Review of the American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card and American Express® Gold Card

John Ganotis

John Ganotis | Reviews

May 31, 2016 | Updated May 19, 2017

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The Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express and Gold Card from American Express are charge cards with an annual fee designed for people with excellent credit. They make the most sense for people who purchase around $20,000 or more per year on airfare directly from airlines.

The Premier Rewards card is the upgraded version of the Gold card. They both offer points for travel purchases, but you’ll get more points in more categories, along with a possible introductory bonus, with the Premier Rewards.

Both of these cards have annual fees which are a bit high (though they’re waived for the first year), but if you travel enough and make use of the benefits they could definitely be worth the cost.

Looking for other travel cards? Check out our picks for the best travel credit cards.
Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express
Apply Now

Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express

For People with
Excellent Credit

  • Annual Fee: $0 for the first year, then $195
  • Interest Rate: Not Applicable - Paid in Full Monthly
Quick Card Facts
  • Earn 25,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • 3X points for flights booked directly with airlines. 2X points at US restaurants, US gas stations, and US supermarkets. 1X points on other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $100 Airline Fee Credit. Up to $100 a year in baggage fees and more at one airline.
  • Get a $75 hotel credit on qualifying charges, plus a room upgrade upon arrival, if available with The Hotel Collection at americanexpress.com/hc. Terms apply.
  • $0 Intro Annual Fee for the 1st year, then $195.
  • Terms Apply.
Gold Card from American Express
Apply Now

Gold Card from American Express

For People with
Good Credit

  • Annual Fee: $0 the first year, then $160
  • Interest Rate: Not Applicable - Paid in Full Monthly
Quick Card Facts
  • Access to Exclusive Benefits: Baggage Insurance Plan* when you travel, and shop with confidence with Extended Warranty* and Return Protection
  • Use points for gift cards for dining, entertainment, and shopping at over 300 merchants
  • Get discounts and low rates at hotels and resorts, plus a $75 hotel credit when you book through Gold Hotel Collection
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $125
  • Terms and Restrictions Apply

The Bottom Line & Our Ratings

The Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express and the Gold Card from American Express are both good travel charge cards, though when you compare these it’s pretty obvious which one is better between the two.

The Premier Rewards Gold card is only $35 more per year, but it has much better rewards, offering 3 points per dollar for travel and including the supermarket category. You’ll also get the potential 25,000 bonus points and $100 airline fee credit, which go a long way towards making up for the annual fee.

Think about your traveling and spending habits. Do you always pay off your cards in full every month? Based on how much money you spend, would you earn enough points to make one of these cards worth it? And how much are the additional benefits provided by the card worth to you?

Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express: 5 out of 5 stars

We gave the Premier Rewards Card 5 out of 5 Stars because it’s a great offer for the fee, letting you earn a good amount of points in quite a few categories. The extra benefits are pretty good too, giving you more ways to save money and make your traveling more enjoyable.

Gold Card from American Express: 3 out of 5 stars

We gave the regular Gold Card 3 out of 5 Stars because it has a pretty high annual fee (only $35 less than the Premier Rewards) but doesn’t offer the same level of rewards, and it’s missing two valuable features: the 25,000 bonus points and the $100 airline fee credit. This makes it much less valuable than the Premier Rewards, as well as other travel cards, even though it has almost the same cost.

Using these cards as part of your credit card strategy

  • It doesn’t make sense to have both the Premier Rewards Gold Card and the regular Gold Card, since they’re very similar cards.
  • You probably don’t need more than one general-use travel rewards card with an annual fee in your wallet, because they tend to have similar benefits. Consider whether a travel card with more benefits and a higher annual fee or fewer benefits and a lower annual fee may be a better fit for you, depending on how much you travel.
  • Transfer your Membership Rewards points earned with this card to an airline partner’s frequent flier program to maximize their value.
  • Use the full $100 airline fee credit each year to offset the annual fee as much as possible. (Only on the Premier Rewards Gold Card).
  • Use one of these cards for all airfare purchased directly from an airline to maximize rewards, unless you can get more points with another card.
  • If you have the Premier Rewards Gold Card, use it for all gas station, supermarket, and restaurant purchases unless you can get more rewards from another card.

These cards are in a strange place in the credit card market. First of all, these cards are very similar to one another, so it seems odd that they’re both available from the same issuer with only a $35 difference in annual fee. Additionally, there aren’t any similar cards offered by other major banks with annual fees in this range. Many popular travel-focused rewards cards with an annual fee cost around $100 per year, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Barclaycard Arrival Plus.

