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Last week we saw the introduction of the new American Express® Gold Card, which is an incredible card that is in some ways giving the Chase Sapphire Reserve® a run for its money.

What makes the Amex Gold Card so great

The card offers the following return on spend:

  • 4x Membership Rewards points at U.S. restaurants
  • 4x Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets, on up to $25,000 in purchases annually
  • 3x Membership Rewards points on flights booked directly with airlines or through amextravel.com

Earning 4x points on U.S. dining is the best earn rate out there on dining, in my opinion. Being able to earn 4x points at US supermarkets is pretty awesome as well.

The catch is that the card has a $250 annual fee, which is steep. For example, while the Chase Sapphire Reserve® has a $450 annual fee, it offers a $300 annual travel credit that just about anyone should get full value out of (any purchase coded as travel is eligible to be reimbursed), so the way I view it, the card’s real annual “out of pocket” is $150.

The Amex Gold Card’s two credits

But what about the American Express® Gold Card? It offers two perks that help offset the annual fee:

  • A $100 annual airline fee credit
  • A $120 annual dining credit

Depending on your spend patterns, these can be worth anywhere between $0 and $220. If they’re worth $220 to you, that would mean the real out of pocket on this card is only $30 per year (which would be amazing).

As you may have guessed, there are some catches with these, so let’s look at the details.

How the Amex Gold $100 airline fee credit works

So the first perk is one that even the old version of the card (the Premier Rewards Gold Card) offered. Specifically, the American Express® Gold Card offers a $100 annual airline fee credit every calendar year. This is very similar to the credit offered on the Amex Platinum Card, it’s only half as much.

Here are the basic terms to be aware of:

  • Purchases by both the primary card member and authorized users are eligible, but you’re limited to a single credit no matter how many authorized users you have
  • You can use the credit for one purchase or over multiple purchases, and it will keep applying until you reach the $100 limit
  • The card member has to select the airline with which they want the credit, which can be done at this link
  • The credit is potentially valid for purchases with most major US airlines, including American, Delta, Frontier, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit, and United
  • If you’ve already selected an airline, you’ll be able to change it one time per year, each January; if you don’t change it, the same airline will remain selected
  • The terms state that the credit should post within 2-4 weeks, though in my experience it posts much faster than that

So, what kind of purchases are eligible? According to the terms, here are the purchases that are and aren’t eligible for the credits:

Fees not charged by the Card Member’s airline of choice (e.g. wireless internet and fees incurred with airline alliance partners) do not qualify for statement credits. Incidental air travel fees charged prior to selection of a qualifying airline are not eligible for statement credits. Airline tickets, upgrades, mileage points purchases, mileage points transfer fees, gift cards, duty free purchases, and award tickets are not deemed to be incidental fees.

This credit can be useful for anything ranging from baggage fees, to ticket change fees, to close-in ticketing fees, etc.

One interesting thing is that anecdotally buying airline gift cards often triggers this credit. The terms don’t support that, but I often buy $100 American Airlines gift cards, and they automatically reimburse as part of this benefit. There’s no guarantee that will always be the case, but as of now that’s something that works with many airlines.

That’s a reason I value this credit at face value, basically.

How the Amex Gold $120 dining credit works

The $120 dining credit is a bit more complicated:

  • This credit is valid for purchases with Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, and participating Shake Shack locations
  • Purchases by both the primary card member and authorized users are eligible, but you’re limited to a single credit no matter how many authorized users you have
  • The credit comes in the form of a $10 monthly credit, for a total of up to a $120 credit each year
  • Shake Shack locations in ballparks, stadiums, airports, and racetracks, aren’t eligible
  • The terms state that this isn’t valid for gift card or merchandise purchases, though it’s anyone’s guess if that is enforced
  • Only purchases in the United States qualify
  • The terms state that the credit should post within 2-4 weeks, though in my experience it posts much faster than that

So, how much are these credits worth?

I’m conflicted. I value the airline fee credit roughly at face value. So the way I see it, that brings the cost of the American Express® Gold Card down to about $150 per year.

But what about the dining credit?

  • I don’t use Grubhub and Seamless, but rather use Postmates for all my food delivery
  • I go to the Cheesecake Factory and Ruth’s Chris Steak House maybe once a year each
  • I’ve never been to a Shake Shack

So based on that, I’d say I would get about $10 of value out of the credit each year based on my current patterns. But this also makes me wonder if I should adjust my spend patterns a bit if I get this card.

No, I’m not going to start going to Cheesecake Factory or Ruth’s Chris monthly, but should I start using Grubhub and Seamless rather than Postmates? I order a lot of delivery food, so if I did, I’d get the full $120 value out of it.

Bottom line

The American Express® Gold Card is fantastic, and earning 4x points per dollar on U.S. dining and U.S. supermarkets is phenomenal. The $250 annual fee is steep, though hopefully you can recoup quite a bit of the fee thanks to the up to $220 in credits you get.

I’m sure some people will get nearly $220 worth of value out of those credits, while others will get close to zero.

How much value do you anticipate getting out of the Amex Gold Card airline and dining credits?

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