Travel Freely is all about maximizing your free travel in the easiest way possible. This means finding cards with great welcome offers and ongoing value. The American Express Gold® card holds a top spot in our card rankings because of this. It is a great option because of it’s long-term travel value and current stay-at-home value with it’s 4x categories. Simply put, the Amex Gold card is a can’t miss card that will help you diversify your points and rack up great stay-at-home earnings.
Update 4/1/21: Some Travel Freely members are finding a high welcome bonus if using a refer a friend link. We have included this link on our Amex Gold page.
American Express Gold Card currently at 60,000!
Here are some great reasons to love the “Amex Gold.”
1) Welcome offer valued at $700+
When you hit your minimum spending bonus, you’ll get 60,000 American Express Membership Rewards points. You can redeem these points in all sorts of ways: cash back, gift cards, travel booking, transfer to airline and hotel partners, etc. Keep reading below for the best ways to redeem.
2) Earn 4x on groceries and dining
The spending “multiplier” of 4x earning on groceries (U.S. only, and capped at $25k each year) and restaurants. These combine for what is the best-in-class for earning travel rewards on groceries and dining. Note, sometimes people do not realize that a “restaurant” can be any place that codes as dining on your credit card statement. This normally includes coffee shops, fast food restaurants, etc. For groceries, warehouse clubs like Costco or Sam’s and superstores like Target will most likely not count as groceries.
Choice Hotels can be a great transfer partner from Amex, especially for Europe.
3. Up to $240 in food credits ($359 overall value)
This is where I can easily justify the annual fee of $250. In addition to the 4x points earnings on US Groceries (up to $25k) and dining, the Amex Gold card also offers $240 in food credit each year. Starting in 2021, the airline fee credits will be replaced with a monthly $10 Uber / Uber Eats credit. This includes complimentary Uber Eats Pass Membership for 12 months, which is valued at $119. So in total, it’s $359 in value. In addition to this $120, you also get a $10 monthly Grubhub (or Seamless) credit. Included in this credit is Boxed.com, Cheesecake Factory, Shake Shack, and Ruth’s Chris. This equals a total of $240.
Note: Enrollment is required by 12/31/2021 in order to be eligible for this benefit. Uber Eats Pass will auto-bill starting 12 months from initial enrollment in this offer, at a then-current monthly rate.
Get dining credits up to $240 every year with the Amex Gold.
4. Earn 3x on flight purchases
When you book directly with an airlines or on amextravel.com, you will earn 3x points.
5. Ways to redeem points for free travel
There are two popular ways to redeem Amex points for free travel. The first option is to use their friendly online travel portal to book flights (at a value of 1 cent per point) or cards, hotels, vacations, or cruises (at a value of 0.7 cents per point). Note, this is much lower value compared to those familiar with the Chase travel portal.
The much better value is the second option, which is to transfer to points to their airline and hotel partners. You can get some great value with this strategy, including booking Delta flights with Virgin miles and American Airlines flights with British Airways miles. For a list of transfer partners, see our Amex Membership Rewards Guide.
Some travel agencies are known to be Amex partners where you can redeem points when booking with them. However, the redemption values can vary and may not be a good use of points.
6. Application tips
Amex is generally the safest bank for trying your luck at a new welcome offer. It is known that they will not issue a hard pull when denying your application. Plus, they’ll now warn you during the application process if you’re not eligible for the offer.
Lifetime Rule: If you’ve ever had the same card before, you are most likely prohibited from getting a welcome bonus for the card if you apply now. Fortunately you’ll be warned during the application process if this is the case. Amex is known to “forget” that you’ve had a card after about 7 years.
Amex 5/90 Rule: In general, you can get at most one credit card within 5 days and 2 within 90 days. The 5 day limit is not enforced when your applications are automatically approved. Neither rule is enforced for charge cards.
5 credit card max: Amex usually won’t approve applications for new credit cards if you already have 4 or more Amex credit cards or 10 or more charge cards.
Hard inquiries combine into 1 when approved same day
My application experience
I recently applied for the Amex Gold card. It took about 2 minutes in total. Thankfully, I was approved immediately!
Here’s my nervous moment this morning… waiting for a decision.
Here’s the big sigh of relief!
One very cool thing with Amex is the ability to get your credit card number immediately. If you literally have a purchase to make later in the day, you can make it with your brand new card.
To get this number, you will see this option to get your card number instantly on approval.
The current welcome offer of 60,000 points is up from 35,000. This is a 70% boost! That’s why it’s an especially good time to consider the Amex Gold.