Amex Gold not always 4X at US restaurants

One of the biggest selling points of the new Amex Gold card is that it earns 4 points per dollar at US restaurants.  A number of readers have reported, though, that the 4X benefit doesn’t always work.  When restaurants use Square (and other similar services) for credit card processing, Amex doesn’t give bonus points for those purchases even when the establishment is accurately coded as a restaurant.

For example, here are a number of recent purchases on my wife’s Gold card:

As you can see above, Taste Kitchen, Knight’s Steakhouse, and Zingerman’s Deli all earned 4X, as expected.  Two restaurants, though, didn’t earn 4X: Juicy Kitchen and Tomukun Korean BBQ:

 

When clicking into each of the non-4X restaurants, you can clearly see above that they are appropriately coded as restaurants.  They show “Category: Restaurant – Restaurant.”  This part is important: It is common for restaurants using Square readers to be categorized incorrectly.  In those cases, cards like Chase Sapphire also do not give dining bonuses.  When they are coded correctly as restaurants, Chase cards do correctly offer dining bonuses.  Apparently Amex does not.

What you can do

Some readers have reported success with contacting Amex to ask for bonus points for these charges.  Personally, I haven’t lost too many points so far due to this bug, so I’ve just let it go.  I really don’t want to be in the business of checking up on Amex’s restaurant coding every month.

Is this big deal?

There are three reasons why I’m not too concerned about this issue (Your situation may differ though):

  1. Most of the restaurants I go to frequently have coded correctly.  Obviously if I ate out at Juicy Kitchen or Tomukun more often I’d be more worried about it.
  2. The Citi Prestige card will start offering 5X for dining in January (soon!).  I’m pretty sure that Citi will do a better job bonusing restaurants than Amex does.  Plus, Citi won’t limit 5X to only US restaurants. I have a Prestige card with which I recently paid my $350 annual fee.  It looks like I’ll be charged the full $495 next year, but I have quite a while before having to worry about that.
  3. I think that the Gold card pays for itself with 4X for US grocery stores (up to $25K spend) even if I don’t use it for 4X restaurants.

Your situation may be very different though.  If you’ve made the decision to keep the Gold card instead of the Sapphire Reserve (see: Did Amex’s new Gold card kill Chase’s Sapphire Reserve?) you may want to revisit the decision to see if this changes things at all for you.

For more about the Gold card, see: Is 4X worth $250 per year? How much are those Amex Gold 4X categories (grocery & dining) worth?

Please also see: How to view Amex category bonus success.

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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Mike D
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Mike D

I happened to notice this problem this morning, and as it is the restaurant closest to my front door, I’ll be contacting Amex today. I’ll report if successful.

Hal
Guest
Hal

I will be contacting too. I had a 4 figure restaurant charge code correctly but not get the 4x

Jason
Guest
Jason

I’m just happy Zingerman’s is 4x, that’s all that matters when I’m visiting Ann Arbor

Danny B
Guest
Danny B

I am noticing the same problem. In my case, charges that start with TST* in the establishment name do not receive 4X even though these are coded as restaurants.

FlyingNinja
Guest
FlyingNinja

I’m noticing that you are eating out very often 🙂

Drew
Guest
Drew

I’ve looked into my charges before and they all coded correctly. The only restaurants that didn’t code correctly were the ones that used Square. I’m assuming all third-party stuff like Square only codes as 1x

Gwen
Guest
Gwen

Yes, I have had this experience too. Many places that coded as dining on the CSR don’t get 4x on the Amex Gold. I shifted a good amount a dining spend back to the CSR because of this.

