Is there a new King of Credit Cards?

I’m an unabashed fan of Chase credit cards.  Exhibits A-C: The Chase Sapphire Credit CardsThe Chase “Freedom to Double-Dip”, and The Chase “5/24” Rule,  I value Chase Ultimate Rewards points the most of all of the credit card currencies, and the two credit cards in my wallet are the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Freedom Unlimited cards.

But the new American Express Gold card may make me reconsider my strategy.

I previously wrote about the Amex Premier Rewards Gold card.  It had some nice perks, but it still paled in comparison to Chase Sapphire cards.  The 3x travel bonus was nice… but it only counted towards airline purchases rather than including hotels, taxis, Uber, etc.  The 2x restaurant bonus was equal to the Chase Sapphire Preferred card… but it was only valid at U.S. restaurants, so it’s not as useful while traveling abroad.  The card’s price point ($195/year) marketed the card as in-between the base-level credit cards (Chase Sapphire Preferred – $95/year) and premium credit cards (Chase Sapphire Reserve – $450/year, Amex Platinum – $550/year), but why pay more when the Chase Sapphire Preferred’s category bonuses are broader and the card is half the price?

Apparently American Express recognized they needed to up their game, and revamped their old “Premier Rewards Gold” card into the American Express Gold card.

It still has many of the same perks as the old Premier Rewards Gold card, including:

  • Variable sign-up bonus of 25,000-50,000 Membership Reward points (after $2,000 in spending within three months)
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $100 in airline fee credit; this can be used for checked bags, onboard food/drinks… or potentially redeemable for airline gift cards
  • Charge card rather than a credit card, so you must pay the full balance each month.

Not bad… but the new perks are what makes me excited:

  • 4x points on airline purchases (must be booked directly from airline)
  • 4x points on U.S. restaurants
  • 4x points on supermarket purchases (up to $25,000/year)
  • $10 in dining credit each month at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House and participating Shake Shack locations.
  • For those signing up for the card by January 9:  20% back as a statement credit on dining purchases at US restaurants for the first three months of card membership (up to $100 total… so spending $500 will maximize this benefit)
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By using a “Private Window” in our Safari browser, we were able to find a bonus offer worth 50k Membership Rewards points.

My critique of the Amex Premier Rewards Gold card was the lackluster award category bonuses, especially compared to the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.  But 4x points on U.S. restaurants, airline tickets, and supermarkets is fantastic! The category bonuses still aren’t as expansive as Chase’s definition, but I’ll take 4x points any day.

I’ll also point out that 4x points on supermarket purchases doesn’t only include groceries.   It can also include gift cards (yes, gift cards).  Being the token millennials we are, Taryn and I frequently order from Amazon, and we (ok, more like I) are frustrated that no matter what credit card we use, we’ll only earn one credit card point for every dollar spent.

However, if we buy a $100 Amazon gift card at a supermarket using the new Amex Gold card, we’ll earn 400 rewards points rather than the typical 100 rewards points. And it doesn’t only have to be Amazon; there are gift cards for the iTunes store, gas stations, and even Home Depot.  We spent A LOT of money on our credit cards while renovating our home this year… if only we could have earned 4x points on all of those Home Depot purchases!

Besides the ability to earn more points, the card also comes with great perks.  While the card increased it’s annual fee to $250, the $100 airline fee credit makes the card’s annual fee more like $150.  Then there’s the new $10/month credit towards select restaurants.  It’s a pretty random assortment and not particularly restaurants I usually go to, but I will certainly use Grubhub each month if Amex gives me a $10 credit each month.  On top of the airline fee credit and the dining credit, there’s also the promotional offer to credit back up to $100 in dining purchases at U.S. restaurants in the first year.

So after combining these credits ($100+$120+$100), the perks of the Amex Gold card are worth $320… $70 more than the annual fee.  If you can’t tell, I’m sold!

The last gimmicky perk of the Amex Gold card is you can choose the color of the card:  either gold (duh) or rose gold. Not surprisingly, the rose gold card is quite popular.

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The card comes in either gold or rose gold

I’m waiting until January 2020 to try to earn the Southwest Companion Pass, so I had Taryn sign up for the new Amex (Rose) Gold card last week.  I still plan to use my Chase Sapphire Reserve card on travel expenses (taxis, hotels, Uber, parking, tolls, etc.) and foreign restaurant purchases, and we’ll still put any non-category spending on the Chase Freedom Unlimited card.  But anything else will definitely be put on the Amex Gold card.

Are we switching sides to Amex?  Not yet… but I’m not ruling it out either.

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