American Express Gold Product Refresh

More and more bloggers are posting that American Express will refresh their Gold Card product in October 2018. The exact day varies between October 4 and October 7. AMEX will change the Membership Rewards points by dropping 2X on Gas and increasing Restaurant and Groceries from 2X to 4X. The 3X on airline and hotel reservations via AMEX Travel will remain the same. All other purchases will remain at 1X. There will also be a cash back on dining similar to the Uber free rides on the Platinum card, which offers a fixed ride credit every month. 

The speculated points offering makes the AMEX Gold ideal for most everyday spend on dining and groceries. Oddly, they put a cap on 4X for Groceries at $25K. That is a ridiculous amount of groceries. In our home, with the $6K grocery cap on the AMEX EveryDay Preferred card, we could not reach even that meager level of spending for groceries. We tried. 

The new card is rumored to change from plastic to metal, similar to the Platinum card. Given the higher reward benefit, this makes some sense in that it gives the card more “weight” in the travel rewards game. Gold and Rose Gold colors are expected to be offered for members to choose. 

The new offerings make it almost compelling to let go of the AMEX Platinum card, which only offers 5X on flights and hotels booked through AMEX Travel. The trouble with the Platinum card is that it offers 1 point on pretty much everything else, which makes it spectacular only for travel spending, but not day to day expenses. 

In my case, I signed up for the Platinum card because I value the status at hotels and airport lounge access. I do not travel too frequently, making the 5X only occasionally useful. However, when I do travel for work or with family, I want the nice things. The perks add up during those moments. 

Unfortunately, 1X spending is not very high in our household. With a family of five, Mrs. Mata and I spend a great deal on groceries and dining, which means that the 4X changes to the Gold card will really give us a boost in terms of Membership Rewards accumulation. But, then again, by using the Gold and Platinum in tandem for travel, you get a boost in value. For example, booking through AMEX Travel with points, they pay for the hotel or flight outright, which yields 5X using the Platinum card. So, you get a good lump sum of points back when you spend points. So, we could use the Gold card to earn the 4X points and the Platinum to get us back 5X bonus points for booking. 

Perhaps we are better off keeping both cards, on further consideration. The Platinum may end up getting more use if we can accumulate Membership Rewards faster thanks to the anticipated new points scheme on the AMEX Gold card. It is a perverse loop that allows us to earn more travel by traveling more. This isn’t even including airline miles earned for flights and online shopping. 

If the intent by American Express was to keep us loyal to their product, they are doing a great job with this speculated change. I’ll be anxious to see which changes actually pan out.