Why the American Express Gold Card Is Perfect for Food-Loving Travelers

If you frequently spend money at restaurants and on flights, this credit card is one of the best for you.

People enjoy seated on sidewalk outside a café in Paris with a navy blue exterior

With the American Express® Gold Card, you can earn three points per dollar spent on your airfare to Paris and four points per dollar spent at restaurants during your trip.

Photo by Premier Photo/Shutterstock

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The American Express® Gold Card is one of the brand’s most popular cards—and for good reason. It offers big rewards on purchases, easy-to-use credits that nearly offset its annual fee, and valuable travel and shopping insurance. Even better? The card currently has a big welcome offer of 60,000 bonus points after $6,000 in purchases during the initial six months.

Despite an annual fee of $250 (see rates and fees), the card delivers tremendous value, namely through an earnings rate of four points per dollar spent in categories like restaurants worldwide, takeout/delivery in the United States, and at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then one point per dollar after).

Here’s everything you need to know about the American Express Gold Card and why you should consider applying for it—especially if you spend most of your money on food and travel.

The AmEx Gold Card offers excellent earnings rates on food and travel

The advantage of the Gold Card compared to its siblings (like the Platinum Card® from American Express) as well as competitors (like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve®, and Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card) is its strong earnings rates with quadruple and triple points awarded across multiple spending categories.

The AmEx Gold Card earns the following bonus Membership Rewards points per dollar spent:

  • 4 points per dollar spent on restaurants worldwide
  • 4 points per dollar spent on takeout and delivery in the United States
  • 4 points per dollar spend on U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X)
  • 3 points per dollar spent on airfare booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com
  • 2 points per dollar spent on travel (excluding airfare) on amextravel.com

Here’s how these rates of points per dollar spent compare with other AmEx cards:

Restaurants worldwide
Takeout and delivery in the U.S.
U.S. supermarkets
Other travel + transit (not booked through amextravel.com)
Everything else

The chart reveals that the Gold Card is best for those who like to spend a lot on food and drink, whether it’s dining out, take out, delivery, or supermarket runs. As someone who uses the Gold Card for all food and beverage purchases, I can attest that the points add up incredibly fast. Earning three points per dollar on airfare is a robust return, although earning just one point per dollar on other travel not booked through amextravel.com is a bit of letdown (and why I recommend using other cards for non-airfare travel purchases).

A solid 60,000-point introductory bonus

Currently, the American Express Gold Card is courting new cardholders with an introductory bonus of 60,000 AmEx Membership Rewards points after spending $6,000 on purchases in the first six months of card membership.

Once accrued, AmEx points are transferable to 17 airline partners—3 domestic and 14 international—and 3 hotel partners. A total of 20 transfer partners makes Membership Rewards the best loyalty program overall for transferable points (compared to Capital One Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Citi ThankYou points). Partners include Delta SkyMiles, Air France/KLM’s Flying Blue, and Marriott Bonvoy, transferable at a 1:1 ratio, and Hilton Honors transferable at a ratio of two Hilton Honors points for every Membership Rewards point.

If you’re already an AmEx cardholder under another product and are wondering about bonus eligibility, the short answer is yes—you can get AmEx Gold’s bonus. You are allowed to have multiple, different AmEx cards, but not two of the same. So, as long as you don’t already have (or have previously had) the Gold Card, you qualify for the intro bonus.

$240 of credits nearly offset the $250 annual fee

American Express is well known for countering annual fees with significant credits, and the AmEx Gold Card is no different. Cardholders receive up to $120 Uber Cash annually, automatically added as $10 in monthly credits to their Uber account when linked to the Gold Card. (Note: As someone who holds both the Gold and Platinum cards, I receive the $10 monthly credit for the Gold and the $15 for the Platinum. They do not cancel each other out.) There’s also a dining credit for up to $120, awarded as $10 in statement credits monthly when paying with the card at Grubhub, the Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar, and select Shake Shack locations. (Enrollment required.) If used completely, these two annual credits alone nearly offset the $250 annual fee.

In addition to those monthly credits, it’s also possible to achieve up to a $100 experience credit if booking a two-night stay or more at the Hotel Collection through American Express Travel.

Finally, like all American Express cards, the Gold Card opens up the world of AmEx Offers, an ever-changing roster of discounts and offers depending on your location and spending patterns. You can view your personalized offers in the American Express app or online after login. Personally, I have saved $345 so far in AmEx Offers to date using my Gold Card.

Reliable travel and shopping insurance

Looking for a card with solid travel insurance? The Gold Card comes with the following implicit travel insurances when you charge your trip to the card:

  • Premium car rental protection (theft or damage plus excess medical costs if you are injured in an accident)
  • Baggage insurance (for lost, stolen, or damaged baggage)
  • Trip delay insurance (for delays 12 hours or more)

As far as shopping insurance, the card offers two important ones. First, it grants an extended warranty of one extra year added to the original manufacturer’s warranty (on warranties of five years or less on covered purchases in the United States). Second, Purchase Protection covers things that are accidentally damaged, stolen, or lost, for up to 90 days from the covered purchase date.

The downside? No airport lounge access

Sadly, as is the case with most credit cards with lower annual fees, the Gold Card won’t get you into any airport lounges. Those seeking airport lounge access from a credit card should consider the Platinum Card from American Express ($695 annual fee, see rates and fees). It’s the top card on the market for airport lounge access with a portfolio that includes American Express Centurion and Escape Lounges, Priority Pass lounges, Plaza Premium Lounges, Delta Sky Clubs, and more.

The bottom line: The American Express Gold Card is worth it

The American Express Gold Card is a smart choice for those who spend a lot at restaurants and supermarkets. A strong welcome bonus of 60,000 points is a great way to boost your points balance and start fantasizing about all the places you can go courtesy of your credit card points.

While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they are subject to change at any time, and may have changed or may no longer be available. 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.

Paul Rubio is an award-winning travel journalist and photographer. His byline appears in Afar, Condé Nast Traveler, Fodor’s, LUXURY, MSN, NerdWallet, Palm Beach Illustrated, Yahoo Lifestyle, and more. He has visited 133 countries (and counting) over the past 20 years and won 27 national awards for his writing and photography. When he’s not plotting out his next trip, Paul loves to spend time at home watching reruns of Portlandia and Parks and Recreation with his husband and rescue dog, Camo.
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