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Yesterday we saw the introduction of the American Express® Gold Card, which I’d say is probably the hottest card to be introduced since the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

What makes this card so incredibly rewarding is the return on spend that it offers. Specifically, the card offers:

  • 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 at U.S. restaurants without caps, and 4x points on up to $25,000 of spend at U.S. supermarkets annually, is an incredible return. I value Membership Rewards points at 1.7 cents each, so to me that’s like a 6.8% return in those categories.

I’ve received a few questions as to exactly what purchases do and don’t qualify for the restaurant, supermarket, and airfare categories, so let’s look at the points earning structure of the American Express® Gold Card a bit more closely.

Amex Gold Card 4x points at restaurants

The American Express® Gold Card offers 4x Membership Rewards points at U.S. restaurants with no caps. According to the terms (and most of this is pretty obvious, but worth reiterating):

  • You don’t earn additional points for purchases made at a restaurant owned by a U.S. company but located outside the U.S. (e.g. Hard Rock Café in Paris)
  • You may not earn additional points for purchases at a restaurant located within another establishment (e.g. a restaurant inside a hotel, casino, or event venue)
  • You don’t earn additional points for purchases at nightclubs and convenience stores

Beyond that, dining is generally a broad category. Keep in mind that this all comes down to how the merchant is categorized, so American Express isn’t responsible if a merchant categorizes themselves in an untraditional or incorrect way.

As a general rule of thumb, the “restaurants” category should include everything from fast food to coffee shops to fine dining to many bars. It won’t include all bars, but based on my experience most bars categorize themselves as restaurants (the same isn’t true for nightclubs). Unfortunately in my experience food delivery services (like Postmates) aren’t categorized as restaurants for these purposes.


Earn 4x points at restaurants

Amex Gold Card 4x points at supermarkets

The American Express® Gold Card offers 4x Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets, on up to $25,000 of spend per calendar year. Superstores (Target, Walmart, etc.) and warehouse clubs (Costco, Sam’s Club, etc.) don’t qualify towards this category.

However, places like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s generally do qualify. Also, while this won’t be the case across the board, I’ve also found that wine merchants and liquor stores are often categorized as supermarkets. Again, I can’t guarantee it’s always the case, but my favorite place to buy wine is categorized as such.


Earn 4x points at supermarkets

Amex Gold Card 3x points on airfare

The American Express® Gold Card offers 3x Membership Rewards points on airfare purchased directly from airlines, or through amextravel.com. There’s no cap to how many bonus points you can earn, and no requirement that you be purchasing a ticket on a US airline, or even a flight originating in the US.

Private jet flights and charter flights are excluded, as are flights booked as part of a package deal, or through an online travel agency.

On the last point it’s worth mentioning that often when you purchase an airline ticket through an online travel agency you’re still charged directly by the airline, in which case you’d still qualify for triple points. But that’s not a guarantee, since you’re not always charged in that way.


Earn 3x points on flight purchases

Bottom line

The American Express® Gold Card is a killer new card, given that it offers 4x points at U.S. restaurants and U.S. supermarkets, which are categories that many of us spend a lot in. If you value Amex points similarly to me, that’s a return of almost 7% in those categories, which is unreal.

These are largely also pretty broad categories, so hopefully the above answers any questions regarding what type of purchases should and shouldn’t qualify for bonus points.

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