One of Amex’s iconic products, the American Express Gold Rewards Card has just been relaunched. The card is in many ways a “lite” version of the famous Platinum Card, with many of the same features and fees scaled down for mid-range consumers.
While there are better options for everyday earning rates and other benefits, the Gold Rewards Card is a good choice if you want a modest amount of premium perks without paying full premium annual fees.
Bonuses & Fees
The Gold Rewards Card offers up to 55,000 Membership Rewards points when applying with a referral link. The public link offers 5,000 less points as a signup bonus. The points are earned as follows:
- 45,000 MR points upon spending $3,000 in the first three months
- 10,000 MR points upon making a purchase between months 14 and 17 of holding the card
The annual fee of $250 is quite reasonable when you subtract the annual $100 travel credit, making the “effective” annual fee $150 per year.
Furthermore, as a cardholder, you’ll earn 7,500 MR points for every referral you make to any card in the Membership Rewards family, up to a maximum of 112,500 MR points per calendar year.
Not only does the Gold Rewards Card come with a good signup bonus, it’s a good card to use on a daily basis as well for earning rewards. You’ll earn:
- 2 MR per dollar spent at gas stations, grocery stores, and drug stores in Canada
- 2 MR per dollar spent on travel purchases (flights, hotels, car rentals, vacations, cruises, etc.
- Earn 1 additional MR per dollar spent when booking your hotel or car rental through American Express Travel
- 1 MR per dollar spent everywhere else
Keep in mind that gas stations, grocery stores, and drug stores often sell gift cards for other stores that normally belong in the “everywhere else” category. You can effectively earn 2 MR per dollar spent on many purchases that normally fall into “everywhere else” by buying these gift cards and using them towards purchases that would normally earn 1 MR per dollar spent. This can be especially lucrative when purchasing big-ticket items, such as appliances, electronics, and furniture!
However, now that the Cobalt Card can transfer its MR points to airline partners, it’s without question a superior choice at grocery stores, earning 5 points per dollar spent. Instead, the Gold Rewards Card shines if you have high purchases at, say, drugstores, where bonus rewards are harder to come by.
The Membership Rewards program offers outstanding redemption opportunities as well. This is primarily because it’s a flexible, transferable rewards currency.
You can transfer your MR points at a 1:1 ratio to Aeroplan and British Airways Avios, as well as a host of other global frequent flyer programs (including Cathay Pacific Asia Miles) at a 1:0.75 ratio. Moreover, you also have the option of converting points to Marriott Bonvoy at a 1:1.2 ratio for booking hotel stays.
Furthermore, you can redeem MR points directly for flights through the Amex Fixed Points Travel reward chart, although these are limited to round-trip flights departing from Canada.
Essentially, you can use a fixed amount of points towards the base ticket price of a regular cash ticket, up to a certain maximum. The number of points required and the maximum ticket price depends on the geographical region you are visiting (you can only book roundtrip flights that originate in Canada).
Lastly, you have the option of redeeming MR points directly against travel purchases at a rate of 1 cent per point (cpp), although this is typically not recommended, as the value pales in comparison to what you could get by booking flights through Aeroplan, Avios, or even the Fixed Points Travel chart.
Perks & Benefits
The Gold Rewards Card has a handful of benefits, in many ways a slimmed-down version of what the Platinum Card offers.
For airport lounge access, you’ll get four complimentary visits to Plaza Premium lounges each year, a useful perk at many Canadian airports. You’ll also get a Priority Pass membership, although it doesn’t come with any free visits – you’ll have to pay to enter.
You’ll also get a $50 NEXUS credit once every four years. This credit will be automatically applied to NEXUS application or renewal charges.
Finally, the card has a slick metal finish. You have the option to select the traditional Gold colour, or the distinct Rose Gold tone.
(Additionally, you’ll get all of the standard perks of being an American Express cardholder, including Front of the Line event presale tickets, American Express Invites to exclusive experiences, and Amex Offers for extra everyday value when you use your card.)
Charge your travel purchases to your American Express Gold Rewards Card, and you’ll automatically enjoy a wide array of coverage, such as:
- Emergency medical insurance, for the first 15 days of each out-of-province trip, up to a maximum of $5,000,000 per insured person under 65
- Trip cancellation insurance, up to $1,500 per insured person, per trip, to a maximum of $3,000 combined per trip
- Lost, stolen, or damaged baggage insurance, up to $500 per trip
- Travel accident insurance, up to $500,000, for you, your spouse, and any dependent children under 23
Additional coverage includes protection against trip interruption, car rental theft and damage, flight delay, and hotel burglary.
The card also offers the Buyer’s Assurance Protection Plan, which doubles the manufacturer’s warranty on any item charged to the card for up to one additional year, as well as the Purchase Protection Plan, which automatically insures your purchases against accidental theft and damage.