The American Express Gold Card has a $250 annual fee, but two benefits alone can get you $220 in value each year
- The American Express® Gold Card charges a $250 annual fee, but you can make most of that back when you fully utilize two of its annual statement credits.
- The Gold Card can automatically give you credit backs for some dining and travel purchases up to a combined $220 per year.
- This popular card gives you 4 points per dollar on US supermarket purchases (up to $25,000 in annual purchases, then 1x) and at restaurants worldwide.
For many years, I was averse to any credit card with an annual fee. I wondered why I should pay money to spend money, but over time I came to learn that it can be worth it. In fact, if you use a credit card’s perks to their full extent, it will pay you a lot more than you have to pay for the card, even after taking an annual fee into account.
The Amex Gold Card offers a clear path to coming out ahead. If you use two benefits to the maximum allowed, your annual fee is effectively just $30 per year. Here’s how it all works.
Read more: The best no-annual-fee credit cards
Keep in mind that we’re focusing on the rewards and perks that make these credit cards great options, not things like interest rates and late fees, which can far outweigh the value of any rewards.
When you’re working to earn credit card rewards, it’s important to practice financial discipline, like paying your balances off in full each month, making payments on time, and not spending more than you can afford to pay back. Basically, treat your credit card like a debit card.
Up to $120 in dining credits
The biggest credit from this card is worth up to $10 per month, or $120 per year, when you use the card at some popular restaurants and delivery services. Get up to $10 back per month when you use it at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations.
The $10 per month comes as an automatic statement credit, but you do have to enroll when you get your Gold card to turn it on for the first time. This isn’t a good deal if you would never go to those places anyway. I use Grubhub a couple of times per month, so this works really well for me.
Up to $100 in airline fee credits
If you travel by air, you likely come across an occasional baggage fee or in-flight meal, or maybe you want to spring for priority boarding or other add-ons. The Gold card covers up to $100 per year in incidental charges from one airline you pick each year.
If you rarely fly, this isn’t a big deal for you. And if you don’t use the same airline regularly, it can be tough to decide which to use. It isn’t as flexible as the $300 travel statement credit from the Chase Sapphire Reserve. But it’s still a pretty great deal.
Rewards and benefits
Don’t forget that this card’s biggest benefit is the American Express Membership Rewards points it earns. Cardholders earn 4 points per dollar up to $25,000 per year at US supermarkets (then 1 point per dollar). You earn the same 4x rate at restaurants worldwide. Get 3x points for flights booked directly with airlines or at amextravel.com, and you’ll earn 1 point per dollar everywhere else.
New cardholders can earn a 35,000-point welcome bonus after spending $2,000 in the first three months after opening a new account. The Points Guy values Membership Rewards at 2 cents apiece, which makes this bonus worth an estimated $700 toward travel. That’s more than two and a half years of annual fees covered right from the start!
Should you get the American Express Gold Card?
If you fly regularly and frequent any of the restaurants or delivery services covered by the Gold card‘s credits, you’ll probably come out ahead with this card. Once you add in the huge 4 points per dollar on most food purchases and the welcome bonus, it’s easy to see how you can get a lot more than $250 in value.
It isn’t perfect for everyone, but it’s a good example of how you can score a great deal even after paying a significant annual fee.
Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. We occasionally highlight financial products and services that can help you make smarter decisions with your money. We do not give investment advice or encourage you to adopt a certain investment strategy. If you take action based on one of our recommendations, we get a small share of the revenue from our commerce partners. This does not influence whether we feature a financial product or service. We operate independently from our advertising sales team.
Business Insider may receive a commission from The Points Guy Affiliate Network, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.
Please note: While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they’re subject to change at any time and may have changed, or may no longer be available.