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The American Express® Gold Card, with its high reward rate in certain spending categories, is one of the best rewards cards to hold for dining and travel lovers.

The card’s elevated welcome bonus is enough to book a flight in business class on multiple airlines. And to boost your rewards balance, its ongoing earning rates make it a keeper for those looking to earn enough points for a trip in economy class every year.

How Many Points Do I Earn with the American Express Gold Card?

For starters, new cardholders will earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $4,000 on the card in the first six months of account opening (Terms Apply). It’s worth noting that you might be able to get a welcome offer of 75,000 bonus points with some targeted mailers and personal referrals.

After that, you’ll continue earning bonus Membership Rewards points in the following categories:

  • 4X points per dollar spent at restaurants worldwide
  • 4X points per dollar spent at U.S. supermarkets (on up to the first $25,000 per calendar year, then 1x per $1 afterwards)
  • 3X points per dollar spent directly with airlines and on flights booked with AmexTravel.com
  • 1X point per dollar spent on all other purchases

Points earned with the American Express Gold Card are called Membership Rewards points. What makes them valuable is that they can be transferred to the following loyalty programs at the following rates:

AirlinesTransfer Ratio
Aer Lingus AerClub1,000:1,000
Aeroméxico Club Premier1,000:1,600
Air Canada Aeroplan1,000:1,000
Air France/KLM Flying Blue1,000:1,000
Alitalia MilleMiglia1,000:1,000
ANA Mileage Club1,000:1,000
Avianca LifeMiles1,000:1,000
British Airways Executive Club1,000:1,000
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles1,000:1,000
Delta SkyMiles1,000:1,000
El Al Frequent Flyer Club1,000:20
Emirates Skywards1,000:1,000
Etihad Guest1,000:1,000
Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles1,000:1,000
Iberia Plus1,000:1,000
JetBlue TrueBlue250:200
Qantas Frequent Flyer500:500
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer1,000:1,000
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club1,000:1,000
HotelsTransfer Ratio
Choice Privileges1,000:1,000
Hilton Honors1,000:2,000
Marriott Bonvoy1,000:1,000

Because the points are so versatile, it’s not a bad currency to be earning, and the American Express Gold Card is one of the best everyday spending cards with its popular bonus categories.

Once you earn the welcome bonus, you can spend it to book flights in all the aforementioned programs. Let’s take a look at what kind of premium-cabin flights you can unlock with your rewards.

American Express® Gold Card

American Express® Gold Card

Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months. Terms Apply.

LEARN MORE

Business-Class Awards Bookable Using the Sign-Up Bonus Earned on American Express Gold Card

U.S. to Japan for 45,000 to 47,500 Miles on All Nippon Airways

In a surprise move, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club has made one-way travel on ANA bookable with miles. In the past, a round-trip reservation was required to book ANA awards with Virgin Atlantic.

The new and improved way of booking ANA flights allows for more flexibility as you no longer have to wait for round-trips award flights to be available or in case you want to continue your journey elsewhere after visiting Japan and don’t need a round-trip ticket.

ANA operates service to several U.S. cities, including Chicago; Honolulu; Houston; Los Angeles; New York City; San Francisco; San Jose, California; Seattle; and Washington. If you live in one of these cities or can take a positioning flight, you can book ANA-operated flights to Japan and beyond.

Those located on the West Coast can redeem just 45,000 Flying Club miles for a one-way flight in ANA’s business-class flight to Japan—you can’t make these rates up if you tried. Those on the East Coast need 47,500 miles to fly nonstop to Japan.

U.S. Cities to Europe for 50,000 Virgin Atlantic Miles on Delta Air Lines

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club has got a few mileage redemption sweet spots, including this one. Although Virgin Atlantic isn’t part of SkyTeam, it’s a partner of Delta Air Lines, which owns a 49% stake in the British carrier, and Flying Club miles can be used to book Delta award flights.

One of the best ways to book Delta One flights to Europe is by redeeming 50,000 Virgin Atlantic miles for a one-way flight originating in the United States.

Booking with Delta One flights

Keep in mind that only nonstop flights qualify for this redemption rate. Delta flights with layovers will result in higher pricing.

Mainland U.S. Cities to Hawaii for 40,000 Miles on Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles is an American Express Membership Rewards partner that flies under the radar but offers quite a bit of value to those seeking lie-flat seats between mainland U.S. cities and Hawaii.

If you’re lucky, you can find nonstop flights from select U.S. cities to the Aloha State for 40,000 miles in first class each way.

Flight details

To find award availability, you have to originate your trip in one of the cities where the airline flies: Austin, Texas (begins April 21, 2021); Boston; Las Vegas; Long Beach, California; Los Angeles; New York; Oakland, California; Ontario, California; Orlando, Florida; Phoenix; Portland, Oregon; Sacramento, California; San Diego; San Francisco; San Jose, California; and Seattle.

Unfortunately, low-level awards priced at 40,000 HawaiianMiles aren’t easy to find, especially on round-trip itineraries. You might have to utilize different programs on the outbound and on the return flight.

New York to Milan or Athens, Greece, for 62,500 Miles on Emirates

Few people know that Emirates operates fifth-freedom flights from New York (JFK) to Milan (MXP) and to Athens (ATH)…or it did before the pandemic. Although it’s not clear when the Dubai-based carrier will resume service to Athens, the New York-Milan route will resume June 1, and these flights are available for mileage redemptions.

To fly on this unique route, you’ll need to redeem 62,500 Skywards miles for a one-way ticket in Emirates business class. Taxes aren’t bad, either. You’ll pay about $60 on the way to Europe and about $100 on the way back to the States.

Flight from New York to Milan

So, if you’re looking to experience Emirates business class without having to fly to Dubai, this is a great way to do it. You’ll redeem fewer miles, too, as a one-way flight from New York to Dubai (DXB) costs 100,000 Skywards miles.

U.S. Cities to Europe for 60,000 Miles on Star Alliance Partners

Air Canada Aeroplan’s new program has combined distance-based and zone-based redemption methods in one, creating this particular sweet spot.

If you fly from North America to Europe, and your flight distance is shorter than 4,000 miles, your premium-cabin award flight will cost 60,000 Aeroplan miles. Here’s an example of a flight from Newark, New Jersey (EWR), to Brussels (BRU) on United Airlines that will set you back 60,000 miles in business class.

Flight from Newark, New Jersey to Brussels on United Airlines

You can even add a stopover in another city to a one-way itinerary for just 5,000 extra miles and visit two European destinations using 65,000 Aeroplan miles, as long as you stay under 4,000 flight miles total.

Final Thoughts

Those who sign up for the American Express Gold Card will have no problem booking a flight in business class using the bonus alone. And those who maximize the card’s bonus categories will have no problem earning enough rewards to book a premium flight back.

The options above are just some of the ways you can upgrade your flight experience using Membership Rewards points and are only the tip of the iceberg of travel possibilities.

Our best offer ever! Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Just getting started in the world of points and miles? The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best card for you to start with.

With a best-ever bonus of 100,000 points after $4,000 spend in the first 3 months, 5x points on travel booked through the Chase Travel Portal and 3x points on restaurants, streaming services, and online groceries (excluding Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs), this card truly cannot be beat for getting started!


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