The best American Express cards
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American Express has cards that offer huge travel card intro bonuses, elite status with hotels, valuable Amex Offers and more. Each rewards card, however, comes with its own mix of benefits and perks, which can make it hard to choose the best one for you.
The best American Express card for your wallet depends on your travel and financial goals. Lots of Million Mile Secrets readers have more than one of these cards because American Express cards offer lucrative welcome bonuses and terrific everyday spending categories, which can have you on your way to a vacation in no time at all. In addition, Amex has taken an additional step to help cardholders during the coronavirus pandemic by adding credits and bonus categories to certain cards.
We’ve ranked our favorite American Express cards by category so you can pick the best travel card for your financial goals.
Best American Express cards
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: Best for flights
- American Express® Green Card: Best for general travel purchases
- American Express® Gold Card: Best for restaurant and U.S. supermarket purchases
- Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express: Best for cash back
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express: Best business card perks
- The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express: Best no-annual-fee business card (see rates & fees)
- American Express® Business Gold Card: Best for U.S. advertising and U.S. shipping purchases
- The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card: Best card for luxury Hilton perks
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card: Best card for Marriott perks
- Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express: Best no-annual fee card for cash back on everyday purchases (see rates & fees)
Limited Time Offer: Earn 150,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points and a bonus Free Night Award after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Resort fees may apply. Terms apply. Offer expires 11/3/2021.
Comparing the top Amex cards
The information for the Amex Green card and Hilton Aspire 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.
Deep dive into the best cards from American Express
With the Amex Platinum card you can earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
- 5x Membership Rewards on airfare (booked either directly with the airline or with American Express Travel; on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year)
- 5x Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel
- Earn 10x points on eligible purchases on the card at restaurants worldwide and when you “Shop Small” in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during the first six months of card membership.
- 1 point per dollar on other eligible purchases
- Terms apply
Why it’s the best for flights
The 5x Membership Rewards points you’ll earn on flights booked directly with the airlines and on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel is the highest earning rate for flights of any card.
The Amex Platinum is useful for anyone looking to earn a nice stash of Amex Membership Rewards points through travel spending, especially if you can make the most of the card’s perks.
The Amex Platinum’s benefits include (terms apply):
- Up to $200 in U.S. Uber credits annually*
- Up to $200 annual airline-fee credit*
- Up to $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit
- Airport lounge access*
- Elite car rental status with Avis, Executive status with National Car Rental and Gold Plus Rewards with Hertz*
- Complimentary Hilton Honors and Marriott Gold elite status (free breakfast and upgrades when available)*
*Enrollment required for select benefits.
For information on lounges at your home airport or favorite airport, check out this post on how to find Amex Platinum airport lounges. This card also now has new travel coverages, including trip delay insurance and trip cancellation/interruption coverage.
You can earn 30,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your Amex Green card in your first three months of account opening.
The Amex Green card earns 3x Membership Rewards points on travel, restaurant purchases worldwide and one point per dollar everywhere else.
Why it’s the best for general travel purchases
The Amex Green Card is worth it if you can use the card’s unique benefits that can save you time and money on your travels. The card does carry an annual fee of $150 (see rates & fees), but it’s not hard to come out ahead.
Along with the good earnings rate on travel purchases, 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. Plus, up to $100 in LoungeBuddy statement credits per year. For frequent travelers, benefits like these can certainly make your flying experience a better one. Enrollment required for select benefits.
The American Express Gold card has a welcome bonus of 60,000 Amex Membership Rewards points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first six months of account opening.
The Amex Gold card’s benefits and perks are loaded with valuable credits. You can earn up to $120 dining credit ($10 monthly) each year at participating restaurants (enrollment required).
Best for restaurant and U.S. supermarkets
With the card’s earnings rates and perks, this card has essentially become one of the best cards for restaurants. Plus, the $250 annual fee is quickly covered when you eat out and shop for groceries at U.S. supermarkets and account for the value of the statement credits you can earn make the Amex Gold card worth it for many people.
There’s a $250 annual fee (see rates and fees), but the credits you’ll earn will offset most of that cost.
The Amex Blue Cash Preferred is currently offering a $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card within the first six months of card membership.
In addition to the welcome bonus, the Amex Blue Cash Preferred comes with benefits and perks like free two-day shipping from over 140 online stores with a complimentary ShopRunner membership. It also has purchase protections, including extended warranty coverage (one additional year) on purchases with a manufacturer’s warranty of five years or less and 90-day return protection on purchases made in the U.S. or U.S. territories (up to $300 per item and $1,000 per calendar year). (Enrollment required).
