The best American Express cards

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  • Although the credit card and rewards space has become a bit crowded, American Express remains a popular and prestigious company, offering compelling and competitive products.

  • The Platinum Card® from American Express is the best product offered, with generous benefits, valuable perks, and solid rewards that more than make up for its high annual fee.

  • For example, I got more than $US2,000 of value from the card my first year.


American Express offers credit and charge card products for just about every lifestyle need. Although American Express is famous for its travel connections and premium experiential offerings, it also offers credit and charge card products with other advantages. Whether you’re looking for cash back, frequent flyer miles, travel insurance, purchase protections, extra points on groceries, access to airport lounges, or more.

If you’re looking for the best Amex card for you, here are the ones you should consider.

Keep in mind that, unless it’s otherwise noted in the card description, we’re focusing on benefits, perks, and rewards that make these cards great options, not things like interest rates and late fees, which can far outweigh the value of any rewards.

When you’re working to earn credit-card rewards, it’s important to practice financial discipline, like paying your balances off in full each month, making payments on time, and not spending more than you can afford to pay back – or spending more than you would otherwise. Basically, with a few rare exceptions, you should

treat your credit card like a debit card

.

Here are our top picks for the best Amex cards:

Updated on 11/05/2018 by David Slotnick: Added information on the Gold Card.

Read on in the slides below to see which Amex card is right for you.


The best Amex overall

Why you’ll love it: The Platinum Card offers incredibly valuable benefits, perks, and rewards, and is a must-have for any frequent traveller.

Welcome offer: 60,000 points (after spending $US5,000 in the first three months)

At $US550, the Platinum Card has one of the highest annual fees of any mainstream card. However, as long as you’re willing to float it up front, you can get way more value back from the card – for instance, I got more than $US2,000 in value from it during my first year.

The Platinum Card earns American Express Membership Rewards. These points can be redeemed for travel, merchandise, or more. However, the best option is to transfer them to a frequent flyer partner.

The card offers 5x points per dollar spent on flights booked directly with the airline, as well as flights and pre-paid hotels booked through Amex Travel. It earns 1x point on everything else. It also offers up to $US200 in Uber credits each cardmember year, as well as $US200 in airline credits each calendar year – if you open the card mid-year, it’s possible to earn that twice in your first cardmember year.

The card comes with a number of perks, including access to more than 1,200 airport lounges within the Priority Pass network, as well as Delta Sky Clubs and proprietary American Express Centurion Lounges. It also offers complimentary gold elite status with Marriott, Starwood, and Hilton hotels, as well as up to $US100 per year in shopping credits at Saks Fifth Avenue.

The annual fee may turn a lot of people off from this card, but if you can get past that, the return it offers is tough to beat.

Pros: Valuable perks, useful benefits, possible to get outsized value

Cons: High annual fee – even though you can make it back, and more, you’ll still have to float that at first

Click here to learn more about the Platinum Card from Insider Picks’ partner: The Points Guy.


The best AmEx for dining rewards

American Express

Why you’ll love it: The Amex Gold Card has a lower annual fee than the Platinum Card, but it offers stellar rewards on dining and groceries and solid benefits.

Welcome offer: 25,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $US2,000 in the first three months. Until January 9: Get up 20% back at US restaurants within the first three months, up to $US100 total.

This October, American Express launched a massive reboot of its Premier Rewards Gold card, or “PRG,” rebranding it as the American Express Gold Card, releasing a new metal design and limited-edition rose gold version, and totally overhauling the rewards and benefits on the card. Because that wasn’t quite enough, AmEx also launched a fairly unique new welcome bonus.

Right now, this is arguably the best card available for food, unless you’re only interested in cash back, rather than potentially more valuable rewards points, and unless you find yourself abroad at restaurants often.

The new Gold Card earns 4x points at US restaurants and on up to $US25,000 per year at US supermarkets (and 1x point after that), 3x points on flights booked directly with the airline, and 1x point on everything else. Based on the fact that you can easily redeem Membership Rewards points for more than 1¢ of value each, that makes this the highest-earning card for everything food-related.

Like the old PRG, the Gold Card offers a $US100 airline fee credit each calendar year, and adds up to $US120 of dining credits – split into $US10 each month – at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Steak House, or participating Shake Shack locations.

New card members – those who haven’t previously had the Premier Rewards Gold – can earn a welcome bonus of 25,000 points when they spend $US2,000 in the first three months. Additionally, those who apply before January 9 can get 20% back on all US restaurant charges – up to $US100 total – in the form of a statement credit.

While it’s difficult to assign an exact value to Membership Rewards points, The Points Guy subjectively estimates each point as worth 1.9¢. That makes the welcome bonus worth $US575 – $US475 for the points, and up to $US100 back from restaurants. Even without factoring in the annual credit benefits, that’s more than enough to make up for the card’s $US250 annual fee.

Check out our full review for more details.

Keep in mind that it’s possible to be targeted for a higher welcome bonus.

Pros: Stellar rewards on dining and groceries, useful benefits, lower annual fee than the Platinum Card.

Cons: Relatively high annual fee compared to some other cards.

Click here to learn more about the Amex Gold Card from Insider Picks’ partner: The Points Guy.


