American Express Gold Rewards Card Review

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American Express Gold Rewards card is one of the best travel rewards credits in Canada and is currently one of my favourite cards on the market. It has an annual fee of $150, but comes with a huge signup bonus of 25,000 Membership Reward points. Here’s the thing, if you sign-up via a membership such as Perkopolis, Venngo, CPA Canada, eSurvus, etc. you’ll get a statement credit of $150 which essentially makes the card free for the first year.

I love how flexible Membership Rewards points are with their transfer partners. For context, you can transfer your Membership Rewards points to Aeroplan on a 1:1 basis. That means your 25,000 signup points has a value of 25,000 Aeroplan Miles which are enough for a roundtrip ticket to anywhere in Canada and the continental United States. That ticket is easily worth $600, so even if you pay the annual fee, you come out ahead.

Keep reading my American Express Gold Rewards card review to find out other benefits are included and why it’s one of the best American Express credit cards in Canada.

American Express Gold Rewards Card Review

American Express Gold Rewards card benefits

  • $150 Annual fee – first year free when signing up via Perkopolis, Venngo, CPA Canada, eSurvus
  • 25,000 Signup points after charging $1,500 in purchases
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on grocery, gas, pharmacy, and travel
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Comprehensive travel insurance package included
  • 1 Free supplementary card ($50 value)

Okay, let’s address the annual fee. As mentioned, if you belong to a membership program, then you can get the special offer by signing up with an RSVP code. Truth be told, that RSVP code could likely be found with a little research, but you’d be cheating the system. The $150 annual fee is pretty reasonable considering the signup bonus.

Earning 2 points per $1 spent on grocery, gas, pharmacy, and travel is arguably better than the American Express Platinum card since you earn 1.25 points per $1 spent on all purchases.

Although the card comes with a comprehensive insurance package, it’s worth noting that trip cancellation is not included. I don’t consider this a deal breaker since trip cancellation is very specific and hard to claim, but if it’s important to you, you may want to consider a different card for your travel insurance needs.

Getting one free supplementary American Express Gold Rewards card is a nice touch since families can really increase their earnings potential.

One important thing to note, and it’s the biggest knock against American Express is the fact that it’s not accepted at all merchants. To be honest, more and more merchants aren’t accepting AMEX these days, so I use this card as a quick way to earn points.

How does American Express Memberships Rewards work?

To claim $1 in travel, you need 100 American Express Membership Rewards points. That means with the American Express Gold Rewards card, you’re earning 2% in points when spending on grocery, gas, pharmacy, and travel. All other purchases earn you 1% in points.

This isn’t bad, but it’s really the other features of Membership Rewards that should interest you.

With your points, you can transfer them to Aeroplan or British Airways Avios at a 1:1 ratio. In addition, Amex is constantly running promotions where if you transfer 20,000 points, you get another 5,000 points for free which makes your ratio 1:1.25

Other airline programs where you can transfer your points include Alitalia MilleMiglia, Asia Miles, Delta SkyMiles, and Etihad Guest, but your transfer ratio 1:.75

If you prefer to transfer points to hotels, you can get SPG points at a 2:1 ratio or Hilton Honors at a 1:1.

Claiming points for travel is easy, but you must make your reservation through the American Express TripFlex Program. This service does not have the prettiest interface, but you’ll be able to book any travel you need. What’s nice is that you can use your points to pay for fees and taxes so it’s possible to have no out of pocket expenses.

There’s also the Fixed Points Travel Program which can offer good value, but generally speaking, you’ll get more out of your points if you transfer them to airline partners and make your booking through their respective programs.

How the Amex Gold Rewards card compares to others

The best card to compare the Amex Gold Rewards card is the BMO World Elite Mastercard. With the BMO card, you earn 3 points per $1 spent on travel purchases, but you need 140 points to claim $1 in travel which makes your return 2.1% on travel purchases. All other purchases earn you 2 points per $1 spent or a 1.4% return.

