While I’ve written before about the best Amex US credit cards to get you started on your US credit card journey, currently there’s one offer that stands head-and-shoulders above the rest, making it an excellent deal for anyone who hasn’t held this particular credit card yet.
I’m talking about the American Express US Gold Card, which is currently offering a record-high signup bonus of 60,000 US MR points upon spending US$4,000 in the first six months.
60,000 US MR Points Via Referral
Strangely enough, American Express US doesn’t seem to offer its own landing page for the Gold Card at the moment. Applying via a referral link, however, will earn you the optimal offer of 60,000 US MR points, which is the highest public signup offer on this card to date.
(There have been reports of offers for 70,000 US MR points via mailers, as well as up to 75,000 US MR points via the CardMatch tool, but both of these are targeted rather than publicly available.)
Given that Amex US enforces a strict once-in-a-lifetime rule on welcome bonuses, it’s best to wait for historical high offers before applying for any product you haven’t held before, and this offer on the Amex US Gold Card fits that bill exactly.
As a reminder, some of the best uses of US MR points these days might include:
- Transferring to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club to book ANA First Class for 120,000 miles round-trip
- Transferring to ANA Mileage Club to book an ANA round-the-world award with eight stopovers and four open-jaws
- Transferring to Emirates Skywards to book Emirates First Class to Europe for 135,000 miles round-trip
- Transferring to Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer to book elusive Singapore Airlines business class, First Class, and Suites Class awards
- Transferring to Cathay Pacific Asia Miles to book Cathay Pacific flights with much greater award space
- Transferring to Canadian MR points at the prevailing exchange rate
As you can see, the welcome bonus of 60,000 US MR points would go a long way towards many types of aspirational awards, and could also be used to boost your Canadian MR balance too.
Indeed, as of today’s exchange rate, 60,000 US MR points would equal 78,747 Canadian MR points when transferred across the border, which is far higher than most of the signup bonuses we have in Canada at the moment.
If you’ve already gotten started with US credit cards, then you can simply go ahead and apply to add the Gold Card to your portfolio.
If not, you can quite easily apply for this card via the Nova Credit service, simply by checking the box that says “I don’t have a credit history in the US, but have had a credit card or loan in the UK, India, Mexico, Canada or Australia” on the application form, where it asks you for a Social Security Number.
The Nova Credit service will then link to your Canadian credit file to assess your creditworthiness, although you may still be required to give Amex US a call for identity verification purposes. Be sure to review the full guide to getting US credit cards for Canadians for more information.
Is the Amex US Gold Card a Long Term Keeper?
While I wouldn’t say it’s an entirely clear-cut decision, I think there’s a strong case to be made for keeping the Amex US Gold Card for the long term, despite its US$250 annual fee.
The card offers a handful of annual credits totalling US$220, which, if maximized, will offset the vast majority of the annual fee. For Canadians, though, these credits may be tricky to use without spending significant time in the US:
- The US$100 airline fee credit can be used towards incidental charges, like seat selection fees, checked baggage fees, and pet fees, on a certain US airline of your choice. If you don’t fly with US airlines often, this one will be tough to use up, and Amex US has shown a mean streak in the past when it comes to “creative” attempts to use up this credit outside of its intended usage.
- In addition, there is a monthly US$10 credit that can be used towards any of Grubhub, Seamless, Boxed, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, and Shake Shack. GrubHub seems to be the likeliest to work for food delivery in Canada, although I don’t have reliable data points on this; if anyone does have data points, feel free to share in the comments.
For most Canadians, I think it’ll be a matter of doing their best to maximize these credits, and then weighing whatever’s left of the US$250 annual fee against how much you value the Amex US Gold Card’s most attractive benefit: its 4x earning rate on restaurants worldwide.
If you’re an avid foodie and eat out frequently both at home and along your travels, the Amex US Gold Card will be one of your closest companions. Even if you’ve just sat through the most amazing meal of your life at that three-Michelin-Star restaurant you’ve dreamed of visiting, it’s never easy to digest the final bill at the end of a meal like that, so the least you can do is earn 4x US MR points on those dollars you’re dropping.
In most cases, once you factor in the exchange rates in terms of both the dollars and MR points, I’d say that the 4x earning rate on the Amex US Gold Card outstrips both of the optimal choices we have in Canada for dining spend: the Platinum Card’s 3x MR points and the Cobalt Card’s 5x MR Select points. If food and travel are both a big part of your lifestyle, then the Gold Card can quite easily justify its annual fee year after year.
For Canadians, the other strong perk of the Amex US Gold Card is the 3x US MR points on airline purchases, which is a stronger earning rate on airfare than anything we have in Canada at the moment (although the new Amex Aeroplan cards will somewhat challenge that with their 3x earning rates on Air Canada).
Compared to other US cards, the US Platinum Card still dominates on airfare spending with its 5x return; however, its US$550 annual fee means that it might not be the right fit for everyone, and in my view the Amex US Gold Card strikes a better balance between strong benefits and a reasonable annual fee.
Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that the card also offers 4x US MR points on up to US$25,000 of purchases at US supermarkets; however, it has been verified that this indeed does not extend to Canadian supermarkets. Alas, what a cool benefit that would be.
Personally, as someone who falls squarely within this card’s ideal demographic, I very much regret that I had cancelled the predecessor to the Gold Card (the Premier Rewards Gold) back in the day, making me ineligible for the spectacular 60,000-point welcome bonus. I’ll definitely be looking to get Jessy to sign up while this bonus is around.
Speaking of which – while I’d usually share my own referral link for the Amex US Gold Card so that you can benefit from the record-high offer of 60,000 US MR points, at this point in the year I’ve reached my maximum referrals already, so I figured, why not spread the love around a bit.
If you currently hold an Amex US Gold Card, feel free to share your referral link in the comments below, so that other Prince of Travel readers may take advantage of this offer by choosing one of the links in the comments, and we can all benefit.