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Amex Gold vs. Citi Premier – Which is Better?
The American Express® Gold Card (and Rose Gold Amex!) is an absolute category killer.
It earns 4X American Express Membership Rewards points at restaurants (including takeout and delivery) and U.S. Supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year). And if you’re on the road, you can earn 3X Membership Rewards points on airline spend (either booked directly with the airline or via AmexTravel). Add in monthly restaurant statement credits and Uber Cash credits and you can offset nearly the entire $250 annual fee. And if you want a little variety, choose the American Express Rose Gold Card (review), which may be the best looking card in the industry.
Given those benefits, it seemed appropriate to compare the card with another “must-have” credit card, the Citi Premier credit card, which costs only $95 per year. So let’s take a look at the two.
Comparison: American Express Gold Card vs Citi Premier Credit Card
I’ve often been told that a picture is worth a thousand words, so let’s start with a comparison chart to save me a heck of a lot of typing.
|American Express Gold||Citi Premier Card|
|Welcome Bonus||60,000 bonus Amex Membership Rewards points when you spend $4,000 in 6 months.||80,000 bonus Citi ThankYou points when you spend $4,000 in 3 months|
|Annual Fee||$250 (with $120 in annual Uber/Uber Eats and $120 in dining statement credits) - Net $10||$95 (with $100 hotel credit) - Net -$5|
|Bonus Multiplier for dining||4X||3X|
|Bonus Multiplier for supermarkets||4X up to $25,000 a year; then 1X||3X|
|Bonus Multiplier for airfare||3X||3X|
|Bonus Multiplier for non-air travel||1X||3X (at hotels)|
|Bonus Multiplier for gas||1X||3X|
|Annual Perks||$20 in monthly credits |
($10 for Uber/UberEats and $10 for GrubHub / Seamless and other participating restaurants)
|$100 credit on a single hotel stay totaling $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees (1X per year)|
|MilesTalk Approximate Value per Point||1.7 cents||1.5 cents|
|Car Rental Collision Damage Waiver Coverage||Secondary||None|
|Foreign Transaction Fee||None||None|
|Trip Delay Insurance||Yes; Must be a round trip and entirely paid for with Card. $300 max benefit, two claims max per year. Delay must exceed 12 hours.||None|
|Lost Baggage Coverage||Baggage covered when you purchase the Entire Fare for a Common Carrier Vehicle ticket (e.g. plane, train, ship, or bus). Coverage can be provided for up to $1,250 for carry-on Baggage and up to $500 for checked Baggage.||None|
|Trip Cancellation Insurance||None||None|
Comparing the Annual Fees
Amex Gold Card: $250 (Rates and Fees). The card includes a $10 Uber/Uber Eats credit each month and a $10 per month Seamless/Grubhub (or select restaurants) statement credit (Enrollment required). Max out your credits and your net annual fee is $10.
Citi Premier Credit Card: $95. The card includes an annual one-time $100 credit for a single hotel stay that costs more than $500, not including taxes and fees. Net annual fee? It’s actually a $5 profit.
Winner: Citi Premier Card, which not only gets you that $5 profit but makes it slightly easier to offset that annual fee. But it’s close.
Sign Up Bonus
Both cards come with an outstanding welcome bonus.
The American Express Gold Card is currently offering 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in the first 6 months. Using MilesTalk’s value of American Express Membership Rewards of 1.7 cents each (the minimum value you can expect to get per point. You can learn a bit about Membership Rewards here.), this bonus is worth at least $1,020.
Amex will only let you get a bonus on the card once per lifetime, but you will generally be eligible if you cancelled the card more than 7 years ago.
The Citi Premier Credit Card is currently offering 80,000 bonus Citi ThankYou Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months. Using the same chart as we did for American Express, we value Citi ThankYou Rewards points at 1.5 cents each, or worth $1,200.
Be sure to read through the rules on Citi credit cards bonus points eligibility before applying, since they can get complicated.
Winner: Citi Premier
Bonus Categories and Earn Rates
Credit card bonus categories are highly personalized and, of course, depends on where you spend your money, but here’s an overview:
Amex Gold Card: 4X Membership Rewards points on all dining (including both takeout and delivery) and U.S. Supermarkets (up to $25,000 in spend per year, then 1X). Airfare gets you 3X points (book directly with the airline or at amextravel.com), but no other travel bonuses. Everything else earns 1 point per dollar spent.
Citi Premier Card: 3X Citi ThankYou points in a whole bunch of categories, including 3X points for dining, at supermarkets, at gas stations and on airfare and hotels. Everything else comes in at 1X per dollar spent.
