The Useless Amex Gold Dining Credit
What’s worse than a credit card with no benefits? A credit card with pointless benefits. Much of what the American Express Platinum and American Express Gold cards offer is pointless. The cards offer credits for services I don’t use and at companies I rarely, if ever, shop at. This even applies to their monthly restaurant credit. The useless Amex Gold dining credit doesn’t get much love from me.
Don’t get me wrong. I like to eat out, and do so more than my budget would like sometimes. But the idea that I get any real value out of the Amex dining credit is laughable.
Amex Dining Credit: Breakage Galore
All the various credits offered by the Amex Gold and Platinum cards make my eyes cross at this point. Its hard to keep track of them. I’ve used some of the annual and semi-annual credits, such as the Dell credit on the Business Platinum and the airline credits at times. But in general, the bulk of them go unused.
It’s always one of two things: either the credit is for something I wouldn’t buy on my own, or it’s handed out in tiny pieces a la the dining and Uber credits. Rather than offer you a flat credit for the whole year, Amex gives you $10 at a time.
So, I pretty much never recoup the $695 annual fee. I like many of the Amex Platinum Card benefits, and the earning rate of the Amex Gold card on groceries is steller. But I just can’t justify the fee next to the benefits. I thought I’d be able to use the Amex dining credit a handful of times during my cardmember year, but it has proven to not be the case.
Why I Find the Amex Dining Credit Useless
Given that I travel more than a few times per year, I figured I’d be able to use the dining credits. I end up using more than half of the Uber credits. But I’ve concluded differently. The useless Amex Gold dining credit has overwhelmingly gone unused.
You might be thinking: “dude, just plan a dinner out.” It’s not that simple. Amex restricts you to only a handful of merchants: the Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar, and select Shake Shack locations. It’s not like everyone has a Shake Shack or Cheescake Factory around the corner.
There is all of one Grubhub restaurant within 15 miles of me. So that’s not even an option locally. Plus, after my last few food delivery experiences, I also pass on these, unless work is paying. It’s not worth the extra fees and hassle. The last time I considered Grubhub was in Oahu, and we walked across the street to Dominos instead. That’s what I stooped to, rather that use food delivery.
I have no need or desire to try to use the credit at the other online options.
All said and done, the Amex Dining Credit isn’t on my radar, even as the card has occupied my wallet for early an entire year. I’ve even skipped the Uber credit, when a Lyft ride was less than Uber, even factoring in the credit.
Right, There Was That One Time We Used It
Our trip to Seattle last summer was the only time I used the credit. My sons and I spent a few days in the Emerald City, seeing some of the iconic sights and catching a Sounders game. I figured this was my chance to use the Amex Gold dining credit.
So, for lunch one day, we walked several blocks to a Shake Shack location. It was a good lunch, but the prices surprised me. Even after the $10 credit, I spent about as much as I would have at Chipotle or other fast casual restaurants. Not so helpful.
The boys did enjoy the food. But I regretted the choice. It would have been easier to simply find a restaurant close to where we were rather than go 15 minutes out of our way to try to use a $10 credit.
What Would Make the Amex Dining Credit Actually Useful
If American Express changed the credit to something like once a quarter for $30, that I’d actually consider using. It would give me the flexibility to work it into travel plans, and enough to ensure we get a free, or at least mostly free, meal. Having $30 for a Shake Shack lunch in Seattle would have been far better.
$10 goes almost nowhere these days. And when you’re restricted to only a handful of options, it’s useless. Worse than useless, since it takes up my mental space when I think, “oh yeah, I should try to use that benefit.”
So now I don’t even try.
My Amex Gold card will be getting the axe in the next two months when I hit my first year. It’s simply not worth the $250 annual fee, the useless Amex Gold dining credit being a main culprit.
The longer I’ve been in this hobby, the more I like simple cards. I pick a few cards to fill my wallet, and I pretty much forget about the rest. I’ll gladly take ones with annual credits that are worth the fees, such as free hotel nights. But those live in the desk drawer.
It’s the ones with monthly credits that drive me nuts. I’d rather the Amex Gold card drop its annual fee by $75 and also drop the dining credit. Would be an improvement.
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