The Amex Gold charge card - one of the most well rounded cards for folks that love travel, but also enjoy the experiences of home. This card has it all. It rewards popular spending categories like travel, grocery spending, and dining out. It offers credits for dining out and airline travel. It offers upgrades and credits at luxury hotels. The points you earn are part of American Express' Membership Rewards program and can be transferred to partner loyalty programs, or redeemed for cash equivalents. There's always a catch though, and with this Amex card, it's the $250 annual fee.
The rewards structure on this card is going to be a bit long. When it comes to redeeming points, you'll be able to redeem at a 1 cent per point value when booking flights with Amex Travel, or you can transfer to hotel partners like Hilton/Marriott or airline partners like Delta. You'll get the best value for transferring points to partners and then booking award flights/stays. When points are used that way, they tend to be worth 1.2-2.4 cents a piece. We're going to value points at a middle of the road 1.5 cents a piece for this exercise. It's hard to compare points rewards cards to cash back cards if you can't assign points a value.
In addition to using points to pay for travel or transferring them out to travel partners, you have the option to redeem as a statement credit against purchase, pay with points on Amazon, or to purchase gift cards. They all yield a pretty terrible value of anywhere from .5 cents - .7 cents in value.
Yes, you'll earn some healthy rewards with the Amex Gold card through every day spending, but what else does it have to offer?
First and foremost, your credit score game should be strong. Amex will be looking for people with good to excellent credit on this one. If your score is less than a 700 or you have had some late payments in your recent past you should hold off on applying for this one.
This card is made for people that love experiences. If you are traveling a couple time a year and like to redeem points for hotels or airfare, this is a solid card. The increased rewards categories for dining out and travel rival some of the best cards on the market, with the exception of the higher annual fee Citi Prestige.
If you're not ready for a $250 annual fee this card isn't for you. While the $220 in annual credits help offset the net cost of this annual fee, it's still a big chunk of cash to pay for a credit card, and that can be a big mental hurdle to overcome. For this audience, we'd go with the Venture card. It offers a flat 2 points per dollar on all purchases, has access to a smaller set of transfer partners, but also waives the annual fee for the first year, allowing you to get your feet wet and figure out what you like.
For the power traveler, we'd at least take a look at the Citi Prestige before you take the application plunge. Coming in with a $495 annual fee, it's not a step we take lightly, but the earning rewards structure and travel credits are in a league of their own.
This question is as old as time itself. If you're looking for cold hard cash, the Uber card offers a similar rewards structure with no annual fee. If there's even a chance that you will not use your points for travel, don't sweat the annual fee. Jump over to the Uber Visa and start earning 4% cash back on your dining, and 3% cash back on your travel. We won't judge you.
If you are living for the gram and taking photos of your food while planning your next trip to Machu Picchu you might as well just cave and sign-up for this card. It's what your inner millennial wants and there is no stopping it. The reward redemption options on transfer partners make this one the winning choice.