Double up with Citi Double Cash: If you apply for a Citi Premier Card, consider getting a Citi Double Cash card, as well. Double Cash pays 2X ThankYou points on every purchase, giving you 1X when you make the purchase and 1X when you pay it off. Here’s where it gets interesting: If you make a purchase in a category that only gives you 1X on the Citi Premier Card, use your Citi Double Cash credit card to make the purchase, instead.
You’ll be able to transfer those points into your ThankYou account and out to anywhere you can transfer Citi Premier Card points! Note that if you have an old Citi card lying around that you don’t use, you can call and convert it onto a Double Cash. All credit history would be preserved in this move, called a Product Change.
Likewise, you should also consider the Citi Custom Cash Card. You will earn 5% cash back (as ThankYou Points) on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent. It’s 1% after that, so choose a category where you don’t get big bonuses elsewhere and spend $500 each month for an easy 2,500 points. The card also has a 20,000 Citi ThankYou Point bonus after you spend $750 in the first 3 months.
Winner: Citi Premier
It’s too hard to ignore how many popular spend categories earn 3X. While if the bulk of your spend is dining and supermarkets, the Amex Gold wins, but if you spend a lot on dining, at supermarkets, at gas stations and on airfare and hotels, the broad 3X range on the Citi Premier wins.
Special Monetary Perks that Come with Each Card
American Express Gold Card: American Express comes with two main options for credits:
- Uber credit: Use your card for Uber rides or Uber Eats and American Express will automatically give you a $10 credit each month. It’s an Uber Cash credit that gets deposited into your account the 1st of each month.
- Dining benefit: $10 in monthly statement credits for dining, good towards any of the following: Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Milk Bar, Goldbelly, and participating Shake Shack locations. You must remember to enroll your card in this benefit on the Amex website after you receive your new card. It totals $120 total in statement credits annually. Don’t forget to use your Amex Gold card as your method of payment!
Citi Premier Credit Card: Citi offers a valuable hotel benefit. If you spend at least $500 in a single stay (excluding taxes and fees), you’ll receive a $100 statement credit. There are a few minor conditions with this benefit. The reservation must be in your (or an authorized user’s) name and it cannot be part of a package. Sadly, you can only earn this credit one time per year, so be sure to take advantage of it. Also, you do need to verify that the price on the ThankYou website is not more than you’d pay directly as it’s not always a slam dunk. You also will not earn hotel elite status benefits or earn loyalty points with this booking as it’s a prepaid rate.
Winner: Take your pick. It really depends on where you are going to be spending your money.
Other Perks that Come with Each Card
American Express Gold Card: When it comes to other perks, such as travel insurance and extended warranty for purchases, it really isn’t much of a competition. The Amex Gold Card clearly outclasses the Citi Premier Card.
The Amex Gold card does not charge transaction fees when you make purchases in foreign currencies. Some credit cards will charge up to three percent on purchases made in foreign currencies, so the transaction fee waiver can save you a lot of money if you are traveling.
Amex Gold will provide you a moderate amount of insurance while you’re on the road. You will start with trip delay insurance. For delays of at least 12 hours, American Express will cover you for up to $300, a benefit that you can take advantage of twice per year. It must involve a round-trip airline ticket that you paid for entirely with the American Express Gold Card.
You’ll also receive baggage insurance from Amex Gold. Your baggage is covered when you purchase the entire fare from what’s known as a common carrier vehicle. In the case of American Express, that refers to a plane, train, ship or bus. Amex covers you for up to $1,250 of carry-on luggage and up to $500 in checked baggage.
If you rent a car, the American Express Gold Card provides a secondary auto insurance benefit. Primary car rental damage insurance, which covers you before involving your personal carrier, is rare, although the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is an excellent option that does offer primary insurance. Here are some other credit cards that have primary car rental insurance.
There’s one unusual “perk” that the American Express Gold Card offers: A choice of colors. That alone is not enough to excite most people, but I have to say, the American Express Rose Gold Card is one of the best looking credit cards out there. It offers all of the same benefits as the traditional card, just in a different shade. If you use the Amex Rose Gold Card to make purchases, you’ll definitely get noticed.
Citi recently received a lot of bad press for eliminating its travel insurance perks (and only a few Citi cards still have extended warranty), so the Citi Premier Credit Card really doesn’t have a lot of “extras” to offer you. Like the Amex Gold Card, the Citi Premier Card does not charge foreign transaction fees, so it is a good card to travel with.
Winner: The American Express Gold Card, and it really isn’t close.
