Last month, American Express announced some major changes to the Business Gold Rewards Card. Those changes kick in as of today, along with a huge new welcome bonus.
On the plus side, the signup bonus has risen to record-high levels while the annual fee has decreased – something of a rare combination among credit card changes these days.
On the downside, a huge component of the card’s unique value proposition will be going away, and has now been replaced by a new benefit that may or may not be as useful, depending on your spending patterns on the Business Gold.
These changes were communicated to existing cardholders via mail, and there’s also a Frequently Asked Questions page on the American Express website with more information.
New Welcome Bonus of Up to 75,000 MR Points
The Amex Business Gold has bumped up its welcome bonus via refer-a-friend links to an unprecedented 75,000 MR points:
- 65,000 MR points upon spending $5,000 in the first three months
- 10,000 MR points upon making a purchase after month 14 of cardholdership
(Why is the offer being advertised as 115,000 MR points, you might ask? Well, the extra 40,000 MR points actually comes from the quarterly spend bonus that we’ll discuss below, which not all cardholders would choose to pursue. Hence, the “true” welcome bonus in our view should be thought of as 75,000 MR points under this offer.)
Note that the public offer only gives you 60,000 MR points for the first component. If you wanted to maximize your earnings from the Business Gold Rewards Card, you’d certainly want to apply via a refer-a-friend link.
In the past, the best-ever welcome bonus on the Business Gold was only for 60,000 MR points. And since the annual fee has now decreased by 20%, the welcome offer as a whole has gotten 36% stronger in terms of Return on Spend as a result of today’s changes.
Annual Fee Decreasing to $199
Now let’s digest all of the changes that apply to the Amex Business Gold as of today.
For existing cardholders, the Amex Business Gold previously had an annual fee of $250. As of November 8, 2021, this will decrease to $199 – a reduction of $51, or 20%.
The new annual fee will be charged on your next statement after November 8, 2021, and you’ll also receive a pro-rated refund of the old $250 annual fee on however long is left of your current membership year.
For example, if you had signed up for the Business Gold Card back in April 2021, then your November 2021 statement marks seven months of being a cardholder.
You’d therefore get charged the new annual fee of $199 while receiving a pro-rated refund of $250 × 5 / 12 = $104, for a total net charge of $95.
Interestingly, with the personal Gold Rewards Card’s annual fee set to rise to $250, this prices the Business Gold at a slight discount compared to its personal counterpart – in line with the premium business and personal Platinum cards ($499 vs. $699) and the mass-market Business Edge and Cobalt cards ($99 vs. $156).
“Your 3 Suppliers” Ending March 31, 2022
Historically, the Business Gold Card has been known for its unique “Your 3 Suppliers” program, which allows cardholders to earn double points (i.e., 2 MR points per dollar spent) on their choice of three among a set of 40+ popular vendors for small businesses’ needs.
A perennial favourite supplier in this program was Plastiq, which allows cardholders to earn 2x points on their bill payments that they couldn’t normally pay with credit cards, which would go a long way towards justifying Plastiq’s 2.5% transaction fee.
We’ve known for a while that enrollment in “Your 3 Suppliers” will be ending on October 6, 2021, but we now also know that the program as a whole will be discontinued soon after that.
“Your 3 Suppliers” will be coming to an end for all Business Gold cardholders as of March 31, 2022, and that will be the last day that you can make a purchase with one of your chosen suppliers and earn 2x MR points.
As a silver lining, the end date somewhat falls in line with next year’s tax season, allowing you to squeeze out a final chunk of elevated earnings from your tax payments (and dare I say, accidental overpayments).
New Quarterly Purchase Bonus
It’s not all bad news, though. While American Express is retiring the “Your 3 Suppliers” benefit, it’s also instead adding a new spend-based bonus structure to differentiate the Business Gold Rewards Card: a Quarterly Purchase Bonus.
The quarterly bonus is relatively straightforward. You’ll earn 10,000 MR points upon spending $20,000 in each of the four calendar quarters every year:
- January 1 to March 31
- April 1 to June 30
- July 1 to September 30
- October 1 to December 31
The Quarterly Purchase Bonus benefit kicks in on January 1, 2022. No enrollment or registration is required – all of your purchases in 2022 will simply start counting towards the quarterly bonus.
Transactions must be posted to your account within a certain calendar quarter to count towards that quarter’s bonus points. If you make a purchase on the last few days of a quarter, it may post to your account at the start of next quarter and count towards those totals instead.
How valuable is the Quarterly Purchase Bonus? Well, if you’re able to spend $20,000 in three months’ time, then you’d be earning 20,000 MR points on the base purchases plus 10,000 MR points as a bonus, for a total of 30,000 MR points.
That’s equivalent to an earning rate of 1.5 MR points per dollar spent, which is a very strong return on business expenses that presumably fall outside of bonus categories.
(Of course, if your business spend is concentrated on things like dining or travel, then it’d be optimal to use other cards like the Cobalt Card to earn 5x or 2x MR points instead.)
However, note that the 1.5x effective earning rate only kicks in if you hit that exact $20,000 quarterly spending threshold. If you fall short of $20,000, you only earn the standard 1x MR points on all your purchases. And if you spend more than $20,000, you’re still only earning 1x MR points on the extra spend, which chips away at your overall return too.
If you have organic business spend of $20,000+ every quarter, it’d make the most sense to put exactly $20,000 of spend on the Business Gold, and then put the rest on the Business Platinum Card to earn 1.25 MR points per dollar spent (or a similar card like the RBC Avion Visa Infinite Business for 1.25 Avion points per dollar spent).
But if you aren’t able to organically hit such high spending volumes, it wouldn’t make sense to pursue the Quarterly Purchase Bonus at all, since your spend can be much better deployed on pursuing new welcome bonuses on other cards instead.
New Mobile Device Insurance
Along with the changes to the card’s benefits and fee structure, the Amex Business Gold is also adding mobile device insurance as of October 8, 2021.
As a small business card, the Business Gold’s mobile device insurance will reimburse cardholders for the cost of replacement or repairs if their mobile device (for business use) is lost, damaged, or stolen.
This is a minor but welcome new addition for cardholders, and it’s nice to see mobile device insurance becoming more commonplace on small business credit cards in addition to personal cards.
The American Express Business Gold Rewards Card has undergone a few changes that will have varying impacts on its value proposition depending on your usage patterns.
If you’re part of the card’s target user base of small business owners with higher spending volumes, then you’ll find a lot of value in the new Quarterly Purchase Bonus, which provides an effective earning rate of 1.5x MR points on the first $20,000 spent every quarter – arguably one of the strongest non-bonused earning rates around.
On the other hand, if you primarily used the Business Gold to earn 2x MR points on up to three select suppliers including Plastiq, then the retirement of the “Your 3 Suppliers” program will hurt. If spending $20,000 on the card isn’t realistic, then there’s barely any reason to use the card at all.
If that’s the case for you, the only practical reason that you’d be interested in the American Express Business Gold Rewards Card would be for its welcome bonus.
In that regard, the card has put on a very strong new welcome bonus of up to 75,000 MR points when you apply through a referral link, especially considering that the annual fee has now dropped by 20%.