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Best American Express Cards of 2019

We examined Amex’s current card line-up to identify the best choices for consumers. American Express is one of the oldest card issuers in the United States – the very first card it issued dates back to the 1950s. As of 2018, Amex has some of our favorite credit cards around, offering a ton of miles, low interest rates and rewards points.

The best credit card for you always comes down to your individual circumstances. How much you spend, what you spend on, and what types of benefits you value most are just some of the many considerations. When selecting the top Amex credit cards, we considered a wide array of circumstances and needs, and which cards offer the highest value for each individual need. Furthermore, you should note that the cards we picked here are the standout Amex cards for each category - there may be cards better suited to your needs which are offered by another issuer - only rely on this guide if you are set on getting an Amex credit card.

Those of you seeking a more personalized choice can use our tool at the bottom of the page. It will calculate for you the rewards rate for each American Express credit card, after you input an estimate of your monthly spending habits.

Travel: Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

In addition to being a top tier travel rewards card, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express is one of our favorite hotel rewards credit cards. Every dollar you spend using it earns you points. We estimate the value of a single point to be around $0.009. Therefore, the card is best when utilized at eligible SPG and Marriott Rewards properties. Users can, however, get even more out of their points by transferring them to the card's partnered frequent flyer programs.

Highlights

  • Rewards rate varies between 1.8% and 5.4% (based on our estimated point value of $0.009 multiplied by the points earned)
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Receive one free night award every year after your card account anniversary.
  • See Rates and Fees

Young Professional: The Platinum Card® from American Express

Young business professionals who travel a lot can find good value among the Amex suite of cards in The Platinum Card® from American Express. The card has no spending limit, and is one of the most elite and premium credit cards available. Though expensive ($550 annually), the card unlocks access to things such as airport lounges, which, apart from making travel more enjoyable, also serve a business purpose. Being a charge card, The Platinum Card® from American Express also comes with no preset spending limit. That means you can cover the tab and make big purchases whenever the situation calls for it.

Highlights

  • $200 annual airline credit
  • Lounge access ($600+ value)
  • TSA Pre/Global Entry reimbursement
  • See Rates and Fees

Students: Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

American Express does not offer a credit card specifically designated towards students. However, the potential savings and rewards to be had with the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express make it well-tailored to a student lifestyle – especially one lived far from home. The card offers 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year, 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and 1% on all other purchases. This card will likely continue to serve a consumer well even beyond their college days – odds are the 3% back on U.S. supermarket spending will continue to be beneficial well into adulthood.

Highlights

  • $150 welcome bonus after you spend $1,000 in purchases over the first 3 months of membership
  • $0 annual fee
  • We estimate the card requires a credit score of at least 660 - 680
  • See Rates and Fees

Airline Miles: Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
This card is not available through ValuePenguin.
Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
This card is not available through ValuePenguin.

When it comes to earning consumers airline miles, the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express is Amex’s top performer. For a $195 annual fee, users earn 2 SkyMiles for every $1 they spend with Delta Airlines, and 1 SkyMile per $1 everywhere else. These SkyMiles are transferrable to 24 other airlines, including Virgin Atlantic, Air France, and Aeromexico. When you choose to fly with Delta, this card allows individuals to waive the fee for their first checked bag. Additionally, each year of card membership, consumers will be issued a companion pass – this is essentially a “buy 1 get 1 free” offer on any domestic, economy flight (taxes & airline fees still apply).

Highlights

  • Miles earned are transferable to many other airlines
  • Companion ticket
  • Free checked baggage ($50 value each time you fly)
  • See Rates and Fees

Business: SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express

The SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express is an excellent choice for almost any business. The card comes with no annual fee, and offers fantastic rewards. When using the card to make purchases at office supply stores and wireless telephone services (from U.S. providers), individuals get 5% cash back, on up to the first $50,000 in purchases each year. You can also get 3% cash back on any category of your choosing: airfare purchased directly from the airline, hotel rooms, car rentals, U.S. gas stations, U.S. restaurants, U.S. purchases for advertising in select media, U.S. shipping, and U.S. computer hardware, software, and cloud computing purchases made directly from select providers. Everything else earns a return of 1%. This is one of the few credit cards that can provide businesses with above average rewards on things like shipping or advertising.

