The Amex trifecta can help you earn more rewards while you boost your cardholder benefits. Find out how this combination of cards can leave you ahead.
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When it comes to rewards credit cards, there are plenty of situations where carrying a combination of cards can leave you significantly better off. This is partly due to the fact unique cards can offer different perks and cardholder benefits, yet consumers can also boost their rewards by using separate cards for different types of purchases.
If you’re interested in earning flexible rewards points you can use in more than one way, then you might want to focus on the American Express Membership Rewards program and the Amex trifecta, in particular. This flexible program and card combination can help you rack up rewards for travel through AmexTravel.com, gift cards, merchandise and more – including transfers to Amex airline and hotel partners.
What is the Amex trifecta?
This term is used to describe three popular American Express credit cards that can help you boost your rewards haul over time.
The Amex trifecta includes the American Express® Gold Card, The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express. While these cards offer complimentary perks, all three of them also let you earn Membership Rewards points.
While two of the rewards credit cards in the Amex trifecta are personal cards, you should know that the Amex Blue Business Plus is geared for business owners. With that being said, you may be able to qualify for a business credit card if you have a side hustle or any type of side gig you operate on your own.
Comprehensive guide: Which cards make up the Amex trifecta?
The chart below shows the highlights of the rewards credit cards that make up the Amex trifecta:
American Express® Gold Card
The Platinum Card® from American Express
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
|Welcome bonus||60,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $4,000 on your new card in the first six months||15,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases on the card within the first 3 months of card membership|
American Express Gold Card
The Amex Gold is definitely worth having the first year since you can earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $4,000 in the first six months of account opening. Since Amex Membership Rewards points are worth up to 2 cents each when redeemed with transfer partners, this means the welcome bonus on this card could be worth $1,200 on its own.
This card can also help you rack up more points quickly thanks to its lucrative bonus categories. You’ll earn 4X points at restaurants and 4X points on up to $25,000 spent at U.S. supermarkets each calendar year (then 1X), but you’ll also earn 3X points on directly booked flights (or flights booked through AmexTravel.com) and 1X points on other purchases. A $250 annual fee applies, but benefits like up to a $120 dining credit and up to $120 in Uber Cash can help offset the fee.
The Platinum Card from American Express
The Amex Platinum can also be incredibly lucrative, although you’ll earn the most points if you spend a lot on flights and prepaid hotels over the years. This card starts you off with a welcome bonus of 100,000 Amex Membership Rewards points when you spend $6,000 within six months of account opening. However, you’ll also earn 10X points on eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S. (on up to $25,000 in combined purchases) for the first six months of card membership, 5X points on up to $500,000 spent on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel per calendar year, 5X points on prepaid hotels booked via American Express Travel and 1X points on other purchases.
A $695 annual fee applies to this card, yet you’ll more than make up for it if you use its travel credits in full. As a cardholder, you’ll get up to $200 in airline fee credits with your chosen airline, up to $200 in Uber credits per year, up to a $179 credit toward Clear membership, a Saks Fifth Avenue credit of up to $100 and more. You’ll also get the broadest airport lounge membership available from any travel credit card, which includes Centurion Lounge access, access to Delta Sky Clubs when you fly Delta and a Priority Pass Select membership.
The Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express
The Amex Blue Business Plus makes it easy to rack up points on all your business expenses. You’ll start by earning a welcome bonus of 15,000 points when you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases on your card within your first three months of card membership, but you’ll also earn 2X points per dollar on the first $50,000 you spend each year, then 1X points.
This business credit card doesn’t charge an annual fee, and you’ll get perks like a 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from date of account opening (followed by a variable APR of 13.24% to 19.24%), purchase protection against damage or theft, extended warranties on eligible items and more.
How to apply for the Amex trifecta
Since each of these American Express credit cards requires a minimum spending requirement to earn a generous welcome bonus, you probably don’t want to apply for all three at once. Not only that, but too much new credit at once can hurt your credit score.
While there are no hard and fast rules regarding how long you should wait between applying, we recommend staggering them over several months or even a year. These additional tips can help you figure out how to get started:
- Look at the Amex cards frequently and only apply when the welcome bonus on each is high. This step is important since Amex only lets you earn the welcome bonus on each of its cards once per lifetime.
- You can also look for targeted credit card offers that come in the mail, which may let you earn a higher welcome bonus. Also, try our CardMatch™ tool to see if you qualify for welcome bonus terms not advertised to the general public.
Maximizing the Amex trifecta’s benefits
While you can earn a generous welcome bonus with all three cards in the Amex card trifecta, the real purpose of signing up for all three cards is to use them strategically to earn more points over time. Here are some tips that can help you do just that:
- For starters, use the Amex Platinum to earn high rewards on airfare and prepaid hotels. Also, make sure you use this card for restaurants worldwide since you’ll earn 10X points on up to $25,000 in combined eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S. for the first six months.