Why it’s best for cash back
For folks who regularly spend at U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations and on transit, this card could provide some serious cash back. You can read more about the card in our Amex Blue Cash Preferred review.
With the Blue Cash Preferred, you’ll earn 6 % cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 in purchases per calendar year, then 1%); 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions; 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and transit and 1% back on other eligible purchases. Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed for statement credits.
You’ll earn the Amex Business Platinum card’s bonus of 120,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with your Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership, making it one of the best small business card offers.
With the Amex Business Platinum card you’ll earn 1.5x Amex Membership Rewards points on single purchases of $5,000+ (on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year). In addition, airfare and prepaid hotels booked through the Amex travel portal will earn 5x points and all other purchases earn one point per dollar.
Why it’s the best for small business owners
The ability to earn 5x Amex points on airfare or prepaid hotels is the best earning rate for those categories for any American Express small-business card. This card also now has a solid mix of travel insurances, like trip delay insurance and trip cancellation/interruption coverage.
And the card comes with lots of perks, including:
- 35% of your points back for all first-class or business-class flights booked through the Amex travel portal using Pay With Points
- 35% of your points back for all flights, including coach tickets, booked with your selected airline through the Amex travel portal using Pay With Points (up to 500,000 points per calendar year)
- Up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for airline incidentals with your selected airline (luggage fees, inflight food and drink, etc.)*
- Up to $400 annual Dell statement credit ($200 from January to June, $200 from July to December)*
- Ability to book hotel stays through Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts
- Amex Platinum Concierge
- Amex Premium roadside assistance
- Access to airport lounges (Delta, Priority Pass, Airspace, Escape and American Express Centurion Lounges)*
- Bonus points or statement credits when taking advantage of an Amex Offer*
- Elite car rental status with Avis, Executive status with National Car Rental and Gold Plus Rewards with Hertz*
- Hilton Honors Gold elite status (free breakfast and upgrades when available)*
- Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status*
- Statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck (up to $100)
- Terms and limitations apply
*Enrollment required for select benefits.
The Amex Business Platinum annual fee is $595 and it is not waived for the first year (see rates and fees). This is a hefty fee, but it can certainly make sense for those who are able to make the most of the Amex Business Platinum card’s benefits and perks.
If you can qualify for business cards and meet the minimum spending requirement, this is a “platinum” card that is actually worthy of the name. It is always a strong pick, especially for frequent travelers, because it is easy to offset the annual fee with the welcome bonus, perks and benefits.
If you can take full advantage of the many statement credits and lounge access, it can be easy to justify the annual fee.
The Amex Blue Business Plus Card earns 2x Amex Membership Rewards points on the first $50,000 in purchases per calendar year (then 1 Membership Rewards point per $1 on all purchases). Having a no-annual-fee credit card (see rates & fees) that earns 2x points per $1 on $50,000 in purchases per year is an excellent deal. Similar no-annual-fee small-business cards have a lower earning rate.
Although the Amex Blue Business Plus Card is a credit card with a set credit limit, Amex offers the ability to spend above your limit. This is helpful for small-business owners with a large upcoming purchase.
Cardholders will also get access to perks like:
- Amex Offers
- Free employee cards (see rates & fees)
- Extended warranty
- Car rental loss and damage insurance
- Baggage insurance
- Purchase protection
- Free Shoprunner membership (enrollment required).
Why it’s the best no annual fee business card
With the no-annual-fee Amex Blue Business Plus Card you’ll earn 2 Amex Membership Rewards points per $1 on the first $50,000 in purchases per calendar year (1 Membership Rewards point per $1 on eligible purchases after that).
If you spend the maximum, you could earn 100,000 Amex Membership Rewards points per year. That’s a great deal for a card with no annual fee. I plan to keep mine forever to have a card that delivers bonus points without thinking about bonus categories. For more detailed information, check out our full Amex Blue Business Plus review.
With the Amex Business Gold you’ll earn 4x Amex Membership Rewards points per dollar on two categories where you spend the most each month (capped at the first $150,000 in combined purchases each calendar year, then one point per dollar).
