The Amex Trifecta: Earn boatloads of rewards with these 3 credit cards
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The idea of developing a long-term strategy for using travel rewards cards can be daunting. We’ve all been there. Even those of us on the MMS team who are miles and points experts continually feel the need to maximize every point and every mile, every single time we earn or redeem rewards.
But the payoff can be incredible. With the right travel rewards cards, you can make your travel dreams a reality.
One way to make your strategy simpler is something we call the “Amex Trifecta.” With just three Amex Membership Rewards points-earning cards, you can quickly earn your way to your next free vacation.
Which cards make up the “Amex Trifecta?”
With the Amex Trifecta, 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 consists of the following three cards:
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 (on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year as of Jan. 1, 2021) and on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel. That’s one of the highest-earning rates 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. Plus, you’ll get 10x points on eligible purchases on your new card at U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined eligible purchases, during your first six months of card membership. That’s an additional 9 points on top of the 1 point you earn for these purchases.
The card comes with a $550 annual fee which is not waived the first year (see rates and fees). But the up to $200 annual U.S. Uber credit and $200 in airline fee credit, plus lounge access and a $100 Global Entry credit really help to offset the annual cost. Enrollment required for select benefits.
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. Enrollment required for select benefits.
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.
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 2X AMEX Membership Rewards points on ALL purchases up to $50,000 per year, 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.
How to maximize Amex rewards with 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.
How to earn the most rewards
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.
That said, if you don’t already have the Amex Platinum card and are applying for the current offer, it’d be best to put your grocery spending on that card for the first six months of card membership. That way you can maximize the 10x Amex Membership Rewards points on eligible purchases on your new card at U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined eligible purchases, during your first six months of card membership.
Once you’ve maxed out that bonus opportunity, switch your grocery spending to the Amex Gold. With it, you’ll earn 4X points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year; then 1X.
How to redeem rewards for the highest value
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.
Nearly everyone on the MMS 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 and goals. What makes sense for you may not make sense for someone else.
The good news is, there are plenty of options when it comes to redeeming Amex 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.
MMS editor Meghan has both the Amex Platinum and Amex Blue Business Plus and likes to transfer her Membership Rewards points instantly to Delta. In the past, she and her family have flown Delta One to Europe. And she also likes to take advantage of Delta’s flash award sales and save miles.
MMS writer Jasmin has transferred Amex points to Air Canada and Delta to visit family across the continent (or bring them to visit her).
In addition to the rewards you’ll earn, 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. Meghan has saved thousands of dollars over the years on things like hotel stays, wine, snacks, furniture and household essentials like paper towels and toilet paper.
For a detailed look at how to maximize your Amex points, check out our complete guide to using Membership Rewards points.
Other possible Amex cards to consider
Okay okay, so we promised a trifecta. But you could go for a “quadfecta” if you desired. Or, you could get the Amex Green card instead of the Amex Platinum, if you want to earn bonus points on travel purchases without paying the Platinum’s bigger annual fee. This card has a $150 annual fee (see rates and fees).
You’ll also earn You’ll earn 3x Membership Rewards points per dollar on travel and worldwide restaurant purchases. Plus, 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 elevate your flying experience.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Amex has also added up to $80 in statement credits when using your Amex Green card to pay for wireless telephone services directly from U.S. service providers (up to $10 per month from May through December 2020).
You can read our full review of the Amex Green card here.
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.
Another card to consider is the Blue Cash Preferred. Sure, you won’t be earning Amex Membership Rewards points. But the cash back you earn can be put toward travel funds for future trips!
Some people like the simplicity of cash back. There are no transfer partners or blackout dates to worry about. Cash back is about as easy as it gets when it comes to earning credit card rewards.
Earn 20% back on Amazon.com purchases on the card within the first six months of card membership, up to $200 back. Plus, earn $150 back after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the card within the first 6 months of card membership. Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed for statement credits. You’ll also get 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per calendar year; then 1%) and 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions — two categories most people spend a lot in!
The Amex Trifecta is an ideal strategy for anyone looking to travel for free while minimizing annual fees (which is basically everyone!).
Here are the three cards you’ll need:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express — use for airfare spending
- American Express® Gold Card — use for grocery and restaurant spending
- The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express — use for everyday spending
To properly execute the Amex Trifecta strategy, 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.
When you’re done raking in the Amex points, you can use them to travel the world.
For rates and fees of the Amex Green card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred card, click here.
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.
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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! :)