When looking at the base earn, the BMO World Elite Mastercard earns your more rewards, however, you have no transfer partners with BMO. Amex Membership Rewards are much more valuable since you can transfer your points to airlines and hotels.

Both cards made my list of the best travel credit cards in Canada, so it’s really a personal choice of which card you go with since they have similar features.

Final word

Overall my American Express Gold Rewards card review is positive. The Amex Membership Rewards program offers full flexibility since you can transfer to various loyalty programs. Also keep in mind that with Membership Rewards, you can combine your points if you have other Amex cards by calling customer service. Please use my referral link now if you plan on applying for the card.

Best Credit Cards Canada


By |2018-10-16T15:35:43+00:00April 4th, 2018|Budget Travel, Credit cards, Personal Finance, Travel|

23 Comments

  1. Kate March 21, 2016 at 9:28 pm - Reply

    Thank you for this review! I’ve been debating applying for this card for a while now, I’m drawn to the flexibility of the points, the sign up bonus, and the insurance perks you mentioned.

    Why do you say it’s a positive review only from a churning perspective? I’m not looking to churn (don’t want to hurt my credit score? I think that hurts it?) just looking for a good travel rewards cards with perks like insurance (especially if there’s a $100+ annual fee). Any alternatives you’d recommend comparing this card to?

    • Barry Choi March 21, 2016 at 9:39 pm - Reply

      Kate,

      When I say from a churning perspective, what I mean is it’s best if you’re converting the points to Aeroplan or Avios. The AMEX points do offer flexibility but they work out to only be a 1% return. If you want full flexibility with a slightly higher return, take a look at the Capital One Aspire Travel World Elite MasterCard. The insurance that AMEX offers is pretty good.

      In regards to your credit score, when you apply for a new card you take a credit hit of about 10 points, but that goes back up after a few months (assuming you’ve made your payments on time). It’s perfectly fine to apply for multiple credit cards, I just wouldn’t do it before applying for a mortgage.

      The only other travel credit cards worth looking into are the TD Rewards – TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite Card and the BMO World Elite MasterCard

      The TD card is good because you can earn extra points when you book via Expedia while the BMO card gives you airport lounge access (but less of a signup bonus compared to the Capital One card).

      • Kate March 22, 2016 at 3:27 pm - Reply

        Thank you so much for the reply Barry! I appreciate you explaining the effect on your credit score and the card recommendations, I’ll definitely compare those. 🙂

      • Stacee January 4, 2017 at 6:37 pm - Reply

        This is helpful, thanks. Barry, is there a reason you wouldnt recommend the RBC Avion Visa Infinite card? Thats the card that I have and am looking at other options. Thanks!

        • Barry Choi January 4, 2017 at 7:39 pm - Reply

          Hi Stacee,

          The RBC Avion card as a premium credit card doesn’t quite stack up to other cards in the same category. The travel insurance offered is excellent, but there is a redemption cap depending on which zone you’re flying too.

          The 15,000 points are nice, but not worth as much as the 25,000 points (including the Amex Gold card). Plus there’s an annual fee.

          It’s not a terrible card, but there are similar cards that are better and come with a higher sign up bonus and no fee for the first year.

  2. Jay January 15, 2017 at 9:56 am - Reply

    Barry, you have a typo. Also you’re not mentioning how few merchants accept amex nowadays. Even visa is starting to be limited. I do churning so I can’t get this card again just yet.

    “That being said, I would recommend applying for 5 credit cards right before applying for a mortgage.”

    • Barry Choi January 15, 2017 at 10:13 am - Reply

      Hey Jay,

      Good catches on both. I’ve just updated the post to address those issues. Much appreciated!

