Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.
The American Express® Gold Card makes TPG’s top charts every year as one of the best cards for dining at restaurants. It comes with food-focused bonus categories and a slate of other valuable perks that can help you save big — no matter if you’re at home or on the road.
While the annual fee is $250 (see rates and fees) and isn’t waived the first year, we’ll help you walk through the card’s unique benefits to see how to make it pay for itself.
Welcome offer worth at least $1,200
The Amex Gold Card comes with 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases within the first six months of card membership.
Remember that you could be targeted for a much higher offer through the CardMatch tool or referral offers. For instance, you might be able to earn 75,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months. This special offer is worth $1,500, according to TPG valuations. (Note that targeted offers are subject to change at any time.)
Amex Membership Rewards points can be redeemed for anything from cash back to lavish flights in Singapore Airlines first-class suites. However, not all redemption options are equal. You’ll get the most value from this program by transferring points to partner hotel and airline loyalty programs.
Here are some of the best ways to mix and match your 60,000 bonus points:
Even better, Amex regularly offers transfer bonuses that you can leverage to get as much as 40% extra value from your points. Just remember that we never recommend speculatively transferring points to a program without a specific use in mind, as miles can be devalued at any moment and transfers can’t be reversed.
Related: How to redeem American Express Membership Rewards for maximum value
Sign up for our daily newsletter
4 points per dollar on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets
It doesn’t matter if you prefer dining in or out. If you like food — who doesn’t? — you should have no trouble maximizing the Amex Gold’s bonus spending categories. The card awards 4 points per dollar spent at restaurants worldwide and U.S. supermarkets, on up to $25,000 per calendar year at U.S. supermarkets (1 point per dollar thereafter). With our current valuation of 2 cents per point in mind, the Amex Gold yields a whopping 8% return on food purchases, beating out most cards on the market.
In fact, these bonus categories may be valuable enough to open the card well before considering the welcome bonus. If you spend at least $3,150 per year on groceries and dining combined, you’ll come out ahead on the $250 annual fee.
Tip: Although the Amex Gold doesn’t carry any foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees), the bonus points for supermarket purchases are only awarded for spending in the U.S., so you’ll want to use a card such as the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card when making grocery store purchases abroad.
Related: Why the Amex Gold is one card we can’t live without
3 points per dollar on flights
The Amex Gold earns 3 points per dollar spent on flights booked directly through the airline or through Amex Travel, amounting to a return of 6% based on TPG’s valuations.
Plus, if your luggage is lost, stolen or damaged when you’re traveling with a common carrier and you’ve purchased your ticket with the Amex Gold, you’ll be eligible for up to $1,250 in coverage for carry-on baggage and up to $500 for checked baggage.
Related: The best travel credit cards
$120 in annual Uber Cash
By adding your Amex Gold to your Uber app, you’ll automatically receive up to $10 in monthly Uber Cash, which can be used for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S. Although this credit doesn’t roll over month to month, this benefit should be easy to maximize. Enrollment is required.
Related: Who should (and who shouldn’t) get the Amex Gold card?
$120 in annual dining credits
You’ll get an up-to-$120 annual dining statement credit (allotted in up-to-$10 increments each month) when paying with your Amex Gold at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.(enrollment is required). Delivery services for Grubhub are available in most major U.S. cities, and it’s hard to imagine that a purchase at any of these merchants would cost less than $10 a month, so this benefit should also be easy to use.
You’ll have to enroll through the Amex website to get this benefit. Like the Uber Cash credit, the $10 dining credit expires at the end of each month, so you won’t be able to roll any unused credits over.
Related: How to register for the Amex Gold monthly dining credit
Get elite-like benefits with The Hotel Collection
A lesser-known benefit of the Amex Gold Card is booking hotels through Amex’s The Hotel Collection. By making a reservation of two nights or longer, you’ll earn 2 points per dollar, a room upgrade at check-in (upon availability) and a $100 on-site credit which can be used toward things like dining, the spa or resort activities at the property. Booking just one or two of these stays a year can help you recoup a huge portion of the card’s annual fee.
Related: How to use Amex’s The Hotel Collection to snag extra perks on hotel stays
Many credit cards come loaded with valuable benefits, but their worth is only realized if you actually use them. Luckily, the Amex Gold makes it pretty easy to do so. Between the dining credits and other annual credits, the card’s annual fee already effectively drops to just $10 a year. Throw in the outstanding return on food purchases and perks you get when booking travel, and you’re sure to come out ahead.
Official application link: American Express Gold Card
Additional reporting by Emily Thompson, Stella Shon and Chris Dong.
For rates and fees of the Amex Gold Card, click here.