Amex Trifecta: Travel with American Express Platinum, Gold and Business Blue

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When you’re starting out in the miles-and-points hobby, the thought of developing a long-term strategy for using travel rewards cards can seem overwhelming.

We’ve all been there.

One way to make your strategy simpler is something we call the “Amex Trifecta.” Using just three Amex Membership Rewards points-earning cards, you can quickly earn your way to your next free vacation by using the right cards in the right circumstances.

Transferring Amex Membership Rewards points to Singapore Airlines Miles is a cheaper way to book United Airlines flights to Hawaii. (Photo by Shane Myers Photography/Shutterstock)

Why use the ‘Amex Trifecta?’

Getting the Amex Trifecta means you’ll have an opportunity to earn lucrative sign-up bonuses on two of the three cards. Each card also has access to different bonus spending categories, which means you can boost your points balances quickly with everyday purchases.

The Amex Trifecta

You do not have to be a miles-and-points expert to make the most of the Amex Membership Rewards points you earn with the Amex Trifecta. Anybody can do it.

Why Amex Membership Rewards points are so useful

Smart travelers know that earning transferable points, like American Express points, is the easiest and most flexible way to travel for nearly free. Instead of being locked into a specific airline or hotel program, you can redeem Amex Membership Rewards points for travel just about anywhere.

You can earn Amex Membership Rewards points incredibly easily from cards like the American Express® Gold CardThe Platinum Card® from American Express and The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express. And you’ve got plenty of options for redeeming points, including transferring to airline and hotel partners, booking paid travel with points through the Amex Travel Portal or cashing them in for gift cards.

Your Amex Membership Rewards points will not expire as long as you have at least one card open that earns Amex Membership Rewards.

Amex Membership Rewards points are very valuable. There are all sorts of best ways to use Amex points like flying to Hawaii, Europe, Japan and more. You can transfer your points to Singapore Airlines miles for use on Alaska Airlines flights to Hawaii for amazing value. Prices start at only 24,000 miles round-trip in coach. Or if you book using Pay With Points, you’ll avoid blackout dates.

Amex trifecta card strategy

In general, you’ll get the best return by putting your airfare spending on the Amex Platinum Card, your grocery and restaurant spending on the Amex Gold Card and everyday spending on the Amex Blue Business Plus Card. We’ll break down the benefits and uses for each card below.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Amex Platinum Card comes with a ton of perks, particularly for folks who fly often. The card earns 5x American Express Membership Rewards points on flights booked directly with airlines and on prepaid hotels booked through Amex Travel. That’s the highest earning rate for flights of any credit card.

The Amex Platinum Card earns Amex Membership Rewards points, which you can transfer to 19 airline and hotel partners, and Membership Rewards points are among the most valuable, especially when you can use their frequent transfer bonuses.

When you apply for The Platinum Card from American Express, you’ll earn 75,000 Membership Rewards Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first 6 months of account opening.

We’ve recently seen targeted offers for a 100,000-point welcome bonus, so be sure to check the CardMatch tool to see if you qualify for a higher offer.

The card comes with a $550 annual fee which is not waived the first year (see rates and fees). But the $200 annual Uber credit and $200 in airline fee credit, plus lounge access and a $100 Global Entry credit really help to offset the annual cost.

American Express® Gold Card

When you open the Amex Gold Card, you’ll earn 60,000 Amex Membership Rewards points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first six months of account opening.

The 60,000 Amex Membership Rewards points you’ll earn more than enough for a round-trip coach award flight within the U.S. when you transfer them to Amex travel partners like Air Canada, Delta or Singapore Airlines. They’re also enough for a round-trip coach award flight to Hawaii. Plus, if you love to dine out or buy lots of groceries, the card’s 4x bonus categories add up fast.

There’s a $250 annual fee (see rates and fees), but the credits you’ll earn can cover most of it. You’ll get up to $120 in dining credits, broken into $10 per month over the course of a year, to spend at certain restaurants.

Amex Trifecta: Fly to Hawaii, Europe, Japan and More
The Amex Gold Card is best used for grocery purchases and at restaurants. (Photo by hacohob/Shutterstock)

The dining credit is worth up to $120. If you make the most of it, that makes the annual fee a lot more palatable. Here’s our review of the Amex Gold Card.

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express

Small-business owners who want to earn lots of rewards will love The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express. That’s because you’ll earn transferable Amex Membership Rewards points with a credit card with no annual fee (see rates and fees).

You’ll also have the ability to “buy above your limit.” So if you need to invest in your business, you might be able to make a purchase that exceeds your credit limit. Just be sure you can pay it off, because fees will apply if you don’t.

You can read our full review of the Blue Business Plus card here.

(Bonus) American Express® Green Card

Okay okay, so we promised a trifecta. But you could go for a “quadfecta” if you desired. The information for the Amex Green Card has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.          

With the Amex Green Card, you can earn 30,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new Amex Green Card in your first three months.

Along with the good earnings rate on travel purchases and worldwide restaurant purchases (3x Amex Membership Rewards points), cardholders will get perks like up to $100 in yearly statement credits when you use your Amex Green card to pay for a CLEAR membership, and up to $100 in LoungeBuddy statement credits per year. For frequent travelers, benefits like these can certainly make your flying experience a better one. You can read our full review of the Amex Green card here.

How Million Mile Secrets team members make the most of the Amex Trifecta

Just about everyone on the Million Mile Secrets team has a stash of Amex cards that earn Amex Membership Rewards points. We all use them in different ways to fit our personal travel styles.

Andrew keeps both the Amex Gold Card and the Amex Platinum Card because he can make use of all of the annual credits, and is switching all restaurant spending to the Amex Gold Card. Meghan transfers her Membership Rewards points from her Amex Blue Business Plus Card instantly to Delta to take advantage of Delta’s flash award sales and save miles. And Jasmin has moved points from her Amex Blue Business Plus Card  to Air Canada and Delta to visit family across the continent (or bring them to visit her).

You can use your Amex Membership Rewards points to fly Delta One Suites. (Photo by Zach Honig)

The Amex Platinum Card and all Amex cards are eligible for Amex Offers, which are deals from Amex for all sorts of common purchases and services like online orders, eating out and travel. Jasmin saved on snacks for her kids and her phone bill, for example.

Bottom Line

The Amex Trifecta is an ideal strategy for folks looking to travel for free while minimizing annual fees. Here are the three cards you’ll need:

  1. American Express® Gold Card
  2. The Platinum Card® from American Express
  3. The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express

Then just make sure you put the right purchases on the right card to maximize your Amex Membership Rewards points earnings. You’ll get a great return by putting your airfare spending on the Amex Platinum Card, your grocery and restaurant spending on the Amex Gold Card and everyday spending on the Amex Blue Business Plus Card.

And don’t forget our bonus card — for the Amex Quadfecta — the Amex Green Card. With it, you’ll be able to earn even more Amex Membership Rewards points with the welcome offer. Plus, you’ll be able to take advantage of the card’s other great perks.

When you’re done raking in the Amex points, you can use them to travel the world.

For rates and fees of the Platinum Card , please click here 

For rates and fees of the Amex Gold Card, please click here

For rates and fees of the Blue Business Plus Card, please click here 

For the latest tips and tricks on traveling big without spending a fortune, please subscribe to the Million Mile Secrets daily email newsletter.

Meghan Hunter is a contributor to Million Mile Secrets, she covers topics on points and miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels, and general travel.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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