What Credit Score Do You Need for a Citi Premier Card or Amex Gold Card
Both cards require a credit score of 700+. We’ll call this category a tie.
Cash Out Options
For both credit cards, the best way to redeem points will be transferring to airline and hotel transfer partners. But what if you just want a statement credit?
In this case, the Citi Premier is a clear winner. You can “cash out” for 1 cent per point easily. American Express, on the other hand, will only give you 0.6 cents per point as a statement credit or 0.7 cents for most other “cash out” redemptions.
So Which is Better? The American Express Gold Card or the Citi Premier Card?
This one is a pretty close call, given that both cards have great sign-up benefits and ongoing perks, including high bonuses in key categories. But there can be only one winner, and I have to give that title to the American Express Gold Card (or the even better looking American Express Rose Gold Card).
At first, I found the annual fee to be a little bit daunting, but that’s just the sticker price. Let’s exclude the sign-up bonus, which I value at a little over $1,000, using MilesTalk’s value for American Express Membership Rewards points.
But the card also offers some of the best spending bonuses that I’ve seen from American Express. A constant knock on American Express cards is that they don’t offer much in the way of spending bonuses on their premium cards, which is largely true for the Platinum cards. That’s certainly not the case with Amex Gold. 4X points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 a year) and on all dining are huge for “everyday” categories and the 3X points on airfare is also excellent.
Having said that, the Citi Premier Card has a lot going for it. In particular, the 80,000 point sign-up bonus is a whopper, and the 3X points for hotels and gas certainly have the Amex Gold beat.
Here’s more information about how to apply for our big winner. And, of course, don’t forget to check out the Rose Gold Amex.
Prefer the runner-up? Here are the details on the bonus and how to apply for the Citi Premier:
One last thing…. if you are thinking that you want the Citi Premier for dining and travel but an Amex Gold for spending at supermarkets, that;’s not a bad idea either. Plus you’d be diversifying your points across two very different but excellent transferable point programs.
Do I need to pay my Amex Gold or Citi Premier bill in full every month?
Absolutely! Rewards cards charge extremely high interest rates if you carry over a balance. How do you think they pay for all of those rewards? If you don’t pay your bill in full every month, please get a low-interest rate card before the Citi Premier. 3% in rewards is not enough to offset a 20%+ interest rate.
Can I transfer points to another person?
Citi Premier Card: Yes but…You can only share (or receive) up to 100,000 points per calendar year and, more importantly, the recipient must use the points within 90 days.
Amex Gold Card: You can deposit Membership Rewards points to the partner account of an authorized user, but that user must have received their card at least 90 days before the transfer.
Does Either Credit Card Offer Airport Lounge Access?
Neither card does. For airline lounge access, you may want to look at an alternative, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
Do ThankYou Points or Membership Rewards Points Expire?
They don’t expire, as long as you keep your account open. If you choose to close your card, consider downgrading to one with a lower annual fee to keep your points active.
Is there a Limit on the Number of Points that I can Earn?
Neither card has a maximum. The amount of ThankYou points or Membership Rewards points that you can earn is limited only by how much you spend.
Can I Add an Authorized User?
Yes, both cards allow you to add an authorized user without an additional annual fee and you’ll earn points on their purchases, as well. Sorry, no welcome bonus for your authorized user on their credit card.
Can I Access My Credit Score?
Yes, the Citi Premier Card allows you free access to view your FICO score, while the Amex Gold card allows you to access your VantageScore® 3.0 by TransUnion.
Conclusion: Are the Cards Worth It? Which One Should I Get?
Absolutely! You’ll earn either 60,000 Membership Rewards or 80,000 Citi ThankYou points, which we value at approximately $1,020-$1,200. All you need to do is hit the minimum spend requirement for the credit card you choose.
As to which credit card you should choose, well, that’s up to you, but there’s no reason that you couldn’t open them both and double up on the sign-up bonus. The Amex card will get you 4X Membership Rewards points at U.S. Supermarkets and for dining, while Citi adds 3X ThankYou Points in several other categories (some of which overlap with the Amex card), including airfare & hotel and gas stations
Those credit card points can be worth even more if you use them for premium class international flights. And with 15 transfer partners at Citi and 17 transfer partners (14 airline partners and 3 hotel partners) from Membership Rewards, you’ll have your pick.
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You can find credit cards that best match your spending habits and bonus categories at Your Best Credit Cards.
New to all of this? My “introduction to miles and points” book, MilesTalk: Live Your Wildest Travel Dreams Using Miles and Points is available on Amazon and at major booksellers.Rates and Fees for the American Express Gold Card