There are currently pretty amazing deals that aren’t just good: they’re among the best we’ve ever seen in Canada. This one happens to be the most interesting for most Canadian travelers! In terms of value, it offers an incredible ≈ $915 from the welcome bonus alone, and it gives you 4 passes for some airport lounges. If there was just one card deal you had to take advantage of this year, this is probably the one (or if not, definitely one of the other excellent ones running right now).
The American Express Gold Card’s increased welcome bonus gives you many reward flights — or points that are simpler. Amex points are among the most flexible and valuable out there!
You’ll get a net value of ≈ $915 according to our conservative Flytrippers Valuation — but the offer can also give you over $1000 pretty easily!
First, you can watch our video presentation of the Amex Gold Card if you prefer that format.
Otherwise, keep on reading.
Important: if you’re not part of the Flytrippers readers who have now earned over 1 million dollars in travel rewards thanks to our welcome bonus recommendations, start by reading the 6 basic things to know about travel rewards.
Because in this review, we’ll assume you know that:
- welcome bonuses are the key and it doesn’t matter whether or not you can use your card for 100% of your purchases
- you always have to pay everything on time and there’s no “scam”
- having multiple cards is better for your credit score
- you must not cancel your current cards
- annual fees alone are irrelevant
- there are 2 types of travel rewards that work very differently
(1 million dollar sidenote: you may know Flytrippers from our many appearances in the mainstream media as travel experts or from the 50% off flight deals we spot, but our readers have also earned 1 million dollars just with welcome bonuses! Read why you should stop missing out and why that million makes us so much happier than the thousands of dollars we’ve earned ourselves for our own trips).
Overview of Flytrippers’ take on the Amex Gold Card
Our detailed editorial card reviews always start with a section that goes straight to the point, including:
- Why get the card
- Who should get the card
- How to get the card
Why get the Amex Gold Card
Here are the 6 best reasons to get the Amex Gold Card:
- The incredible increased welcome bonus with a net value of ≈ $915
- The diversity of options offered by Amex’s flexible and valuable points
- The 4 passes to some airport lounges in Canada
- The credit to get the NEXUS card (not even included in our Valuation)
- The many insurance coverages included
- The metal card available in 2 colors and other benefits
I’ll explain each one below.
Who should get the Amex Gold Card
Here are the travelers who should consider getting the Amex Gold Card:
- Those who want the best offer for flexible points right now (premium cards excluded)
- Those who don’t want a premium card
- Those who can count and prefer flexible points compared to the main alternative card’s points
- Those who want limited access to select airport lounges (in 5 Canadian airports)
- Those who can spend $3000 in 3 months (equivalent to ≈ $231 per week; 3 months = 13 weeks, not 12)
There are so many exceptional offers right now that the Amex Gold Card may not even be the best one for you, even though it’s really great and has no minimum income requirement (meaning anyone can get it).
We have a head-to-head comparison between the American Express Gold Card and the American Express Aeroplan Card, the 2 that are the most similar and have the best welcome bonuses (premium cards excluded), as well as an upcoming head-to-head comparison between the Amex Gold Card and the RBC Avion Visa Infinite Card, the 2 best ones with flexible points.
Among the record 13 cards with welcome bonuses worth $533+, other cards have:
- lower minimum spending requirements
- lower fees (although it makes no sense to look at just that)
- unlimited access to more airport lounges worldwide
- welcome bonuses with a higher net value (higher rewards and higher fees)
- hotel points that can give you up to 11 nights completely free
- simpler welcome bonus structures that allow you to spend anywhere
- better earn rates (although earning with regular purchases is definitely not the way to go earn fast)
- more acceptance because they’re not Amex cards (although it makes no sense to choose just based on that)
We’ve put together a very comprehensive guide on the different offers currently available so you can find the one that’s right for you. It’ll really help you make your choice.
This is such a great opportunity to get started in the world of travel rewards, so we’re hosting a free webinar on September 12 and I’ll be happy to personally answer any questions you may have on the subject; just send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org!
