American Express Gold Rewards Card Review | Get up to 70,000 points

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I’ve got you covered if you’re looking for an American Express Gold Rewards Card review. Although the card now has a higher annual fee than similar cards, the benefits you get are arguably better. Oddly enough, some would argue that what sets this card apart is that it’s a metal credit card and comes in two colours: Gold and Rose Gold.

The American Express Gold Rewards Card is a sound mid-tier travel rewards credit card. It typically comes with an excellent welcome bonus, a good earn rate and meaningful benefits. Basically, this card is now a light version of the American Express Platinum Card. Read my American Express Gold Rewards Card review now for all the details.

American Express Gold Rewards Card

  • $250 annual fee
  • Earn 5,000 Membership Rewards points when spending $1,000 each month for 12 months (60,000 points total)
  • Earn 10,000 points when you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months
  • Earn 2 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent on grocery, gas, pharmacy, and travel purchases
  • Earn 1 Membership Rewards point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • $100 Annual travel credit
  • Priority Pass Membership + 4 annual Plaza Premium passes

Welcome bonus and earn rate

The welcome bonus for the American Express Gold Rewards Card has been in the 50,000 – 75,000 American Express Membership Rewards points range. As you can imagine, there tend to be different conditions for the offer. In addition, you’ll typically earn some extra points when using a referral link from a friend or business associate. The higher offer usually requires you to spend more, so I wouldn’t obsess over getting the highest bonus possible.

The earn rate of two points per dollar spent on groceries, gas, pharmacy, and travel is better than many similar cards. It’s true some of the best cash back cards in Canada have higher multipliers in some categories, but I believe travel points are more valuable if you use them to their maximum potential, which I’ll explain below.

Benefits and perks

It’s now time to go over the benefits and perks in this American Express Gold Rewards Card review. Although the card has an annual fee of $250, you get a lot of travel benefits including:

$100 travel credit

Cardholders get an annual travel credit of $100. This includes your first year of cardmembership. This credit can be used on any type of travel booked through the American Express travel portal. With this credit, your annual fee effectively becomes $150 a year.

Airport lounge access

The best benefit of this card is the four free annual passes you get to Plaza Premium lounges. Some of the best credit cards with airport lounge access allow you to use your passes at any lounge within their network, but the American Express Gold Rewards Card specifically gives you Plaza Premium lounge passes. While this may sound like a negative thing, Plaza Premium lounges are found in just about every major Canadian airport, so you won’t have any issues using your passes.

In addition, you get a Priority Pass membership. Although you don’t get any free airport lounge passes with your membership, you can buy access at 1,200+ lounges for about US$32.

NEXUS rebate

You’ll get a CA$50 for NEXUS application or renewal fees, as long as your charge the fee to your American Express Gold Rewards Card. Note that this benefit can be used only once every four years. That said, since NEXUS lasts five years, you’ll pretty much be reimbursed indefinitely.

Travel insurance

  • Emergency Medical Insurance – $5,000,000 – 15 days / Under 65
  • Trip Cancellation – $1,500 per person / $3,000 total
  • Trip Interruption – $1,500 per person / $6,000 total
  • Flight Delay Insurance $500 – 4 hours +
  • Baggage Delay Insurance $500 – 6 hours +
  • Lost or Stolen Baggage Insurance – $500 combined per occurrence
  • Car Rental Theft Damage Insurance – $85,000 – 48 days
  • Hotel/Motel Burglary Insurance – $500 per occurrence
  • Travel Accident Insurance – Up to $500,000

The American Express Gold Rewards Card has some excellent travel insurance, that’s why it’s on my list of the best credit cards with travel insurance. You could argue that the defining feature is trip cancellation since it’s typically not included with many Amex cards with the exception of the Platinum Card.

Purchase insurance

  • Purchase protection
  • Buyer’s assurance

With purchase protection, your goods are protected from loss, theft, and damage within 90 days of your purchase date. There is a limit of $1,000 per occurrence (for all purchased items combined). As for buyer’s assurance, it doubles your manufacturer’s warranty for up to one additional year.