With the American Express Business Gold Card, you can earn 70,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Gold Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
Best for U.S. advertising and U.S. shipping purchases
The Amex Business Gold’s benefits and perks are wide ranging and include baggage insurance, purchase protection, roadside assistance and access to Amex Offers. One of my favorite perks of the card is a 25% points rebate if you use your Amex points for flights booked with Amex Travel (up to 250,000 points back each calendar year). The rebate will kick in for first and business-class tickets, as well as coach tickets on your selected airline.
- Airfare purchased directly from airlines
- U.S. purchases for advertising in select media (online, TV, radio)
- U.S. purchases made directly from select technology providers of computer hardware, software and cloud solutions
- U.S. purchases at gas stations
- U.S. purchases at restaurants
- U.S. purchases for shipping
Even better, you’ll automatically earn those 4x Amex Membership Rewards points per dollar on two categories you spend the most on each month. You never have to take the step of choosing categories. You’ll earn 1x Amex Membership Rewards point per dollar for other eligible purchases.
There’s a $295 annual fee (see rates and fees), but the credits you’ll earn will help offset most of that cost.
With the Amex Business Gold’s earning structure, this card is suited best for those who spend a lot in categories like airfare, advertising and shipping. And by transferring the Amex Express Membership Rewards points you earn to any of Amex’s direct airline and hotel partners for award travel, you can turn your business expenses into free travel.
With the Amex Hilton Honors Aspire, you’ll earn 14x Hilton points at participating Hilton hotels, 7x points on flights booked directly with airlines or Amex Travel and on car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies. Other eligible purchases earn 3x points.
Why it’s the best hotel card
The Hilton Aspire’s benefits make it one of the top hotel credit cards on the market. For starters, you’ll get top-tier Diamond Hilton status as long as you have the card. That gets you 100% bonus base points on Hilton stays, free breakfast and upgrades up to a suite (when available). You’ll also get a free weekend night award every year and you can earn a second weekend night award if you spend $60,000+ on the card in a calendar year.
This is also one of the few hotel cards that comes with airport lounge access. You can enroll in Priority Pass and get unlimited lounge visits for you and up to two guests. It also has a yearly airline fee credit of up to $250 and up to $250 in Hilton resort credit, which is valid for purchases like room rates and hotel dining. You’ll have to select an airline for the fee credits and the resort credits are valid at Hilton’s participating resorts. Enrollment required for select benefits.
You can also get up to $100 in credits per 2+ night stay at Conrad or Waldorf Astoria locations. You are eligible for this credit once per stay for an unlimited number of stays, but taxes, fees, room rates and gratuities are not eligible for the credit. To qualify, you need to book through this link or call 855-292-5757 and reference the code “ZZAAP1.”
This can also be a good choice for paying for other travel because the card comes with trip interruption/cancellation coverage and trip delay insurance.
The Hilton Aspire’s ongoing perks are borderline absurd. There are very few people who won’t be able to easily recoup much more value than the cost of the annual fee. And even though there isn’t a Hilton award chart, Hilton points can still be extremely useful for booking award stays when you take advantage of the 5th night free feature.
With the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex card, you’ll earn 6 Marriott points per dollar spent at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program, 3 points per $1 at U.S. restaurants and flights booked directly with airlines, and 2 points per $1 on other eligible purchases.
This card’s welcome bonus currently awards you 150,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points and a bonus free night award (redemption level worth up to 85,000 Marriott points) after you use your new card to make $5,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership. Resort fees may apply. Offer ends 11/3/2021.
By our estimations, Marriott points are worth 0.8 cents apiece, so this bonus is worth an average of up to $1,880 toward hotel stays.
Why it’s the best card for Marriott perks
Anyone who wants to earn free Marriott hotel stays and other related perks will get great value out of this card, which offers benefits like an annual free-night award, a Priority Pass Select membership with access to more than 1,200 airport lounges worldwide, 15 elite-night credits every year, and Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit. Enrollment required for select benefits.
You’ll also have access to secondary car rental insurance, baggage insurance, travel accident insurance, and an emergency phone number to receive emergency medical transportation assistance.
Another benefit of the card is the availability of Amex Offers, which are discounts on hotels, flights, gas, restaurants, and more. These deals are added directly to your card and can be stacked with other discounts.
Note that you aren’t eligible for the intro bonus of the Amex Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card if you have or have had the Ritz-Carlton card in the past 30 days. You also won’t be eligible if you’ve opened, or earned a welcome or upgrade bonus, from the following cards within the past 24 months:
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card
- Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Premier Card
- Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Premier Plus Business Card
- Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Business Credit Card
The Amex Blue Cash Everyday Card earns you 3% cash back on up to $6,000 in purchases at U.S. supermarkets (then 1%). You’ll also get 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores, as well as 1% cash back on all other purchases.
