The 8 Best Cards from American Express

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I frequently offer appraisals of the very best cards, and the very best signup bonuses, but in doing so only offer one or two cards per bank. That means I don’t get down further — what card should you get next, or if you aren’t going to get the one I prefer for whatever reason?

It’s especially useful to go farther with American Express now that you can only earn the bonus for a given card once per lifetime, unless you’re targeted for an offer that doesn’t include that language.

So here’s the 8 best American Express rewards cards:

  1. Platinum Card® from American Express. This is the card that offers the best insider benefits. But it’s just become a great card for spending, too now that it earns U>5 points per dollar with airlines.

    The card gives you access to American Express Centurion lounges. (Here’s the Las Vegas lounge, the New York LaGuardia lounge and Dallas. There are lounges in Houston, Miami, San Francisco, and Seattle.)


    Complimentary Exhale Spa – Miami Centurion Lounge

    You get access to Delta lounges when flying that airline same day. You get a Priority Pass Select card that includes access to Alaska Airlines lounges, and many international lounges.


    Alaska Airlines Boardroom Pancake Machine

    You can designate one airline on which you’ll receive a $200 fee credit for the year (and in my experience, and while terms and conditions apply on all of their offers, and it isn’t supposed to work this way small denomination American Airlines electronic gift cards have worked for reimbursement).

    The Platinum American Express also reimburses the $100 application fee for Global Entry or the fee for TSA PreCheck, comes with Gold status in Starwood Preferred Guest and Hilton HHonors Gold, and National Car Rental Executive status, plus unlimited Boingo wireless internet.

  2. The American Express Business Platinum Card had been offering a signup bonus of 40,000 Membership Rewards points for a long time. But… wow: you can now sign up and earn up to 100,000 points: 50,000 points after $5,000 spend within 3 months and an additional 50,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 within those first 3 months. This is a limited-time offer through January 25, 2017. (Offer expired)

    This makes the American Express Business Platinum Card really compelling, even aside from the benefits like Centurion, Delta, and Priority Pass lounge access; $200 airline fee credit; Starwood and Hilton Gold status; new improved earning on charges of $5000 or more; and 50% rebate when you spend points for airfare which gives you an effective 2 cents a point when paying with points rather than transferring to airline miles.

  3. Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card quickly became the best Membership Rewards-earning card, which is also one of the very best points currencies because you can transfer them to your choice of several different mileage programs. The card can earn 1.5 points per dollar on all spend, and a 50% bonus even on top of spending category bonuses. So unquestionably one of the strongest cards in the market for ongoing spend. (offer expired)

    It earns 3x at US supermarkets, and 2x at US gas stations. Supermarket bonus earn is capped at your first $6000 in spend each year. Thirty qualifying purchases in a billing cycle will get you a 50% bonus on all of your points-earning for that month — and the bonus even applies to the supermarket and gas station bonus categories (so supermarkets are up to 4.5 points per dollar).


    Etihad A380 First Class Apartment — Etihad is a Direct Transfer Partner of American Express

  4. Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express offers 25,000 points after $2000 spending within 3 months of card opening but most importantly for this post it gets you triple points on airfare when booked directly with airlines and double points at US gas stations, US restaurants and at US supermarkets. It’s the fastest earning card for frequent travelers.

    The annual fee is $0 the first year then $195 thereafter. They take the sting out of the fee by giving you a $100 airline fee credit. And since that credit applies even in the first year you can make money in year one, even apart from all of the points. In fact, get the card now and get the $100 fee credit in 2016 and again at the beginning of 2017 — $200 in total during your $0 fee first year, plus the signup bonus and the strong earning.


    Emirates A380 First Class Shower (Emirates is a Direct Membership Rewards Transfer Partner)

  5. Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express offers a signup bonus of up to 25,000 points after $3000 spend within 3 months of account opening and comes with 2 stays and 5 nights towards elite status, and $30,000 spend gets you Gold status from Starwood. (Offer expired)

    I’ve had the personal version for nearly 15 years. The reason it’s great is because Starwood has the most number of airline points transfer partners where transfers are 1:1 into miles (or better).

    You’re earning Starwood Starpoints and those are the most valuable currency.