- Use the Amex Gold to earn 4X points on up to $25,000 in U.S. supermarket spending each year (then 1X points).
- Also, use the Amex Gold on all dining purchases after you hit your max with the Platinum or after your first six months with the Platinum since you earn 4X points on restaurants with the Gold.
- Use the Amex Blue Business Plus for miscellaneous purchases to earn 2X points on up to $50,000 in purchases per year (then 1X points).
All the points you earn with the three cards will collect in a single American Express Membership Rewards account. This will make it considerably easier for you to redeem your rewards for travel, gift cards or merchandise later on.
In terms of maximizing the Amex benefits of all three cards, this is another area where you’ll want to use all the perks you can. Doing so is the best way to offset the annual fees you’ll pay to carry two out of the three Amex trifecta cards.
With the Amex Platinum Card, you should:
- Pick a preferred airline to take advantage of the (up to) $200 in airline credits toward checked bags, in-flight Wi-Fi and other travel incidentals.
- Apply for a Clear membership in order to use the (up to) $179 fee credit for your membership.
- Connect your card to your Uber account in order to take advantage of up to $200 in Uber credits each year. However, keep in mind these credits are given out on a monthly basis ($15 per month, and $35 in December), so you’ll need to use Uber regularly to maximize them.
- Shop at Saks Fifth Avenue to get up to a $100 credit toward your purchases ($50 from January through June and another $50 from July through December, enrollment required).
- Stay at a prepaid Fine Hotels + Resort or The Hotel Collection and get up to a $200 credit toward qualifying purchases (minimum two-night stay required).
- Take advantage of complimentary lounge access every time you travel, including lounges within the Priority Pass lounge network, Centurion lounges and Delta Sky Clubs when you fly Delta.
With the Amex Gold Card, you should:
- Use the (up to) $120 dining credit, which is doled out in increments of up to $10 per month. Keep in mind that you can only use this credit at participating eateries, which include The Cheesecake Factory, Boxed.com, Seamless, GrubHub and more.
- Use up to $120 in Uber Cash ($10 per month) for either Uber rides or Uber Eats orders.
With the Amex Blue Business Plus, you should:
- Use it for regular purchases that don’t earn bonus points with other Amex trifecta cards. After all, you’ll earn 2X points per dollar on up to $50,000 spent on your card each year (then 1X points).
- Use it for larger purchases you want to pay down without interest over the first year.
As you can see from the chart below, the value of the credits on the Amex Platinum and Gold cards can more than compensate for the cost of owning both cards:
|Amex trifecta travel credits|
|Value = $1,019|
How much can you earn with the Amex trifecta?
How many points you’ll earn with the Amex card trifecta will largely depend on how much you spend and the categories you spend the most in. However, the following example can help you get an idea.
Let’s imagine for a moment that you spend:
- $6,000 on airfare each year
- $3,000 on prepaid hotels
- $5,000 on dining annually ($2,500 in the first six months, $2,500 in the second six months)
- $5,000 when you Shop Small in the U.S.
- $18,000 on groceries per year
- $3,000 per year on gas per year
- $18,000 annually on other purchases, including business spending
If you were able to spend even $10,000 with the 10X points on up to $25,000 spent at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S. in your first six months of card membership, your rewards haul for the year would look like this:
- 30,000 points earned for airfare with the Amex Platinum
- 15,000 points earned for prepaid hotels with the Amex Platinum
- 25,000 points earned on dining with the Amex Platinum
- 10,000 points earned on dining with the Amex Gold
- 50,000 points earned when you Shop Small on the Amex Platinum
- 72,000 points earned on groceries with the Amex Gold
- 6,000 points on gas with the Blue Business Plus
- 36,000 points earned on other purchases with the Blue Business Plus
This works out to 244,000 American Express Membership Rewards points for $58,000 in annual spending. If you manage to get 2 cents each per point in value through airline transfer or another lucrative redemption, these points alone are worth as much as $4,880.
And, remember, these rewards are earned on top of the welcome bonuses you earn the first year as well.
How does this compare with other cards? If you were to use a flat-rate rewards credit card like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card for all your spending, for example, you would earn 2X miles for each dollar you spend and wind up with $1,160 in flat-rate travel credit instead.
That’s a big difference.
A single rewards credit card can help you earn points and score important cardholder privileges, yet signing up for multiple cards can help you take your benefits to the next level. The Amex trifecta is a good example of how a few carefully chosen cards can get you ahead, but you should also check out the Chase trifecta and other excellent credit card combinations.
Having a few cards can make a ton of sense, but you should try to be as strategic about it as you can.
Don’t forget to factor in the Amex Platinum and Gold cards’ valuable credits to your earnings. If you consider the value of these credits, the Amex trifecta comes out even farther ahead of the Capital One Venture Rewards card.