Whether you’re looking for your first credit card or your wallet is already bursting with plastic, you’ll want to do your research before acquiring a new card. After all, every credit card is different; from application requirements to card benefits, different banks have done their best to entice you as a customer.
A mid-tier card offered by American Express, the American Express® Gold Card is a solid option for many consumers. This is thanks to its strong earning structure and travel perks, among other benefits. It’s also made of metal, which some cardholders love.
If you’re thinking about applying for the card, check out these five things to know before getting the American Express® Gold Card.
What to know before getting the American Express® Gold Card
1. Your credit score
Odds are that you’ve heard of credit scores. These numbers, derived from your financial history, indicate to creditors whether you’re a risky investment.
Generally speaking, your credit score is built on five different factors, including the number of accounts you have, the type of accounts you hold, the length of your credit history, your credit utilization and your payment history.
American Express will pull your credit when you apply. And since it features some pretty decent benefits, the American Express® Gold Card requirements for approval tend to be a little stricter. We recommend that you have a good to excellent credit score, which ranges from 690-850, before you apply.
2. How to use American Express Membership Rewards
You don’t have to be a points expert to apply for the American Express® Gold Card. That being said, American Express Membership Rewards points are highly versatile, and knowing how to maximize them can greatly improve your travel experiences.
There are a variety of ways in which AmEx points can be redeemed, including transferring them to hotel and airline partners, redeeming them via the AmEx travel portal or using them for statement credits. However, not all options are created equal; the value you’ll receive for each point will vary based on how they’re redeemed.
This is especially pertinent when you consider the welcome offer available for the American Express® Gold Card: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months. Terms Apply.
NerdWallet estimates that AmEx points can be worth up to 2 cents each, making the welcome offer worth more than the annual fee by a longshot.
3. Your lifestyle
Many cards offer different spending benefits, so you’ll always want to make sure that you’re applying for one that suits your needs. The American Express® Gold Card is no different — it’s a heavy hitter when it comes to all things food, but falls behind on other purchases:
Earn 4 points per $1 spent on dining, including restaurants, takeout and delivery.
Earn 4 points per $1 spent at U.S. supermarkets for the first $25,000 spent per year.
Earn 3 points per $1 spent on flights booked directly with the airline or via the AmEx travel portal.
Earn 1 point per $1 spent everywhere else.
Whether you’re a home chef or a takeout fanatic, the American Express® Gold Card has good earning potential for your purchases. It also has decent point earning on airfare, though this falls behind the 5 points per $1 spent on flights up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year offered by The Platinum Card® from American Express. Terms apply.
Nerdy tip: The American Express® Gold Card comes with a $10 monthly dining credit good for Seamless, Grubhub, Boxed, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, The Cheesecake Factory and participating Shake Shack locations (enrollment required). Terms apply.
If most of your spending falls within these categories, the American Express® Gold Card could be an excellent option for you. Otherwise, you may be better off going for a card that offers high earnings categories that better fit your needs.
4. Your travel plans
Along with great dining benefits, the American Express® Gold Card comes with strong travel perks. Among other questions, you may be wondering, “Does the American Express® Gold Card cover rental car insurance?”
While the rental car insurance provided by the American Express® Gold Card is secondary to your existing insurance, it does provide damage and theft coverage for select vehicle types in most countries. (Cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offer primary rental car insurance.)
The American Express® Gold Card also features other perks, such as baggage insurance, no foreign transaction fees and access to The Hotel Collection by American Express. You’ll also get $10 monthly Uber credits (up to $120), which can be used for either Uber rides or Uber Eats purchases in the U.S. Your American Express® Gold Card must be added to the Uber app to receive the Uber Cash. Terms apply.
If you’re not a big traveler, these perks won’t mean much to you. But they may be worthwhile for someone who travels often.
5. Your existing credit cards
Did you know that American Express will allow you to receive a welcome offer for a specific card only one time? This means that if you already hold the American Express® Gold Card or have held it in the past, you won’t be able to receive another welcome bonus. AmEx may also look at the number of its cards you have opened and closed before determining your welcome offer eligibility.
You’ll also want to consider other credit cards you hold. Do your current cards have better benefits than the American Express® Gold Card? How much do you pay in annual fees each year?
The American Express® Gold Card has an annual fee of $250, which is steeper than many other mid-tier cards. In this case, is the American Express® Gold Card worth it for your particular needs?
AmEx also limits the amount of American Express cards you can have at once. If you’re already at the limit, you’ll be denied the American Express® Gold Card no matter how good of an applicant you may be.
If you’re considering the American Express® Gold Card
There are a number of factors you’ll want to think about before applying for the American Express® Gold Card. An important factor is knowing some information about yourself — including your highest-spend purchase categories, credit score, travel plans and existing credit cards. Knowing how to use AmEx points is also important and can greatly affect how you benefit from this card.
All that being said, if you’re in the market for a card with strong earnings on food and decent travel benefits, the American Express® Gold Card may be worth a look.
To view rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, see this page.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for: