Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My first year with the American Express Gold Rewards Card

This is the fifth and final installment in my series on the American Express Gold Rewards Card. In this post, I will look at my experience with the Card over the past year.

Years ago, I got my first American Express Card (Blue Sky) simply because I wanted to be rewarded for my spending at Costco. Now with my new Gold Rewards Card, my usage of American Express has expanded greatly partly due to the double points per dollar earned on eligible gas, grocery, drug store and travel purchases. I do not pull out any other card when I am at these locations as I want to ensure I earn the most points on every purchase I make. The card also makes its way out for other purchases as I see fit. In the first year of having the card, I earned nearly 90,000 Membership Rewards points (including the sign up bonus). As of late, my use of the card has expanded due to a bonus offer I received from American Express.

Bonus Offer
In September, I received a mail out from American Express that offered me 5,000 bonus Membership Rewards points if I spent $5,000 on my card by January 15th, 2012. Well, suffice to say I hit that $5,000 mark by the beginning of November, so I should see that nice little bonus in the new year. A nice perk from American Express I must say! I would love to hear if anyone else received this or some other targeted bonus for using their American Express Gold Rewards card. If you did not receive this bonus, don't fret as I am sure this was not the last targeted offer American Express will offer on this card.

In the first year of cardmembership, I made one redemption with the Membership Rewards points I had earned on the Gold Rewards Card. That redemption utilized the TripFlex option of Membership Rewards (see this post for a detailed account of TripFlex) and I must say that it was totally painless. Essentially I had booked flights to Maui for my family using an existing credit I had with Air Canada, but the value of the tickets exceeded the credit by just over $600.00 and I paid that difference with my American Express Gold Rewards Card. As soon as I saw the amount from Air Canada on my online statement, I called up Membership Rewards and within two minutes had them redeem a little over 60,000 points against that charge. Now they say it can take up to one billing cycle to see that credit on your account, but it showed up on my online statement within three days. This is a feature I will definitely make use of again. In fact, in the New Year I will be paying for my hotel for my next trip to Maui on the card and redeeming the points against that charge once it shows up on my account.

In addition to an accelerated earn rate and flexible redemption options, a great perk offered on the Gold Rewards Card is Front of the Line, which grants Cardmembers early access to concerts and events across Canada. I utilized this feature to get four tickets to the Selena Gomez show in Toronto this past August and was able to treat my daughters to their first ever concert. When we got to the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre, we discovered another perk of being an American Express Cardmember - an exclusive entrance for that allowed us to bypass the much longer general admission line!

All in all, my first year with this card has been wonderful, it came free (all new approvals have the first year free) and I have happily paid the annual fee for the next year as I will continue to use this card frequently.

Click here to learn more about the American Express Gold Rewards Card


  1. I got a similar bonus offer: spend $10,000 and get 7,500 bonus points. And just recently I took advantage of their conversion bonus offer and converted 100k MR points to Aeroplan getting 25k bonus points in the process.

  2. Same bonus offer came my way: spend $10K for a 7,500 MR point bonus (from 1 Nov - 31 Jan.)

    As a point of reference, I average $4,000 spend/month on the card.

  3. This is an awesome card, but saddled with weak travel insurance. If one books an Aeroplan redemption and pays the taxes/fees with the Amex Gold Rewards Card, the travel Trip Interruption and Baggage insurances are not valid. Too bad.

  4. Re. Aeroplan redemption, it is the same with CIBC Aerogold VISA. The insurance does not apply in this case.

    I have been an AMEX member for 1 year now. I got an email from them saying if I spend $5000 between Jan and Mar, I will get a 5000 bonus. I applied for another Gold Rewards card and it is on its way. I will cancel my current card and use the new card from the new year. I will save on the annual fee and also get the 15,000 welcome points.

    Aeroplan recently had the promotion of converting AMEX points to Aeroplan points. I utilized this offer and got a 4000 Aeroplan miles bonus. Good that I did not transfer or redeem until the end of the year.

    My main goal with this card is to earn Aeroplan miles. I do not find the redemption of AMEX points for travel purposes very lucrative. AMEX values its points at 10 cents. I think with Aeroplan, I get more value for my points, especially when redeeming for an Executive fare. I calculated that it makes good sense to get an Executive seat using Aeroplan miles rather than an Economy seat. While the price difference between the two seats could differ as much as 2-3X, the same is not the case when using Aeroplan miles.

    My only quibble is that AMEX is not as widely accepted as VISA or MasterCard.

  5. I had a request, primarily due to the dearth of online resources, it would be nice if you could review the AMEX Platinum card and the AMEX Aeroplan Plus Platinum card. These cards have very high annual fees, and it would be great if you could analyze the economics of owning these cards. Does it even make sense to have these cards and how good are the benefits associated with them? How do these cards compare to the AMEX Gold Rewards card?

  6. A comparison of the Amex Plat & Amex Aeroplan Plat. would be very helpful.

  7. We will be adding the Amex Plat to our Credit Card comparison chart shortly where you will be able to compare them:

  8. Hey Superdawg,
    I got the same 5000pt bonus offer with a $5000 spend, but so far no points! Amex customer service never heard of this promo. Go figure!
    Did you have any luck getting the points?

  9. I have not received the bonus yet either. I will talk to my contact at Amex next week to see when they will be awarded.