If you’re new to the world of Membership Rewards, take note: Rotating and maximizing the cards in the Amex trifecta is one of your best bets for stacking up a lot of Membership Rewards points.
While many rewards and travel credit cards work rather well on their own, magic can happen when you pair different cards with earning structures and benefits that complement each other. This is certainly the case with the Amex trifecta – American Express’s leading credit card combination.
If you’re new to the world of Amex Membership Rewards, take note: Rotating and maximizing the cards in the Amex trifecta is one of your best bets for stacking up a lot of Membership Rewards points.
What is the Amex trifecta?
The Amex trifecta is a card combination that includes the American Express® Gold Card, The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express. All three cards earn Membership Rewards points, which are extremely flexible and valuable. Not only can you redeem points for gift cards and merchandise, but you can use them to book travel through AmexTravel.com or transfer them to popular airline and hotel partners.
While you need a small business or some part-time work as a sole proprietor to qualify for the Blue Business Plus credit card (although, qualifying for a business credit card may be easier than you think), this combination of American Express Membership Rewards cards can be insanely lucrative if you can pick up all three and use them in tandem. This is mainly due to the bonus points each card offers on different types of purchases, but you will also find a lot of value in each card’s unique benefits.
The chart below highlights the most important features of each card including their earning structures, annual fees and more.
American Express® Gold Card
The Platinum Card® from American Express
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
|Welcome bonus||35,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first 3 months||60,000 points if you spend $5,000 in first 3 months||None|
How to apply for the Amex trifecta
You probably don’t want to apply for all three of these credit cards at once – not only is your application more likely to be denied, but you’ll have a hard time meeting the spending requirement for the cards’ welcome bonuses. Plus, your credit score may take a big hit. You should carefully time your application for each card with the following tips in mind:
- Since the Platinum Card from American Express and the Amex Gold Card both offer generous welcome bonuses, apply for these two first – one after another.
- Make sure you’re signing up for each when the welcome bonus is as big as possible. This is crucial since American Express only lets you earn the welcome bonus on each of their cards once per lifetime.
- Keep an eye out for targeted offers that are higher than the cards’ published offers. Targeted offers usually come in the regular mail, but you may also get a targeted email offer if you’re already an Amex customer.
- You should try our CardMatch™ tool to see if you qualify for 100,000 Membership Rewards with the Amex Platinum Card.
- Once you are done earning the bonus on the Platinum and Gold cards, you can apply for the Blue Business Plus card and start earning American Express Membership Rewards on your business purchases and other spending.
How to rotate the 3 cards
While the welcome bonuses on these cards are lucrative, you’ll get the most bang for your buck from the Amex trifecta if you use your cards strategically to earn as many points as possible for every purchase you make:
- Use the Amex Platinum card to earn 5x points on all airfare and prepaid hotels.
- Use the Amex Gold card to earn 4x points on dining and up to $25,000 in U.S. supermarket spending each year.
- Use the Blue Business Plus card for miscellaneous purchases to earn 2x points.
All your points will gather in a single account. This makes it very easy to track your point earnings and to redeem points for maximum value.
Maximizing the Amex trifecta’s benefits
Of course, the Amex Gold and Platinum cards come with hefty annual fees – $800 in total. In addition to your rewards earnings, you can dramatically offset these fees by taking advantage of the benefits and credits that each card offers.
With the Amex Platinum Card, you should:
- Register your preferred airline to take advantage of the $200 in airline credits toward checked bags, in-flight Wi-Fi and other travel incidentals.
- Apply for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck in order to get $100 (or $85) in value.
- Connect your card to your Uber account in order to take advantage of up to $200 in Uber credits each year.
- Shop at Saks Fifth avenue to get up to a $100 credit toward your purchases (enrollment required).
- Stay at a hotel within the Hotels Collection and get $100 credit toward qualifying purchases (including dining).
- Take advantage of complimentary lounge access every time you travel, including access to Priority Pass lounges, Centurion lounges and Delta Sky Club lounges 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, for participating restaurants and vendors including The Cheesecake Factory, Boxed.com, GrubHub, Seamless and more.
- Register your preferred airline in order to take advantage of another $100 in airline credits toward travel incidentals.
- Book a second stay with the Hotel Collection to earn an additional $100 credit on qualifying purchases.
As you can see from the chart below, the value of the travel credits on the Amex Platinum and Gold cards can more than compensate for the cost of owning both cards:
|Amex trifecta travel credits|
|Total value = $1,020|
How much can you earn with the Amex trifecta?
Your earnings depend on your average spending and where you spend the most. The example below shows just how lucrative this credit card combination can be.
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
- $18,000 on groceries
- $20,000 annually on other purchases, including business spending
In that case, 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
- 20,000 points earned on dining with the Amex Gold
- 72,000 points earned on groceries with the Amex Gold
- 40,000 points earned on other purchases with the Blue Business Plus
This works out to 177,000 American Express Membership Rewards points for $52,000 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 $3,540. 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 $1,040 in flat-rate travel credit instead. That’s a big difference.
|Amex trifecta vs. a single rewards card|
|Amex trifecta||Capital One Venture Rewards card|
|Total points earned = 177,000||Total miles earned = 104,000|
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.
While using a single rewards credit card is often the easiest thing to do, you can rack up far more points and miles if you’re willing to pair a few cards that work well together. The Amex trifecta is a good example of how this can work, but also check out the Chase trifecta and other excellent credit card combinations. With the right cards in your wallet, you can earn more rewards, see more of the world and get more bang for your buck.