Comparing American Express Credit Card Offers
American Express, originally known for its charge cards, currently offers some of the best rewards credit cards*, business credit cards and travel credit cards on the market. Many Amex cards are known for their excellent benefits, superior rewards and, even, exclusive perks through partnerships with major travel brands like Delta and Hilton. How can you determine which American Express card is right for you? Here, we look at:
*Unlike typical credit cards, some American Express cards allow you to carry a balance for certain charges, but not all.
Best American Express Credit Cards of 2021 – Expert Ratings
|Credit Card||Best Use||Annual Fee||CreditCards.com Rating|
|Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express||High cash back rates||$0 introductory annual fee for one year, then $95.||4.3 / 5|
|American Express® Green Card||Travel||$150||3.0 / 5|
|Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express||Tiered cash back||$0||3.5 / 5|
|American Express Cash Magnet® Card||Flat-rate cash back||$0||2.9 / 5|
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||Luxury travel perks||$550||4.5 / 5|
|American Express Blue Business CashTM Card||Cash back rewards for business||No annual fee||3.9 / 5|
|American Express® Gold Card||Dining rewards||$250 ||4.3 / 5|
|Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card||Hilton hotel stays||$95||4.3 / 5|
|The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express||Business rewards with no annual fee||No annual fee||4.2 / 5|
|Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card||Airline miles||$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99||3.6 / 5|
A closer look at the best Amex cards
Whether you are in the market for a business credit card, a travel credit card or an everyday credit card, American Express likely has what you crave.
Overview: The Blue Cash Preferred card offers a high cash back rate on categories that will appeal to big families: 6 percent cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1 percent); 6 percent cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions; and 3 percent cash back at U.S. gas stations and on transit. It also offers 1 percent cash back on general purchases.
Pros: There’s a welcome offer of a $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 within the first 6 months of card membership.
Cons: There is a $95 annual fee, although it is waived the first year.
Overview: The Green Card offers a good return on travel-centric purchases, while charging a lower annual fee than American Express’ premium travel cards. Green cardholders get 3X points on travel, transit and dining worldwide, and 1X points on other purchases.
Pros: There are also notable travel benefits, including no foreign transaction fees, an up to $100 annual statement credit for airport lounge booking service LoungeBuddy, and an up to $100 annual statement credit for a CLEAR membership, which allows you to clear security more quickly with biometrics.
Cons: The $150 annual fee (not waived the first year) can still feel a bit steep; budget travelers may want to consider a no annual fee credit card with travel perks.
*All information about the American Express Green Card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com. The issuer did not provide the content, nor is it responsible for its accuracy.
Overview: The Blue Cash Everyday is the mini-me of the Blue Cash Preferred, with excellent cash back at U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations, but with no annual fee. Earn 3 percent back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 a year (then 1 percent), and earn 2 percent back at U.S. gas stations, perfect for the growing family.
Pros: Through the current welcome offer, cardholders can receive $200 when they spend $1,000 in their first 3 months.
Cons: Depending on how much you spend, the Blue Cash Preferred might offer more bang for your buck. Learn when a credit card with an annual fee is worth it.
Overview: A card for anyone who doesn’t want to think too long or hard about their credit card rewards program, the Cash Magnet Card offers unlimited 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases for no annual fee.
Pros: The welcome offer lets cardholders earn $150 cash back when they spend $1,000 in their first 3 months. They can also take advantage of “Pay It Plan It®,” a flexible financing option that lets you pay off qualifying transactions over a fixed period of time for a fixed monthly fee, rather than interest payments.
Cons: Again, depending on your spending habits, there are some cash back credit cards that can yield a higher return through generous bonus categories.
Overview: One of the best travel credit cards on the market, the Platinum Card offers a bevy of luxury travel benefits, including free airport lounge access, an up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck, up to a $200 Uber credit, up to a $100 hotel credit and no foreign transaction fees. The base rewards program offers 5X points on flights booked directly with airlines or American Express Travel, and 5X points on hotels booked with American Express Travel. (The 5X points apply to up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.) Cardholders earn 1X points on general purchases.
Pros: A lucrative welcome offer lets cardholders earn 75,000 points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 6 months. They also receive 10x points on eligible purchases at U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during their first 6 months.
Cons: That laundry list of premium travel benefits come for a $550 annual fee, not waived the first year.
Overview: With no annual fee, you can quickly rack up cash back for your business with this card. You’ll earn 2 percent cash back on all purchases on up to $50,000 per calendar year, then 1 percent.
Pros: This card also offers Expanded Buying Power, which means you can go over your limit, provided you meet certain criteria.
Cons: The biggest drawback is that $50,000 cap per calendar year on 2 percent earnings.
