My 3 Favorite American Express Reward Cards

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One of the most frequently asked questions that I receive is “what’s the best card to apply for?”

Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on how you look at it), there is no “one size fits all” answer. For example, some cards offer a great welcome bonus but are unappealing when it comes to obtaining points through every day spend. And other cards have an “ok” welcome bonus but have better spending bonus categories (e.g. office supply stores, grocery, advertising, travel, etc.)

Additionally, other banks like Chase have implemented the ‘5/24 Rule’ limiting the approval of new rewards cards if you meet a certain threshold. Thus, American Express has increasingly become the location where frequent flyers have looked for points.

AMERICAN EXPRESS FAVORITES

Here are my 3 Favorite American Express rewards cards: 

#1: American Express Gold Card (READ MORE)

The reason this card falls in my “Top 3” is because it’s great for earning Amex Membership Rewards points quickly. It offers 4 points per dollar at restaurants worldwide and at US supermarkets (up to $25,000/year), 3 points per dollar on airline purchases, a $100 annual airline fee credit and up to $10 a month in statement credits using the card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations. This can be an annual savings of up to $120. That’s hard to beat since a large amount of my income is spent on eating and travel!

#2: The Business Platinum Card from American Express (READ MORE)

The reason this card falls in my “Top 3” is because it is unmatched for airport lounge access.

Just behind the walls of the chaotic terminal, there is an oasis of tranquility that offers free food, wine, showers, and comfortable chairs.

With this card, you’ll have access to Delta SkyClub (when flying Delta same day), Plaza Premium, Escape, Airspace, and American Express Centurion lounges.

Given that I live in a Delta Hub (Atlanta), it’s always great to have access to the Delta SkyClubs even when I am flying economy. Additionally, having access to Centurion lounges and other lounges at various airports is always a treat.

This card also offers Hilton Honors Gold status, Marriott Gold status, and National Car Rental Executive status. <— You receive these perks just for having the card.

You also receive up to $200 a year in statement credits for airline incidental fees (e.g. checked bags fees, flight change fees, and onboard snack purchases).

With this card you can enroll and get up to $200 in statement credits annually (technically, it’s $100 semi-annually) for U.S. purchases with Dell.

The card also comes with a $100 credit for Global Entry every 4 years or $85 credit for TSA PreCheck every 4.5 years. This is a perk that is found on a lot of cards but given this card has a ton of other perk, I try to keep my perks centralized on one card.

Important Note: There’s currently a limited-time 100,000 point welcome bonus with a high spend requirement (valid through 12/04/19). You earn 50,000 points after you spend $10,000 and an additional 50,000 points after you spend an additional $15,000 on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of card membership. 

#3: The Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express (READ MORE)

The reason this card falls in my “Top 3” is because it earns 2 Membership Rewards points per dollar on your first $50,000 in purchases per year making this the most rewarding card for otherwise “unbonused spend.”

It’s a good idea to obtain, at least, 2 points per dollar for EVERY purchase that you make and this is a good example of how you can ensure that.

NOTABLE MENTION

  • Platinum Card by American Express (READ MORE)

There are some cards in the market that I think are “no brainers” for most people, however, the Platinum Card isn’t necessarily one of them. It will be a fantastic card for some but I also tend to think of this card as a niche card because the cards offers a lot of perks but isn’t a card that I would spend much money on.

For example, as I mentioned above, the American Express Gold Card (READ MORE) offers up to 4x Membership Rewards points at restaurants globally and at U.S. supermarkets, though unfortunately, the Amex Platinum Card isn’t as generous in that regard (at 1x per $).

Currently, I don’t have the Platinum Card by American Express (READ MORE) for that reason. However, I always suggest getting more than one card to optimize your spending.

In other words, your spending could look like this:
Platinum Card by American Express = Airfare spending (5 points per $1)

American Express Gold Card = Restaurant and grocery spend (4 points per $1), Airfare (3 points per $1)

The Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express = Everything else (2 points per $1).

POINT TRANSFERS

Currently, the American Express Membership Rewards program has 18 airline transfer partners and 3 hotel transfer partners. Make sure you check the transfer rate since not all transfers are done at a 1:1 ratio.

You can transfer your points from Amex to the following partners for flights or hotel stays:

  • Star Alliance: Aeroplan, ANA, Singapore, Avianca
  • Oneworld Alliance: AsiaMiles, British Airways, Iberia
  • SkyTeam Alliance: Aeromexico, Alitalia, Air France KLM, Delta
  • Non-alliance: Etihad, Emirates, El Al, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Aer Lingus, Virgin Atlantic
  • Hotels: Choice, Hilton, Marriott

FINAL STAMP

I have all three of the cards listed above but it’s worth noting your points strategy may require obtaining additional American Express cards. For example, I rarely find myself staying in Hilton Hotels therefore I don’t have the American Express Hilton card (READ MORE). However, if Hilton was my ‘go-to’ hotel chain, I can assure you that the card would be in my wallet.

What are your favorite American Express cards?

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