There has been a lot of hoopla about the the new American Express Gold Card. Here are my thoughts on the new card.
First, let’s review the benefits. On the spending side, you’ll see a nice return on purchases at restaurants and supermarkets:
- 4x Membership Rewards points at U.S. restaurants
- 4x Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets, on up to $25,000 in purchases annually (1x after)
- 3x Membership Rewards points on flights booked directly with airlines or through amextravel.com
- 1x Membership Rewards points on all other purchases
The 3x travel was already offered and matches the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
The annual fee jumps from $195 to $250, but includes a new $120 dining credit.
- $100 annual airline fee credit
- $10/month dining credit
- Valid at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, and Shake Shack (non sports stadium locations)
Amex is also offering limited-time rebate on “tipping” for the first three months you hold the card:
- Receive 20% back as a statement credit at U.S. Restaurants with the Gold Card within the first 3 months of your Card Membership, up to $100 back
Note that many have received a targeted 50,000 mile sign-up bonus (the public offer is 25,000). There are no foreign transaction fees on this card.
My Thoughts On the Card
I like the supermarket bonus quite a bit. While I go out to lunch most days, I eat at home every night and on weekends. I’ve taken up cooking…it has been a fun new challenge. My wife, son, and I consume a lot of groceries. My wife also likes organic meat, milk, and produce. Thus, the grocery bill adds up each month. Currently we use the AMEX Blue Business Plus card for groceries, which earns 2x Membership Rewards points per dollar. It would be nice to earn quadruple the points.
I have no problem using the $100 airline credit on United each year for wi-fi purchases…that’s like a $100 discount off the annual fee. But the dining credit…I’m not about to start visiting Ruth’s Chris or the Cheesecake Factory once a month just to save $10. I actually love Shake Shack, but do I really want to be incentivized to eat that once per month? I suppose I could use the Grubhub credit, but I would have to adjust my current eating patterns.
I’ll still use either the Chase Sapphire Reserve (3 points per dollar) or AMEX Platinum (5 points per dollar) for airfare purchases, so the 3x benefit does not entice me.
My Strategy: First Chase INK, Then AMEX Business Platinum
As my business spending continues to rise, I see greater value in obtaining business cards before this card. I’m one under 5/24 and want to get a Chase INK card first. Next, I’d like to get and AMEX Business Platinum card, that earns 1.5X points on purchases over $5,000. I currently have the AMEX Gold Business Card which I rarely use because foreign transaction fees are not waived. I’ve never applied for the AMEX Gold (personal) Card before, so I should be eligible for the bonus when the time comes.
I’m taking a different strategy for my wife Heidi. As you may know, we moved to the USA together about four years ago. I have not taken as much time as I should to carefully build her credit, but am doing so now. She does not qualify for the Chase Sapphire Preferred yet, but I am going to try apply for the American Express Gold Card on her behalf. Since she does most of the grocery shopping anyway, it would be helpful to have that card in her wallet.
She had been using a Starwood Preferred Guest card for these purchases, but we’ve stopped using that since that Marriott merger and she’s now an authorized user of my Chase Sapphire Preferred card.
Ultimately, my calculation is this: let’s say the effective annual fee is $150, since I will easily use the $100 in airline credit. I spend $1,000/month on groceries and will go from earning 24,000 points per year to 48,000 points per year on groceries. That is well worth the $150, wouldn’t you say?