AmEx Gold Card car­ri­ers get big­ger perks, higher fee

Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend - - BUSINESS - BY KEN SWEET

The mid­dle child of Amer­i­can Ex­press’ suite of charge cards, the Gold Card, is get­ting a ma­jor up­grade this fall, but its big­ger perks come with a higher fee.

It’s the lat­est move by Amer­i­can Ex­press to keep and grow its card mem­ber base in the face of in­creased com­pe­ti­tion. But it also re­freshes a prod­uct that in­dus­try ex­perts have said was too ex­pen­sive for the perks it of­fered.

The Gold Card has, for some time, sat be­tween the sub-$100 an­nual fee cards like Chase’s Sap­phire Pre­ferred, Citi’s ThankYou Pre­mier Card and the su­per-pre­mium cards like the Plat­inum Card or Sap­phire Re­serve, which grant air­port lounge ac­cess or have big travel cred­its. Its po­si­tion­ing on the an­nual fee scale gave the Gold Card lit­tle di­rect com­pe­ti­tion, and made it pop­u­lar with those look­ing for some perks but not look­ing to spend $500 just for the priv­i­lege of us­ing a credit card.

AmEx is pitch­ing the Gold Card at cus­tomers who want to travel and dine like its Plat­inum Card cus­tomers, but don’t need the air­port lounge ac­cess or travel in­ter­na­tion­ally as much as high­er­spend­ing cus­tomers, said Rachel Stocks, who runs AmEx’s Gold and Plat­inum Card prod­ucts.

“It’s a sta­ple prod­uct for us for years, and we wanted to add more value to it,” Stocks said.

The new perks are com­ing with a higher cost. AmEx is in­creas­ing the an­nual fee on the card from $195 to $250. Those who have a Gold Card al­ready will not see their an­nual fee in­crease un­til af­ter April 2019, AmEx says. The last time AmEx in­creased the fee on the Gold Card was in 2015.

Those who like to or­der in, or dine out, will get a big ben­e­fit from the new card. Users will get four Mem­ber­ship Re­wards points per dol­lar spent on din­ing, which is up from two points per dol­lar.

The card will come with a

$10 a month ($120 a year) credit when cus­tomers spend money at Shake Shack, The Cheese­cake Fac­tory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, and on­line or­der­ing apps Seam­less and GrubHub.

“AmEx is go­ing hard at the din­ing mar­ket with these changes,” said Ted Ross­man, an in­dus­try an­a­lyst with Cred­it­cards.com, an af­fil­i­ate of Bankrate.com. “But I think the an­nual fee is pretty steep for what you’re get­ting.”

AmEx is also of­fer­ing four points per dol­lar spent at su­per­mar­kets, up to $25,000 a year. The com­pany’s Blue Cash Pre­ferred card, how­ever, gives 6 per­cent cash back on su­per­mar­ket spend­ing.

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