American Express is the oldest active credit card issuer with their first card being released in 1958. They currently have 18 personal cards and 14 business cards. But not all credit cards are created equally. The focus of this post is to highlight my favorite American Express cards.

I have divided the cards into three sections: Membership Rewards (MR) points-earning, hotel and airline co-branded, and cash back. Both personal and business cards are mentioned. Each card will have some quick facts and then a paragraph about why they’re so great.

 

Membership Rewards Earning

Everyone who collects points and miles should have (and even start out with) transferrable points. Amex’s points are called Membership Rewards (MR) points. These points are special because they can be transferred to 21 different airline and hotel partners.

Personal & Business Platinum Cards

Sign-Up Bonus: The personal version has a bonus of 60,000 points for $5,000 spend in 3 months. The business version has a bonus of up to 75,000 points for $20,000 spend in 3 months.

Earning: Both cards earn 5x points on air travel. But the business version also earns 1.5x on purchases greater than $5,000.

Perks: These two cards are some my favorites for perks. Both give you access to Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass Lounges, Delta Lounges (when flying Delta), and Airspace Lounges. Other highlights include Marriott and Hilton Gold Status, several travel credits, and Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts.

Annual Fee: $550 (Personal), $595 (Business)

These cards are all about the perks for me. You can get thousands of dollars in value for a nearly $600 annual fee. But you must use the perks. If you can do so, either card is a fantastic tool for any traveler’s wallet. If not, keep reading.

 

Business Gold Card

Sign-Up Bonus: 35,000 points for $5,000 spend in 3 months

Earning: You can earn 4x points on any two categories of choice and 2x points on the other four. There is a limit of $150,000 per year for the bonus categories.

Perks: QuickBooks access and Amex Hotel Collection access

Annual Fee: $295

This card is great for business owners who can take advantage of the categories. It’s also good for those who want a balance between perks, earning, and annual fees. You’re not going to get the perks of the Business Platinum Card. However, you will save $300 per year and have more chances to earn valuable MR points.

 

Personal Gold Card

Sign-Up Bonus: 35,000 points for $2,000 spend in 3 months. The bonus has been as high as 50,000 points.

Earning: 4x points at US Grocery Stores and US Restaurants, 3x points on Airfare

Perks: Amex Hotel Collection access, $120 in Dining Credits, $100 in Airline Incidental Credits

Annual Fee: $250

Foodies who want to travel will benefit from this card. It’s a great complement to either Platinum Card and the credits can almost recoup the annual fee. Given its earning and perks, the Gold Card strikes a balance between both.

 

Everyday Preferred Card

Sign-Up Bonus: 15,000 points for $1,000 spend in 3 months.

Earning: 3x points at Grocery Stores, 2x points at Gas Stations. 50% points bonus if you use your card at least 30 times per month.

Perks: Standard Amex

Annual Fee: $95

This card is amazing if the Gold Card’s annual fee is too expensive for you. You can earn a good amount of points with the Everyday Preferred, especially if you use it often enough. You can earn up to 4.5x points at the grocery store for a much smaller annual fee. But you’re losing out on the Gold Card’s credits. If those aren’t valuable to you, this card is the better option.

 

Everyday Card

Sign-Up Bonus: 10,000 points for $1,000 spend in 3 months.

Earning: 2x points at Grocery Stores. 20% points bonus if you use your card at least 20 times per month.

Perks: Standard Amex

Annual Fee: $0

The Everyday Card is the only credit card that lets you transfer points to travel partners for no annual fee. It also serves as a great downgrade option for the Everyday Preferred, as well as a free way to keep your points balance. The sign-up bonus and earning structure are relatively weak. But if you are just starting out or don’t spend much at the grocery store, you can benefit here.

 

Blue Business Plus

Sign-Up Bonus: None

Earning: 2x points on Everything for the first $50,000 points

Perks: Standard Amex

Annual Fee: $0

This clear and blue card does not need much of an introduction. For some, its the single most generous card for non-bonus spend. This card is great for businesses with varying cash flow and expenses. It’s also a great option to transfer MR points for no annual fee.

