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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 2020, Amex has some of our favorite credit cards around, offering some of the best travel rewards and cash back cards today.
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 according to those needs. 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 spending that are offered by another issuer.
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.
Overall: American Express® Gold Card
- 3X Membership Rewards® points for flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com and 4X points at restaurants worldwide and U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X).
- Spending rewards on dining and grocery shopping
- Annual airline credit up to $100, annual hotel credit up to $100 and up to $120 in dining credits
For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, please click here.
Young Professionals: 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) (See Rates & Fees), 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.
- Up to $200 annual airline credit
- Lounge access ($600+ value)
- TSA Pre/Global Entry reimbursement
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.
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. Earn 3% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%). Also, earn 2% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores and 1% back on other purchases.
- $150 welcome offer after you spend $1,000 in purchases over the first 3 months of membership
- Annual Fee: $0 (See Rates & Fees)
- We estimate the card requires an Excellent/Good credit score
For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, please click here.
Airline Miles: Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Card
When it comes to earning consumers airline miles, the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Card is Amex’s top performer. Users earn 3 SkyMiles for every $1 they spend with Delta Airlines and on directly purchased hotel stays, 2 SkyMiles per $1 spent at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets and 1 SkyMile per $1 everywhere else. These SkyMiles are transferable 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).
- Miles earned are transferable to many other airlines
- Companion ticket
- Free checked baggage (up to $60 value each time you fly)
Beginners/No Credit: Blue from American Express®
Even though American Express is touted as one of the most exclusive card issuers, some of its cards are obtainable even if you have a limited credit history. Provided you have an average credit score, or can prove you have a good enough income, you can get approved for this basic rewards card. While earning these 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 many different redemption options - all of which we explore in more detail below.
- No Annual Fee (See Rates & Fees)
- Easier to get approved for than most Amex cards
- Part of Membership Rewards family of cards
The information related to the Blue from American Express® has been collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.
No Annual Fee: The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express
The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express is our favorite American Express credit card with no annual fee (see Rates & Fees), 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.
- 10,000 bonus points if you spend $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 months
- EARN 20% EXTRA POINTS: Use your card 20 or more times on purchases in a billing period and get 20% more points on those purchases less returns and credits.
For rates and fees of The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express, please click here.
The information related to The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express has been collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.
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 - making it one of the better balance transfer credit cards the company offers. The APR after the intro rate has expired is 12.99%-23.99% Variable. 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.
- Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate, currently 12.99%-23.99% Variable.
- Great utility outside its function as a balance transfer card - savings between 1% and 3% on purchases.
For earning free hotel nights and hotel status, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card is the best offer from American Express. Even when you take into account the inflated value of Hilton Honors points, the card is extremely generous with its rewards. You earn 12x points on Hilton purchases and 6x points on a variety of other purchases, including U.S. restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (3x points on the remainder of your purchases). The card also gives you an automatic boost to Hilton Gold status, which comes with prime benefits, including complimentary room upgrades.
** Highlights **
- Earn 125,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership..
- Get a weekend night reward from Hilton Honors after you spend $15,000 on purchases on your card in a calendar year
- 12X points on Hilton hotel and resort purchases and, 6x points on U.S. restaurant, U.S. supermarket and U.S. gas station purchases and 3X points on all other purchases
- Earn automatic Gold status. Plus, earn Diamond status when you spend $40,000 on the card in a calendar year
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 purposes and rewards, with some cards offering more redemption options than others.
You should use Membership Rewards points 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 points to a number of different loyalty programs (listed below). This can free up your points 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.
|Program||Type||Awards Received||Program||Type||Awards Received|
|Aero Mexico||Airline||1||Iberia Plus||Airline||1|
|Air France / KLM||Airline||1||Singapore Airlines||Airline||1|
|Asia Miles||Airline||1||Virgin Atlantic||Airline||1|
|British Airways||Airline||1||Best Western||Hotel||1|
|El Al||Airline||1||Choice Privileges||Hotel||1|
|Emirates Skywards||Airline||1||Hilton HHonors||Hotel||1.5|
We generally advise consumers to steer clear of redeeming Membership Rewards points 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%.
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.