Personal Finance

How to Get the Most from the American Express Gold Card

The American Express® Gold Card might be on your radar, particularly if you’re a self-proclaimed “foodie.” With benefits like $120 in annual dining credits with select restaurants and delivery services and 4x points at U.S. supermarkets and restaurants, you can earn more rewards on the food-based purchases you love.

If travel is your passion, the American Express® Gold Card has you covered as well. Benefits like the $100 annual airline fee credit and earning 3x points on flight purchases can make this card worthy of your consideration, too. Terms apply.

The American Express® Gold Card comes with a considerable annual fee of $250, but there are some things you can do to counter it. Terms apply. Here’s how to get the most out of your American Express® Gold Card

Apply for the card ahead of a big purchase

If you have a major purchase or transaction planned and you’ve never had the American Express® Gold Card, time your card application strategically. This is critical because you only have three months from the start of your membership to earn the welcome bonus: Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months. Terms Apply.

For example, if you’re planning a wedding and know that your balances with your vendors are coming due, plan ahead to have your American Express® Gold Card in-hand to make those large transactions.

Enroll to earn statement credits

Using 100% of your annual statement credits is the easiest way to recoup most of the annual fee. But these credits aren’t automatic.

To receive the travel credit, good for reimbursements of up to $100 per year on incidental airline fees, you’ll need to first select a preferred airline. Any transactions made before selecting your airline won’t count toward the statement credit.

The annual dining credit also requires enrollment into the program ahead of time. This benefit alone is worth $120 per year so activating this benefit is essential to get the most out of the American Express® Gold Card. Terms apply.

To enroll for these credits, log in to your American Express account or call the phone number on the back of your card.

Save your card information in dining apps

The dining credit applies with the following AmEx dining partners:

  • Ruth’s Chris Steak House.

  • Shake Shack (participating locations only).

  • The Cheesecake Factory.

One way to ensure that you always use your American Express® Gold Card with these merchants is by keeping your card information on file. For example, if you’re a Shake Shack fan, download the Shake Shack app and save your card as the default payment method.

Even after you’ve received your $10 credit for the month, you’ll continue to earn 4x points by using your card at the restaurant — an incentive to keep your card information in the app. Terms apply.

Put dining credit reminders on your calendar

The $120 dining credit is really the annual total of one $10 credit a month for 12 months. You have to use it every month to maximize the full $120. Unused credit doesn’t roll over into the next month. If you don’t use it, you lose it. Terms apply. To avoid missing out on this easy-to-forget benefit, create a recurring event in your calendar or reminder on your smartphone.

When it comes to this benefit, timing is key. For example, if you want to claim your $10 credit in June and you place a Grubhub order June 29, the transaction may not post until July 1, so it’s credited to your July statement. You’ve essentially lost your June credit. Terms apply.

Set your monthly dining credit reminders to alert you earlier in the month, if possible.

Double dip with American Express Offers

Another benefit you can use to maximize the value of your card is through American Express Offers — limited-time deals from various merchants and restaurants that you can add to your card.

For example, you might get an offer to earn $5 cash back at Shake Shack when you use the card for a purchase of $15 or more. Each promotion has its own terms and conditions. But they all have to be added to your card, which you do from the American Express website when logged in to your account.

Participating merchants are constantly changing. Armstrong Garden Centers, bareMinerals and Hotels.com gift cards are a few examples of recent AmEx offers. And if the merchant happens to also qualify for the dining credit, like Shake Shack or Cheesecake Factory, you may be eligible for both the statement credit and the AmEx Offer promotion.

Enroll in a dining rewards program

Linking your American Express® Gold Card to a dining rewards program is another way to maximize your rewards. For example, Delta Airlines has its own dining program called Delta SkyMiles Dining. When you link your card to the dining program and use it to pay for your meal, you’ll earn Delta miles and also AmEx Rewards points. And because you can convert American Express Membership Rewards into Delta miles at a 1:1 ratio, using your card through the airline’s dining program can help you earn Delta award flights even faster.

The bottom line

These are just a few ways to get the most value out of your American Express® Gold Card. With a little strategic planning, the benefits of carrying the card can exceed the cost of the annual fee.

All information about the American Express Gold Card has been collected independently by NerdWallet. The American Express Gold Card is no longer available through NerdWallet.

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This article originally appeared on NerdWallet