On the other hand, there is a lot of competition among cards with higher annual fees in the $300-$600 range with more travel benefits, like the Platinum Card from American Express, Chase Sapphire Reserve, and U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve. This isn’t to say there’s something undesirable about these two Gold cards. If you travel often, they very well may be a great fit for you. However, depending on how much you travel, you may want to look at the other two ends of the travel card spectrum.

Keep reading to learn more about the details of these two cards, how they compare, and how they could help you save money when you travel.

The Rewards

Earning Points

The rewards programs make it clear that these cards are designed for people who spend a lot on airline tickets:

The Premier Rewards Gold Card earns:

  • 3 points per dollar on flights booked directly through airlines
  • 2 points per dollar at gas stations, US supermarkets, and US restaurants
  • 1 point per dollar on all other purchases
  • 25,000 reward points for spending $2,000 in the first 3 months

The Gold Card earns:

  • 2 points per dollar on flights booked directly through airlines and US restaurants
  • 1 point per dollar on all other purchases

As you can see, you’ll be able to earn a lot more points with the Premier Rewards version of the Gold card. Not only does it provide one more point per dollar for airfare purchases, but it gives you extra points when you spend at supermarkets or gas stations. Depending on how where you spend the most money, the rewards alone could go a long way toward making these cards worth the annual fees.

The Premier Rewards Gold Card also comes with a potential bonus points: If you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening the card, you’ll get 25,000 Membership Rewards Points. The regular Gold Card does not have any introductory bonus points offer.

Redeeming Points

American Express offers a number of ways to redeem Membership Rewards points, and the value of each point can vary widely depending on how they’re redeemed.

For example, you’ll get the lowest value per point, $0.005, when using American Express’ shopping portal. When you redeem for statement credits, you’ll get a value of $0.006 per point.

You can get a slightly higher value of $0.01 per point when you cash in your points for airfare or hotels booked through American Express’ travel portal, gift cards, or Uber rides.

Finally, you can transfer Membership Rewards points 1:1 to one of American Express’ partner’s frequent flyer program for a cost of $0.0006 per point. You can usually get the highest value per point when you redeem your points this way.

The Benefits

Both of these cards offer a nice set of extra benefits that you can use to make traveling more enjoyable, and cheaper too. The benefits for both cards are nearly the same. The only difference is that the regular Gold card doesn’t offer a $100 airline fee credit.

We’ve listed all the benefits in the following sections, but there are a few notable ones to think about when you’re considering whether the annual fee is worth it.

$100 Airline Fee Credit

This benefit is on the Premium Rewards Gold Card only. If you’re able to use this full $100 credit each year, that will go a long way in covering the annual fee. However, there are some limitations to this credit. First of all, you must pick just one of the participating airlines where you want to apply the credit.

Some other credit cards provide travel credits that are more flexible. For example, some issuers will automatically apply travel credits to any travel purchases, including airfare or train tickets, and do not restrict you to just one airline.

$75 Hotel Credits

American Express has their own travel booking site and partnerships with certain hotels. Every time you book a minimum of two consecutive nights at one of these hotels, you can get a $75 credit toward certain qualifying purchases, like meals and spas, at the hotels. If you’re able to use this $75 credit one or more times per year, it could go a long way toward covering the cost of your annual fee.

This benefit is a little restricted, but you probably travel and stay in hotels a lot if you’re considering this card, so you might be able to adjust your plans a little to stay in one of these hotels (if you’re not already) and make the most of this credit.

Perks

  • Room Upgrade & $75 Hotel Credit

    On eligible dining, spa or resort activities when you stay a minimum of two consecutive nights and spend at least $75.

  • $100 Airline Fee Credit

    Each year you’ll get a $100 statement credit to pay for incidental fees at the airline of your choice, including checked bags, in-flight refreshments, flight-change fees, airport lounge day-passes and more. (Premium Rewards Gold Card only)

  • Amex Offers

    Get exclusive savings on dining, travel, entertainment, and other purchases.

  • American Express® Preferred Seating

    Access to premium seats at certain sports and cultural events.

  • Entertainment Access

    Discounts to card member-only events, concerts, sporting events, and shows.

Security

  • Dispute Resolution

    Help dealing with fraudulent transactions.

  • Zero Liability Protection

    You won’t be held liable for fraudulent transactions (contact customer service immediately).

Shopping

  • Extended Warranty

    For warranties of 5 years or less you can get up to one extra year added to the original manufacturer’s warranty.

