American Express Retools Gold Card in Battle for Fine Diners

(Bloomberg) -- American Express Co. is ratcheting up the rewards war for premium credit-card customers. Again.

Holders of the AmEx Gold Card will now get 4 points per dollar spent at U.S. restaurants and supermarkets, up from 2 points previously, the New York-based company said Thursday in a statement. They will also receive a yearly $120 dining credit when they use their card at the Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, certain Shake Shack locations or with the delivery services GrubHub or Seamless.

The largest credit-card issuer by purchases, AmEx has been under pressure to defend its dominance as firms including JPMorgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo & Co. and U.S. Bancorp have introduced or revamped premium offers for wealthy customers. Capital One Financial Corp. in August unveiled new benefits on its Savor card, which offers 4 percent cash back on dining and entertainment.

“We’re committed to expanding our leadership in the premium consumer space,” Rachel Stocks, AmEx’s executive vice president of global premium products and benefits, said in a phone interview.

AmEx retooled its Platinum card last year, boosting its marketing efforts and offering $200 of free Uber rides each year while increasing the annual fee. Stocks said the move led to a 50 percent year-over-year jump in new accounts as spending on those cards rose 20 percent.

‘Top Dog’

“AmEx is still ‘top dog’ and continues to offer the most attractive rewards” on its Platinum and premium Delta Air Lines Inc. cards, Sanjay Sakhrani, an analyst at Keefe Bruyette & Woods Inc., said in a note to clients on Wednesday.

The new Gold card perks come with a higher price tag: AmEx is boosting the annual fee from $195 to $250. The membership rewards points are valued at about 1.9 cents each, according to the card-rewards website The Points Guy.

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