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Does Amex Gold make sense for me?

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Valued Contributor

Re: Does Amex Gold make sense for me?

Long story short, with the AF waived the first year, it makes this a superb card regardless. After that, it will depend on how well you can use the built in credits to offset the AF. If you can justify the AF, then everything else is moot. You'll have people who love the card bcause it works for them, thus push them. While others not so much, not all of the benefits work for all people. You'll have to decide if it will work for you.


Normally I wouldn't suggest this card to a 23 year old that rarely travels, there's plenty of time to build up to this card. That said, the MRs don't expire so there's nothing to lose really. 

Message 31 of 35
Mega Contributor

Re: Does Amex Gold make sense for me?

@Janus wrote:

Long story short, with the AF waived the first year, it makes this a superb card regardless.

Does the OP really have the AF waived?

Message 32 of 35
Super Contributor

Re: Does Amex Gold make sense for me?

@longtimelurker wrote:

@Janus wrote:

Long story short, with the AF waived the first year, it makes this a superb card regardless.

Does the OP really have the AF waived?

I don't think so otherwise there wouldn't be this much discussion about determining the value. 

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Message 33 of 35
Established Member

Re: Does Amex Gold make sense for me?

I think maybe Uber Visa is better for you.

It has 4% back on dining, 3% back on hotel and airfare.

Moreover, it has no annual fee.

Amex Membership Rewards

Chase Ultimate Rewards

Citi ThankYou Rewards


Message 34 of 35
Regular Contributor

Re: Does Amex Gold make sense for me?

I think K-in-Boston had it right.  This card is likely a solid fit for you, but there are things that could change matters.  You're most likely to get the most value out of transferring your points to Delta or one of its international partners (through whom you may purchase Delta tickets with the foreign airline's points).  There are potentially other ways to get substantial value out of the points, but they can be more advanced.  In general, if you fly 1-3 times a year, there is a good chance you'll get plenty of value out of this card.  As you indicated, you will likely use the credits, which means that the net cost of this card is $30.


For that $30, you get 4 MR points for every dollar you spend on groceries and dining out (including grubhub and seamless--if you as a grad student who was anything like I was as a law student, there's plenty of food delivery going on), and you get 3 MR points for every dollar you spend on airfare.  You also get 1 MR on everything else.  American Express also has Amex Offers, which can sometimes be extremely useful and sometimes less so.  I didn't think I'd use my $60 cash back for $350 on Delta purchases, but it turned out that I had to change a Delta ticket right around the holidays (not cheap), so the Amex offer saved me $60 right off the bat.  Amex also has some amazing purchase protections and roadside assistance (I had to have my car towed last year, and Amex covered all of it and I didn't have to file a claim with my insurance).  


Long story short, this is a solid card, and it can offer someone in your position a lot of value.  


Some things to consider before taking the plunge, however:

- Do you dislike the idea that your points have a variable value?  If so, you may appreciate the stable return of a cash back card or a points program that provides a floor of 1cpp (see Chase or Citi's programs).

- Are you willing to open other cards in addition to the Amex Gold card?  Opening a Delta SkyMiles Gold card can save you a boatload on luggage fees if you elect to fly Delta in lieu of other options ($30 per direction 3 times a year is $180 for a card that only costs $95 per year--it also provides your points a floor of 1cpp when transferred to Delta (minus a fractional amount due to the tax imposed during the transfer)).  The Amex Platinum can provide you access to Delta lounges when you fly Delta, it gives you an extra $200 of credits per year to be used on airline fees (for instance, if you didn't want the Delta SkyMiles Gold, you could offset the luggage fees using the $200 Platinum credits), it gives you $200 of Uber credits (split over the year but can be used on Uber's food delivery service UberEats), $50 of credits every half a year with Saks Fifth Avenue (so if you want some really nice socks or something...), etc.  Going a step further, there's a co-branded Amex Platinum card with Charles Schwab where you get all of the normal Platinum benefits, but you create a floor to your points' value because you can transfer MR points to a Charles Schwab brokerage account for 1.25cpp.

- Would you prefer to fly with another airline than Delta?  Amex and Delta have a pretty tight partnership, and that's where most people transfer their Amex points (or at least I'd wager).  If you are more of a fan of flying cheaply (think Spirit or Frontier), you're likely better off going with a cash back card and just buying travel using the cash back.  If you want the flexibility of Southwest (always getting two free checked bags and fares that may be cheaper than the big three airlines), then you may want to consider Chase's family of cards (starting with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, most likely).  If you want to fly United, then Chase is a better option.  If you want to fly American, there aren't any great options, to my knowledge, and I leave it to others here to answer that (although with a Chase Sapphire Reserve you'd get 1.5cpp towards American flights using's Chase's points) (I personally only fly Delta when I get the choice).

- Do you have plans to fly internationally or might you be inclined to vacation abroad?  If so, points may be a good way to finance your international travel.  I bought Delta economy tickets to Europe for me and my friend with miles for a value of about 2.8cpp, which would make the 4x return on the Gold card far better than any cash back card.  Many people advise against points-earning cards if you're not going to travel internationally since you usually can't get maximum value for your points unless you spend them that way.  However, I think that's a mistake.  You can get plenty of value for points in most cases.  Points might take a little more effort to use efficiently, but they can be a substantial value-add to your life even if all you do is fly domesticly in economy.  If the worst you do is break even with where you'd be with a cash back card, then there's no big loss.  It's possible to redeem your points for less value than you would get from a cash back card, and that's what Amex would prefer that you do, so you should always crunch the numbers before redeeming the points.

- Do you plan on using points to pay for hotels?  If so, MR points don't get you a ton of value (but there can be enough value on case-by-case bases for it to make sense).  You can transfer to Marriott and Hilton, but in either case you're more likely to get more value for your points with airfare.  Chase allows you to transfer points to Hyatt, where you can unlock tremendous value for hotels, but Hyatt has a relatively small footprint and I've experienced them playing games with the points' rules that has caused me to not trust them and I do more of my stays with Marriott.

- Do you actually want to travel?  If your flights each year are to fly home to visit family then this might be a non-issue.  But if you don't really like traveling, then you're likely to find the effort of messing with points to be more hassle than it's worth.  Most of us think of this as a hobby and somehow we all find fun/enjoyment/excitement/etc. out of it.  If you don't think that describes you, you're far better off with cash back cards or points systems that allow you to redeem for cash at efficient rates (probably Chase).

Amex Platinum: NPSL | Amex (Rose) Gold: NPSL | Amex Everyday: $16,500 | Amex SPG: $3,500 | Amex Luxury SPG: $10,000 | Amex Delta Platinum: $5,000 | Chase Sapphire Reserve: $15,000 | Ritz-Carlton: $10,000 | Chase Freedom: $1,500 | Chase Freedom Unlimited: $3,000 | Chase Freedom Visa Signature: $5,900 | Marriott Premier Rewards: $5,100 | Hyatt: $3,000 | 1st Financial: $8,300 | Citi Double Cash: $6,200 | Discover It: $14,200 | Quicksilver: $24,000 | Arrival+: $12,500 | Citi Best Buy: $8,000 | Costco Visa: $8,500
Message 35 of 35
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