  • Purchase Protection

    Items purchased with your card are protected against accidental damage and theft within 90 days of the purchase.

  • Return Protection

    If you can’t return an eligible item within 90 days from the date of purchase, American Express may refund the purchase price up to $300 per item, up to $1,000 per year.

Travel

  • Personalized Travel Service

    Includes assistance with finding destinations, making reservations at hotels and for travel, and planning for cruises and tours.

  • Lowest Hotel Rates Guarantee

    If you book an eligible hotel through amextravel.com and find the same offer at a lower price elsewhere, you can be refunded the difference.

  • Global Assist® Hotline

    When you travel 100 miles or more from home you can get help with travel accidents such as a lost passport, the need for a lawyer, sudden illness, and more. You pay for all third-party service costs.

  • Travel Accident Insurance

    Added financial security if a death is caused when traveling by plane, train, ship, or bus.

  • Baggage Insurance Plan

    When traveling by common carrier, provides coverage for both checked ($500) and carry-on bags ($1,250).

  • Premium Roadside Assistance

    Provides free access to a variety of emergency auto services 4 times per year, including towing, tire change, and lockout services.

  • Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance

    Provides coverage for stolen or damaged vehicles, as long as you decline the rental company’s own insurance. Provides secondary coverage only, not liability coverage.

The Costs & Fees

As would be expected on high-end travel-focused cards like these, you won’t need to pay a foreign transaction fee on purchases made outside the U.S. with either card.

These are both charge cards, which means you must pay your entire balance each month, so you won’t find any interest rates here. However, American Express does offer a “Pay Over Time” feature to some customers on some of their charge cards. This feature allows the cardholder to pay off certain charges over time for a fee, so it behaves more like a credit card.

So, as long as you’re paying off your balance in full and on time each month, the only expense you’ll need to pay for these cards is the annual fee.

Card Annual Fee Regular APR for Purchases Foreign Transaction Fee
Premier Rewards Gold Card $0 for the first year, then $195 N/A 0%
Gold Card $0 the first year, then $160 N/A 0%
Card Late Fee Returned Payment Fee
Premier Rewards Gold Card Up to $38 or 2.99%, whichever is greater Up to $38
Gold Card Up to $38 or 2.99%, whichever is greater Up to $38

How to Apply for the Premier Rewards Gold Card or Gold Card

You can apply for either of these cards by submitting an application to American Express. These cards are designed for people with excellent credit, so if your credit is not great you probably don’t have a good chance of getting approved. You can also check to see if you’re pre-qualified for any credit cards from American Express, which may get you a better offer.

Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express
Apply Now

Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express

For People with
Excellent Credit

  • Annual Fee: $0 for the first year, then $195
  • Interest Rate: Not Applicable - Paid in Full Monthly
Quick Card Facts
  • Earn 25,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • 3X points for flights booked directly with airlines. 2X points at US restaurants, US gas stations, and US supermarkets. 1X points on other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $100 Airline Fee Credit. Up to $100 a year in baggage fees and more at one airline.
  • Get a $75 hotel credit on qualifying charges, plus a room upgrade upon arrival, if available with The Hotel Collection at americanexpress.com/hc. Terms apply.
  • $0 Intro Annual Fee for the 1st year, then $195.
  • Terms Apply.
Gold Card from American Express
Apply Now

Gold Card from American Express

For People with
Good Credit

  • Annual Fee: $0 the first year, then $160
  • Interest Rate: Not Applicable - Paid in Full Monthly
Quick Card Facts
  • Access to Exclusive Benefits: Baggage Insurance Plan* when you travel, and shop with confidence with Extended Warranty* and Return Protection
  • Use points for gift cards for dining, entertainment, and shopping at over 300 merchants
  • Get discounts and low rates at hotels and resorts, plus a $75 hotel credit when you book through Gold Hotel Collection
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $125
  • Terms and Restrictions Apply

Do you use one of these cards? How do you like it? Leave your review of the Premier Rewards Gold Card here, or leave a review of the Gold Card here.

Alternatives the Gold Card and Premier Rewards Gold Card

There are a few other cards that you might want to check out if you’re looking at this card:

Gold Cards vs. Platinum Card from American Express

The Platinum Card from American Express has an annual fee of $550, which is much higher than either of these cards, but it has the potential to earn many more points (5x instead of 2x or 3x) on airfare booked directly with airlines.

