Just a few short weeks ago the details of the revamped American Express Gold Rewards Card were revealed. For most, the card’s makeover didn’t excite them. The revamped card has really been met with mixed reviews as the changes came on the benefits side of things, there was no tweaking of earn rates to make that side better and to top it all off, there’s a pretty big jump in the annual fee. What we didn’t know at the time was what the new welcome bonus would be – could it make up for that jump in annual fee and lack of increased earn rates? Well the card is now back on the market and the welcome bonus offer has been revealed….
The Welcome Bonus
The new initial welcome bonus on the card is double what we were used to prior to it being pulled from the market for its makeover. Now new American Express Gold Rewards Cardmembers can earn a welcome bonus of
50,000 Membership Rewards points when they charge $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months of Cardmembership. And much like we’ve seen with some of Amex’s other offers this year there is an additional bonus in year 2 of having the card. They will award you 10,000 more points when you make a purchase between months 14 and 17 of having the card.
With a minimum value of 1 cent per point that makes the initial welcome bonus worth $500 and $600 once you are in year two. That 1 cent valuation is the absolute minimum. You have other options that can get you even more value. Those 60,000 points can net you a round trip economy class flight to Europe worth up to $900 with the American Express Fixed Travel Points Program or you can convert them to Air Canada Aeroplan and British Airways Executive Club – both of which we value at a minimum of 1.5 cents per point which also place the 60,000 points at $900 in value but if you know those programs you’ll know you can easily get 2 to 3 to even more cents per point so the value of those 60,000 points can skyrocket.
And if you happened to jump on the waitlist offer that has been available for the past two weeks you’ll earn 5,000 additional points on top of this bonus. Check your in box for that offer if you did sign up!
The Earn Rates
The revamped Gold Rewards Card retains the same earn rates that it has had since 2010:
• Earn 2 points for every $1 in Card purchases at eligible gas stations, grocery stores and drugstores in Canada
Earn 2 points for every $1 in Card purchases for eligible travel
purchases, including flights, hotels, car rentals, cruises, and more
• Earn 1 point for every $1 in Card purchases everywhere else
The new benefits
These are the new benefits that were revealed a few weeks ago:
• The Card is now available in your choice of Gold or Rose Gold metal options
• Receive a $50 CAD statement credit when a NEXUS application or renewal fee is charged to your American Express Gold Rewards Card
• You have access to an annual $100 CAD Travel Credit, compliments of your American Express Gold Rewards Card. Use the credit once annually towards any single travel booking of $100 or more charged to your Gold Rewards Card through American Express Travel Online
• As a Gold Rewards Cardmember, you can receive complimentary membership in Priority PassTM – one of the world’s largest independent airport lounge programs. Escape the chaos of airports and relax in an oasis of calm and simply enjoy the fact that the travel experience has begun before your plane has even left the ground. Enrollment is required and entry fees apply
• Enjoy four (4) complimentary visits per Calendar year to Plaza Premium Lounges across Canada. Entry fees apply once complimentary visits have been used
The best of the new benefits has to be the lounge access with four Plaza Premium passes (the four passes was something I was trying to get Amex to add, even as a limited time or exclusive offer for the better part of a decade I might add!). It’s those four passes that are key since Plaza Premium lounges in Canada no longer participate in Priority Pass. I can see a potential uptake in Gold Rewards Card applications in Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto and Vancouver since those were the hardest hit cities from the Priority Pass change. Then if you can utilize the $100 travel credit and NEXUS credit you’ll more than make up for the $100 jump in the annual fee to the $250. You do have to remember as well the first additional card is free if you may be comparing this card to some others that do charge for additional cards.
UPDATE: One additional item we didn’t touch upon before, the Gold Rewards Card has been switched to a credit card from a charge card.
Why the mixed reviews then?
The card has been nicknamed the mini-Platinum card as it now features similar but lower valued benefits that the $699 per year Platinum Card has. And in fact the Gold Rewards Card remains one of the best travel cards in the market. It was the number one card in Canada from 2011 to 2017 and the second best card from 2018 to 2021. So you may be asking why has the card been hit with so many mixed reviews? That’s because of the number one card in Canada, the American Express Cobalt Card. Ever since the Cobalt Card got direct access to converting points to Aeroplan and British Airways it made the Gold Card obsolete as that was the only benefit the Gold Card held over the Cobalt Card. The Cobalt Card blows the Gold Rewards card out of the water in terms of points earning. There is only one spend category that the Gold Rewards Card does better and that’s drug store purchases. So if you are only about points earning for programs like Aeroplan and British Airways there’s no need for the Gold Rewards Card anymore and thus the mixed reviews.
Ultimately this card does continue to fit nicely into Amex’s portfolio as a new mid-tier card. There aren’t a lot of cards that fall in-between the premium and ultra premium categories and this one does just that. I would think Amex is banking on people getting both the Cobalt Card and the Gold Rewards Card, the first for the points earning and the second for the travel benefits. And that does make sense especially for those who don’t want to take the plunge for the Platinum Card. With the Gold Rewards Card you get a little bit of those Platinum benefits for less than half the annual cost. Then Amex may bank on what I was also pushing them for for years in our meetings was that by adding the four lounge passes to the Gold Rewards Card they would then have the potential to up sell to the Platinum Card. Once people get a taste of airport lounges it’s hard to go back to not having it and no card does airport lounge access better than the Platinum Card. That up sell may be a little harder now though seeing how the Priority Pass membership and the four lounge passes are permanent annual benefits on the Gold Rewards Card.
Wrapping it up
The American Express Gold Rewards Card is back in the market with its updated benefits and a new welcome bonus offer. The bonus offer is strong but surprisingly not much better than that seen on the Cobalt card – I thought they may have gone even a little higher seeing that the Cobalt Card is offering 50,000 points right now but again this card is no longer as much about the points earn than it is about the benefits. And that’s the exact same sentiment about the Platinum Card – it’s also less about the earn and more about the benefits. So the question is – what do you value more and what are your willing to pay for what you value? All about the points? Go for the Cobalt Card. All about travel benefits but don’t want to pay $699 per year? Go for the Gold Rewards Card. All about the best travel benefits possible? Go for the Platinum Card. And if you want to maximize both points earning and travel benefits – you’ll have to get the Cobalt Card and then either the Gold Rewards or Platinum Card as well.
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