How to get the Amex Gold Card
Here’s the 6-step simplified process to take advantage of this deal:
- Apply for the American Express Gold Card (secure Amex link)
- Unlock the main welcome bonus by spending $3000 in 3 months
- Unlock another optional welcome bonus by spending $2000 of those $3000 at the grocery store (including gift cards)
- Get 71,000 Amex points (welcome bonuses and earnings on the minimum spend) AND a $100 credit
- ≈ $1065 in rewards for only $150 net (fee of $250 minus credit of $100)
- Flytrippers Valuation of ≈ $915
- Effective rate of ≈ 31% back on $3000 in 3 months
- Use Amex points to get either:
- ≈ $1065 off specific rewards flights (via Amex, Aeroplan, or Avios)
- $710 as a simple travel credit applicable to any expense
- Use your $100 credit to lower the fee to a net of $150
- Can easily be cashed out with our tip
You can soon download our free 30-page guide to the Amex Gold Card for EVERYTHING you need to know to get started.
You’ll also get our checklist for when you get a new card to avoid common mistakes, plus some other handy tools as a bonus.
The new detailed page about this card also has a lot of information under several tabs if you prefer!
Highlights of the American Express Gold Card
Here’s a detailed look at the 6 best reasons to get the American Express Gold Card.
The incredible increased welcome bonus with a net value of ≈ $915
First, the most obvious. The welcome bonus is always the most important thing to consider for any card.
The enhanced offer on the Amex Gold Card will give you a whopping 71,000 Amex points and a $100 credit!
The points are worth ≈ $1,065! That gives you up to 11 reward flights! Those are extremely valuable points; I’ll give you concrete examples of how to use them in the next section.
But I’ll start by explaining what’s special about this bonus: it’s actually 2 separate welcome bonuses that are independent of each other. It’s usually simpler than that but it’s also usually not ≈ $915 in value either!
And it’s really easy to maximize your free travel by getting both!
Structure of the increased welcome bonus
The increased welcome bonus offer gives you:
- 50,000 points: Standard welcome bonus (minimum spend of $3000 in 3 months)
- 20,000 points: Bonus rate as a welcome bonus (10X the points on groceries and restaurants for 3 months; maximum $2000)
- 1000 points: In addition to the welcome bonuses (you’ll get at least that with the regular earn rate on the remaining $1000 in spending)
So to make it quite simple, it’s really easy to do:
- Spend $2000 at the grocery store in 3 months
- Spend $1000 anywhere in 3 months
- Equivalent to ≈ $77 per week
- Easy to achieve with our pro tips
- Otherwise, there are 4 cards that require less and give $533+
And if you want it to be even simpler, as long as you spend $3000 anywhere in 3 months (that’s only ≈ $231 per week), you’ll get the biggest part of the welcome bonus!
But as pros, we always like to maximize everything!
Analysis of the increased welcome bonus
Seriously, getting 71,000 Amex points for $150 is amazing!
Not too long ago, getting 25,000 or 30,000 points was good for a non-premium card! Here it’s almost 3 times that! That’s phenomenal.
I say non-premium card because it’s important to know how to count, as we always say. Knowing how to count includes realizing that this card doesn’t really have a $250 fee.
Yes, it’s $250, but it comes with a $100 “travel credit” each year (which can be cashed out easily if you prefer), so the real net fee is only $150!
That’s pretty standard to get a good welcome bonus; you won’t often get hundreds of dollars in value without paying that.
If you don’t understand that, unfortunately, you’ll never get a lot of travel rewards, so it’s essential to read the basics. There’s no way to be a pro if you hesitate to pay $250 to get $1,165! None. Knowing how to do math is a requirement.
