The Gold Card from American Express is not a credit card in the traditional sense, but rather is a charge card that requires payment in full every month of the entire balance. Nonetheless, this particular card can indeed have a positive impact on a credit history, particularly when the account is open for a long period of time and is used responsibly.
Improving Credit History
Successful use of the Gold Card from American Express can help improve the cardholder's credit history in a few ways.
Long Term Use
The longer an account is open and used, the better this is reflected upon in the cardholder's credit history. An account for a charge card that has been open and active for a few years is going to have a much better impact on credit history than a charge or credit card account that has only been open and active for a couple months.
The longevity of accounts is merely one aspect of a credit history, but it is a positive aspect that the Gold Card can provide.
Paid In Full Monthly
The terms of the American Express Gold Card specify that the balance must be paid in full every month. This is the main characteristic that separates a charge card from a typical credit card. It is when the cardholder pays the balance in full each and every month that the account appears positively on the credit report.
Simply put, it is the continued use of the charge card per the cardholder agreement (in particular, paying the balance monthly) that makes the charge card a positive item on the credit report, and consequently, a potential improvement to the overall credit history.
American Express extends the invitation to some Gold Card members to join the Pay Over Time program. This allows cardholders the ability to pay the balance over time, but does result in interest charges for any portion of the balance that goes unpaid. This feature is not available to all cardholders and does not change the account's status as a charge card.
When the Gold Card is merely another card among a long list of cards that are either used irresponsibly or are maxed out, it won't have an impact on bringing the credit score up. In other words, having a Gold Card will not overshadow irresponsible use with other credit card accounts.
Along those same lines, not following the terms and conditions of the Gold Card (such as not paying the balance in full every month) can absolutely have a negative impact on credit history, and will likely result in hefty fees as well.
The American Express Gold Card is considered to be more prestigious than some other cards. For this reason, the existence of a Gold Card on your credit report tells potential lenders that you qualified for an account that not everyone can qualify for. Then again, remember that not every lender actually takes the time to review credit history, oftentimes only looking at credit scores.
Find the Right Card
Obtaining an American Express Gold Card and then not paying your balance on time will not improve your credit history at all; in fact, it will damage your credit history and make it harder to get credit in the future. If your sole intent is to improve your credit history, consider this account to be merely one of the many options available that can help you improve your credit score.
Cardholders rate this account positively on both the American Express website as well as on independent review sites such as Credit Karma. American Express offers an impressive list of options for cards with both charge cards and credit cards among the offerings.