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If you’re looking for a card that offers generous points-earning bonuses for a wide range of categories, the Gold lineup within the American Express portfolio is worth a closer look.
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Both the American Express® Gold Card and the American Express® Business Gold Card straddle the line between a mid-tier and an ultra-premium card. With an annual fee of $250 and $295, respectively, these cards don’t come cheap — but also don’t venture into the territory of The Platinum Card® from American Express or The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, with annual fees of $550 and $595, respectively.
In fact, the Gold cards are in somewhat of a sweet spot. They have rich earnings that can significantly offset their annual fees — without the sticker shock of more expensive cards.
However, the Amex Gold and Amex Business Gold have major differences aside from the obvious point of one being a consumer card and the other a business card. Let’s dive in and compare these two Gold cards to see which one may be right for you.
Comparing the Amex Gold and Amex Business Gold
Here are the details of each card at a higher level.
Amex Gold: Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in purchases in your first 3 months of account opening.
Amex Business Gold: Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $5,000 within the first 3 months
Amex Gold: $250
Amex Business Gold: $295
Amex Gold: 4x at restaurants worldwide, 4x at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per calendar year; then 1x)
Amex Business Gold: 4x in two categories with the most spending each billing cycle (up to $150,000 in combined purchases each calendar year; then 1x)
Annual statement credits
Amex Gold: Up to $120 dining, up to $100 airline fee credit
Amex Business Gold: None
Amex Gold: None
Amex Business Gold: 25% points back on flights (up to 250,000 points back per calendar year)
No set-spending limit cards
Both the Amex Gold and Amex Business Gold are cards with no set spending limit. Traditionally, this meant that you had to pay off your balance in full each month.
However, with the introduction of a Pay Over Time feature, it’s now possible to carry a balance from one month to the next, with variable interest rates applied. With that said, TPG always recommends paying off your card to avoid accruing interest if possible (it’s one of our 10 commandments to travel rewards).
Business card or personal card?
Perhaps the biggest question is whether a business card or a personal card is a better fit for you. Business credit cards (naturally) are designed for business use, while personal credit cards can be used by anyone.
However, even if you don’t have a formal business with a tax ID number, you can still open a business credit card. Maybe you regularly sell items online, have a side hustle or take on freelance assignments. In any of these cases, you might prefer to separate your business expenses from other purchases.
As we’ll outline below though, the Amex Business Gold may be a better fit for larger, more established businesses that have a lot of expenses.
Related: Review of the Amex Gold
The publicly available offer for both the Amex Gold and the Amex Business Gold are quite similar. The Amex Gold has a welcome offer of 35,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months of card opening. Meanwhile, the Amex Business Gold has the same 35,000 Membership Rewards points offer, but only after you spend $5,000 within the first three months.
TPG values Membership Rewards points at 2 cents each, making the 35,000-point bonus worth a respectable (though certainly not groundbreaking) $700.
You may be able to get an even higher welcome offer for the Amex Gold by using the CardMatch tool (offer subject to change at any time) or by receiving a referral offer from someone that carries either card.
Keep in mind that Amex has strict rules when it comes to earning a welcome bonus. Since 2014, Amex has clamped down on applications and begun limiting customers to one bonus per card per lifetime, regardless of how much time had passed since you last applied for that card.
Winner: Amex Gold
Related: Review of the Amex Business Gold card
Both the Amex Gold and Amex Business Gold offer up to 4x points on select categories. That’s a huge bonus for many popular spending categories. The 4x Membership Rewards points earnings equate to an 8-cent return, based on TPG’s valuation of Membership Rewards points at 2 cents each.
For the consumer Amex Gold, you’ll earn points for the following categories:
- 4x points on dining worldwide and at U.S. supermarkets (U.S. supermarkets capped at $25,000 per calendar year, then 1x)
- 3x points on flights booked directly from the airline or amextravel.com
- 1x points on everything else
The 4x on dining and on U.S. supermarkets are particularly strong rates compared to other cards, and help the Amex Gold make our list of best cards for groceries and best cards for dining out.
Amex Business Gold
The Amex Business Gold has powerful, business-friendly 4x bonus categories. What is unique is that you’ll automatically earn 4x points in your top two spending categories each month, meaning you don’t have to pick a category and commit to it. The eligible categories are:
- Airfare purchased directly from airlines
- U.S. purchases for advertising in select media
- U.S. purchases for shipping
- U.S. purchases at gas stations
- U.S. purchases at restaurants
- U.S. purchases made from select technology providers of computer hardware, software, and cloud solutions
The structure of these categories, namely the fact that you’ll automatically earn 4x points in your top two spending categories from the list of eligible bonus categories on the first $150,000 in combined purchases each calendar year, means this card appeals to someone who wants to rack up travel rewards without putting in too much work.
This card is meant to be a one-stop-shop that you can swipe for everything, leaving you more bandwidth to focus on your business.
Related: Best business credit cards
Both the Amex Gold and Amex Business Gold have several overlapping card benefits. Namely, this includes purchase protection, extended warranty, baggage insurance, travel accident insurance and premium Global Assist. All of these are virtually identical across both cards.
Neither card charges a foreign transaction fee and both cards also offer access to the Hotel Collection, which includes hotel credits, room upgrades and more.
The Amex Gold has some exclusive statement credit benefits to help offset its $250 annual fee.
Up to $120 annual dining credit. Earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the Gold Card at participating dining partners, including Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, some Shake Shack locations and Boxed. This perk is a monthly statement credit similar to the Uber credit on The Platinum Card® from American Express. Enroll through the Amex website to get this benefit.
Related: How my Amex Gold pays for lunch twice a month
Up to $100 annual airline fee credit. Each calendar year, you’ll receive up to $100 in statement credits toward incidental airline fees such as baggage fees and inflight purchases. This works the same as the credit on the Amex Platinum cards. You must designate a qualifying airline, which you can change once a year.
Related: How the Amex airline credit should change during COVID-19
Unfortunately, the Amex Business Gold offers no such statement credits but does have a redemption bonus that I’ll outline below.
Winner: Amex Gold
Both the Amex Gold and Amex Business Gold earn Membership Rewards points that can be transferred to Amex’s airline and hotel partners. With many options to pick from, you’ll be able to find a transfer partner in any of the three major airline alliances and for many non-alliance carriers as well.
However, what is unique to the Amex Business Gold is a Pay With Points redemption bonus when booking airfare through Amex Travel. You’ll earn a 25% rebate when paying with points through your Business Gold Card (up to 250,000 points back per calendar year). This is similar to The Business Platinum Card from American Express’s 35% Pay With Points rebate (up to 500,000 points back per calendar year).
Winner: Amex Business Gold
All-in-all, the slight edge in this showdown goes to the consumer Amex Gold. The card is a strong pick for pretty much all food purchases and its statement credits mostly offset the annual fee. It certainly has more widespread appeal and may be better for cardholders who don’t have large business expenses.
The Amex Business Gold is clearly targeted at larger, more established businesses. There are no statement credits to offset the annual fee, and overall this card works better for a company that can write off their expenses. You’ll have to spend a lot to earn enough points to make the annual fee worth it.
Those considerations aside, the Business Gold Card’s bonus categories and earning structure will appeal to a wide variety of businesses, as the categories encompass everything from spending at U.S. restaurants to U.S. purchases for advertising and at select technology providers.
Featured photo by The Points Guy
Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.