I Got a ‘Free’ $4,000 Flight With My AmEx Gold Card — Does It Live Up to the Hype?

Find out if this famous card meets the gold standard.
I Got a ‘Free’ $4,000 Flight With My AmEx Gold Card — Does It Live Up to the Hype?
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The term “Gold Card” is so widely used in the credit card industry that it’s lost nearly all of its meaning. But American Express is trying to bring the gold standard back with their refreshed and reintroduced Gold Card. Not only is a limited-edition metal card in an attractive rose gold color being offered by American Express, but this Gold Card really is providing customers with top-notch value.

If you’re interested in this golden opportunity to earn more rewards and perks, take a look at why I think this American Express card is worth considering. And then let’s see how it stands up against its competition in the crowded field of premium rewards cards.

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Here Are the AmEx Gold Card’s Latest Perks

There are plenty of new perks and benefits of this renovated card that might convince you to sign up. The new Gold Card now offers four points per dollar spent on dining and four points per dollar on up to $25,000 spent each year at U.S. supermarkets. You also earn three points per dollar on flights booked directly with the airline or through American Express Travel. You even get 50,000 bonus points when you use the card to spend $2,000 within three months of account opening.

The points you earn are part of the American Express Membership Rewards program and can be transferred to miles with 18 different airline partners including Delta, Air Canada, British Airways, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Singapore and Virgin Atlantic. You can also transfer your rewards to points with three different hotel partners or redeem them directly for travel reservations.

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This card also comes with two valuable fee credits including a $100 annual airline fee credit that’s good toward things like change fees, seat selection fees and even in-flight food and beverage purchases. You also get a $120 annual dining credit that comes as a $10 per month credit at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed and participating Shake Shack locations.

Like many similar cards, it comes with a bunch of purchase protection and travel insurance policies, but there’s one benefit in particular that really stands out. This card offers premium roadside assistance, which includes up to four services free per year, such as a jump-start, a flat tire change or even towing up to 10 miles, at no additional cost. So this perk is not like the “roadside dispatch” plans that many cards have which merely call for help and send you the bill.

The annual fee is $250, which sounds pricey, but I like to think of it as a net fee of $30 a year since I’m able to take advantage of $220 worth of travel and dining credits. In fact, you can actually use the $100 travel credit each calendar year, so you can get it twice in your first year as a cardmember and come out ahead that way!

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How I Maximize This Card’s Perks

When credit cards offer free perks and rewards, it’s clearly in your best interest to take advantage of them. Obviously, I use the $100 travel fee credit each year, but I also make sure to order a $10 lunch through Grubhub at least once a month to maximize the $120 annual dining credit. Then I transfer my Membership Rewards points to airline miles where I can use them for the most value.

For example, last year I transferred American Express Membership Rewards points to Virgin Atlantic, and then I redeemed them for a flight to Amsterdam on Delta — in business class. This is at least a $4,000 ticket, so I figured my points were worth about four cents each. That’s like getting 16% back on my dining and grocery purchases where I earned four points per dollar!

And when my car needed service for a few days and I couldn’t find someone to help me drop it off and pick it up from the shop, I simply used the premium roadside assistance to have it towed there and back, for free.

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How the American Express Gold Card Compares To Its Competitors

Take a look at how this new version of the card stacks up against others:

Chase Sapphire Reserve

This popular travel rewards card is great, and it has a few advantages over the Gold Card. It offers an airport lounge membership with Priority Pass Select, and you get 1.5 cents per point redeemed toward travel reservations. In contrast, the Gold Card has no business lounge access and only offers you 1 cent per point in value toward travel booked through American Express. However, the Sapphire Reserve only offers you three points per dollar on travel and dining and has no bonus for supermarkets. It has a $450 annual fee. And even though it offers a $300 annual travel statement credit, (bringing it down to a net $150 cost in my mind), it’s still a bit more expensive than the American Express Gold Card.

Citi Premier

This card offers three points per dollar on travel including gas stations, two points per dollar at restaurants and on entertainment and one point per dollar spent elsewhere. So you don’t get four points per dollar, but you do get a wider variety of three-points-per-dollar options, so we’ll call that even. Points can be transferred to airline miles, but Citi just doesn’t offer as many good transfer partners like American Express. And while the $95 annual fee sounds inexpensive, there aren’t any fee credits to offset it. Plus, Citi recently gutted its cardholder benefits, so you can’t rely on this card for many of the most basic credit card features such as rental car insurance, let alone premium roadside assistance.

American Express Platinum

Even though this card is also from American Express, it can be a tough decision to choose between the two — I have both! The Platinum Card comes with Priority Pass Select airport lounge access, plus access to the Delta SkyClubs and the American Express Centurion lounges. You also get five points per dollar for airfare and five points per dollar for hotels booked through American Express Travel. Add in elite status with Hilton, Marriott, Hertz and National car rentals and this is one premium product. It has a $550 annual fee but you get a $200 annual air travel fee credit, a $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application credit and a $100 annual credit toward Saks Fifth Avenue purchases.

The Bottom Line on the Gold Card

The Gold Card is one hot product, and it’s even being offered in a rose gold card option again for a limited time — although I find it to be not nearly as pink in color as the pictures make it look. By maximizing the value of this reintroduced card, you can start traveling for free much sooner than you think.

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Editorial Note: This content is not provided by American Express. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone and have not been endorsed by American Express.