American Express is a large bank and home to some of the best credit and charge cards out there. Traditionally, Amex has focused on high-end products to appeal to affluent cardmembers – but that’s all changed now. Today, there’s a best Amex card for every type of person, and a huge range of great credit and charge card products for every need. In this guide, we’ll explore the best American Express cards currently available.
American Express offers both charge cards and credit cards. See the difference between charge and credit cards here. Basically, charge cards must be paid off in full at the end of the month – so you usually can’t carry a balance. It’s important to understand the difference. Nowadays, Amex offers both types of cards. We’ll show you the best Amex credit card, as well as a variety of great American Express charge cards, in the guide below.
Best Amex Card for Cashback: Blue Cash Preferred
Credit Needed: Good
Signup Bonus: $300 after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
Rewards: 6% cashback at supermarkets and streaming services; 3% at gas stations and department stores; 1% everywhere else
Perks: 0% intro APR for 12 months; purchase and return protection; extended warranty
The Blue Cash Preferred is a great cashback credit card from Amex. 6% cashback on groceries is unbeatable, while 3% on gas and department stores also stacks up quick. The 1% on everything else is mediocre, but your average earnings should still be quite high if you buy a lot of groceries (keep in mind the 6% is capped at $6,000 in spend per year). This is a credit (not charge) card – and it may actually be the best Amex credit card, particularly considering the 0% intro APR.
The card also comes with a solid cash signup bonus of $300 after spending just $1,000. This is the current bonus, although it sometimes goes down to $200 – be sure to check the current offer. The signup bonus helps outweigh the annual fee, which is $95 a year. If you’d rather not pay a fee, the similar Blue Cash Everyday has no annual fee, but earns less cashback overall. There are also plenty of good cashback cards with no annual fee from other banks.
Best American Express Card for Travel: Platinum
Annual Fee: $550 (comes with significant perks)
Credit Needed: Excellent
Signup Bonus: 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months (signup bonus changes frequently)
Rewards: 5x points on flights & hotels booked directly with Amex; 1x points on all other purchases
Perks: $200 annual airline fee credit; $200 annual Uber ride credit; lounge access; free Global Entry; exclusive event access; dedicated travel concierge; much more
The American Express Platinum is a premium/high-end charge card with a huge number of awesome perks. The downside? A lofty $550 annual fee! But before you write it off, consider this: If you can make use of the $200/year Uber and $200/year airline fee credits, your net annual fee is more like $150 – much more reasonable, but only if you actually use those perks. Because of the high annual fee and high credit requirements, we only recommend this card for higher-income, frequent travelers.
In addition to the $200 credits, you also get a fee credit for Global Entry (worth $100), access to the Global Lounge collection of airport lounges, exclusive benefits at the Fine Hotels and Resorts collection, dedicated travel concierge, and MUCH more. The benefits on this card are extensive – it’s up to you to decide whether they’re worth the annual fee.
You’ll get a 60,000 point sign up bonus after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months. Points are worth anywhere from 1 cent to 2 cents or more, so this bonus is worth somewhere between $600 and $1,200+, depending on how you use it.
For frequent travelers and those who enjoy exclusivity and VIP treatment, the Platinum is a great card to have. On the other hand, the fee is very high – and the base earning rate of 1x point per $1 spent is very weak. Weigh the pros and cons to see if this card makes sense for you. Also, keep in mind that this is a charge card, not a credit card.
Best No Annual Fee Amex Card: Everyday
Annual Fee: None
Credit Needed: Good
Signup Bonus: 10,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
Rewards: 2x points at supermarkets; 1x everywhere else. 20% bonus when you use your card 20+ times in a billing cycle
Perks: 0% intro APR for 15 months; no balance transfer fee for first 60 days; travel benefits
The Amex Everyday is the best American Express card with no annual fee. It also makes for a great everyday use card – hence the name! The card earns 1 Membership Reward point per $1 spent, and 2x points at US supermarkets. You also get a 20% point bonus if you use your card 20+ times in a billing cycle. Membership Rewards points can be used for a ton of different rewards, ranging from flights to gift cards to cashback.
For a no-annual fee card, the signup bonus is also very solid. 10,000 MR points is worth at least $100, plus there’s 0% APR for 15 months and no fee for balance transfers for the first 60 days. These signup bonuses are subject to change any time, but this particular offer is great for this card.
Best American Express Airline Card: Delta Gold
Annual Fee: $95, waived for the first year
Credit Needed: Good to excellent
Signup Bonus: Varies. Currently 35,000 Delta miles after spending $1,000 in 3 months
Rewards: 2x Delta miles on Delta purchases; 1x miles on all other purchases
Perks: Priority boarding and first checked bag free on Delta flights; travel benefits
The Gold Delta Skymiles credit card from American Express is a great option for frequent fliers – particularly those who like to fly Delta Airlines. It offers some ongoing perks for Delta fliers, like priority boarding and free checked baggage. And the signup bonus offers a good chunk of Delta miles towards your next flight.
As of the time of this writing, the signup bonus is 35,000 Delta miles. This card sometimes goes up to 50,000 or even 60,000 miles – so I wouldn’t recommend applying for the 35k bonus. With that said, if you can get this card with a 50,000+ mile signup bonus, it’s worthwhile. 50k Delta miles is enough for two round-trip domestic tickets.
Intro to American Express Membership Rewards
Many of the cards referenced in this guide earn American Express Membership Rewards points when you make purchases. Cards like the Platinum and Everyday both earn Amex MR points, while other cards earn their own types of rewards. The Delta Skymiles card earns Delta miles, and the Blue Cash Preferred earns cashback.
Several of American Express’ most popular cards earn Membership Rewards points. But what can you do with these points? Here’s a sample of everything that you can redeem Amex MR points for:
- Transfer to dozens of airline partners to convert points to miles
- Book flights and hotels directly through the Amex travel department
- Redeem for gift cards to dozens of retailers, restaurants and more
- Redeem for cash back in the form of statement credits
- Use points to shop directly at Amazon.com and other retailers
- Buy merchandise directly through Amex’s shopping portal
- Buy event and concert tickets through Ticketmaster
- And much more
As you can see, there are many ways to make use of your Membership Rewards points. In most cases, the most lucrative redemption options will involve travel rewards. If you want to maximize the value of your Membership Rewards points, you’re usually best off booking flights.
With that said, the entire point of rewards programs like Membership Rewards is to give you options. It’s great to have so many choices. Personally, I’ve used my MR points for a mix of flights, gift cards for Christmas gifts, and the occasional transfer to a travel partner (usually Delta Airlines, in my case). What do you use your Amex MR points for?
These are the best American Express cards of 2020, in our opinion. Of course, there are far more available than what’s listed here – see the full list here.
If you didn’t quite find what you were looking for, check out these list of best credit cards from various banks:
What is YOUR favorite Amex card? Let us know in the comments!