For just $250 a year, you can have an American Express Gold Card of your very own. That is, if you have a high enough credit score and nearly spotless credit report. The question is, if American Express asks this much of their customers, is what they offer worth it? For frequent travelers, the answer is only a maybe. The following review will explain.
The American Express Gold card seems tailor-made for frequent and even not-so-frequent travelers. But it's also great for people who love to eat at great restaurants and cook the best meals at home. If you fit either of these profiles and have received an amex.us/goldrsvp document, the Amex Gold Card is likely to pay for itself in points and perks.
Though the Amex Gold Card is a charge card and not a credit card, there are two cases where you will draw interest. First, you could make a purchase that qualifies for the Pay Over Time program. Second, you could take out a Cash Advance at a variable rate of Prime Rate plus 21.99%.
If you make any late payments, that rate is raised to the penalty APR of 25.99% plus the Prime Rate. The penalty APR will persist for a minimum of six months. If you have another late payment or returned payment during this time, the penalty will be extended.
The Pay Over Time Feature
The APR for the Pay Over Time feature varies based on the creditworthiness applied to you by American Express. The minimum is the Prime Rate plus 12.74% and the maximum is the Prime Rate plus 19.74%.
The Pay Over Time feature of your American Express Gold Card is a program that allows you to pay off certain large purchases like you would on a standard credit card. This feature is automatically enabled on all new cards and will apply to certain qualifying purchases with no additional steps. However, you can call ahead and ask for specific purchases to be placed into the program as well, though these may not always be approved.
As the Amex Gold Card is a charge card, not a credit card (this is explained with your amex.us/goldrsvp pamphlet), the amount you can charge to it must be paid off each month, unless you're enrolled in a special program. Due to this, there is no set credit limit. Instead, what you are allowed to charge on the card before paying off the balance in part or in full depends on your overall income, credit history, and history with American Express.
Though there is no published credit limit until you have proven you can pay off a higher amount month-to-month there is a point where further charges will be denied. The easiest way to avoid this is to either pay off charges as you make them.
Alternatively, you can call Amex or use their online spending tool to request clearance for X amount. This should give you a ballpark to where your exact limit is. For many, the starting limit will be about $500, though it can easily be increased to $5,000 or more in under a year.
- Annual Membership Fee – The Amex Gold Card comes with a $250 annual fee.
- Cash Advance Fee – The cash advance fee for the American Express Gold Card is either $10 or 5% of the total cash advance, whichever is greater, for each transaction.
- Foreign Transaction Fee – There is no foreign transaction fee on any purchase made with the American Express Gold Card.
- Late Payment Fee – Making a late payment to your American Express Gold Card will cost up to $39 in fees.
- Return Payment Fee - Having a payment returned will cost up to $39 in fees though those fees may be less if a check is returned before it is processed.
- Authorized User Fees – There is no authorized user fee or fee for having an additional card with the Amex Gold Card.
- Balance Transfer Fee – As a charge card, you are not allowed to carry a balance from month-to-month. Because of this, there are no balance transfers and no balance transfer fees.
The American Express Gold Card's rewards program makes it easy to cover that $250 annual fee. You get 4x points on restaurants worldwide as well as at US supermarkets, up to $25,000. You also get 3x points on flights, no matter where you book. For everything else, you get 1 point per dollar spent. The value of your points will depend on how you redeem them.
Beyond points, there are also several special offers and credits that change over time. The most consistent offers are bonus nights at hotels or a $100 credit at specific hotels. Rebates at specific, partnered restaurants. And airline credits for fees paid and incidentals.
If you can spend $4,000 in your first three months of having the American Express Gold Card, you will get 35,000 bonus membership points. Depending on how you redeem them, this can add up to as much as $400 in added value, more than enough to make up for your first annual fee.
Pros – Advantages of the American Express Gold Credit Card
The Amex Cold Card has been around a long time and the list of benefits keeps getting better.
- Spend-Over-Time – One of the main complaints about Amex cards used to be that you couldn't use them to break up large purchases. Now you can.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees – For a card with a membership fee this high, this should be expected, but it's still nice.
- A More-Than-Generous Rewards Program – 4X points at every restaurant worldwide and every US supermarket makes this more than a travel card and one of the best everyday values when it comes to points on necessities.
- Travel Coverage and Insurance – The American Express Gold Card offers extra travel assurance and peace of mind.
- Responsive Customer Service – American Express places a premium on great communication. If you're a Gold Card member or higher, you may end up making more than a few calls and finding that out yourself.
Cons – Disadvantages of the American Express Gold Card
The American Express Gold Card is occasionally unique in a bad way.
- An Unreported Limit – For anyone trying to increase their overall credit score, having a classic Amex Charge card won't do much for your credit utilization rating. Not knowing your spending cap may also lead to a few potentially embarrassing rejections.
- A High Fee Just For Traveling – The travel benefits of the Amex Gold Card rewards program aren't the best for just flights and hotels. There are less expensive cards that offer the same or better. What makes it stand out the most if how much you can get back for buying dinner.
The American Express Gold Card is a decent travel card, but what might make it an excellent tool for you is likely how high the rewards for restaurants and supermarkets are. That is unless you're planning to upgrade to an American Express Platinum Card in the near future. If this is the case, you can have the best of both worlds.
When applying through amex.us/goldrsvp, keep in mind that this is an expensive card to keep around unless you have the income to spare or use the card with a purpose. If you just want the introductory offer, it may not be worth the effort as downgrading requires that you wait a year, and the points you get barely cover the annual fee for the Gold Card.