Full Review of American Express Gold Business
Excellent and flexible rewards in categories in which you spend the most
Flexible limits and payment options
Few or no premium travel perks
High annual fee
- Excellent and Flexible Rewards in Categories in Which You Spend the Most: This card designates six categories as eligible for its best rewards: tickets bought directly from eligible airlines, U.S.advertising expenses (online, TV, and radio), computer hardware and software purchases from eligible U.S. technology providers, U.S gas stations, U.S. shipping services, and dining at U.S. restaurants. Each month, the two categories among these in which your business spends the most within the U.S. earn 4 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent. With those points averaging a worth of 1.54 cents each, according to Investopedia's valuation, rewards in those categories approach an outstanding 5 cents per dollar spent. What’s more, the categories eligible for those earnings adjust monthly to your spending. For example, if you spend heavily on restaurants and shipping in January and on gas and airfare in February, the 4-points-per-dollar rewards rate would automatically shift from January’s biggest-spending categories to the corresponding ones for February.
- Flexible Limits and Payment Options: This card offers some welcome features to accommodate the cash-flow challenges of a business. First, unlike original Amex "charge cards," it has a Pay Over Time option that allows eligible cardholders to carry a balance (with interest). Balances under $100, however, are due in full each month. There's also no pre-set spending limit; instead, the amount adjusts with your use of the card. And finally, cardholders get access to the Amex Working Capital Terms program, which provides access to funds (between $500 and $150,000) to pay vendors for up to 90 days at a flat fee of 0.6% of the loan per 30 days.
- Few or No Premium Travel Benefits: If you frequently travel for business and crave certain perks while on the road, this might not be the card for you. It lacks travel niceties you can find with other business cards, like airport lounge access, credits for Global Entry membership, and free checked bags.
- High Annual Fee: At $295, the annual fee for this is high indeed. Similar cards offer comparable rates on diverse rewards for less. The Chase Ink Business Preferred card, for example, charges $95 per year and offers 3-points-per-dollar on the first $150,000 combined spent on travel, shipping, Internet, cable and phone services, and advertising each year. It, too, has a sizable bonus offer.
This Card is Best For
Seeks to maximize points or miles earnings across spending categories
Earning a primary or side income from a small business
The American Express Business Gold card is best-suited to small businesses whose highest monthly expenditures fall into at least two of this card's six bonus categories. And those optimal candidates should indeed be small enterprises; you can earn 4-points-per-dollar rewards only on the first $150,000 spent annually in those categories.
This is also a card for business owners who are comfortable receiving rewards as Amex membership points, rather than as cash. Receiving points is more complex, since it requires some mastery of Amex's rewards system. And the closest option to receiving rewards as cash is to use them to buy gift cards, a cumbersome option that also results in lower values per point than for other options, such as redeeming points to cover travel purchases.
Finally, this card is a decent choice for use abroad, since it doesn’t have the foreign-transaction fee, typically of 3%, that many cards impose on purchases made outside the country.
American Express Business Gold Card Bonus Offer
New cardholders who spend $5,000 or more within the first three months of card membership receive 35,000 Membership Rewards points. You'll receive the reward in the form of a statement credit eight to 12 weeks after meeting the spending requirement.
Based on our valuation for Membership Rewards points, this offer is worth up to $790 when points are used to book flights through the American Express Travel portal. While that’s a solid return among business cards, it isn't the highest available. The Chase Ink Business Preferred card, for instance, offers 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points for spending $15,000 or more within the first three months of card membership—a bonus worth more than twice as much as the one for the American Express Business Gold, according to our points valuations.
Rewards Earning Details
This card offers 4-points-per-dollar-spent on two categories out of a designated six in each billing cycle; Amex automatically selects the two on which your business has spent the most in that billing cycle. So those earnings are automatic—there's no need to opt in or track categories. The 4-points rewards are limited to $150,000 in spending per calendar year.
These are the six categories that qualify for bonus rewards. Except for the first item, all require that the spending be made within the U.S.
- Airfare purchased directly from airlines
- Advertising in select U.S media (online, TV, radio)
- Direct purchases of computer hardware, and software from U.S. technology providers like Apple, CDW, Dell, HP, IBM, Intuit, Lenovo, Microsoft, Newegg, Oracle, Rackspace, Sage Software, Salesforce.com, Symantec, and Tiger Direct
- U.S. gas stations, except from superstores and warehouse clubs
- U.S. restaurants
- U.S.shipping expenses
Spending outside of those categories earns 1-point-per-dollar-spent, as does any spending over the $150,000 threshold for the higher rewards rate.
Rewards Redemption Details
You can redeem points through your American Express account in a variety of ways. Those redemption options include:
- Booking or upgrading travel through the American Express Travel portal
- Paying with points at checkout at various retailers
- Buying gift cards
- Applying against charges on your card
- Shopping through the Amex shopping portal
The value of each point varies based on the redemption option you choose. You’ll generally get the best value per point by redeeming points for travel through the American Express Travel portal or by transferring them to a travel partner. Cardholders who book their flight with American Express Travel using Membership Rewards Points will get 25% of those points back.
