Business Gold Rewards Card Review: Is $175 Worth It?
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Is the Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN worth the $175 annual fee? It depends. Read this in-depth analysis BEFORE you apply.
Pros and Cons
- $0 introductory annual fee for first year
- $175 annual fee
- Requires excellent credit
Good rewards card for established business owners who do not plan to carry a balance
Business rewards cards are convenient for managing your expenses and getting something in return for using them, but you usually have no say in how the rewards work.
Business Gold Rewards card from American Express is different. It lets you choose which rewards category (out of 5 predefined categories) matters to you most — and rewards accordingly.
The card does come with a steep annual fee, however, so it's important to get the cold hard facts to make sure it's a wise investment. We lay it out for you below, in plain English.
Who AMEX Business Gold is Good For
Based on the Business Gold card's features, we think it's right for three specific types of business owners:
- Reward seekers: The card gives you triple points on a specific spending category of your choosing (you have 5 to choose from) and double points on 4 other specific spending categories, up to the first $100,000 you charge annually in each category. Other purchases get 1x point.
- Established businesses: It takes excellent credit to qualify for the card, so it's ideal for seasoned business owners. If you haven't been in business long, you'll likely need to look elsewhere for a rewards card.
- Frequent flyers: Airfare is one of the five spending categories you can choose from to earn triple rewards, which makes it an excellent choice if your business routinely takes you or your employees out of town.
|© Michael Duxbury (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr|
Before we dive into the reasons to get this card, here are the basics of how the rewards program works:
When you make an eligible purchase with your Gold Rewards card, you earn reward points. You earn 1 point for every $1 spent on most purchases.
You have the potential to earn more: This card also offers bonus points in various categories. You earn 3 points per $1 spent in one category of your choice from the five categories available, and 2 points per $1 spent on the remaining four categories. The five categories available are:
- airfare on a scheduled flight charged directly with passenger airlines (charter flights and private jet flights are excluded);
- advertising purchased in the U.S. to promote your business online, on television, or on the radio;
- gasoline at gas stations located in the U.S. (superstores, supermarkets and warehouse clubs that sell gasoline are not considered gas stations);
- shipping services purchased in the U.S. for courier, postal, and freight;
- computer hardware, software, and cloud computing purchases in the U.S. made directly from select providers.
You may select the category in which to earn 3X points within the first two months of becoming a Card Member. Thereafter, you can change your selection only once during the annual selection period which runs from December 1st to January 31st each year. You can only change your category once annually.
Keep in mind, the bonus rate applies to your first $100,000 of purchases in each category. Once you hit this annual limit, you go back to earning the regular rate of 1 point per $1.
American Express Business Gold Rewards Card Promotion
10 REASONS TO Open Business Gold Rewards Card
When you're comparing business credit cards and charge cards, it's important to take a look at the bigger picture. We've highlighted 10 things that make the Business Gold Rewards card a standout in our opinion.
- Sign-on bonus: When you sign up for the Business Gold Rewards card and spend $5,000 in the first 3 months, you'll qualify for a bonus of 50,000 Membership Reward points. (Special Offer)
- Tiered rewards: We briefly outlined the rewards structure earlier but to recap, members get 3 points per $1 on either airfare, advertising, gas purchases, shipping, or technology purchases. For the other four categories, you'll earn 2 points per $1 and you get 1 point per $1 on other purchases.
- Multiple redemption options: The Membership Rewards points you earn with the card can be used in a number of ways, including redeeming them for airfare or hotel stays, swapping them out for gift cards to select retailers, or paying at the checkout when you shop online. You can also apply them as statement credit for previous purchases.
- Expense tracking tools: Keeping up with your deductible expenses is a lot easier with access to the ReceiptMatch mobile app, which allows you to organize receipts on the go. You can also sync your account with QuickBooks for easy tagging of business transactions.
- Introductory annual fee offer: While the Business Gold Rewards card does have a $175 annual fee, it's waived for the first year, so you have 12 months to decide if it's the right fit for your business needs.
- Travel benefits: If you're going to be taking this card with you on a business trip, you have the peace of mind of knowing that you're covered by complimentary travel accident insurance, baggage insurance, and roadside assistance.
- Easy points transfer: Another advantage of the card is that you can transfer Membership Rewards points to selected frequent traveler programs, including Delta SkyMiles and the Starwood Preferred Guest program.
- No pre-set spending limit: The card doesn't come with a pre-set spending limit, and your purchasing power is based on credit record, payment history, and card use.
- OPEN Savings benefits: When you use your card at participating merchants, you'll earn a 5% discount or 2 additional Membership Rewards points on every eligible dollar you spend.
