Is the $250 Annual Fee Worth It?

The American Express® Gold Card is a great card for dining out, ordering takeout and traveling, but it comes with a relatively high $250 annual fee. (See rates and fees.)

Cardholders can make up the cost with up to $240 in food-related credits every year and a $100 credit on eligible hotel stays, but paying $250 for a credit card isn’t within everyone’s budget.

If you order food for pickup or delivery with popular services like Uber Eats, GrubHub and Seamless at least twice a month, you can easily recoup the card’s annual fee. Alone, the food-related credits effectively reduce the card’s $250 annual fee to $10 — all with little work done on your part — and its additional perks only raise the value.

Ahead, we break down the benefits and credits of the Amex Gold card so you can decide if the $250 annual fee is worthwhile.

American Express® Gold Card

On the American Express secure site

  • Rewards

    4X Membership Rewards® points on restaurants worldwide (including takeout and delivery, plus, Uber Eats purchases) and at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X), 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com, 1X points on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases within the first 6 months from account opening

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

  • Regular APR

  • Balance transfer fee

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Credit needed

Value of Amex Gold card benefits

In order to recoup the Gold card’s $250 annual fee, you’ll need to take advantage of the card’s benefits. We crunched the numbers to find out how much each perk is estimated to be worth.

Additionally, Amex provides shopping offers, known as Amex Offers, at a variety of retailers, like restaurants, hotels and department stores. These offers let you receive a statement credit or points on eligible spending after you activate. The value varies by card member, so it’s not simple to estimate how much you can earn per year. Combined, however, Amex card members have saved over $931 million since January 2010.

Alternatives to the Amex Gold card

American Express Cash Magnet® Card

On the American Express secure site

  • Rewards

    Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 months

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 15 months on purchases, N/A for balance transfers

  • Regular APR

    13.99% to 23.99% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Credit needed

More manageable annual fee

American Express® Green Card

Information about the American Express® Green Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

  • Rewards

    3X Membership Rewards® points on eligible travel, transit and at restaurants worldwide and 1X Membership Rewards® points on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    30,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $2,000 on eligible purchases within the first 3 months from account opening

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

  • Regular APR

  • Balance transfer fee

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Credit needed

Luxury travel benefits

The Platinum Card® from American Express

On the American Express secure site

  • Rewards

    10x Membership Rewards® points on eligible purchases at U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets (on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of card membership), 5X points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel (starting January 1, 2021, this applies on up to $500,000 per calendar year), 5X points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com, 1X points on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    75,000 Membership Rewards® points after spending $5,000 within 6 months of account opening

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

  • Regular APR

  • Balance transfer fee

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Credit Needed

Bottom line

If your food delivery bills are high, the Amex Gold card can help you save on eligible orders through the dining credit and Uber Cash perk. And if you plan on traveling later this year, booking a stay at The Hotel Collection can help you save up to $100 per eligible trip.

But if you prefer meal-prep over takeout or don’t plan on using the Amex Gold’s food-centric credits, you would need to maximize the card’s rewards program to offset the annual fee. This requires more work and even more spending — approximately $6,250 to $25,000 in purchases is required to offset the annual fee, depending on the categories you spend in.

The quickest way to recoup the Amex Gold’s annual fee is to spend a combined $6,250 at U.S. supermarkets and restaurants worldwide.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the CNBC Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.