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The revamped American Express Gold Card was all the rage last year, so I know a lot of you applied for the card, especially to take advantage of some of the promotional benefits (and the special Rose Gold color). Since I’ve been so focused on Chase cards for the past few years, I wanted to share some things that you might miss if you’re new to the Membership Rewards program. I did a similar post/video on maximizing the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, so I thought would explore how to maximize your AMEX Gold benefits and perks.

And if you don’t already have the Amex Gold Card and want to get in on the action, you can learn more about it here.

American Express Gold Card on top of Bellroy Card Pocket wallet
The new American Express Gold Card was extremely popular when it was released and with good reason. Learn more about American Express cards.

Some of these recommendations might seem obvious to experienced points collectors, but I’m hoping they serve as good reminders. I tried to include some obscure tips as well that should be useful for those of you who are veterans in this hobby.

1. Add the card to your account:

Option to add another card to an American Express account page
If you don’t see your Amex Gold Card in your main account dashboard, you’ll want to add it

Most times when you activate a new American Express card, it should automatically appear in your profile alongside any other Amex cards that you have. However, some people have reported that their activated card was listed under a new profile. If this happens, you’ll want to click on the Add Another Card option under your profile. This will allow you to see all your American Express cards under one login and dashboard.

2. Enroll your preferred airline for the $100 fee credit:

You can only change your airline selection once per calendar year in January

American Express allows you to designate your preferred airline every January. Once you select your preferred airline, you can get up to $100 a year in credits for incidental fees. This can be a bit confusing for those new to the program. If you’re used to the travel credit on the Chase Sapphire Reserve, then you’ll find this airline credit much more restrictive. The $100 airline incidental fee credit from Ameican Express covers fees OTHER than your ticket. Things like change fees, baggage fees, in-flight snacks and drinks, and airline lounge passes.

For example, wifi on the plane might not trigger the credit if it’s not charged by the airline. In many cases, the in-flight wifi is from a company like Gogo. This means that you’ll get a charge from Gogo instead of the airline, which won’t be eligible for the credit.

Another thing to keep in mind is that gift cards are technically NOT eligible for the bonus. However, a few airline gift cards that are purchased directly from the airline still seem to trigger the credit. As of January 2019, people are reporting that the credit does appear for American, Delta, and Southwest gift cards. This might change, so I wouldn’t bank on it. I recommend using it for any fees that you might incur from the airline, like change fees or even food and drinks on the plane.

AMEX Airline Fee Reimbursements for Southwest Airline charges
Both an EarlyBird check-in fee and gift card from Southwest triggered the airline fee credit

Lastly, you should take advantage of this benefit twice during your first year of card membership. Make sure you’re using your airline credit before the end of the year. If you’re in your first year of card membership, make sure to use it early the following year. This is especially important if you’re unsure whether you’re going to keep the card for another year

3. Enroll and use your monthly dining credit:

Receipt for ShackBurger and french fries at Shake Shack
I made an end of month visit to Shake Shack so my $10 dining credit wouldn’t go to waste!

The American Express Gold Card gives you a $120 dining credit. The catch is that you can only use up to $10 per month of the credit. Also, you can only use it on the following restaurants and food delivery services:

  • Grubhub
  • Seamless
  • The Cheesecake Factory
  • Ruth’s Chris Steak House
  • Participating Shake Shack locations

On that note, be careful of Grubhub and Seamless purchases. I’ve noticed that the prices on Grubhub and Seamless can sometimes be higher than purchasing directly from the restaurant. For example, a local Mexican restaurant chain called Sharky’s is on Seamless. Though I noticed the prices were higher on Seamless than on the restaurant’s own ordering system.

4. Add your card to dining rewards programs:

Marked screenshot of where to add registered credit cards for the United MileagePlus Dining site
Make sure to add your Amex Gold Card to your dining rewards program of choice

Since the American Express Gold Card earns four membership rewards points per dollar on dining charges, it makes sense to use it as your dining card. Though if you’re like me, you’re used to using a Chase Sapphire Reserve and may have enrolled your Sapphire card or Freedom card in the dining rewards programs. For example, I use the United MileagePlus Dining Rewards program and completely forgot to add my American Express Gold card until recently. Don’t lose out on points by forgetting to add your Gold Card, especially since it’s likely your new dining out card.

