American Express Gold card or the Amex Gold card is an entry-level charge card from American Express. The Amex Gold card comes with no predefined credit limit, accelerated reward benefits and the famed Amex customer support. Sounds interesting! However, should you apply for this card? Read to decide for yourself.
American Express/Amex Gold Card
- Joining fee of 1000+GST i.e. 1180. Renewal fee of 4500+GST i.e. 5310.
Rewards and Benefits:
- 4000 MR points on spending 10,000 in the first 90 days.
- However, if you apply using the link in this post, you get a total of 6,000 MR points on spending 10,000 in the first 90 days. (Apply Now)
- 1 reward point for every 50 spent. You get reward points on fuel, utilities and even wallet load.
- 1 point = 40p i.e. you get a 0.8% reward rate on the Amex Gold card. This is considering the redemption of Amazon vouchers. However, if you opt for Taj Vouchers redemption value increases to 58p i.e.~60p or 1.2%. Further, if you transfer your MR points to Marriott, the redemption value can be even higher.
- Accelerated Reward Rate: 5 reward points for every 50 spent on the Amex Reward Multiplier portal. This translates into a reward rate of a decent 4% (at 1MR = 40p value).
- The USP of the Amex Gold card is the monthly milestone benefit. You get 1000 bonus MR points for simply using your card 6 times for transactions of INR 1,000 or above in a calendar month. i.e on spending 6000 in a month you get 1120 MR points worth ~450, a whopping ~7.5% reward rate
- No lounge access on this card is one major disappointment
Difference between a Charge Card and a Credit Card
As mentioned earlier, the Amex Gold Card is a charge card. This obviously lends the question; what is a charge card? How does it differ from a credit card?
Charge card looks and works exactly like credit cards. No difference. Charge cards also often have similar features including rewards and benefits.
The difference is charge cards don’t offer the option of making part payment. You are required to pay your charge card bill in full by the due date. Thus, there is no concept of a minimum amount due with the charge cards. Charge Cards offer a ‘no pre-set’ spending limit i.e. no pre-defined credit limit. There is a soft credit limit, typically much higher than what a credit card offers and your charges are approved based on your spending pattern, financials, credit record, and your account history.
Another benefit of charge cards is you can’t get into debt because you’re required to pay the outstanding amount off every month. This also means there are no interest charges. Just like a postpaid mobile connection. The downside is you don’t have an option to convert your lumpy purchases into EMI.
Thoughts on the Amex Gold Card
Positives of Amex Gold Card
Nearly all spending except government and insurance spending gives reward points
Amex Gold card offers reward points on nearly all spending except government spending and insurance spending. That means you get reward points on utilities, fuel and even wallet load. Simple and uncomplicated card. Unlike the many other cards, that have incrementally started excluding many daily use categories from reward points.
1000×6 offer fits perfectly for fuel spends
Amex Gold card is one of the very few cards that give reward points on fuel spending. For maximum benefits, use your Amex Gold card at HPCL outlets. There is a 0% surcharge for spends up to 5000 at HPCL outlets.
Given that, the Amex Gold card gives a reward on fuel and HPCL outlets levy a 0 surcharge on this card. You can combine this with the 6×1000 spend offer of the Amex Gold card. Thus, in a hypothetical scenario if you spend 6k on fuel you will end up with ~13.4k MR points valued at ~5400, a whopping 7.5% reward rate.
Amex Reward Multiplier gives a 4% reward rate
The Amex Reward Multiplier platform gives 5x points for the Amex Gold card. Just to put things into perspective, you get 2x reward points on Amex MRCC, 3x on Amex Platinum Travel and 5x on Amex Gold card. This rather shows how Amex views the Amex Gold card compared to the Amex MRCC or the Amex Platinum Travel card.
Again, just to highlight the rewarding nature of the Amex Gold card, if you buy vouchers from Amex Reward Multiplier and also optimize the 1000*6 offer, you end with 19,200 MR points valued at ~7700 for annual spends of just 72k. That’s more than a 10% reward rate. Even if I adjust the fees, you still end up 3.3% reward rate.
Just to reiterate, the ~7700 value is based on a 40p value of 1 MR point, if you redeem Taj vouchers or Marriott points, your reward rate will be higher.
MR points with Amex MRCC gets clubbed
The reward points earned on the Amex Gold card are clubbed with reward points earned on the Amex MRCC card. Thus, the spending on these 2 cards ensures that your reward points are collected in a common pool. This definitely helps during redemption where you have enough points in a single account.
Again a scenario is if you have both the Amex Gold card and Amex MRCC and you spend just 6k every month on the Amex Gold card on the Amex Reward Multiplier portal and 20k every month on Amex MRCC. You end up spending 6000*12=72k + 20k*12=240k i.e. 312k annually on these 2 cards. Against these spends you will have 48k MR points which when redeemed for 24K Amex collection you can get Taj vouchers of 28k. A whopping 9% reward rate. 7.3% if adjusted for fees. Not bad at all.
