Amex Gold Rewards Card Review 2021

American Express Gold Rewards Card Review
  • Annual Cost
  • Earn Rate
  • Perks and Rewards
  • Customer Service
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Amex Gold Review Summary:

The Amex Gold Rewards Card is our favourite charge card in Canada. Its annual fee is slightly higher than the competition, but it offers unparalleled flexibility at this price tag and an excellent value, especially with its points redemption options.

Pros

  • Points transfer to 6 different airlines at a 1:1 value
  • Comprehensive travel insurance
  • No minimum income requirement
  • 25,000 Membership Point welcome bonus

Cons

  • $150 annual fee
  • American Express is not universally accepted
  • NOT a credit card (where more variety exists)

There are only a few charge cards available to the Canadian market, and all of them are offered by American Express, so our editorial team was able to really focus on the details when it came to our Amex Gold Rewards Card review.  Our process was less about finding which company had the best offering and more about looking at the differences between a select few American Express cards.

In this review, we’ll break down the numbers on this Amex charge card and see how it compares to its nearest competition (yes, another Amex). We’ll also dig into the difference between a charge card and a credit card so you can make an educated decision.

Amex Gold Rewards Card Review: The Numbers

Annual Fee: $150

Minimum Income: none

Interest Rate: The Amex Gold Rewards Card is a charge card, which means that the balance must be paid in full every month. Failure to pay the balance results in 30% interest charges and the card is frozen until the balance is paid off. Keep reading for more information on charge cards vs credit cards.

Earn Rate: 2 points per $1 spent on gas, groceries, drugs, and eligible travel. All other purchases earn points at 1:1.

Amex Gold Rewards Card Welcome Bonus

25,000 points when you charge $1,500 to your card in the first three months. American Express Membership Rewards Points are worth $0.01 each, which puts this bonus at a total value of $250.

Points Redemption

There are several ways to redeem your Amex Gold Membership Rewards points:

  • Amex Gold Rewards cardholders can transfer points to a half-dozen airline loyalty programs at a 1:1 ratio.
  • Cardholders can take advantage of Amex’s fixed or flexible points travel programs for travel on any airline with no blackout dates or seat restrictions.
  • Points can be redeemed towards gift cards, merchandise, or Amazon.ca purchases.
  • Cardholders can also redeem points towards hotel visits by transferring them to the Hilton Honors program at a rate of 1:1, or to the Marriott Bonvoy program, which gives Amex Gold Rewards cardholders a 20% bonus: 6 Marriott Bonvoy points for every 5 Gold Membership Rewards points.

The redemption strategy with the best value is, without question, taking advantage of the ability to transfer points to airline programs. This means that if you transfer your points to, say, Aeroplan, your welcome bonus alone earns you about $500 in free airfare. This value is so good that the American Express Gold Rewards card has earned a reputation as one of the best aeroplan cards—even though it doesn’t specifically earn Aeroplan points!

Insurance Coverage

The American Express Gold Rewards card comes with a full suite of travel insurance, including:

  • Emergency medical insurance
  • Trip interruption insurance
  • Baggage delay insurance
  • Hotel burglary insurance
  • Lost or stolen baggage insurance
  • $500,000 travel accident insurance
  • Car rental theft or damage insurance
  • Buyers Assurance Protection Plan
  • Purchase Protection Plan

Other Perks and Benefits

Amex cardholders enjoy exclusive perks including:

  • American Express Experiences special offers and events, Front of the Line tickets and presales, as well as specially curated offers and experiences
  • Special benefits and offers including discounts on hotel and car rental bookings. 

Amex Gold Rewards Card: A charge card, not a credit card

The most important thing to know about the Amex Gold Rewards card is that it is not, in fact, a credit card. If you carry a balance on your cards, we strongly recommend that you look elsewhere. Unlike a credit card, a charge card is designed to be paid off in full every month—and it penalizes cardholders who fail to do this.  

Charge cards don’t have a pre-set spending limit, but that doesn’t mean you have unlimited spending power—large purchases may need to be approved by Amex before you can make them. Approval depends on several factors including your credit record, account history, and your personal financial situation.

Think of a charge card as a little (temporary) extra spending power in your pocket and an opportunity to earn rewards on purchases you would have otherwise made from a bank account. Just don’t expect to be able to transfer your balances onto the Amex Gold Rewards Card and pay them off over time. If that’s what you need, this is not the card for you. If that’s what you are looking for, consider getting one of the best travel credit cards in Canada from our list instead.

Amex Gold Rewards Card vs. Amex Aeroplan Card

American Express is the only company that offers charge cards in Canada, so we didn’t have to go far to find the competition. The Amex Aeroplan Card is the closest alternative in terms of annual fees. Let’s see how they compare

While the Gold Rewards card offers 2 points per dollar spent on gas, groceries, drugs, and eligible travel, the Aeroplan card offers:

  • 2 Aeroplan points per dollar spent on eligible Air Canada purchases
  • 1.5 points per dollar on dining and food and delivery purchases in Canada
  • Both cards offer 1 point per dollar spent in all other categories
  • The annual fee for the Gold Rewards Card is $150 while the fee for the American Express Aeroplan Card is $120

Both cards come with a suite of travel insurance, but the Amex Gold Rewards Card is more comprehensive, additionally offering:

  • $5,000,000 in emergency medical insurance for travelers under 65
  • Up to $6,000 in trip interruption insurance ($1,500 per person)
  • Up to $500 to cover lost or stolen baggage.

Our conclusion is that the Amex Gold Rewards card is well worth the extra $30 annually. The fact that you can transfer your Membership Rewards Points to Aeroplan (or one of 5 other airline loyalty programs) at a 1:1 exchange is the game changer here. It means that you can use the extra flexibility of the Gold Rewards Card’s bonus categories for daily spending—and then simply transfer your points. When you add the Amex Gold Rewards Card’s enhanced insurance package, the decision is even clearer.  

Amex Gold Rewards Card Review: Important Points to Remember

When it comes down to it, the best card for you is just that, the best card for you. That’s why we always remind our readers to do their own research.

Take your own needs into account:

  • How much are you willing to spend in annual fees?
  • What kinds of purchases do you make most often?
  • Do you require travel insurance? (Are you over 65? Make sure you pay attention to age restrictions)
  • And, especially in the case of this card, are you looking for a charge card or one that will allow you to carry a balance?

Your answers to these questions will affect your search for the card that’s right for you.

American Express Gold Card FAQ

Amex Gold Rewards Card Review Final Verdict

If you’re in the market for a charge card, the Amex Gold Rewards Card is an excellent choice. It offers more flexible earning categories than the Amex Aeroplan Card, but the points transfer option means that you can get the same value from the points you’ve earned. Plus, if Air Canada travel isn’t your thing, you also have the option to apply your points to other purchases, airlines, or hotels.

Our editorial team’s Amex Gold Rewards Card review is unanimous: this is our favourite charge card in Canada.

Meg

Meg Goodmanson is a writer, editor, virtual assistant, credit card expert, and lifelong learner-of-things. A self-proclaimed nerd, Meg’s favourite thing is collecting information and presenting it in an interesting and helpful way—especially if it helps her travel for free!
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