Value of the increased welcome bonus
I’ll come back to how the $100 credit works in the next section, but here’s a summary of the math behind the welcome bonus:
- ≈ $750 from the standard welcome bonus (50,000 Amex points)
- ≈ $300 from the welcome bonus’ special rate (20,000 Amex points)
- ≈ $15 from the earnings at the regular rate (1,000 Amex points)
- $100 as a credit
- –$250 in fees
That’s what adds up to a net Flytrippers Valuation of ≈ $915! That’s simply amazing!
The diversity of options offered by Amex’s flexible and valuable points
The great thing about the Amex points you earn with the Amex Gold Card is that they’re flexible, so you can use them as:
- Variable-value rewards (transfer to airline programs or with the Amex award chart)
- For specific flights
- More potential value
- More complex
- Fixed-value rewards (simple easy-to-use travel credit)
- For any travel expense
- More flexibility
- More simplicity
So, in other words, with the 71,000 Amex points you’ll have earned, you’ll get either:
- ≈ $1065 off certain flights (variable-value rewards)
- $710 off any travel expense (fixed-value rewards)
You can also mix and match both options as you go along, it’s very flexible.
Plus, you’ll get the separate $100 travel credit no matter which option you choose, for a total value (after deducting card fees as always) of:
- ≈ $915 in variable-value rewards, which is huge
- $560 in fixed-value rewards, which is still excellent
Here’s a brief overview of how each type of rewards actually works, while you wait on our ultimate guide to the Amex program coming very shortly.
Amex points as variable-value rewards
With variable-value rewards, you need to be more flexible to get the most value. Our Valuation of ≈ $915 is by using your points for flights this way, for 50% more value per point.
It can be a bit more complicated, but it can also give you outsized value and unlimited value and be worth twice our Flytrippers Valuation too!
You can transfer Amex points to several airline partners, but the most useful for Canadians is always Air Canada’s Aeroplan program. There’s also the British Airways Avios program, especially if you live in a major city.
(Both are part of the 5 essential programs for Canadians we listed in our free cheat sheet!)
Here are a few concrete examples of what the 71,000 Amex points can give you to show you how it can be a lot more valuable than the simple travel credit:
- 11 one-way short-distance reward flights such as Montreal-New York or Montreal-Washington
- 7 one-way medium-distance reward flights such as Montreal-Miami or Montreal-Nashville
- 5 one-way longer distance reward flights such as Montreal-Costa Rica or Montreal-Mexico
- 1 one-way business class reward flight such as Vancouver-Japan or Montreal-Switzerland
- 10 one-way short-distance reward flights in several regions of the world
- 13 completely free nights in beautiful hotels in specific destinations like Bali
- $1,100 discount on specific flights that are very expensive in cash
- $710 as a simple travel credit that can be applied to any travel expense or cashed out
Your 71,000 Amex points give you 71,000 Aeroplan or Avios points (1 to 1 transfer rate).
You can obviously mix-and-match those and there are many other options (or even mix-and-match these with the simple travel credit as I said), but that’s just to give you an idea of the potential.
Amex points as fixed-value rewards
With fixed-value rewards, you don’t have to learn anything or make any effort (but can’t get outsized value or unlimited value).
It’s extremely easy: you can simply apply your Amex points to any travel purchase made with your card. Your points “erase” the purchase; it’s as simple as it gets in terms of ways to use rewards.
Your 71,000 Amex points will give you $710 to erase any travel expense booked with any provider (it can be just one expense or different expenses).
So even for those who don’t want to maximize your points or use them as airline points, you’ll get a net value of $560 with the Amex Gold Card‘s welcome bonus — that’s still an amazing offer, and it’s almost unbeatable as far as simple rewards are concerned.
$100 annual travel credit
This annual travel credit is a benefit of this card. To be very clear, it has nothing to do with the welcome bonus: everyone who has the Amex Gold Card gets this free $100 travel credit every year they have the card, to offset the fee.
In theory, it’s meant to only be used to purchase travel on the Amex Travel portal (unlike points, which give you a “credit” applicable to any expense, no matter where you book).
But you can easily cash it out with the refundable hotel trick, if you prefer.