Fee waiver at annual spends of 2lk+
The Amex Gold card as such has no defined annual fee waiver criterion. However, as per many, the company generally gives a 50-100% fee waiver if your annual spend is more than 2lk on the Amex Gold card. So this is like a gesture from the Amex side and you can give it a try if your annual spending is in that range.
Negatives of the Amex Gold Card
The reward rate is low
Though the Amex Gold card gives a 0.8% reward rate on nearly all spends and also gives 1000 MR bonus points for doing 6 transactions of at least 1000 each, the overall reward rate adjusted for fees is quite low. Typically, a cardholder in India spends ~15k a month. If I take that as a metric the reward rate on an Amex Gold card is just 0.5% after adjusting for the fees of 4.5k+taxes. Given that we have many credit cards that offer better reward rates for a much lower annual fee, e.g.: SBI Cashback(Apply Now), Axis Airtel and even the Amex MRCC(Apply Now), justifying applying for an Amex Gold card is very difficult.
No monthly bonus like MRCC
The Amex Gold card gives 1000 reward points on doing 6 transactions of 1000 each every month. However, nothing beyond that. The Amex MRCC card gives 1000 reward points for doing 4×1500 transactions every month and a further 1000 reward points for spending 20k in a month. In addition, the Amex Platinum Travel card offers milestone spending offers on 1.9lk annual spend and 4lk annual spend. Nothing of this sort is available on the Amex Gold card. This results in a lower reward rate as your spending increases. I strongly believe that Amex should introduce some spend-based milestones on the Amex Gold card to make it more attractive.
No predefined fee waiver criteria
The Amex Gold card has no pre-defined spend level for annual fee waiver, which is quite hefty in my view. While generally the company will waive your fee or give a 50% rebate if you spend 2lk or more on this card, however, nothing of that is cast in stone. So no guarantees there. Amex could set an annual spend of 3lk or so target for the annual fee waiver.
Amex Gold is a charge card, you need to pay in full
Since the Amex Gold card is a charge card, there is no option to pay a minimum amount due or anything between the MAD and total outstanding due and revolve the rest. You need to pay the entire amount on or before the due date. Not that I am a proponent of revolving your credit card balances, but having a facility with you helps in times of need.
The Hotel Collection benefits seem useless
The Amex Gold card offers a Hotel Collection benefit under which you get a USD100 credit to spend on dining plus a room upgrade on arrival, when you book for at least 2 nights through the Amex portal. Prima facie, this seems like a great offer, but a quick check for the hotel rates on the Amex portal and MMT reveals that pricing on the Amex portal is quite high and even if you take into account the USD100 credit, the prices remain high. Further, don’t forget that there are many card offers running on MMT that can lower the prices further.
The dreaded Amex acceptance issue
No matter how good the Amex credit cards are. They always face the dreaded issue of Amex cards being not accepted at merchant outlets. The problem is exacerbated once you move out of metro cities. Thus, you always need a Visa/Mastercard or a Rupay variant credit card with you.
The best redemption options are Taj vouchers or Marriott Bonvoy
The best redemption options for MR points remain the Taj vouchers or transfers to the Marriott Bonvoy program. You can redeem your Amex MRCC and Amex Gold card points in a block of 24k MR points for 14k Taj vouchers, a decent ~58p redemption value. Otherwise, the redemption value for Taj vouchers is at 50p. Alternatively, you can transfer your MR points to the Marriott Bonvoy program at a 1:1 ratio. The value tends to vary based on your bookings. For e.g., on my recent trip to Mauritius, I got a redemption value of 80p for each MR point.
The other redemption options are not that great such as you can get Amazon Pay vouchers at 38p redemption value or direct credit to statement at 25p redemption value. Below is the Amex Gold collection redemption table. One interesting thing that you would notice is for Taj vouchers the best redemption option is going for 14k value vouchers, but for Amazon and Flipkart GVs, you get better value at 7k value.
Comparing Amex Gold card with other cards
When you play around with the numbers, you will realize that the Amex Gold card doesn’t stand out on its own. The reward rate on various scenarios, adjusted for the fees is lower than most other cards. However, it can be a very good secondary credit card along with say Amex MRCC. Once you reach the 20k monthly milestone on the Amex MRCC, use your Amex Gold card for further transactions. This way you can earn 48k MR points (28.8k on MRCC and 19.2k on Gold card) on annual spends of 312k (2.4lk on Amex MRCC and 72k on Amex Gold card).
In conclusion, the Amex Gold card doesn’t really stand out to be the primary credit card in your wallet. In fact, Amex MRCC and Amex Platinum Travel do that job very well. The Amex Gold card is at best a good secondary card. Further, this card is suited for people who look to redeem reward points for luxury stays or travel and not cash back. Simply because the best redemption value is only against those luxury stays. I would rather say apply for Amex MRCC or Amex Platinum Travel, both of which are issued as “First Year FREE” when applied using the links in the post. Only after that explore the Amex Gold card if you think there is a need for it.
Featured Image byFoodguide App on Unsplash The article was published/last updated on 13th Nov 2023
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