Today, we’re learning about all the details of the refreshed Gold Rewards Card here in Canada.
Rose Gold is coming, new perks are being added, and the changes are strictly positive despite an increase to the annual fee.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at what the future holds for one of the most iconic products in American Express’s lineup.
Changes Coming October 18, 2021
For existing cardholders, the upcoming changes to the Gold Rewards Card will kick in as of October 18, 2021.
Currently, the Gold Rewards Card is closed to new applicants. The card will reopen to new applications shortly, with a waitlist and an associated welcome incentive to be launched in the coming weeks.
Metal Card + Rose Gold Card
The new Gold Rewards Card will be a metal card in the signature gold colour. Existing cardholders will be issued a new metal card upon their current card’s expiry – or if they were to “lose” their current card.
What’s more, new applicants to the Gold Rewards Card upon its relaunch will have the ability to choose a distinctive Rose Gold colour in addition to the traditional Gold finish. The rollout of Rose Gold will be expanded to existing cardholders in early 2022.
Annual Fee Increasing to $250
With this round of changes, the American Express Gold Rewards Card will be raising its annual fee from $150 to $250 for the year.
For existing cardholders, the $250 annual fee will be charged on their first cardholder anniversary date on or after October 18, 2021.
However, this will be offset by a $100 statement credit that posts on the same date, ensuring that all existing cardholders get to enjoy the new card’s elevated benefits for at least one year’s time while still paying a $150 annual fee before deciding whether to keep the card at a $250 annual fee.
A 67% increase to the annual fee is necessarily bad news, right? Wrong, because it’s entirely offset by…
New $100 Annual Travel Credit
The Gold Rewards Card will offer a $100 annual travel credit, similar to the $200 annual travel credit offered on its premium counterpart, the Platinum Card.
The $100 annual travel credit can be redeemed towards any booking of $100 or more through the Amex Travel online portal, including flights, hotels, car rentals, and more.
Since the travel credit also applies to refundable bookings, it’s effectively as good as cash, and it reduces your net annual fee back down to $150 in future years.
Existing cardholders will be issued their first $100 annual travel credit on their next anniversary on or after October 18, 2021, at the same time that the higher $250 annual fee is charged for the first time (and a $100 statement credit gets posted for the first year).
That means that existing cardholders can enjoy at least one year of continued usage on the Gold Rewards Card while only paying a $50 net fee, significantly sweetening the deal during this transition period.
New $50 NEXUS Credit
In addition to the $100 annual travel credit, the Gold Rewards Card is also introducing a $50 statement credit on NEXUS purchases.
You’ll earn a $50 (CAD) statement credit once every four years when a NEXUS application or renewal fee is charged to the card. Since the NEXUS application or renewal fee is $50 (USD), this means that you’d still be on the hook for about $15 thanks to the exchange rate.
A NEXUS credit is a common feature on travel rewards credit cards, and you’ll also find similar credits on other cards in the market like the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite or the CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite.
Plaza Premium Lounge Visits + Priority Pass Membership
The American Express Gold Rewards Card will be adding airport lounge access to its suite of travel perks.
Cardholders will receive four complimentary visits to Plaza Premium lounges in Canada every year, allowing you to make use of the Plaza Premium Lounges in Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg, and Edmonton – as well as the Air France Business Lounge in Montreal, which is managed by Plaza Premium.
In addition, cardholders also receive complimentary membership with Priority Pass, although no free lounge visits are included; instead, every admission to a Priority Pass lounge will be subject to the prevailing rate of US$32 per visit.
Still, with Priority Pass and Plaza Premium severing ties, the Gold Rewards Card’s stronger lounge access benefits on the Plaza Premium side does make a lot of sense, given Plaza Premium’s robust presence across Canadian airports.
Trip Cancellation Insurance
As a travel credit card, the previous edition of the Gold Rewards Cards had a notable weakness in that it lacked trip cancellation insurance.
That weakness is being addressed as part of the card’s relaunch, with trip cancellation insurance being added to the card’s insurance package as of September 21, 2021. The coverage will be up to $1,500 per insured person, per trip, up to a maximum of $3,000 for all insured persons combined.
Trip cancellation supplements the card’s existing provisions:
- Out-of-province emergency medical insurance
- Lost or stolen baggage insurance
- Baggage delay insurance
- Trip interruption insurance
- $500,000 travel accident insurance
- Flight delay insurance
- Hotel burglary insurance
- Car rental theft and damage insurance
Earning Rates Staying the Same
- 2 MR points per dollar spent on travel, gas, groceries, and drugstores
- 1 MR point per dollar spent on all other purchases
How Good Is the New Gold Rewards Card?
Just how much value will the new American Express Gold Rewards Card offer, and where does it fit in among American Express’s overall personal card lineup?
Compared to the previous edition of the product, the increased annual fee of $250 (up from $150) and the new $100 annual travel credit essentially cancel each other out. If you pay the higher annual fee and maximize the travel credit, you’re right back where you started having paid $150 out-of-pocket.
On the bright side, that means that the upcoming changes to the Gold Rewards Card can be viewed as strictly positive, because we’re getting an additional quadrennial $50 NEXUS credit, four Plaza Premium lounge visits per year, and trip cancellation insurance without any increase to the net annual fee.
However, with no changes to the earning rates, the new Gold Rewards Card does still appear to be weaker than the Cobalt Card, which commands a similar annual fee once you factor in the Gold Rewards Card’s annual travel credit ($150 net annual fee vs. $156.88 annual fee on the Cobalt).
The Cobalt’s 5-3-2-1 earning structure (including 5x points on food and drinks) blows the Gold Rewards Card’s 2x categories out of the water, especially now that the Cobalt earns points that can also be transferred to airline partners.
Going forward, it appears that the Cobalt Card is very much positioned as the perfect card for Canadian travellers looking to optimize their return on daily spend, while the Gold Rewards Card is more of a hybrid travel card that offers a travel credit, lounge passes, NEXUS credits every four years, and stronger travel insurance.
The American Express Gold Rewards Card will be undergoing significant changes as of October 18, 2021. The card will soon reopen to new applications once again, and I’d certainly love to see a strong signup bonus to celebrate the relaunch.
The card will be increasing its annual fee by $100, which is exactly offset by a new $100 travel credit. In addition, we’re getting Plaza Premium lounge access, NEXUS credits, and trip cancellation insurance, along with a shiny metallic finish in either Gold or Rose Gold.
While I’m pleased to see that the much-anticipated changes to the Amex Gold are strictly positive, I do feel like it’s a bit of a missed opportunity for American Express to spruce up the card even more – perhaps with stronger earning rates (like its US counterpart’s 4x points on worldwide dining).
Then again, it may be because American Express has set the bar so high with all of their moves so far in 2021 that I feel somewhat mellow about these changes, and I’m sure a juicy welcome bonus on the refreshed product will leave me feeling golden.