- Reduced annual fee for employee cards: If you need to add an employee card or two to your account, it won't cost you an arm and a leg. There's no annual fee the first year for your first additional card; after that, it's just $50. Additional employee cards are available with no annual fee.
3 REASONS TO CONSIDER A DIFFERENT CARD
Every business card is different and finding one that meets all of your needs can be challenging. While we think the Business Gold Rewards card is great for some business owners, there are a few potential downsides that might make another card the better choice.
- You need more time to pay: The Business Gold Rewards card is a charge card, which means your balance must be paid in full each month. The upside is you won't pay any interest on your spending, but you don't have any flexibility as far as the payments go. If your business isn't generating a steady cash flow yet, having the option to pay over time with interest may make more sense for your budget.
- You don't plan on spending a lot: If you're going to pay an annual fee to have a business charge card, then you need to be earning enough rewards each year to at least justify it. With the Gold, you'd have to spend at least $6,000 in your chosen triple-point category to earn back the equivalent of the $175 fee. If you're more of an occasional spender, this probably isn't the card for you.
Bonus tip: Are most of your credit card purchases going toward office supplies? Since that category isn’t represented here, you’d get just 1 point back for those expenditures. You may be more interested in the SimplyCash Plus Business Credit Card from American Express to get 5% back on U.S. office supply store purchases (on up to $50,000 in purchases per calendar year).
- You'd rather get cash back than points: Earning Membership Reward points can certainly pay off if you plan to swap them out for travel, merchandise, or gift cards, but some business owners prefer to have cold hard cash in their pockets. If that's the case, something like the Ink Business Cash Credit Card from Chase may offer the kind of rewards you're looking for.
How AMEX Gold Business Compares
It’s always a smart move to look at least 3 different cards before choosing your next one. Here are other business rewards credit cards that pack a punch.
If you prefer no annual fee:
SimplyCash Plus offers cash back rewards, no annual fee and the flexibility to pay over time as it's a credit card, not a charge card.
Interest Rates and Fees
|Introductory APR for Purchases||N/A||0% introductory APR for 9 months|
|Purchase APR||N/A||12.74% to 19.74% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors|
|Annual Fee||$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $175||No annual fee|
|See Rates & Fees||See Rates & Fees|
Benefits and Features
|Cash Back Deal||Introductory Bonus Cash Back: For a limited time, earn even more cash back: Earn up to $500 cash back as statement credits.|
Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $5,000 in qualifying purchases on your Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
Plus, earn an additional $250 statement credit after you spend an additional $10,000 or more in qualifying purchases on your Card within the first year of Card Membership. Offer Expires 01/25/2017.
|Points Deal||Introductory Bonus Reward Points: Special Offer: Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $5,000 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership|
|Cash Back||Cash Back Rewards: 5% cash back on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. office supply stores. 3% on the category of your choice from a list of eight and 1% cash back on other purchases. (5% and 3% apply to the first $50,000 in purchases per calendar year, then 1% thereafter. Cash back received is automatically credited to your statement.)|
|Points||Point Rewards: Get 3x points - Choose 1 out of 5 categories. 2X points on the 4 remaining categories and 1X points on other purchases. 3X and 2X apply to the first $100,000 in purchases in each of the 5 categories per year, 1X point per dollar thereafter|
|Discount||Discount: The OPEN Savings benefit is built into Business Cards from American Express OPEN and provides either a 5% discount or 2 additional Membership Rewards® points for each eligible dollar spent at OPEN Savings merchants. Terms and limitations apply.||Discount: The OPEN Savings benefit is built into Business Cards from American Express OPEN and provides either a 5% discount or 2 additional Membership Rewards® points (if your card is enrolled in the Membership Rewards program) for each eligible dollar spent at OPEN Savings merchants. Terms and limitations apply.|
|Airline Transfer Partners||Airline Transfer Partners: Airline transfer partners include Delta, Hawaiian Airlines, Aeromexico, Air Canada, Air France, Emirates, Cathay Pacific (Asia Miles), Virgin Atlantic, Singapore Airlines, Etihad, Alitalia, All Nippon Airways and more.|
If you want to take advantage of travel extras:
The Enhanced Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN: The Gold Rewards card is useful for earning points towards airfare, but it's got some competition as far as travel cards go. If you spend a lot of time flying back and forth for business, you want to be able to do it in comfort and the Business Platinum card from Amex fits the bill with premium travel perks.
Members enjoy complimentary access to more than 1,000 airport lounges worldwide, along with other travel incentives like a companion ticket on eligible international flights, up to a $200 airline fee credit each year, 24/7 concierge service, and a statement credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre every 5 years.