The Platinum Card comes with a $200 airline fee credit, which has the same use restrictions as the airline fee credit found on the Premier Rewards Gold Card, but is twice as big. The Platinum Card also comes with up to $200 in Uber credits per year, and a credit for the $100 application fee for Global Entry (or TSA PreCheck), which could save you lots of time at customs or TSA security lines if you travel frequently.

Additionally, if you spend a lot of time in airports, the Platinum Card may be worth the higher cost since it comes with access to many airport lounges around the world.

If you spend $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months you can earn an extra 60,000 Membership Rewards points, compared to 25,000 for spending $2,000 in the first 3 months with the Premier Rewards Gold Card.

The Platinum Card is made of metal, unlike the Gold Cards.

See our full review of the Platinum Card here.

Gold Cards vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred has a lower annual fee of $95, which is waived the first year.

It doesn’t come with any travel credits, but earns 2x points on travel and dining, so if you don’t spend enough on travel each year to make one of these Gold Cards worth it, the Chase Sapphire Preferred may be a good option for earning rewards. If you spend more on dining or travel not booked directly with an airline, this option could easily be better than the regular Gold Card.

Also, when you redeem Ultimate Rewards points (the type of points that Chase cards earn) through Chase’s travel portal, you’ll get an extra 25% bonus.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred earns 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months, which ends up being worth $625 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

This card is also made of metal, unlike the Gold Cards.

See our full review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred here.

Gold Cards vs. Barclaycard Arrival Plus

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus has a $89 annual fee, which is also waived the first year. It has a simple rewards program, earning 2 points per dollar on all purchases. If you don’t spend enough on airfare to make one of the Gold Cards worth it, and just want a card that will help you save money on travel through everyday spending, the Arrival Plus might be a better fit for you.

This card is unique compared to the other cards listed here because it offers Chip-and-PIN technology in addition to Chip-and-Signature, which means it may be accepted more places outside the U.S.

The Arrival Plus earns 50,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of opening the card, which is valued at $500 when redeemed for statement credit.

See our full review of the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard here.

Gold Cards vs. Blue Cash Preferred from American Express

The Blue Cash Preferred is a very different card than the others listed here because it’s a cash back card rather than a card that earns points. It has a lower annual fee of $95.

If you found the extra points at supermarkets and gas stations on the Premier Rewards Gold Card appealing and you spend on those categories more than travel, consider the Blue Cash Preferred. It gets a whopping 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets, although that’s limited to the first $6,000 of purchases per year. It also earns 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores.

See our full review of the Blue Cash Preferred from American Express here.

Gold Cards vs. MasterCard® Titanium Card™

The MasterCard® Titanium Card™ is relatively new to the credit card market, and it’s the lowest end card in the Luxury Card family. It’s one of the only other cards available with an annual fee in the $150-$200 range, so let’s see how it compares.

First of all, the annual fee is the same as the Premium Rewards Gold Card at $195, but it’s not waived the first year. And, there’s no introductory opportunity to earn bonus points like there is with the Premium Rewards Gold Card.

The MasterCard® Titanium Card™ effectively earns 1% cash back on all purchases that are redeemed for statement credit, and 2% on purchases that are redeemed for airfare through the Luxury Card travel portal. When redeeming points for statement credits, the value per point is higher with the Titanium Card™ than the Gold Cards, but if you’re looking to get cash back in the form of statement credit there are better cards on the market for that. The Premier Rewards Gold Card, with the same annual fee, comes out ahead of the Titanium Card when earning points on airfare purchases and redeeming them for airfare purchases or transferring them to a partner airline.

The Titanium Card™ is made of stainless steel, unlike the two Gold Cards from American Express, but that’s probably not reason enough to get this card over those.

Read our comparison of the MasterCard® Titanium Card™, Gold Card™, and Black Card™ here, or an in-depth review of the MasterCard® Black Card™ here.

Other Travel Card Options

Browse travel credit card offers on our partner’s site below.

Travel Rewards Credit Cards

  • Earn rewards with your everyday spend, and get a little closer to your next vacation.
  • Bonus offer – new card holders may be eligible for welcome bonuses of up to 50,000 travel rewards points.
  • Use rewards to book hotels, air travel, gift cards, or even a statement credit.
  • Loyalty pays off — earn double rewards when you use your card to book a trip with your favorite hotel or airline.
  • Enjoy additional travel perks like travel insurance, waived foreign transaction fees, and airport lounge access.
  • Terms vary by partner offer. Please see each bank’s application for terms and conditions.
  • Clicking Apply Now will take you to CreditCards.com to compare Travel Rewards cards from participating partners.

Apply Now

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