David
Guest
David

Off topic but I tried Zingermans for the first time last year and damn they’re tasty

Alan
Guest
Alan

How do you get the screen where it shows you the number of MR points you earn per purchase? My Amex Gold page just shows the transactions but not the ‘4x’

Chaser123
Guest
Chaser123

Oddly, I have seen my bonus change post statement closing. In NYC, Fairway Supermarkets was not coding 4X. A couple days after statement closed, when you look at the activity, it changed to 4X. I never reconcile my statement to my rewards account, so I am not sure if its credited. Oddly also Amex stopped putting point summary activity on my statement, but it does show up a month later in my rewards account. I guess they can retro adjust the points to be correct since there is a lag from statement closing to point posting. I am guessing other people complained and they go back and fix all their customers.

Matt Katakis
Guest
Matt Katakis

I was told something similarly. When I did an online chat with AMEX, they told me to wait until the statement close date as some of the 4X transactions would change before then. Haven’t reconciled this yet, but good to know that someone else is seeing this too.

WR2
Guest
WR2

Got the popup for Amex Gold, so I signed up for Ameriprise Gold instead, hoping that they will soon align the benefits with the standard gold…so hoping I can experience such problems soon!

Kyle
Guest
Kyle

How do you dispute these transactions that didn’t receive 4x bonus? I used chat to bring it up a few times after I first got the gold card but they told to wait for my statement. Nothing has changed but I now no longer have the ability to chat. Even when I go to “Contact Us” there is a loading icon under the chat section that never loads. Am I supposed to email them with every transaction that is missing the bonus?

Nick
Guest
Nick

I called Amex and worked with Membership Rewards department. It took several calls to get it all done. They credited me missed points. And, they adjusted the adjusted the categories on all the retailers I reported so they would continue to get 4X points.

I recently saw a gas station transaction not get the 2X points. So, I’m going to call them on that, too.

kyle
Guest
kyle

Finally got on Chat but it is only working via the Amex app. They were extremely unhelpful and just kept telling me it wasn’t eligible for every transaction they checked even after me pointing out the inconsistency of the way they categorize things and which ones earn a bonus. I will try to call but this is exhausting work to have to do this. You sir, are doing the good work to make everyone’s experience a little better hopefully.

Kim D
Guest
Kim D

“Is this big deal?”

Absolutely. If you promise something and write it into your terms of service, then you need to keep that promise. It is a matter of principle; if you let AMEX get away with little things like this, no telling what else they’ll try to slip past unwitting customers

Nick
Guest
Nick

Agreed. When I called, at least one rep pointed out that restaurants not in the US or part of larger non-restaurant establishments are excluded. I reiterated multiple times those particular terms don’t apply as these transactions were at standalone restaurants in the US.

Hold Amex to what the T&C says. If the T&C stated certain Square transactions may be excluded, that would be different.

I think, though, that Amex quietly excluded Square terminals because Square may have lower swipe fees than restaurants with direct relationships with Amex.

Either way, it should be clear. If Square continues to be a problem, I’ll move those transactions back over to Chase to get at least some bonus.

P-nope
Guest
P-nope

I’m looking at my door dash purchases and they have 4x earning.

But it’s taking forever to get credited the $10 dining monthly credit for my in-restaurant cheesecake factory purchase.

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[…] morning, Greg published a post about the disappointing reports about the new Amex Gold card not earning 4x at some restaurants, even in situations where Amex clearly shows “restaurant” as the merchant code online. […]

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[…] Amex Gold not always 4X at US restaurants by Frequent Miler. Annoying that Square transactions don’t work properly, but not much that American Express can do about that I don’t think. […]

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[…] Amex Gold not always 4X at US restaurants by Frequent Miler. Annoying that Square transactions don’t work properly, but not much that American Express can do about that I don’t think. […]

Back to Chase CSR
Guest
Back to Chase CSR

Today, Amex told me similar errors on my statement were excluded because they were inside another establishment. Apparently restaurants within shopping malls, or even in the same structure but adjacent are excluded. They refused to issue points.

trackback

[…] Gold Card Not 4X At All US Restaurants:  When revamping the Gold card, Amex made some big waves by offering 4X points per dollar at US restaurants.  This is outstanding news. However, as data points roll in, not every restaurant triggers the 4X bonus. […]