As far as the rewards go, you earn 1 point per $1 you spend (which is less than what you get with the Gold Rewards card), but the promotional bonus helps makes up for it. There's a potential downside to the card in the form of a $450 annual fee, but depending on your business’ usage, the benefits maybe outweighed by the combined value of the different travel perks.
|Annual Fee||$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $175|
|See Rates & Fees||See Rates & Fees|
|Points Deal||Introductory Bonus Reward Points: Special Offer: Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $5,000 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership||Introductory Bonus Reward Points: Limited Time Offer: Earn up to 100,000 Membership Rewards® points. Offer expires January 25, 2017.|
Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $5,000 and an extra 50,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
|Airline||Airline Rewards: New 50% Airline Bonus: Use Membership Rewards® Pay with Points for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 50% of the points back.|
|Points||Point Rewards: Get 3x points - Choose 1 out of 5 categories. 2X points on the 4 remaining categories and 1X points on other purchases. 3X and 2X apply to the first $100,000 in purchases in each of the 5 categories per year, 1X point per dollar thereafter||Point Rewards: New: Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's 1.5 points per dollar, on each qualifying purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year.|
Plus, continue to get one point per dollar for qualifying purchases under $5,000.
|Airline Status||Airline Status: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year on a selected airline for incidentals such as baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more.|
Access to 5 airport lounge networks including The Centurion® lounge network, The International American Express lounges, Delta Sky Club® lounges, Priority Pass(TM) Select, and Airspace Lounge. Enrollment required for Priority Pass Select.
|Hotel Status||Hotel Status: Enroll in complimentary SPG Gold Status (Starwood Preferred Guest Gold Preferred Guest).|
Enroll in complimentary Hilton HHonors(TM) Gold Status.
Fine Hotels & Resorts - book your stay through American Express FHR at one of 600 luxury hotels and you may get a room upgrade upon arrival, daily continental breakfast for 2, guaranteed 4pm late checkout and a special amenity unique to each property.
If you want a straightforward way to earn rewards:
Business Green Rewards Card from American Express OPEN: Running a business is time-consuming and trying to keep up with multiple rewards categories on your credit card may not fit into your schedule. If you like to keep things simple, the Business Green Rewards card is worth considering.
Members earn 1 point per $1 on purchases, with the opportunity to double up on points when you use your card to book flights or hotel stays through American Express Travel. At 5,000 points, the introductory bonus is much lower compared to the Gold Rewards card, but you only have to make a single purchase to earn it rather than worrying about charging a certain minimum amount. Compared to the Business Gold Rewards, the Business Green $95 annual fee is attractive if you're not a big spender, and it's waived for the first year so you have time to try the card out.
|Annual Fee||$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $175||$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95|
|See Rates & Fees||See Rates & Fees|
|Points Deal||Introductory Bonus Reward Points: Special Offer: Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $5,000 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership||Introductory Bonus Reward Points: Earn 5,000 Membership Rewards® points after your first purchase on the Card|
|Points||Point Rewards: Get 3x points - Choose 1 out of 5 categories. 2X points on the 4 remaining categories and 1X points on other purchases. 3X and 2X apply to the first $100,000 in purchases in each of the 5 categories per year, 1X point per dollar thereafter||Point Rewards: Earn one Membership Rewards® point for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases|
BOTTOM LINE: Open Apply Business Gold?
At first glance, the Business Gold Rewards card looks appealing based on the size of the sign-on bonus and the amount of rewards you stand to earn. There are some potential snags, however, in the form of the annual fee and excellent credit requirement. Overall, we think it's a good fit for established business owners who use credit for more than just everyday spending.
Something else to keep in mind is that the Gold is a charge card, not a credit card. You need to pay off your purchases in full each billing cycle and cannot carry a balance.
These factors combine to make the Gold Rewards card more suited for established businesses that have steady cash flow. New business owners may find the annual fee too high ($175) and have trouble paying in full.
Terms and limitations apply.
David R is a contributing writer at CreditDonkey, a credit card comparison and financial education website. Write to David R at email@example.com. Our data-driven analysis has been recognized by major news outlets across the country and has helped consumers make savvy financial and lifestyle decisions.
Editorial Note: This content is not provided by American Express. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express. This site may be compensated through the Advertiser's affiliate programs.
Disclaimer: This content was first published on April 18, 2012. This content may have been updated on April 29, 2016. Information including APR, terms and benefits may vary, be out of date, or not applicable to you. Information is provided without warranty. Please check American Express website for updated information.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. This site may be compensated through the Advertiser's affiliate programs.
Disclaimer: The information for the Ink Business Cash Credit Card has been collected independently by CreditDonkey. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.