Points, miles, and snide remarks.

Credit Cards

AmEx Business Gold Card: New Features, Higher Annual Fee

The American Express Business Gold Card has been a steadfast choice for those seeking respectable returns on common business expenditures. AmEx just announced a significant refresh to this card, and while some will love the changes, others may be put off by removed benefits and a higher annual fee. Let’s dive right into what these changes mean for you.

Higher Annual Fee

First things first, let’s address the annual fee. Starting February 1, 2024, the Amex Business Gold Card’s annual fee will increase to $375 from its previous $295 (see rates and fees). It’s not uncommon for card updates to bring about fee hikes, and this change is no exception. For those looking to score a signup bonus on this card without forking over another $80, you’ve got a few more months to apply.

Spending Category Changes

The core feature of the AmEx Business Gold Card remains intact – you’ll still earn 4 points per dollar spent on your top two spending categories each billing cycle, capped at $150,000 in combined spending. However, there are some changes in the bonus categories.

Two new bonus categories have been introduced:

  1. Transit purchases: This covers trains, taxicabs, ride-hailing services, ferries, tolls, parking, buses, and subways.
  2. Monthly wireless telephone service charges: Earn rewards for charges made directly with a U.S. wireless telephone service provider. This is a poor addition just as many wireless carriers drop discounts for those paying with a credit card, but keep reading for a workaround.

However, to make room for these additions, two categories have been dropped from the bonus rewards list:

  1. Airfare purchased directly from airlines: AmEx seems to want to incentivize use of their own travel agency here.
  2. U.S. purchases for shipping: Depending on how you spend on shipping, the newly-added FedEx credits may offset the loss of bonus points for you.

Extra Points on AmEx Travel

On the bright side, the AmEx Business Gold Card will now reward you with 3x points per dollar spent on flights, prepaid hotels, and prepaid flight and hotel packages booked through AmEx Travel or AmexTravel.com. But, there’s a caveat: the 25% rebate when using points to pay for travel is no more, and for most, the increase in points may not fully offset this loss.

Moreover, booking through AmEx Travel can sometimes be pricier than booking directly with airlines or hotels, and while AmEx itself generally has a reputation for excellent customer service, the travel agency is run by a third party, with a reputation for being difficult to work with in the event of changes or IRROPS. Additionally, by booking a hotel through AmEx Travel, you forfeit any accrued points and elite nights with the hotel chain, and won’t receive any elite benefits during your stay.

New Statement Credits Offset Fee Increase

One notable improvement is the introduction of statement credits for Amex Business Gold cardholders. Here’s what you can look forward to:

  • Up to $20 per month ($240 annually): Eligible purchases at FedEx (shipping only), Grubhub (delivery only), and office supply stores. It’s a shame to see GrubHub restricted to delivery only; I mostly burn my credits with delivery services by opting for pickup.
  • Up to $12.95 per month ($155 annually): A monthly Walmart+ membership; it’s worth noting that purchasing an annual membership costs only $98, so if you plan to prepay the entire year anyway, you may value this differently. You must opt to pay monthly to receive this credit.

Maximizing these statement credits can effectively offset the card’s entire annual fee (or nearly offset it, depending on if you value Walmart+ at $155 or $98). The FedEx credit is a particularly interesting addition, especially as the card removes bonus points on shipping purchases.

Cellphone Insurance

Another perk is the addition of cellphone protection. This feature reimburses you for repair or replacement costs for a stolen or damaged cellphone, with coverage of up to $800 per claim (up to two claims per year, with a $50 deductible per claim). While it may not save you a fortune, it offers peace of mind and could eliminate the need for other cellphone insurance plans. Keep in mind many phone providers now only give autopay discounts to those using a debit card or bank account; this can often be thwarted by setting up automatic payments on a debit card, and manually pushing through a credit card payment before your due date each month.

Rose Gold Now Available

For those who appreciate aesthetics, the rose gold option, already available on the personal Gold card, is now extended to the Amex Business Gold. I’ve never seen the appeal in this option on the personal Gold card and think the classic design looks great, but I guess choices are always better than no choices?

Welcome Offer Still Lukewarm

Despite all these updates, there’s no change to the welcome offer. New cardmembers will continue to earn 70,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $10,000 in the first three months of card membership. While this is a fairly lukewarm offer, if your Membership Rewards balance is running low, and you can manage the hefty spend, this offer may be worth looking into.

Bottom Line

The refreshed Business Gold Card comes with a new set of bonus categories, statement credits, and cell phone protection. However, the $375 annual fee is beginning to encroach into a more premium class of card (Venture X, anyone?), and I personally would have a tough time dropping that much on a card that didn’t even feature Priority Pass. How much value you obtain depends on your own spending patterns, and genuine business owners may get a lot of value out of this card. But I’ll personally pass on this card, at least until a better welcome bonus is released.