    And there’s a built-in 25% transfer bonus: for every 20,000 airline miles you transfer points into Starwood gives you 5000 additional miles. So you effectively earn 1.25 miles per dollar on all of your spend (a built-in 25% bonus), and you get to pick what airline program you want your miles in later.


    Singapore A380 Suites Class (Transfer Points Directly to Singapore… or Numerous Other Airlines)

  6. Amex EveryDay® Credit Card. This is the single best no annual fee card.

    Membership Rewards itself used to come with an annual fee to earn and redeem points, and then some cards started bundling the program — but it was a premium program for premium cards. This is the first and only card that earns points which transfer to a variety of mileage programs 1-to-1 with no annual fee.

    I get asked all the time by folks who decide a premium product like the American Express Platinum or Premier Rewards Gold isn’t for them, they want to downgrade their card so they still have an American Express product and can keep their Membership Rewards points active, what should they do? This is the perfect card so you can keep your points without an annual fee.

    What’s more, the card even earns better than 1 point per dollar because when you make 20 charges per billing cycle on the card you earn a 20% bonus on points earned for the month, and the card earns double points at US supermarkets (up to $6000 spend per year).

  7. Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN 50,000 Membership Rewards points after $5,000 spend on purchases with the card within your first 3 months of cardmembership.

    This card has a $0 annual fee the first year, then $175. And you get to choose your triple points earning category for this card from:

    • Airfare purchased directly from airlines
    • US purchases for advertising
    • Shipping
    • US gas stations
    • Purchases made directly from select computer hardware, software, and cloud computing providers

    The four categories you don’t select to earn triple points earn double points instead, and you earn these increased points in the five categories on the first $100,000 in each category.

  8. Through November 9 the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card From American Express and the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express are offering 70,000 bonus miles and 10,000 elite qualifying miles after $5,000 spend on purchases in your first 3 months of cardmembership. These cards each come with a $100 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase on the new card within your first 3 months. (Offer expired)

    Benefits of the card include first checked bag free and up to $50 on a round trip Delta flight, plus Priority Boarding.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Editorial note: any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. Comments made in response to this post are not provided or commissioned nor have they been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any bank. It is not the responsibility of any advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either. Terms and limitations apply to all offers.

Comments

  1. If you open an incognito window or clear your cookies in Chrome and go to Amex’s website, you can get the personal Amex Platinum with a 75,000 signup bonus instead of the 40,000 and the Delta Platinum 70,000 Skymiles offer can be had for $3,000 in spending instead of $5,000. I know that the bloggers won’t get credit for it, but I’m not going to leave money on the table when a much better offer is out there.

  2. So Delta’s FFP sucks, they do egregious and horrible anti-consumer things with their program…but please apply for their credit card through my link? Alrighty then!

  3. @Eric really not that complicated. The program is weak in my view, the miles are worth less than other miles, but there are a ton of miles available cheap which makes the cards worthwhile (especially when the bonus is as high as it’s ever been for the product).

  4. @RCB using the same method you can get PRG up to 50K/60K and regular Rewards Gold for 25K. Seems only fair! Sorry, Gary…

  5. Considering the new 3:1 transfer ratio between Marriott and Starwood, it is nearly criminal that you bury the SPG card in the middle w/o mentioning that tidbit.

    churn, churn, churn

  6. I have a delta platinum that I never got a bonus on and a delta reserve business card. I know I can’t get the bonus on the delta p,anti un but can you on the delta platinum business?

    Eric, some of us are delta captive so we take the miles and use them to the best of our ability. Kind of like how everyone else is earning and using.

  7. Your description of Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card is misleading. Technically you didn’t say anything not true. You did say it “can earn” 1.5x on all spend. And later, 50% bonus if you use it 30 qualifying times a month. But your words imply you earn 1.5x on general spend.

    If this truly was a 1.5x earn I’d get it in a heart beat. But I would never want the stress of making sure I have 30 transactions a month or I revert back to 1x. Especially when I can use a Chase Freedom which is 1.5x without caveats.

  8. Sarah, yes. With the business platinum you have the same bonuses. 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQM at $25k and another 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQM at $50.

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