UPDATE (June 2018): Unfortunately, the first year fee waiver is no longer offered on this card. The $250 annual fee will be charged on the first statement.
While the American Express Gold Rewards Card is considered the ultimate "introductory" travel rewards card, the American Express Business Gold Card is undoubtedly a close second. Its long-standing first year fee waiver and generous signup bonus make it a keep component of any points enthusiast's credit card portfolio. Let's jump right into the full card review.
The American Express Business Gold Card offers 40,000 Membership Rewards points upon spending $5,000 in the first three months if applying through a referral link. The standard offer on the Amex website is 30,000 MR points, with the same spending requirement. In either case, the annual fee of $250 is waived for the first year.
40,000 MR points for no annual fees out-of-pocket (remember, you can cancel the card before the first year is up) is an unbelievable deal. The only possible caveat, and the reason why the Gold Rewards Card remains a better introductory card despite having a lower signup bonus, is the minimum spending requirement of $5,000 within three months, which may be well beyond the normal spending capacity of many cardholders. If you are hesitant to apply for this card because you're unsure if you can meet the spending, watch out for a post I'll be writing soon on some creative ways to meet spending requirements.
The card also allows you to earn 10,000 MR points for every referral you make to any card in the Membership Rewards family, up to a maximum of 150,000 MR points a year.
If at this point you are wondering "But I don't have a small business. Can I still get this card?" then go and read my exposé on the subject. The answer is yes, loud and clear.
With the Business Gold Card, you'll earn 2 MR points per dollar spent with three select merchants of your choice from a list of 40+ possible "suppliers" in Canada. You'll earn 1 MR point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
Click here for the list of participating merchants. There's a few good ones on the list, including Best Buy, Microsoft, Petro-Canada, Lowes, and Plastiq. Keep in mind that the card is ultimately geared towards small business owners, hence some of the more obscure suppliers on the list.
Compared to the other cards in the Membership Rewards family, the only occasion when it would make sense to pay with your Business Gold Card is when you're spending with one of your three selected merchants. Otherwise, you'd be better off paying with the Platinum or Business Platinum Cards, since those offer 1.25 MR per dollar spent on regular purchases.
Insurance isn't necessarily the strong suit of the Business Gold Card. Unlike the Gold Rewards Card and the Platinum Card, it doesn't come with Emergency Travel Insurance, which is a key protection that many travellers view as mandatory.
The types of coverage offered by the Business Gold Card is on par with that of the American Express SPG Card; however, the coverage amounts on the Business Gold Card are lower across the board. For example, it only offers $500 in Baggage Delay Insurance (the SPG Card covers $1,000) and only $100,000 in Travel Accident Insurance (the SPG Card offers $500,000). When booking trips, I'd absolutely recommend using your Gold Rewards Card for its superior coverage (don't forget the 2x MR points for travel purchases on that card as well!), followed by the SPG Card, then the Business Gold Card.
One type of coverage that the Business Gold Card does offer is the Disability Plan for Small Business, which will compensate you up to $10,000 if you, as a sole proprietor, suffer permanent, total disability as the direct result of an accidental injury. Useful to keep in mind, in case the unthinkable happens.
As I've discussed, there's no requirement to be a registered small business owner of any kind. Just apply as a sole proprietorship and put your own name in the "Business Name" field. There also doesn't seem to be any sort of minimum income requirement (correct me if I'm wrong).
If you're enjoying reading the blog, it would be a great help if you'd consider applying through my referral link. It will get you the highest signup bonus of 40,000 MR points (rather than just 30,000 from the Amex website), and would hugely contribute to my ability to keep the blog up and running.
While the card's earning rate on daily spending as well as the insurance coverage might lag behind the other Membership Rewards cards, the real draw of the American Express Business Gold Card is the ability to earn a big signup bonus of 40,000 MR points without having to pay a dime. That's an offer that any miles and points player worth their salt should be snapping up yesterday.