I’m obsessed with credit card rewards. I’ve been writing about credit cards since 2008, I’ve earned millions of points and miles and I’ve taken dozens of trips without ever paying for airfare or hotels.
I currently have 17 active credit and charge card accounts, but there’s one card in particular I favor when buying food: I use my American Express® Gold card every time I go to the grocery store or make a purchase from a restaurant. Here’s why:
American Express Gold Card: Key Terms
- Welcome bonus: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your card to spend $4,000 within six months of account opening.
- Rewards: Receive 4x Membership Rewards points on restaurants and at U.S. Supermarkets on up to $25,000 per calendar year, then 1x.
- Annual Fee: $250
- APR: 15.99% to 22.99% APR
How the American Express Gold Card Works
The American Express Gold card offers new members 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on their card within six months of account opening. You’ll also earn 4x points at restaurants around the world, and 4x points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 spent each year), plus you’ll automatically get $10 in Uber Cash each month (for a total of up to $120 per year) when you add your Gold Card to your Uber account. Your monthly Uber Cash can be used towards Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the US. Cardholders will then earn one point per dollar spent on all other purchases. Membership Rewards points are very valuable. They can be redeemed for gift cards, merchandise and travel reservations, or transferred to airline miles or hotel points.
This card does have a $250 annual fee, but don’t let that scare you. That’s because you can receive nearly all of that back each year in statement credits. You’ll receive $10 in monthly statement credits towards Grubhub and Seamless orders as well as purchases from select restaurants including The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House and participating Shake Shack locations. That adds up to $120 a year. Plus, You’ll also receive an annual $100 airline fee credit that applies to purchases like those for checked bags and in-flight food and beverages. When combined, they equal $340 of the $250 annual fee.
The key strengths of this card are the 4x offers for restaurant and U.S. Supermarket purchases. While some Amex cards that feature bonuses for supermarket purchases limit it to just your first $6,000 spent each year, the Gold card has a healthy limit of $25,000 per calendar year. This is important for those who are spending more at supermarkets these days, and for those who purchase some of the many things other than food sold at supermarkets, such as gifts, household supplies and prescription medications.
The statement credits are also important to this card’s value. If you are able to utilize the dining credits, Uber credit and the air travel fee credits, then they’ll make up for all of the card’s $250 annual fee.
This is a card that rewards you heavily for buying food, whether you cook, eat in, dine out, order takeout or delivery. But it offers no special rewards for gas or travel expenses. And to make the annual fee truly worth it, you probably would have to take advantage of the $100 annual air travel fee credit. For those of us who aren’t flying this year, that will be difficult, especially as most major U.S. airlines have temporarily eliminated their changes fees.
Alternatives: Best Credit Cards for Restaurants and Groceries
Capital One Savor Rewards. This card offers 4% cash back on dining and entertainment purchases, but just 2% back at grocery stores. New accounts can receive $300 in cash back after spending $3,000 within three months of account opening. It has a $95 annual fee.
Chase Sapphire Preferred®. With the Sapphire Preferred card, you can receive 60,000 bonus points, worth $750 in travel reservations, after spending $4,000 within three months of account opening. You earn 2x points on all travel and dining purchases, and this card has a $95 annual fee.
Chase Sapphire Reserve®. This premium rewards card offers you 50,000 bonus points, worth $750 in travel reservations, after spending $4,000 within three months of account opening (Points redeemed from this card are worth 1.5 cents towards travel reservations). It also features 3x points on travel and dining, a $300 annual travel credit and a $100 credit towards a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application. Other benefits include a Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership, a DoorDash DashPash subscription and $120 in DoorDash credits. There’s a $550 annual fee for this card.
There are a lot of credit cards that offer bonuses for dining or groceries, but the American Express Gold card has what may be the most generous offers for both. When you take a look at how many points you can receive by earning 4x on nearly all of your food purchases, you’ll be surprised to see how valuable this offer is.