Highlights

  • Highly customizable rewards to fit your company’s needs
  • $0 annual fee
  • See Rates and Fees

Beginners/No Credit: Blue from American Express®

Even though American Express is touted as one of the most exclusive card issuers, some of their cards are obtainable even if you have a limited credit history. The Blue from American Express® is one of the easiest credit cards to get from the issuer. Provided you an average credit score, or can prove you have a good enough income, you can get approved for this basic rewards card. While earning those rewards is a slow burn (you get just 1 point for every $1 you spend), the points have a number of interesting uses. Membership Rewards, Amex’s main rewards program, has a number of different redemption options - all of which we explore in more detail below.

Highlights

  • No annual fee
  • Easier to get approved for than most Amex cards
  • Part of Memebership Rewards family of cards
  • See Rates and Fees

No Annual Fee: The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express

The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express
This card is not available through ValuePenguin.
The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express
This card is not available through ValuePenguin.

The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express is our favorite American Express credit card with no annual fee, due to its great rewards on U.S. supermarket purchases, and the ability to earn bonus points. The first $6,000 in purchases you make at U.S. supermarkets, each year, will earn you 2 Membership Rewards points per $1. All other purchases earn just 1 point per $1. If you use your card quite frequently (20+ times per billing cycle), you will earn 20% more points. That comes out to a potential 2.4/1.2 points per $1 you can earn.

Highlights

  • 10,000 bonus points if you spend $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 months
  • Ability to earn 20% extra points
  • See Rates and Fees

Balance Transfer: Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express has a 15 month 0% introductory APR offer on purchases and balance transfers (after which it will be 15.24%-26.24% Variable)- making it one of the better balance transfer credit cards the company offers. On top of offering this promotional rate, the card also charges no annual fee. Additionally, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express also provides users with a decent rewards program.

Highlights

  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, after which it will be 15.24%-26.24% Variable
  • Great utility outside its function as a balance transfer card - savings between 1% and 3% on purchases
  • See Rates and Fees

Best Use of American Express Points (Membership Rewards)

Amex’s flagship rewards program is called Membership Rewards. Unless you own a co-branded credit card with American Express (hotel, airline, etc.), your card is most likely going to be earning Membership Rewards points (MRP). These points can be exchanged for a number of different prizes and rewards – some cards even offer you more options to redeem than others.

Ideally, you should use MRP in exchange for gift cards, booking flights, and Uber rides. All three options will generally provide you with a value of $0.01 per point. This is the most you can get out of your rewards points by direct redemption.

Amex cardholders also have the option of transferring their points to a number of different loyalty programs (listed below). This can free up your MRP to be used in ways that will increase the average value per point to $0.012 or more. This method of redemption requires a little more involvement and planning, and is likely only attractive to individuals who prefer to micro-manage their points.

ProgramTypeAwards ReceivedProgramTypeAwards Received
DeltaAirline1Haiwaiian AirlinesAirline1
Aero MexicoAirline1Iberia PlusAirline1
Air CanadaAirline1jetBlueAirline1
Air France / KLMAirline1Singapore AirlinesAirline1
ANAAirline1Virgin AmericaAirline1
Asia MilesAirline1Virgin AtlanticAirline1
British AirwaysAirline1Best WesternHotel1
El AlAirline1Choice PrivilegesHotel1
Emirates SkywardsAirline1Hilton HHonorsHotel1.5

We generally advise consumers to steer clear of redeeming their MPR for things such as shopping through Amex’s online portal, statement credit, or anything else not mentioned above. These options will leave you with a point value well below $0.01, causing rewards rates to drop below 1%.

Comparison Tool

You can use the tool below to receive a personalized list of best American Express credit cards. We do all the math backstage, and will present you with customized rewards you can expect out of each card, over a 2 year span. Our tool takes into account spending rewards and bonuses – it excludes things that are harder to quantify, such as companion tickets.

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Assumptions based on $1,430 monthly spend
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{"cardCategory":"rewards","cardIds":"167,12,9,166,1039,1000,260","initialResultsLimit":5,"endpoint":"https:\/\/creditcards.valuepenguin.com\/api\/creditcards\/models\/rewards","onCurrent":"true"}

Comments and Questions

Opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed or endorsed by the issuer. We may be compensated through the issuer's Affiliate Program. For a full list of our advertisers see our disclosure page

* See the online credit card application for details about terms and conditions. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. When you click on the "Apply Now" button, you can review the credit card terms and conditions on the issuer's website.

Info about the following cards: Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express, Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express, Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, Hilton Honors Surpass® Credit Card, American Express® Blue Sky, American Express® Green Card, The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express, The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express, The Plenti® Credit Card from Amex, Blue from American Express®, Platinum Card® from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz, Bluebird, Centurion® Card from American Express, Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card, and Amazon Business American Express Card has been collected independently by ValuePenguin. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).

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