Overview: As the revamped successor to the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express, the American Express Gold Card has superb rewards for dining and shopping. Now available in fashion rose gold, it earns 4X points at restaurants worldwide and Uber Eats purchases, and 4X points at U.S. supermarkets up to $25,000 in purchases per calendar year before converting to 1X. Furthermore, it earns 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or through amextravel.com, making it a well-rounded card.
Pros: Cardholders can earn 60,000 points if they spend $4,000 in their first 6 months. There’s also an up to $120 annual dining credit (up to $10 per month) at participating locations.
Cons: There’s a 250 annual fee (not waived the first year).
Overview: This card is ideal for the traveler who frequents the Hilton brand. Cardholders earn 12X points for spending at participating hotels and resorts within the Hilton Portfolio; 6X points at U.S. restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations; and 3X points on all other eligible purchases.
Pros: There’s a 130,000 points welcome offer after spending $2,000 in purchases within your first 3 months of membership. You can earn a weekend night after spending $15,000 in a calendar year; and with a yearly $40,000 spend, you can upgrade to Diamond status, which affords you such benefits as executive lounge status, 48-hour room guarantee, elite status gifting, as well as the lower level’ benefits.
Cons: There’s a $95 annual fee (not waived the first year) that isn’t so easily recouped if you don’t frequent Hiltons.
Overview: A good option for owners of smaller businesses, this no annual fee business card pairs solid rewards with some flexible financing features. Cardholders earn 2X points per dollar on every purchase, up to $50,000 per year; and 1X point thereafter.
Pros: The financing options include a 0-percent introductory APR on new purchases for the first 12 months from account opening (13.24 percent to 19.24 percent variable after that) and Expanded Buying Power, which lets you spend over your credit limit in certain circumstances (terms apply).
Cons: There’s no welcome offer and the 2X points is limited to $50,000 per year, so businesses with large expenses can conceivably earn more rewards with a different card.
Overview: If you are a frequent traveler of Delta airlines, this card is a great option as you earn 2x miles on Delta purchases, at restaurants worldwide and at U.S. supermarkets.
Pros: For a limited time, you can earn 70,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in your first 3 months (offer expires 4/28/2021).
Cons: The card’s benefits are largely geared to Delta fliers, so be sure you patronize the airline enough to justify the $99 annual fee (waived the first year).
What is American Express?
Seen as a gold standard in card services, American Express is both an issuer and a network. That means it issues cards and services them through its own network of merchants. American Express is known for excellent benefits, including no foreign transaction fees in the case of many cards and 2.7% in others (which is lower than many other cards). American Express also offers a charge card. A charge card allows you to potentially make a large charge at the point of sale because there is no pre-set credit limit. Charge cards generally require you to pay your balance off in full each month.
But Amex is more than just a card issuer. In fact, it is tied with Chase for having the highest purchase volume of all credit card issuers in the U.S.
2019 market shares (%) of purchase volume for top credit card issuers
- American Express
- Bank of America
- Capital One
- U.S. Bank
- All others
- Source: Nilson Report Feb. 2020
Services offered by American Express
- Credit cards. Amex is perhaps best known for its luxury rewards credit cards, which offer premium benefits in exchange for a sometimes sizable annual fee. However, it does offer a few of the best cash back credit cards for everyday spending. With exclusive partnerships with Hilton and Delta, Amex also offers cards that reward mightily for loyalty.
- Charge cards. Amex offers these products for the consumer or business person who doesn’t need to carry a balance month to month and likes the convenience of getting approved for a high charge at the counter.
- Business cards. With a full suite of cards that cater to the business owner, Amex offers products that reward handsomely for business purchases.
Savings accounts. While not well known for this offering, Amex’s savings accounts are worth a look with interest rates well above competitors.
- Personal loans. For the qualifying member, you can get a personal loan with well under 10% APR.
J.D. Power 2020 credit card customer satisfaction rankings
Satisfaction among Amex customers is consistently among the best in the industry. Take a look at how Amex fared in J.D. Power’s most recent credit card customer satisfaction survey, on a scale of 1,000, with 1,000 as the best:
What are the benefits of having an Amex card?
Many American Express credit cards feature competitive base rewards programs and lucrative welcome offers. They also offer a number of ancillary benefits that can prove useful when shopping or traveling. These benefits, which are not exclusive to Amex’s premium products, can include:
- Extended warranty: When you make a purchase with your card, a 1-year warranty is added to the original U.S. manufacturer’s warranty up to 5 years and for a maximum of $10,000. You can’t exceed $50,000 in a calendar year.
- Purchase protection: When you make a purchase on your card, your purchases can be protected up to 90 days if stolen or accidentally damaged. It’s limited to $1,000 per item and $50,000 per cardmember per calendar year. With some premium cards, such as Platinum Card, the limit is $10,000 per item for up to $50,000 per calendar year.