Basically, you book a refundable hotel through Amex Travel and apply your $100 credit to it. You then request a refund for the hotel and you’ll have cashed your $100 and reduced your fee to $150. Very simple!
So it’s very flexible and we have no choice but to value it at its full $100 value for all travelers.
The 4 passes for some airport lounges in Canada
Let me be clear: the Amex Gold Card‘s airport lounge access is among the most limited of all cards that offer this benefit!
Here are the restrictions:
- It’s just 4 free passes per year
- It’s only in Plaza Premium lounges
- It’s only valid in Canada
So if you want unlimited access worldwide, get The Platinum Card from American Express. And if you want unlimited access in North America (but only when flying on Air Canada or Star Alliance), get the American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card.
So airport lounge access isn’t the best reason to get the Amex Gold Card, but it’s still a very nice bonus, compared to other similar cards that don’t offer such access.
In Montréal (YUL), for example, the Plaza Premium lounge is the beautiful and almost brand-new Air France Lounge. I tried it in May, it’s really a great airport lounge.
Having 4 passes is really great. We never include this in our Flytrippers Valuation since it varies a lot, but it can easily give you $25 in value per visit thanks to the free food and beverages.
So in total, that easily adds up to an additional $100 value with the Amex Gold Card, which is in addition to the ≈ $915 in rewards!
However, due to the terminal configuration, the Air France Lounge at YUL is only accessible if you have an international flight (excluding to the US).
That issue doesn’t exist in Toronto (YYZ), Vancouver (YVR), or Edmonton (YEG) but in Winnipeg (YWG), the lounge isn’t accessible if you have a US flight.
No other Canadian airport has a Plaza Premium lounge, so in that case, the 2 premium cards above are much better.
You can read our article on free airport lounge access for more details, while you wait for our ultimate guide on the topic. All 14 Plaza Premium lounges in Canada are listed in the article.
The Amex Gold Card also comes with a Priority Pass membership, but it’s not very interesting. It just gives you the opportunity to enter those 1300+ lounges at the discounted price of US$32 per visit, unlike the unlimited free access you get with Priority Pass membership on the Amex Platinum Card and unlike the 4 free Plaza Premium passes I just explained.
The credit to get the NEXUS card (not even included in our Valuation)
A NEXUS card is a must-have for any savvy traveler, whether you get it for free or not.
It lets you avoid wait lines at all the security checkpoints at Canadian and US airports, the wait lines at Canadian and US airport customs, and the wait lines at the land border.
The Amex Gold Card comes with a $50 NEXUS credit that will make your NEXUS card almost free (it’s less than the $100 credit you can share with your travel buddies that comes with the 2 premium cards from Amex, but it’s better than $0).
You can read part 1 of our ultimate guide to the NEXUS card for pretty much all the details on this wonderful program.
The many insurance coverages included
One of the best benefits of good travel credit cards (apart from the obvious travel rewards for free travel) is the insurance coverage included free of charge.
It makes no sense to miss out on all that!
The Amex Gold Card offers pretty much all types of coverage:
- Medical travel insurance
- Flight delay insurance
- Baggage delay insurance
- Lost or stolen baggage insurance
- Trip cancelation insurance
- Trip interruption insurance
- Car rental theft and damage insurance
- Hotel burglary insurance
- Travel accident insurance
- Purchase protection insurance
- Extended warranty
First, the medical travel insurance coverage offers 15-day coverage for your trips.
This applies only to cardholders under the age of 65, as is often the case. There is no coverage at all for those 65 and over though.
Unlike the other types of credit card insurance coverage, medical travel insurance coverage is valid whether or not you pay for the trip with your card. This is always the case for this type of coverage, contrary to the very common myth.
The most important coverage is flight delay insurance. It’ll give you $500 to pay for a hotel and meals if your flight is delayed by more than 4 hours, no matter the cause of the delay.
Most importantly, you’ll get it without having to go stand in line with other travelers who don’t have this insurance and without having to beg the airline at all.