The best Amex for families

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Why you’ll love it: The EveryDay Preferred earns bonus points at US grocery stores and gas stations, making it a strong product for families and others who spend a lot in these categories.

Welcome offer: 15,000 points (after spending $US1,000 in the first three months)

The EveryDay Preferred is a strong option for anyone looking for a Membership Rewards card, but who’s not interested in a premium card like the Platinum or PRG. It also has a strong points-earning scheme and a lower annual fee of $US95.

The card earns 3x points per dollar spent at US supermarkets (up to $US6,000 each year – 1x point per dollar after that), 2x points at US gas stations, and 1x point on everything else. You can also get 2x points on reservations made through Amex Travel.

Best of all, if you make 30 or more purchases in a billing period, you’ll earn a 50% bonus. That means that those little $US3 and $US4 charges for things like coffee or a snack can help you get a ton of points quickly.

The card also offers a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months, before switching to a variable 14.74-24.74% APR. If you have a big purchase coming up and want some time to pay it off, but don’t want to pay interest fees, this is a great option.

Pros: Low annual fee, strong rewards structure, earns valuable points, 50% bonus when you make at least 30 transactions in a billing period

Cons: Relatively low welcome offer

Click here to learn more about the Amex EveryDay Preferred.


The best no-fee Amex

Shutterstock/Stock Rocket

Why you’ll love it: The Amex EveryDay has no annual fee, but still earns valuable bonus points.

Welcome offer: 10,000 points (after spending $US1,000 in the first three months)

The Amex EveryDay is a no-annual-fee version, which still offers solid rewards. It earns 2x points at US supermarkets (again up to $US6,000 of purchases per year, then 1x after that) and at AmexTravel.com, and 1x on everything else. It also offers 20% more points when you make 20 or more purchases in a billing period.

It has the same introductory APR offer, and, like most Amex cards, features a few travel and purchase protections, as well as access to the Amex Offers program.

While most people will be better off with the Preferred, the regular EveryDay is still a strong option – especially since there’s no annual fee.

Pros: No annual fee, bonus points available.

Cons: Earns points slower than most cards with annual fees.

Click here to learn more about the Amex EveryDay from Insider Picks’ partner: The Points Guy.


The best cash-back Amex

Why you’ll love it: The Blue Cash Preferred earns cash back quickly at a great rate.

Welcome offer: $US200 statement credit (after spending $US1,000 in the first three months)

If you’re less excited about earning Membership Rewards points – which can be valuable, but also tricky to redeem – and want to stick with cash back, the Blue Cash Preferred is the best option, despite its $US95 annual fee.

The card earns a huge 6% cash back at US supermarkets on up to $US6,000 in purchases per year (and 1% after that), 3% back at US gas stations and some US department stores, and 1% cash back on everything else.

Like the EveryDay cards, the Blue Cash Preferred offers a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months, before switching to a variable 14.74-25.74% APR.

The Blue Cash Preferred comes with a handful of travel and purchase protections as well. Cash back comes in the form of a statement credit, so effectively you can use it to “erase” purchases.

Pros: Bonus cash-back on useful categories, easy to earn enough cash back to offset the annual fee, introductory APR

Cons: High annual fee for a cash-back card

Click here to learn more about the Blue Cash Preferred from Insider Picks’ partner: The Points Guy.


The best Amex with a 0% intro APR

Why you’ll love it: With cash back, no annual fee, and an introductory APR, the Blue Cash Everyday is the best option for paying off a big purchase over time.

Welcome offer: $US150 statement credit (after spending $US1,000 in the first three months)

The Blue Cash Everyday is similar to the Blue Cash Preferred, with a different earning structure and no annual fee.

The card earns a lower 3% cash back at US supermarkets on up to $US6,000 each year – and 1% after that – 2% back at US gas stations and select department stores, and 1% cash back on everything else. While many people spend enough in the bonus categories to make the Blue Cash Preferred the better option, this remains a decent card for anyone who’s strictly opposed to paying an annual fee.

If you’re looking to make a major purchase and pay it off over time, like an appliance or an engagement ring, you can take advantage of the 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months (after that, it reverts to a variable 14.74-25.74% APR). You’ll earn cash back on the purchase, which you can put right towards paying it off.

Pros: No annual fee, introductory APR, solid cash-back earning rates

Cons: Lower cash-back earning rate than annual fee cards

Click here to learn more about the Blue Cash Everyday from Insider Picks’ partner: The Points Guy.


Check out our guide to the best credit card rewards, bonuses, and perks

The best credit card rewards, bonuses, and perks

Credit cards with good rewards programs and great new member offers make it easier than ever to rack up a lot of points.

Since the 2016 launch of the Sapphire Reserve credit card by J.P. Morgan Chase, rewards credit cards have exploded into a mainstream obsession.

This was particularly evident among Millennials and Gen X-ers, as they jumped into the once-obscure world of credit card rewards and bonuses, drawn by the lure of high sign-up bonuses, special perks, and the opportunity to use points for free flights, hotel stays, and even first class tickets.

Now, more than two years after the debut of the Sapphire Reserve, what’s the best move for someone seeking to boost their stock of credit card points and frequent flyer miles? Here are some of the top credit cards currently available, based on sign-up bonuses, rewards earned on everyday spending, benefits, and overall value.

Here are our top picks for the best credit card rewards and sign-up bonuses:

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