of spending each month for six months to unlock the reward — not an unreasonable amount given the U.S. supermarket, restaurants and flight categories. 

Points redemption

There are a variety of ways to redeem Membership Rewards points, but only some will help you maximize their value. 

The two best ways to redeem your points are using them to book travel through the American Express Travel portal and transferring them to one of over a dozen partner airlines. When booking flights through American Express Travel, you’ll get a 1 cent per point redemption rate on flights. At that rate, 4x points earns you 4% back on U.S. supermarket and restaurant purchases (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in U.S. supermarket purchases, then 1x), and 3% on flights (booked directly with an airline or through amextravel.com).

When you transfer your points to an airline partner, you’ll usually get a one-to-one transfer value, so MR points are worth 1 point or mile of the partner’s currency, whether that’s Delta SkyMiles, British Airways Avios, etc. (I personally tend to favor Delta Economy when I fly, and I can usually get 1 cent per mile or a little more when I redeem SkyMiles.) Redeeming your points for gift cards will also yield 1 cent per point.

Meanwhile, the redemption value is only 0.7 cents per point for prepaid hotels, cruises and prepaid rental cars booked through American Express Travel. And if you want to redeem your Membership Rewards points as a statement credit, they’re only worth 0.6 cents each. 

You can also donate your points to eligible charitable causes with JustGiving or use them to shop on Amazon for a rate of 0.7 cents per point. At a rate of 0.7 cents per point, 4x points earns you 2.8% back on U.S. supermarket and restaurant purchases (up to $25,000 per calendar year in U.S. supermarket purchases, then 1x) — not a great rate, all things considered.

AmEx Gold Credits

Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

The Gold Card has two dining credits you can take advantage of. 

The up to $120 dining credit can be earned in increments of up to $10 each month, and will be applied to your account as a statement credit when you use your Gold Card at a participating vendor, such as Grubhub, Seamless, Boxed, participating Shake Shack locations, The Cheesecake Factory and Ruth’s Chris Steak House. Note that you must enroll for the credits to appear.

Basically, if you already spend at least $10 at one of the above partners each month, this card could earn you a $10 statement credit every month.

The second credit is for Uber. When you add your Gold Card to your Uber account, you’ll get $10 in Uber Cash each month, for a total of up to $120 per year. You can use that cash for Uber Rides or UberEats orders in the U.S., and while you need to add your Gold Card to your account, you can still use other methods of payment and earn the benefit. 

If you use Uber at least once or twice a month, and eat at one of the participating dining partners, that’s up to $240 back a year. For a card with a $250 annual fee, those credits can just about mitigate its cost, making the rewards net-positive.

Additional travel benefits

In addition to the rewards, credits and welcome offer, the Gold Card offers a few other notable benefits. They include no foreign transaction fees, a few forms of travel insurance and some hotel benefits.

You’ll be covered by a baggage insurance plan* for lost, damaged or stolen baggage — up to $1,250 for carry-on baggage and $500 for checked baggage. You also get car rental loss and damage insurance*, so you won’t need to pay extra for collision insurance with your rental car company in most cases.

When you book within “The Hotel Collection” program from AmEx, which includes more than 600 properties worldwide, you get up to a $100 hotel credit to spend on certain qualifying hotel activities like food or spa services. You must book at least two nights through American Express Travel to qualify for this benefit. American Express Gold Card holders are also eligible for a room upgrade, when available.

Learn More

Comparable cards

The Gold Card is fairly unique in that premium cards tend to have an annual fee closer to $400 and up, while midtier cards are typically $95 to $100 per year. That being said, there are a few comparable options that offer similar reward categories you should consider before applying.

Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card** earns 4% cash back on dining, entertainment and popular streaming services, as well as 3% cash back at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Target and Walmart). The annual fee is $95 and the current welcome bonus is $300 cash after spending $3,000 within three months from account opening.

The Savor Rewards is a great option if you prefer cash rewards over the hassle of travel rewards, and if you’d prefer a lower annual fee. Capital One also has a no-annual-fee version, the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card, which offers 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services, and grocery stores (excluding superstores like Target and Walmart), and a $200 cash bonus if you spend $500 in the first three months.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

If you eat at home much more often than at a restaurant, the Blue Cash Preferred is a good option. 

The Blue Cash Preferred offers 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on the first $6,000 of eligible purchases in a calendar year (then 1%), 6% on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, 3% on transit, 3% on gas at U.S. gas stations and 1% on all other eligible purchases. Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit. You won’t find a better rate for U.S. supermarkets. There is a $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95 each following year, and the welcome offer is currently a $300 statement credit after spending $3,000 in purchases within the first six months of account opening.

Terms apply to American Express benefit and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

Check out our full review of the Blue Cash Preferred Card for more details.


How do you choose the right grocery credit card?

Deciding which grocery credit card is right for you will depend largely on your shopping habits. Keep in mind that most major credit card companies do not consider wholesale clubs and big-box stores like Walmart and Target to be grocery stores, so your purchases there might not qualify for the same rewards. Before applying for a grocery credit card, you’ll want to closely read the fine print to make sure that your needs will be met depending on where you shop.

One last thing to keep in mind: Don’t fall for credit cards just because of a welcome bonus offer. While the immediate cash back can be appealing, it is typically a one-time or short-lived reward. Groceries are purchases that you need to make every month. You’re better off focusing on maximizing these rewards over time rather than going for the up-front bonus.

How do you choose the right credit card for restaurants?

With so many excellent restaurant and dining credit cards on the market, it can be difficult to choose the best one for you. The fact is that many of the cards on our list offer comparable dining benefits, which means you may need to look a little closer at the rest of the terms and rewards.

Pay attention to whether there’s a limit on the dining rewards you can earn and see what combination of rewards and terms best fits your lifestyle and spending habits.

How do you choose the best travel credit card?

The points and travel benefits that you accrue through a travel rewards program are often redeemed through your credit card issuer’s website (or app) or appear as a statement credit that reimburses you for past travel-related and everyday purchases you made with your travel credit card. Points or miles can also be transferred to travel partners — mostly hotels and airlines — at a fluctuating conversion rate, where they can then be used to book a flight or hotel room.

To choose the best travel credit card, there are a few key factors to consider: 

  • Annual fees: Every single travel rewards program reviewed here has annual fees, with some climbing as high as $695, but those fees are usually mitigated by monthly or annual credits. 
  • Exclusive perks: Some of these travel rewards card options also grant access to exclusive travel perks, like airline lounges, priority boarding or VIP welcomes at hotels. The value of those perks is subjective and something you’ll have to evaluate based on your needs and wants.
  • Foreign transaction fees: None of the best travel cards makes users pay a foreign transaction fee, so a foreign transaction fee is not something you have to worry about with any of the credit cards recommended here.

Our methodology

CNET reviews credit cards by exhaustively comparing them across set criteria developed for each major category, including cash-back, welcome bonus, travel rewards and balance transfer. We take into consideration the typical spending behavior of a range of consumer profiles — with the understanding that everyone’s financial situation is different — and the designated function of a card. 

For cash-back credit cards, for example, key factors include the annual fee, the “welcome bonus” and the cash-back rate (or rates, if they differ by spending category). For rewards and miles cards, we calculate and weigh the net monetary value of a card’s respective perks. And with balance transfer credit cards, we analyze specs such as the duration of the introductory 0% APR period and the balance transfer fee, while acknowledging secondary factors such as the standard APR and the length of time you have to make a balance transfer after you open the account.

For rates and fees of the American Express Gold Card, click here

*Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions, and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by Amex Assurance Company.

**All information about the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by CNET and has not been reviewed by the issuer.

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.