With fees likely to increase, what's next for the American Express Gold Card?

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this *American Express Gold Card* It’s one of the best all-around travel credit cards on the market. Foodies swipe it everywhere and it's a top choice at grocery stores—all while earning more valuable American Express Membership Rewards points. Other perks and benefits make it well worth the $250 annual fee (see rates and fees).

But essentially nothing has changed in six years. So changes to the Gold Card seem imminent…and in the world of credit cards, change is rarely a good thing.

American Express has made clear that more “product updates” — codes that increase annual fees while adding hard-to-use benefits — are on the way. After making major changes to the Business Gold Card earlier this year, including a massive price increase, it's safe to say the trusty personal American Express Gold Card is ready.

Which begs the question: Is the American Express Gold Card really going to get a facelift? If so, what are some of the favorite travel cards for diners?

read more: American Express Gold Card comprehensive review

*American Express Gold Card*

Learn more about *amex gold*

Annual fee increase is coming soon

The writing is on the wall: The American Express Gold Card is definitely going to get more expensive. We bet this will happen soon.

At $250 per year, it's not cheap. But it's been at this price point since 2018, when American Express last overhauled the card and raised its annual fee from $195 per year to its current $250.

Six years is an eternity in the credit card world — especially for American Express, which has a well-worn practice of raising annual credit card fees every three to five years. Whether it’s this year or next, the annual fee for Gold Card holders will go up.

Delta Air Lines Flyer American Express Gold Card

How high will it go? think about it:

  • American Express recently raised annual fees on its small business twin *We are gold*from $295 to $375 (see rates and fees)
  • American Express raised the annual fee for its Delta cards as part of a broader overhaul of all its Delta co-branded cards in February *Delta SkyMiles Platinum Card* Starting at $250 – same as Gold – up to $350 (see rates and fees)

It would not be surprising at all to raise the annual fee for the Gold Card to $325 or even $350. That’s what American Express does: raise the annual fee and then add a bunch of complicated benefits to justify the price increase.

“The update really helps drive demand. It drives awareness and drives more engagement from existing cardholders. It's a strategy that's been very, very effective for us,” CEO Steve Squery told investors last month.

read more: American Express bill credit out of control

If American Express raises the annual fee for its Gold Card, it begs the question: Who does American Express want to compete with? The card will be significantly more expensive than some of the other banks' basic travel cards… and starting to approach the cost of those banks' premium travel card offerings, which will likely have fewer travel benefits.

Add more (better) travel benefits

Let me ask you a question: Is the American Express Gold Card really the best travel card? Gee, is this really a travel card?

With an annual fee of only about $95, the Amex Gold Card already seems expensive compared with lower-priced competitors from Chase, Capital One and even Wells Fargo. However, it has fewer travel perks than those cheaper alternatives.

In fact, the only “travel” aspect of the Gold Card is that the ability to transfer your American Express points to partner airlines and hotel chains is extremely valuable. This means you can use Amex points to book a business class flight on Delta One for 50,000 points, or book a flight to and from the Hawaiian Islands through Air Canada Aeroplan. Since American Express is the only bank that partners with Delta Air Lines, you can use SkyMiles to book ultra-cheap domestic flights or participate in the next SkyMiles flash sale.

But aside from maxing out those points and earning 3x points on flights booked directly with the airline (plus flights booked through American Express Travel), that's really the only “travel” angle to this card. American Express can do more.

When I think about travel benefits, I want my travel card to include card benefits like Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership points, Priority Pass lounge access, and money-saving travel points.Even a $95 annual fee card like this *Prefer Chase Sapphire* and new Wells Fargo Autograph Journey Visa® Card Earn $50 in hotel credits and $50 in airline credits each year. Meanwhile, Amex is eliminating the $100 airline fee credit for Amex Gold in 2021.

TSA security

Consider this: If you carry only an American Express Gold card into the airport, you'll find yourself barefoot and with all your electronics out while you wait in the general security line. You'll wait longer than many other travelers because they can bypass all of this and go through TSA PreCheck faster. While some credit cards with $95 annual fees have fast-track security benefits like PreCheck, Amex Gold travelers are being left behind.

Even the American Express Gold Card’s inferior brother, American Express® Green Card, comes with $189 in credits towards the annual cost of CLEAR® Plus membership. It also comes with $100 in LoungeBuddy points per year, which gives you one-time use passes to some airport lounges. Get all of this for just $150 annual fee!

Adding more travel-focused perks — and maybe some additional lifestyle perks — seems like a safe bet. This will definitely make it better, not to mention making it a stronger competitor compared to cheaper cards from other banks.

American Express Gold Card

Also pay more attention to catering

The American Express Gold Card tops our list of the best dining cards. The points you earn when you eat are a big reason why.

Cardholders earn unlimited Earn 4x Membership Rewards points for every $1 spent at restaurants worldwide. From Michelin five-star restaurants to your favorite fast food joints or just stop in for a cup of coffee, you can earn 4x points for every $1 you spend. This is a big expense for many Americans, and the Gold Card is a great way to maximize that expense.

Want to cook at home instead of eating out?The American Express Gold Card also earns Spend $25,000 or more in U.S. supermarkets each year and earn 4x points for every $1 spent (1x points thereafter) It is also the first choice for buying groceries. Both categories make Amex Gold a mainstay for travelers looking to accumulate more Amex points.

The card also offers a $10 monthly dining credit that can be spent at GrubHub, The Cheesecake Factory, Wine.com, Goldbelly, Milk Bar and participating Shake Shack locations. Plus, get an extra $10 in Uber Cash every month. As long as you use up both benefits each month, the total can reach $240 per year – any unused amount won't be carried over to the next month.

These benefits alone easily outweigh the current $250 annual fee. But based on what American Express has been doing lately, change seems inevitable.

American Express Gold Card holders

Don't be surprised if Amex exchanges your $10 monthly restaurant credit for Resy's points. American Express acquired restaurant reservation platform Resy in 2019 and has since been slowly integrating the platform into its cards and services.

That's exactly what they did when they remodeled *Delta SkyMiles Platinum Card* and *Delta Reserve Card*, add $10 and $20 per month in Resy points respectively. The Gold Card seems like a good fit for similar credit cards…maybe even a larger credit card.

That said, not everyone can visit Resy restaurants – they are mainly located in the largest metropolitan areas. But that's the point: By making them harder to use, American Express ensures that many cardholders let them go to waste while still promoting some new money-saving benefits on paper.

We'd like to see a more universal dining credit, like $25 a month that you can earn at any *Bonvoy Brilliance*. But we're not holding our breath.

What's next? when?

Read My Lips: The annual fee for the American Express Gold Card will soon increase.

American Express has pledged to “refresh” 40 card products in 2024 – although that number includes cards from Mexico, Asia, Australia and other regions. Unfortunately, there's nothing American Express has made quite like the Gold Card. It's just a matter of when the fees increase and by how much.

American Express likes to play games with its customers, constantly raising fees, eliminating useful credit card benefits, and adding other monthly, quarterly, and even annual statement credits that may or may not be difficult to use. American Express has used the same strategy to refresh many of its credit card products over the years.

Will American Express lean more heavily on the dining benefits the card already offers? Will they add more travel-focused offers to help them compete with other banks' offerings?

We don't know the answers to these questions yet. But change is brewing.

bottom line

The American Express Gold Card is a great credit card that offers useful benefits and earns valuable American Express points to book flights cheaply.

But based on recent comments from the CEO of American Express, it seems almost certain that the card will be raising its annual fee and adding some new benefits in the near future.

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