      As for churning, since AMEX has a once per lifetime rule, I won’t be reapplying for this card =(

  3. Vickie B January 16, 2017 at 7:20 am - Reply

    Make sure as well that you are using the card after a year..they take away miles if you haven’t used your card in a year( even though most are from merchants who are members, that paid for the miles you earned) Happened to my niece – she didn’t use her card – didn’t even think of it- when her mother died suddenly from a brain bleede, and she not only had to deal with the grief and shock of losing her mother & best friend – but the distribution of her assets, sorting out her finances, ( mother was a single working mom, and still had a mortgage, credit cards, car loan, etc., and no will – she was only 57 & thought she had more time) Anyway, after getting the sale of her house & car, plus all the other stuff- time flew by & she decided to take a trip using her Aeroplan miles. ( she had last used the card when she took her mother on a trip the year before – in November) Well, she had no miles left. They had expired 10 days before she called.

    I do not have any love for a company that treats people so shabbily ( there is a class action against them for this reason) If you can exploit them, and take them for more than you give- go for it.
    But when they can do this to a person in pain, with no conscience about it- I’m done with them.

    Also, are you able to earn the referral miles from people who sign up on the link you provided on this blog?

    Some places do not allow you to earn referral fees from posting your link on a website or blog..

    • Barry Choi January 16, 2017 at 7:26 am - Reply

      Hi Vickie,

      You’re right that Aeroplan points expire after one year, but that doesn’t mean you need to keep using the credit card. You just need to earn at least one Aeroplan point every year which you can do at participating merchants.

      American Express Membership Rewards never expire, so if you plan on transferring them to Aeroplan, you can wait until you need them.

      I do indeed earn referral miles from people who use my signup link

  4. Angela February 17, 2018 at 8:26 pm - Reply

    Hi Barrie! Once you hit your minimum spend, can you please clarify the AMEX Gold Rewards Card footnote:

    “You will receive your bonus points when you have at least $1,500 in net purchases posted to your account in your first 3 months of Card membership. Please allow 8 to 10 weeks for the bonus Membership Rewards points to be awarded.”

    If you receive approval on April 1st, hit the minimum spend in Month1 for example by April 30th, are the points awarded 8 to 10 weeks from April 30th or not until after the first 3 month period is complete?

    ie. are points awarded 8 to 10 weeks after minimum spend completion date or after first 3 months 🙂

    Thanks as always for your help!!

    • Barry Choi February 17, 2018 at 8:29 pm - Reply

      Hi Angela,

      When rewards points get posted to your account can vary. Some people have said that they get them right away after meeting the minimum spend while the 8-10 weeks disclaimer refers to after you’ve met the spend requirement.

      In your example, points could post 8-10 weeks from April 30th (the minimum spend completion).

  5. dAVID April 16, 2018 at 6:56 pm - Reply

    Hi Barry,

    Question : If I were to pay something with my Gold rewards card and say I do balance transfer over to MBNA would that be possible and still get the points?
    Thanks

    • Barry Choi April 16, 2018 at 7:54 pm - Reply

      David,

      In theory, that would work, but I can’ confirm this.

      Note that if you can’t pay the entire balance off right away that the points won’t be worth it due to interest charges.

      • David April 16, 2018 at 8:37 pm - Reply

        Ah Okay thank you, Do we get 21 days grace period like all credit cards?

        • Barry Choi April 16, 2018 at 8:46 pm - Reply

          yes, but note that Amex is a charge card so acts a bit differently compared to traditional credit cards.

  6. […] for travel credit cards, you could argue that the National Bank card is similar to the American Express Gold Rewards card, but the Amex also uses categories for increased earnings. When using your Amex Gold Rewards card, […]

  7. Mark November 4, 2018 at 2:35 am - Reply

    Hi Barry,

    I learned recently that the double points on grocery, gas, pharmacy and travel only works in Canada. If you use the Card in those categories in the US, you don’t get double points. Somewhat annoying. Do you recommend a card for Canadians spending money in the US?

  8. Jeremy December 6, 2018 at 12:48 pm - Reply

    Hi Barry,

    How does the scotia bank American Express gold card compare to the TD, BMO, and Amex Gold card that you were previously mentioning about?

    https://www.scotiabank.com/ca/en/personal/credit-cards/american-express/gold-card.html

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