Credit Card Issuer Spotlight: American Express
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Over the past few months, I’ve shared a number of credit card guides, breaking down options in certain categories. Well, this time around, I wanted to do something a bit different. Instead of looking at cards that fit a specific set of criteria, I thought we’d look at what some of the major issuers each have to offer — and what better issuer to start with than American Express.
As a note, we won’t be looking at every card in American Express’s lineup but will be highlighting several standouts. Additionally, for this installment, we’ll only be looking at consumer cards and not business ones. With that in mind, let’s dive into some of American Express’s current products, who these cards are best for and much more:
The Platinum Card from American Express
- Best for: Frequent travelers who want to add a little luxury to their journeys
- Biggest perk: Airport lounge access to Centurion Lounges, Delta SkyClubs (when flying Delta), and via Priority Pass Select plus complimentary status, credits, and more
- Annual fee: $550
- Current welcome bonus: 75,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $5,000 on the card in your first six months — plus earn 10x points at U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets (up to $15,000 in combined purchases) during your first six months
We start off with the heaviest hitter in American Express’s line-up (well, unless you count the famed invite-only Centurion card). The Platinum Card from American Express commands a hefty annual fee yet provides some of the most attractive perks of any card. These not only include access to an array of airline lounges, complimentary Gold status for Hilton and Marriott Bonvoy, and benefits such as purchase protection, but also include $200 a year in Uber credits, $100 a year in Saks Fifth Avenue statement credits, $100 a year in airline incidental credits, and more. Plus, cardholders can earn 5x Membership Rewards points on flights booked directly with the airline or via Amex Travel, 5x on prepaid hotel bookings made through Amex Travel, and 1x points on everything else. These points can then be transferred to a number of airline and hotel partners among other options. In all, these rewards make it one of the best cards for frequent travelers to have in their wallets.
That said, with travel taking a bit of a pause, Amex has also stepped up to offer new value to customers. This is evidenced by a lucrative current welcome offer: 75,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend at least $5,000 on the card in your first six month — plus 10x points at U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets (up to $15,000 in combined spending between the two categories) for your first six months. Additionally, Platinum cardholders can currently earn up to $30 a month in statement credits when they use their Platinum card for eligible purchases through PayPal. In other words, when you use the Platinum card to its full potential, you should have no problem getting your $550’s worth and then some.
American Express Gold Card
- Best for: Those who want to rack-up Membership Rewards points with a mix of entertainment and everyday spending
- Biggest perk: 4x points at restaurants and 4x points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 in annual spending)
- Annual fee: $250
- Current welcome bonus: 60,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $4,000 on the card in your first six months
Nearly as iconic as the Platinum card is the American Express Gold Card — now available in either regular Gold or Rose Gold designs. Like its precious metal sibling, the Gold card also includes a number of credits that help offset its $250 annual fee. These include $10 a month in dining statement credits, triggered by purchases from Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations. Additionally, Gold cardholders can now also earn $10 a month in Uber credits. However, what makes the card really shine are its points multipliers, allowing cardholders to earn 4x points at restaurants as well as 4x points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 in spending per calendar year) in addition to 3x points on flights booked through Amex Travel and 1x points on everything else. As a result, the Gold card could be a great pick on its own or in conjunction with the Platinum card.
What’s more, the American Express Gold card is also currently offering an enhanced welcome bonus. Now, new cardholders can earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points when they spend $4,000 on the card in their first six months. That’s a notable improvement over the typical 35,000-point offer — making this a great time to consider the all-around solid American Express Gold card.
Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express
- Best for: Those looking to earn rewards on common spending categories
- Biggest perk: 3% cashback at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 in purchases per year)
- Annual fee: N/A
- Current welcome bonus: $200 back after spending $1,000 in your first three months
Moving away from premium cards for a moment, the Blue Everyday Card from American Express is focused less on travel and more on, well, everyday purchases. On that note, that card offers 3% cashback on purchases from U.S. supermarkets, up to $6,000 a year in spending (you’ll earn 1% back after that). Additionally, you’ll earn 2% cashback at U.S. gas stations as well as at select U.S. department stores and 1% back on everything else. Also notable is that Blue Cash Everyday carries no annual fee.
In terms of welcome bonuses, the Blue Cash Everyday has a standard one at the moment. Currently, you can earn $200 back when you spend $1,000 on the card in your first three months. Still, between this welcome bonus and the practical rewards multipliers, the Blue Cash Everyday could be a good pick for those just getting started with credit card rewards and who want to be rewarded for their most common spending.
Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express
- Best for: Shoppers who want to earn significant rewards on grocery shopping
- Biggest perk: 6% cashback at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 a year in purchases)
- Annual fee: $0 introductory annual fee for one year, then $95
- Current welcome bonus: Earn a $300 statement credit when you spend $3,000 on the card in your first three months
As great as the Blue Cash Everyday card is, the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express takes practical spending rewards to the next level. This includes earning 6% cashback at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 a year in spending) and 6% back on select U.S. streaming service subscriptions. Plus, earn 3% back at U.S. gas stations, 3% back on transit purchases (including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more), and 1% back on everything else.
Although the Preferred card does carry a $95 annual fee, the current offer waives that fee for your first year. Then, in normal years, the supermarket perk alone could help offset that. On top of that, the welcome bonus will also cover the fee and then some. Currently, new cardholders can earn a $300 statement credit when they spend $3,000 on the card in their first three months. So, if you’re looking for a bit of an upgrade from the Blue Cash Everyday and are willing to spend $95 a year (after year one) for the extra earning potential, then the Blue Cash Preferred could be right for you.
American Express Cash Magnet
- Best for: Those who prefer a flat-rate cashback card
- Biggest perk: 1.5% cashback on everything you buy
- Annual fee: N/A
- Current welcome bonus: Earn a $150 statement credit when you after you spend $1,000 on the card in your first three months
Another cashback option in Amex’s line-up is the aptly name American Express Cash Magnet. This card keeps it simple, offering unlimited 1.5% cashback on every purchase you make. It also carries no annual fee, so you won’t need to worry about a recurring expense. Additionally, the Cash Magnet currently has a welcome bonus earning you a $150 statement credit when you spend $1,000 on the card in your first three months. With all of this considered, those seeking a simple cashback solution may prefer the Cash Magnet to some of Amex’s other offerings.
Delta Co-Branded Cards
- Best for: Delta loyalists who want to earn miles and possibly even status
- Biggest perk: Priority board, the chance to earn status, and even access Delta SkyClubs (with the top tier card)
- Annual fee: $0-$550
- Current welcome bonus: Varies
One of American Express’s closest relationships is with Delta. Thus, it’s no wonder that Amex and Delta offer a line of co-branded credit cards. These include the Delta SkyMiles Blue, Delta SkyMiles Gold, Delta SkyMiles Platinum, and Delta SkyMiles Reserve cards, with annual fees ranging from $0 for the Blue up to $550 for the Reserve. However, the perks at each level offer frequent Delta flyers a ton of value. For example, cardholders at the Delta SkyMiles Gold card level and above get their first checked bag free as well as Main Cabin 1 Priority Boarding. Meanwhile, the Delta SkyMiles Reserve also features complimentary access to Delta SkyClubs as well as to American Express Centurion Lounges (when you book your Delta flight with your Reserve card).
Of course, each of these cards earns Delta SkyMiles. Additionally, higher tier cards give customers the chance to also earn Medallion Qualification Miles, propelling them toward Medallion Status (or new levels of Medallion Status). Ultimately, Delta flyers could be well served to carrying one of these co-branded cards — although choosing which one could be quite a challenge.
Hilton Co-Branded Cards
- Best for: Hilton fans looking to earn free nights, upgrades, and more
- Biggest perk: Complimentary status, free nights (with select cards), and more
- Annual fee: $0-$450
- Current welcome bonus: Varies
Like with the Delta co-branded card line-up, American Express also offers a variety of Hilton co-branded cards to fit the needs of all kinds of Hilton loyalists. In this case, the choices include the no-annual fee Hilton Honors American Express Card, the $95 a year Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card, and the $450 annual fee Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. What’s nice is that each of these cards come with complimentary Hilton Honors Elite Status — Silver for the Hilton Honors card, Gold for the Surpass, and Diamond for the Aspire. Also notable is that the higher-tier cards allow cardholders to earn Weekend Night Rewards, redeemable at Hilton properties.
Hilton Honors American Express cardholders can also earn Honors points for their purchases — including enhanced earning rates in select categories. Each card in the line-up also has other perks to offer that are too numerous to list here. Therefore, if you’re a regular Hilton guest, it’s definitely worth looking at this trio of cards and seeing how you can benefit from adding them to your wallet.
Although American Express may still be known for its premium cards, the truth is that their slate is much more diverse than you might think. From no annual fee options such as the Blue Cash Everyday and Cash Magnet cards to co-branded travel options from Delta and Hilton, there are plenty of worthy cards to choose from. So, which Amex will you be applying for next?
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