As part of this card’s welcome bonus, you’ll earn a $200 statement credit after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card within the first six months of card membership.
Additional benefits include a ShopRunner membership, where you can get free two-day shipping from more than 140 online stores. The card also provides extended warranty protection and return protection. What’s more, you’ll be able to enroll in Amex Offers, which provides discounts that can save you hundreds per year. Enrollment required for select benefits.
Why it’s best for cash back on everyday purchases, with no annual fee
This is a good card for anyone who spends a moderate amount each month on gas and groceries, who prefers cash back over travel rewards, and who is determined not to pay an annual fee for a credit card.
As stated, there is no annual fee for the Amex Blue Cash Everyday Card.
How we choose the best Amex cards
Earning a big welcome offer is the quickest way to rack up valuable travel rewards and make your dream trip a reality. In fact, many cards will offer lucrative welcome bonuses that are worth several times what they charge in an annual fee. That’s why a card’s intro bonus is so important when it comes to ranking the best cards (of any kind).
We want you to find a card that works the best for your personal spending habits and travel goals. That’s why we consider each card’s ongoing earnings when determining the best offers. A strong earnings rate means you can quickly accumulate points to redeem for something meaningful in a reasonable amount of time.
Flexibility and ease of redeeming rewards
Having options when it comes to redeeming your rewards means you’ll be more likely to use them. Plus, the more flexibility a card offers, the more likely it is to offer more value, too.
It’s never easy to put an exact value on all of a card’s benefits, as some have no specific monetary value, but some will certainly make your travel experience a lot more enjoyable. That’s why cards that offer perks like airport lounge access and statement credits for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry often make the top of our list.
American Express card application rules
For most Amex cards, the application guidelines are straightforward. You can only earn a welcome bonus on a specific card once per lifetime. Also, Amex limits you to having five Amex credit cards at a time (in most cases).
Amex also considers the number of its cards you have opened or closed and “other factors” when reviewing an application. Even though that’s a bit vague, if you’re ineligible for a welcome offer Amex will let you know during the application process with a handy pop-up window. At that point, you can cancel your application before Amex completes a hard pull on your credit report.
What credit score do you need to get approved for an Amex credit card?
Most of the top American Express cards are suited for those who already have some established credit, and you may need a credit score of 800 or higher to be approved for one. Having said that, there have been anecdotal reports of people being approved with credit scores in the upper 600s.
How much are membership reward points worth, and how do you maximize them?
We estimate that Amex points are worth 1.8 cents apiece, with a minimum value of 1.35 cents. Their actual value depends on how you redeem them. Overall, you’ll get the most value per point by transferring them to airline and hotel partners like Delta, Air Canada Aeroplan, ANA, and Flying Blue.
You can also transfer Amex points to hotel partners, book paid travel with them through the Amex portal, or cash them in for gift cards.
What is the best Amex cards combo?
Having both The Platinum Card® from American Express and the The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express allows you to collect and redeem a large pile of valuable Amex Membership Rewards points. You can also earn up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for airline incidental fees like baggage fees with the Amex Platinum.
What are some other Amex cards that are good to have in my wallet?
Small business owners should check out the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card, which can earn you a pile of points for a wide range of purchases. You’ll get 4x Marriott Bonvoy points at U.S. restaurants and gas stations, as well as on U.S. shipping purchases and wireless telephone services purchased directly from select U.S. service providers. You’ll also get 6x points on purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program and 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
If you happen to be a regular flyer with Delta Airlines, the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card is a viable option for you. It awards 3x miles on eligible Delta purchases, 2x miles at restaurants worldwide and U.S. supermarkets, and 1x mile on other eligible purchases. It can also help you reach elite status with Delta, and other benefits include an annual companion pass and one free checked bag on Delta flights.
Why is it good to have an American Express card?
American Express cards are commonly sought by credit card holders in the United States, since they are known for earning some of the best rewards out there. Besides, the company is renowned for excellent customer service. There’s a card for everyone, from frequent travelers, small business owners, or people seeking rewards on everyday purchases like groceries and gasoline.
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For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Green card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Gold card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Business Platinum Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Blue Business Plus Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Business Gold Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express, please click here.
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! :)