American Express experiences

As an American Express cardholder, you get some additional exclusive benefits, such as:

  • Front of the line presales – You’ll get presale ticket access to some of the most popular concerts, restaurants, theatre productions and more.
  • Reserved tickets – Some concerts and venues have an exclusive deal with American Express, where cardholders can purchase reserved seats.
  • Experiences – Cardholders can purchase tickets to special events such as private dining, retail packages, advance movie screens and more.
  • Offers – American Express will make retail and dining offers available to cardholders throughout the year. You’ll get a statement credit back once you meet the minimum spend requirement.

How to redeem your points

American Express Membership Rewards is the best bank travel loyalty program in Canada. 100 points get you $1 in travel or a statement credit. That means your points are perfectly worth 1 cent each.

That said, you could potentially increase the value of your points with some of the American Express travel partners. You can transfer your points to Aeroplan or British Airways Avios at a 1:1 ratio. If you prefer to transfer points to hotels, you can get exchange your Membership Rewards points to Marriott Bonvoy at a 1:1.2 ratio or to Hilton Honors at a 1:1.

Obviously, every redemption you get has a different value. That said, it’s not hard to get a value of 2 cents per Aeroplan point, so that’s what you want to look out for.

There’s also the Fixed Points Travel Program which can offer good value, but it depends on the base fare value of the ticket you’re looking to get.

American Express Gold Rewards Card eligibility

The American Express Gold Rewards Card eligibility is straightforward. You must be a Canadian resident and are at least the age of majority in the province or territory in which you live.

Although American Express doesn’t list a specific credit score required for approval, it’s safe to assume that you’ll likely need it to be in at least “good” standing. That means your credit score should be at least 600 before you apply.

It’s worth noting that American Express does not have a formal personal or household income requirement to be approved for this card.

How the Amex Gold Rewards card compares to others

The best card to compare to the Amex Gold Rewards Card is the BMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard. The earn rates for the two cards are similar, but the BMO card gives you a higher earn rate on travel. That said, with BMO Rewards, you need 150 points to claim $1 in travel. That effectively makes one BMO Rewards point worth .67 cents. BMO Rewards also has no transfer partners, whereas American Express Membership Rewards does.

Both cards give you four annual airport lounge passes, so it’s a wash there. You do get a free Boingo Wi-Fi with the BMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard. Don’t forget, American Express Membership Rewards are much more flexible since you can transfer your points to Aeroplan.

You could also compare the Amex Gold Rewards Card to the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card. With the TD card, you earn 1.5 Aeroplan points per dollar spent on grocery, gas, drugstore and purchases, but the Gold Rewards Card gives you 2 points per $1 spent on the same categories. Since you can transfer your MR points to Aeroplan at a 1:1 ratio, many people would say the Gold Rewards Card is better, which is why it’s one of the best Aeroplan credit cards.

Final thoughts

Overall my American Express Gold Rewards card review is positive. This card is great for people in the following situation:

  • You want travel benefits without paying a high annual fee – This card gives you a Priority Pass Membership + four free annual Plaza Premium passes. You also get an annual $100 travel credit.
  • You want flexible rewards – American Express Membership Rewards can be redeemed for any travel purchase or transferred to Aeroplan and Marriott Bonvoy.
  • You want good travel insurance – You’ll get travel medical, trip cancellation, trip interruption, baggage delays and more with this card.

This card is a natural choice for people who want travel benefits but don’t want to pay the high annual fee that comes with a card such as the American Express Platinum Card. You may not get as many perks, but the annual lounge passes and travel credit you get are worth more than the annual fee you’ll pay. In addition, the welcome bonus is usually quite generous.

About Barry Choi

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who frequently makes media appearances. His blog Money We Have is one of Canada’s most trusted sources when it comes to money and travel. You can find him on Twitter:@barrychoi

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