I’ve used it 10 times myself and it gave me over $5000 in free hotels during delays. Plus, I also got over $1000 in hotels for later (since I’m paying for a nice, expensive hotel myself — instead of a cheap hotel paid by the airline — which allows me to earn tens of thousands of free hotel points for lots of future free nights)!
You also have trip cancellation and interruption insurance (beware of the COVID-19 exclusions that exist for these types of insurance, unlike the others).
Plus, you have car rental insurance which is common (stop throwing your money out the window by paying the rental company’s insurance), lost or stolen baggage insurance (useful if you unfortunately don’t follow the #1 tip to avoid the current chaos), and hotel burglary insurance (it doesn’t happen often, but it’s better to have insurance, especially when it’s free).
Finally, you have the standard retail coverage: purchase protection if your item is lost, damaged, or stolen (for 90 days; $10,000 maximum per item, $25,000 maximum per year) and an extended warranty (doubled; up to 1 extra year).
Our ultimate guide to the different types of travel insurance is coming soon.
The metal card available in 2 colors and other benefits
I’ll mention a few other perks you get with the Amex Gold Card.
This is a pretty terrible reason to get a card on its own, but I listed it anyway, because I know how much many love stuff like this.
The ≈ $915 in free travel, the super flexible and valuable points, the 4 airport lounge passes, the $50 NEXUS credit, and the really good insurance are all great reasons to choose the Amex Gold Card.
The fact that the card is made of metal is just an added bonus, if you think it will impress people and you value that.
(But if that’s the case, you really should be getting the Amex Platinum Card instead: it’s much more luxurious and heavy — 18 grams, almost 50% more than this one — and besides, that one is actually recognized as a status symbol, which really isn’t the case for a card that just costs $150 net!)
What’s also unique about the Amex Gold Card is that you can choose one of the 2 colors offered: Classic Gold or Rose Gold.
Free supplementary card
You can get a free supplementary card (“joint” card) so that someone you trust can help you earn more points (and have them all in the same Amex account).
It doesn’t count as a credit application for the additional cardholder and it doesn’t prevent them from eventually getting their own card, which your travel buddy should of course do to get their own welcome bonus, because welcome bonuses are the key.
With the Amex Gold Card, what’s special is that you get just 1 supplementary card for free. The others are $50, which is obviously not a good idea.
Base earn rate
It’s not with what you earn on your purchases that you’ll earn fast — it’s with welcome bonuses — but the perk of the Amex Gold Card, which earns valuable points, is that the base rate of 1 point per dollar is worth ≈ 1.5% instead of just 1% like you get on many cards (excluding categories with multiplier rates).
That’s still 50% more rewards. And since their value is unlimited, you could also easily be earning the equivalent of 2% or more as well!
As mentioned in the welcome bonus, a special bonus rate of 10 points per dollar at grocery stores and restaurants is in effect for the first 3 months, up to a maximum of $2000 (or 20,000 points).
You get access to the Amex Offers program: discounts, credits, and special offers throughout the year. That can add up to a lot of value.
You can also take advantage of the American Express Experiences program, which gives you access to exclusive virtual and in-person experiences and ticket pre-sales for many events.
You get access to The Hotel Collection program, which are privileges at luxury hotels (like a US$100 hotel credit and a free room upgrade), if you like to pay for expensive hotels.
Finally, you get benefits on Hertz car rentals. You get 10% off and you can add a 2nd driver at no charge. You also get a free upgrade to the next car category, but only on rentals of 5 days or more (and some countries are excluded).
The American Express Gold Card really does offer you one of the best welcome bonuses in Canada right now. You can get an incredible net value of ≈ $915, very flexible and valuable points, plus 4 passes to select airport lounges, a credit for the NEXUS card, and great insurance (all with no minimum income requirement)!
What would you like to know the American Express Gold Card? Tell us in the comments below.
Want to get more content to maximize your Amex points?
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Featured image: Guatapé, Colombia (photo credit: Robin Noguier)