5. Enroll in ShopRunner:

American Express ShopRunner enrollment page
ShopRunner is like having Amazon Prime shipping, but for 100+ different stores

Your American Express Gold Card comes with a complimentary membership to ShopRunner. ShopRunner is similar to Amazon Prime shipping service, but for other online businesses. You get unlimited and free two-day shipping from over 100 retailers.

I used ShopRunner last month when I ordered my DJI Osmo Pocket from Adorama. I was impressed with the speed of the shipping. It felt like I was making a purchase on Amazon.

Make sure you enroll in this benefit since it’s won’t be active until you click the Enroll Now button and complete the process.

6. Check AMEX Offers:

American Express Offers for Gold Card
Amex offers is one of the most underrated features on American Express cards!

One of the most underrated features with all American Express cards is the Amex offers. We use these all the time! I appreciate the way that American Express has implemented this bonus too. You don’t have to use a special portal in order to qualify for the offer. All you have to do is add the offer via the American Express app or your account online. You’ll get the bonus when the charge posts to your card. This means that you can use coupon codes or even cashback portals to maximize your rewards.

7. Shift your spending:

If you have the Amex Gold Card, then you’re probably using it for dining out and groceries. I know it’s hard for me to remember which card to use at times. This is similar to my rotating bonus categories cards, where I often can’t remember which card to use and rely on my phone’s reminder wallpaper.

American Express Gold Card inside Bellroy Card Pocket wallet
Moving my Amex Gold to the front of my wallet helps me to remember to use it for dining and groceries

Since dining out and groceries tend to make up most of my daily expenditures, I moved my Amex Gold Card to the front of my wallet. I also made it my default card in Apple Pay. Everyone has a different system and method for remembering. Though I recommend doing something to help you remember so you don’t miss out on the bonus categories.

Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card
The Chase Sapphire Preferred will earn you bonus points on restaurants when traveling abroad

One more thing about the dining and grocery spend is that the bonus only applies to US restaurants and grocery stores. Though the card does not have any foreign transaction fees, you’ll only earn the bonus while using the card in the US. If you’re traveling abroad and using a credit card at restaurants, you’ll want to pack a card with a dining bonus that isn’t restricted to the US. Cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Sapphire Preferred card, or Capital One Savor Card all offer a bonus on dining abroad (with no foreign transaction fee). Plus, since American Express isn’t as widely accepted as Visa and Mastercard, it’s good to have a back-up card for this purpose.

8. Confirm your welcome offer:

If you’re like me, you can get paranoid about your welcome offer, especially if you didn’t get an automatic approval when applying. If this is the case with you, I suggest using American Express’ chat functionality to confirm your welcome offer. American Express’ chat function is very robust and functional, making it easy to get information or request account changes.

American Express support via chat functionality
American Express has a very robust chat system and responsive online reps

I recently used American Express’ chat function to downgrade my Blue Cash Preferred to the Blue Cash Everyday card since I’m using my Gold Card for groceries. I was amazed that I was able to request the change via chat.

9. Refer your friends:

Since this is a dining out card, you’ll likely have friends who ask about it when paying your bill at a restaurant. I recommend taking advantage of American Express’ referral system. Your friends will get more Membership Rewards points in their welcome offer than the standard posted offer. Also, you’ll get a generous referral bonus of 10,000 Membership Rewards points.

As of January 2019, the standard welcome offer for the American Express Gold Card is 35,000 points after spending $2000 within three months of account opening. However, you can get your friend 40,000 points by extending your referral.

American Express Gold Card Refer a Friend page
Help your friends (and get rewarded) for referring them to American Express

Keep in mind that you can only earn up to 55,000 Membership Rewards points every year through referrals. Also, the welcome offer can change at any time. Though if you have friends and family who are interested, it’s a great way to get rewarded for referring them to American Express.

Do you have any other tips for maximizing the American Express Gold Card? If so, please share in the comment section below. Also, if you recently got this card, let me know what you think of it.

If you’re interested in applying for a new credit card, we encourage you to compare credit card offers. We do get a commission if you use our link. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but it helps us to continue building content for our site and channel.

Trip Astute has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Trip Astute and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered. 

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