American Express is making many changes to their cards lately. The most recent one is that the American Express Gold Card will earn 4x on restaurants worldwide. The change kicks in on June 6, 2019.
Gold Card Overview
The American Express Gold Card is a fantastic mid-tier option for many travelers. It has a sign-up bonus worth 35,000 Membership Rewards (MR) points. You can earn this bonus by spending just $2,000 in the first three months.
Furthermore, the Gold Card has a generous earning structure:
- 4x at Restaurants worldwide
- 4x at Grocery Stores within the United States
- 3x on flights booked directly with the airline and from amextravel.com
- One point for all non-bonus spend
The 4x categories have a combined $25,000 annual limit. However, they are still amazing for many travelers.
The Gold Card also comes with a $100 annual airline incidental credit and $120 in dining credits. Unfortunately, the dining credits are split into 12 $10 monthly credits. This makes them hard to use for many and useless for some. However, the credits give the Gold Card a “net” annual fee of $30, assuming they are used in full.
This is a great move for consumers, especially those looking for a dining card. However, there are three issues that American Express has to face:
- Competition with Citi and Chase
- A lack of global acceptance compared to Visa and MasterCard
- Restaurants being incorrectly coded
The Chase Sapphire Reserve and Citi Prestige are some of the best alternatives for dining cards. The Reserve earns 3x Ultimate Rewards points on dining, while the Prestige earns 5x Thank You points. Either option can be better depending on your travel strategy.
This change is also huge because the card has become more useful for international trips. But a major caveat is that Amex’s international acceptance is not as good as their domestic acceptance. But you will benefit if you can find a restaurant that takes the Gold Card. Most of Amex’s competitors also benefit from being under the Visa or MasterCard networks, making them more accepted around the world. Amex must work on their global acceptance in their network to combat this.
Furthermore, American Express has had issues in the past with restaurants not coding correctly. All of the subjected restaurants are domestic, so I can only assume that things will be worse with international restaurants. This issue alone has had many people switch their main dining card to one from a competitor.
The Gold Card earning 4x points on international dining is great for consumers. However, the issuer has a long way to go before sorting everything out on the coding side. Consumers will not receive the right amount of points if Amex does not take care of this soon. And if this is the case, many people might be switching cards. My hope is that this change doesn’t come back to haunt American Express.
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