 

Hotel & Airline

American Express is a nice issuer because they offer co-branded hotel and airline cards. The Hilton and Delta cards are some of their most popular.

Hilton Aspire

Sign-Up Bonus: 150,000 points for $4,000 spend in 3 months.

Earning: 14x points for Hilton purchases, 7x points for US Restaurants, Flights (booked directly with airlines or via amextravel.com), 3x points for everything else

Burning: Hilton hotel nights, cash back, travel partners, experiences

Perks: $250 Resort Credit, Multiple Annual Free Nights, Hilton Diamond Status

Annual Fee: $450

Diamond Status and the resort credit are some of the highlights of this card. It also helps that Hilton points can be earned quickly. Despite the high sign-up bonus, Hilton loyalists should look at this card first (even as an upgrade option). The perks are unbeatable, and Diamond Status is very hard to earn organically for most people.

 

Hilton Ascend

Sign-Up Bonus: 125,000 points for $2,000 spend in 3 months.

Earning: 12x points for Hilton purchases, 6x points for Dining, Groceries, and Gas, 3x points for everything else

Perks: Hilton Gold Status, Free Night after spending $15,000

Burning: Hilton hotel nights, cash back, travel partners, experiences

Annual Fee: $95

Amex and Hilton’s mid-tier card offers Gold Status and a free night after spending $15,000. It also earns points quickly, making it one of Amex’s most balanced cards. This is a great card for Hilton loyalists, even though Gold Status can also be obtained with the Platinum Card.

 

Gold Delta SkyMiles Card

Sign-Up Bonus: 30,000 SkyMiles for $1,000 in 3 months.

Earning: 2x SkyMiles for Delta purchases

Perks: Free Checked Bag, Priority (Zone 1) Boarding, 20% off in-flight purchases

Burning: Delta airfare, paid travel, cash back, travel upgrades, experiences, and merchandise

Annual Fee: $95

This mid-tier card from Delta offers a free checked bag and priority boarding. These two perks alone can often be worth more than $100, justifying this card’s annual fee. Its value lies in these perks as there are no other bonus categories besides Delta purchases.

The no-annual fee Delta Blue Card is a better earner. But the more expensive Delta Platinum and Reserve Cards offer better benefits. Therefore, this card is a jack of all trades.

 

Cash Back

Even though this is a points and miles blog, cash back cards occasionally deserve a mention too. This is because cash back can sometimes be a good alternative to points and miles. These two cards both redeem cash back as a statement credit. But you can charge parts of your travels onto these cards and “erase” them with the cash back / statement credit.

Blue Cash Preferred

Sign-Up Bonus: $200 for $1,000 spend in 3 months

Earning: 6% back at Grocery Stores and Streaming Services, 3% back at Gas Stations and Local Commuter Transit

Perks: Standard Amex

Annual Fee: $95

American Express’ flagship cash back card has recently become more rewarding. You can recoup its annual fee if you spend at least $61 per week between groceries and streaming services. The 3% categories offer more incentive to use this card and will lessen the threshold for groceries.

 

Blue Cash Everyday

Sign-Up Bonus: $150 for $1,000 spend in 3 months

Earning: 3% back at Grocery Stores, 2% back at Gas Stations and Department Stores

Perks: Standard Amex

Annual Fee: $0

This card is great for those who don’t spend as much at the grocery store but want an Amex anyway. I personally like this card for the Department Store category. I also love that all rewards earned come at no cost to the card-member.

 

Final Draw

If you’ve made it to this section, I hope that you’ve found a great Amex card for your needs.

Many people even have multiple Amex cards to combine points and perks. My favorite combo is the personal Platinum Card, the personal Gold Card, and the Blue Business Plus Card to create an “Amex trifecta”. This method is not as popular with Amex cards as it is with Chase cards. But with the right combo and a use for MR points and perks, you can do wonders.

Note that you can have as many or as few Amex cards as you want or need. As always, your mileage may vary.