Membership Rewards points can be transferred to the frequent-flyer programs of Amex’s partner airlines, with values that vary by the airline. Unusual among card issuers, though, Amex charges 0.0006 cents per point for some partner transfers, to a maximum fee of $99. You might be allowed to redeem additional points to cover the fee, though, and despite the charge, there's still a good chance you'll get the most value out of your points by transferring them to another rewards program.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
To get the most out of this card, use it to pay for expenses that fit into its six bonus categories—you’ll earn 4 points per dollar spent on the two categories where you spend the most each month. For all other purchases, you’ll earn 1 point per dollar, which still adds up but may fall short of what you could make with another card on those transactions.
Next, make sure to spend at least $5,000 on this card within the first three months of membership in order to take full advantage of the welcome offer, which we calculate is worth about $770.
It’s best to book your flights through American Express Travel using points, which allows you to get 25% of the points spent back. Doing this after spending the annual maximum of $150,000 in the 4-points-per-dollar-spent categories would allow you to recoup 150,000 points that would be worth as much as $2,310, by our calculations.
Finally, obtain additional cards for employees who make purchases on behalf of the company in order to further increase the miles earned on the account. Of course, depending on your company policy, those employees may be entitled to retain rewards earned on their travel for their personal use. If so—or in order to allow them to do so—you can enroll your business in Delta's corporate SkyBonus program, provided you have at least five employees with cards who together spend at least $5,000 annually on Delta flights. The program, which is free, allows both the employee and their employer to earn miles rewards on Delta flights.
Here are average and above-average spending scenarios to illustrate how to make the most of this card for reaping rewards. In all cases, our calculations don't include the value of the 35,000-point welcome offer, or factor in the additional 1 point per dollar you'd earn for making purchases outside of the premium rewards categories.
Let's say you mainly use this card for two business expenses—flights and restaurants. Each year, you take four round-trip economy flights at an average of $357 per round-trip flight (the average round-trip flight, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.) You spend an additional $500 per month on purchases at restaurants.
Assuming travel and dining are perennially your two highest monthly spending categories, and so earn 4-points-per dollar spent, you'd earn nearly 30,000 points, worth $462, when redeemed for travel through American Express. And when redeeming points in that way, 25% of the points used would be returned to your account—boosting your net earnings by an extra $115, for a total of $577.
Adding employees as additional card members could boost your rewards exponentially, especially since there's no charge for each additional card.
Let's say that in addition to your spending on flights and restaurants in the scenario above, you have two employees who each fly for business twice per year and spend a combined $250 per month on restaurant purchases. Assuming you either retain employees’ rewards for business trips, or have enrolled in the corporate SkyPlus program, the business would earn another 30,000 points with this card. That would put your company’s total for the year at around 60,000 points, which would be worth about $924 when redeemed through Amex travel. Since 25% of points would be returned to your account for booking through Amex, worth a further $231, the total bounty for this spending would reach $1,155.
American Express Gold Business Card's Outstanding Benefits
- Get 25% points back after using points to pay for all or part of flights booked through Amex Travel
- No pre-set spending limit
- Access to Working Capital Terms from Amex
- Expense-management tools
- Access to travel discounts and amenities through The Travel Collection
- Benefits with The Hotel Collection
- Global assistance hotline
- Rental car loss and damage insurance (secondary to your own policy)
- Access to exclusive events
- Baggage insurance
- Dispute resolution for fraudulent or incorrect charges
- Pay Over Time option
In J.D. Power's 2019 customer satisfaction survey, American Express placed second and received a score of 838, which is just below that for Discover.
Cardholders have several options to get in touch with customer service. They can call by phone 24/7 at 800-528-4800. Customers can also log into their account to live chat with a representative, and tweet questions and comments to @AskAmex.
Cards from American Express come with industry-standard security precautions, including fraud and online account protection. If your card is lost or stolen, the company will replace it for free through the American Express Go portal.
Even with its steep annual fee of $295, the American Express Gold Business card can be lucrative for small business owners who spend heavily in its bonus categories. And the six possible categories are broad enough—ranging from airfare to shipping to computer hardware—as to suit almost any enterprise. In addition, the card offers what is essentially a short-term cash-flow relief by allowing businesses to tap loans of up to 90 days at relatively modest cost.
Beyond its bonus categories, however, the card offers an unremarkable 1 point per dollar spent, which yields a return of barely more than 1%. It may make sense, then, to pair this card with a high-earning flat-rate points card for use on all spending outside of the bonus categories. The Amex Blue Business Plus card, for example, offers 2 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on everyday business purchases up to $50,000 per year, and has no category restrictions.