- Return protection: If a merchant won’t take back an eligible item within 90 days, Amex might reimburse you for the full amount minus shipping and handling for up to $300 per item and up to $1,000 per calendar year.
- Transfer partners: If you want to get the biggest bang for your buck, transferring your miles to one of the many American Express airline partners is usually your best bet. Compare American Express transfer partners with our full guide and valuations.
- Baggage insurance plan: A travel and business card benefit, this plan varies according to the corresponding card and the state you are in.
- Car rental loss and damage insurance: Unlike some of the best Chase credit cards, this insurance is secondary, meaning it kicks in after other insurance, such as your personal insurance.
- Global Assist® Hotline: Global Assist is available to all U.S. cardmembers and helps to prepare for your trip with customs information and destination guides. When you are more than 100 miles from home, benefits can include lost passport replacement assistance and translation services. There is also Premium Global Assist for superior products.
- Travel insurance: This benefit varies by card. The most premium cards offer trip cancellation, interruption and delay insurance. Check out our guide to American Express travel insurance for card-by-card comparisons.
- Lounge access: Platinum and Delta Skymiles cardholders can enjoy visiting the luxury Centurion Lounge in select airports.
American Express also offers several flexible payment options on certain personal and business cards. These options can include:
- Pay It, Plan It®: This feature, available on select personal cards, allows eligible cardholders to pay small purchase amounts (less than $100) right away through the American Express app. Alternately, it lets them split up larger purchases (over $100) into monthly payments with a fixed fee. Learn if Amex’s Pay It Plan It is worth it.
- Pay Over Time: This feature, available on select personal and business cards, lets eligible cardholders carry a balance on eligible purchases of $100 or more.
- Working Capital Terms: This feature allows eligible business cardholders to get access to up to $150,000 in funding.
- Expanded Buying Power: This features allows eligible business cardholders to spend over your credit limit (terms apply).
What is the Amex Membership Rewards program?
The Amex Membership Rewards program allows you to redeem your points in a variety of ways, whether you want to use it to give a gift or to save up for the big trip. Here are some of the ways you can redeem:
- Travel Rewards:
- Transfer Points. Amex partners with a variety of hotels and airlines.
- Use points on AmexTravel.com. You can use them for part or all of your flight, or a prepaid hotel, vacation package or cruise booking.
- Gift Cards: You can redeem for gift cards to more than 100 restaurants, retailers, or for entertainment or travel brands. You can also redeem for an Amex gift card that you can use at participating retailers.
- Merchandise: Shop on MembershipRewards.com for such items as electronics, jewelry, sports equipment or home decor.
- Shopping: You can use points when shopping online and in-store with participating merchants.
- Charges: You can apply points toward eligible charges you’ve already made on your card.
- Charity: Use your points to donate to a non-profit registered with Members Give.
What credit score is needed for American Express?
American Express primarily offers rewards cards for personal or business use, so you generally need good-to-excellent credit to qualify for their products. In numerical terms, that equates to a FICO credit score between 670 and 850.
Specific criteria will vary by product, and American Express considers other factors, like your income or reported debt levels, when considering your application. However, as a general rule of thumb, the more lucrative the rewards, the higher you can expect the credit score requirements to be. In other words, a score of 670 might qualify you for the entry-level Blue Cash Everyday® Card, while the premium Platinum Card might require excellent credit (think a score of 740 or higher).
Learn more about American Express’ credit score requirements, plus get some tips on how to improve your credit.
How we choose the best American Express credit cards
Methodology: We analyzed American Express’ suite of cards to identify its top products in popular credit card categories. Core criteria we considered in our analysis include:
- Base rewards program: Does the card’s base rewards program offer a competitive return on spending for its card category (cash back, travel, business, etc.)?
- Ancillary benefits: Does the card include applicable American Express ancillary services or benefits, like purchase protection, return protection, and an extended warranty for everyday spending cards, or baggage insurance, lounge access, or trip cancellation insurance for travel credit cards?
- Welcome offer: Welcome offers let new cardholders earn extra rewards if they spend a certain amount of money in a specified time period, usually their first three months. They’re a short-term incentive, but often quite lucrative, and can tip the scales when cards offer similar base rewards and benefits. As such, we factored welcome offers in our analysis of the best American Express cards.
- Annual fee: Does the card carry an annual fee? Given many Amex cards do, we assessed whether that fee could be offset by the card’s rewards program, welcome offer and ancillary benefits. In other words, we considered the card’s potential value.
- Annual percentage rates (APR) and/or flexible financing options: Where applicable, are the card’s APRs comparable to the average APR in its card category? Similarly, do cardholders have access to Amex’s flexible financing features? Note: It’s best practice to pay balances off in full on rewards credit cards so you don’t lose points, miles or cashback to interest.
Remember, the right American Express credit for you will ultimately vary, depending on your financial goals and your spending habits. Learn how to choose a credit card.