Comparing the American Express Membership Rewards Credit Cards

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The long-time leader in rewards credit cards has been American Express.  In recent years, other issuers like Chase Bank have challenged that title by introducing highly competitive travel rewards cards, but, Amex still has a loyal customer base. One of the primary reasons is American Express continues to offer some of the most valuable purchase rewards in the credit card industry with the Membership Rewards program.  The following will compare all the personal and business American Express Membership Rewards credit cards.

The Best American Express Membership Rewards Credit Cards:

No-Fee Amex Membership Rewards Personal Credit Cards

Amex offers two different credit cards that do not charge an annual fee.  They do not pack the same punch as the cards that do charge an annual fee, but they still might be an option to consider as a secondary credit card to supplement another Amex credit card.

Card NameAmex EveryDayBlue from American Express
Welcome Offer10,000 points after $1,000 spend in the first 3 months – Terms ApplyNone
Purchase Rewards· 2x points at U.S. Supermarkets & Amex Travel

· 1 point for all remaining purchases

1 point for all purchases
Additional Perks·20% point boost if 20 or more purchases are made during billing cycle

·CDW Rental Car Protection

CDW Rental Car Protection
Foreign Transaction Fee2.7%2.7%

The clear winner in the no-fee category is the Amex EveryDay Credit Card since it’s the only no annual fee personal Amex card that earns Membership Rewards. This is helpful in being able to keep your Membership Rewards points active at no cost. The Blue series is more designed to serve as a cash back credit card offering like the Blue Cash EveryDay or Blue Cash Preferred.

Terms Apply

Annual Fee Amex Membership Rewards Personal Credit Cards

This comparison only factors in the non-branded Amex credit cards that earn Membership Rewards points. There are 5 different options to choose from and are arranged in increasing order based on their annual fee.  As a brief side note, keep in mind that Amex will only offer you a welcome offer “once in a lifetime” per credit card.

Card NameGreen CardEveryDay PreferredGold CardPremier Rewards GoldPlatinum Card
Annual Fee$0 first Year
then $95
$95$0 first year then $160$0 first year then $195$550 primary card & $175 each additional card
Welcome Offer25,000 points after $1,000 spend in the first 3 monthsEarn 15,000 Membership rewards points after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 months25,000 points after $1,000 spend $1,000 spend in the first 3 months25,000 points first year after $2,000 spend in the first 3 months60,000 points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
Purchase Rewards*2x Amex Travel purchases

*1 point all other purchases

*3x U.S. Supermarkets

*2x U.S. Gas Stations & Amex Travel

*1x all remaining purchases

*2x direct airline purchases, U.S. restaurants, or Amex Travel

*1 point all other purchases

* 3x airfare directly from airlines or Amex Travel

*2x points at U.S. gas stations or supermarkets

*1 point all other purchases

*5x points for airline tickets from Amex Travel or directly from airlines

*2x all other Amex Travel reservation

*1x all other purchases

Additional PerksCDW Coverage50% point boost if card used 30 times during billing cycle$75 credit for on-property purchases for hotel reservations from “The Hotel Collection” on Amex Travel portal$100 Annual Airline Credit$200 airline fee credit

Global Lounge Access

$100 Global Entry Credit

Foreign Transaction Fee2.7%2.7%0%0%0%

Terms Apply for the others above – Info about the EveryDay Preferred has been collected independently by JohnnyJet. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.”

Comparing the personal annual fee Amex Membership Cards is a bit more difficult.

American Express Green Card

The American Express Green Card is the weakest offering of all the cards.  If you only plan on using the card for travel reservations, it might be worth the welcome bonus as you will not have an annual fee the first year, but, upgrading to the Premier Rewards Gold to use the $100 annual credit can cancel out the additional annual fee and there is the potential to earn more points on airfare plus gas & groceries.

EveryDay Preferred

The EveryDay Preferred is a good option for a family to charge their daily purchases to as it earns the most points for some of the largest household budget items, gas, and groceries.  Plus, if you can use the card at least once per day each month, you can also receive a 50% point boost which can come in handy.

Gold Card from American Express

This version offers a little more perks than the Amex Green card, but for an additional $35 each year you can upgrade to the Premier Rewards Gold and receive a better welcome offer, slightly stronger purchase rewards, and a $100 airline travel credit that is probably worth the additional annual fee increase if you normally check bags or make in-flight purchase.

Premier Rewards Gold from American Express

For those that do not want to pay the $550 annual fee to own an Amex Platinum premium travel rewards card, the Premier Rewards Gold is the best option.  The Welcome Offer is probably one of the best in the industry as the annual fee is waived for the first year but then is $195. The $100 annual airline credit can be used for what American Express classifies as “incidental expenses” such as checked baggage fees and in-flight purchases.

Platinum Card from American Express

The “Cadillac” travel card offered by Amex is its Platinum card. The competition has been fierce in the recent months in the premium travel category as Chase introduced the Sapphire Reserve, which many consider the best of the premium credit cards.

To address this issue, Amex increased the purchase reward payout to 5 points per $1 spent on air travel booked directly from an airline or using the Amex Travel portal and American Express has hinted at adding additional benefits in the near future as well.

In addition to earning 5 points per $1 are earned on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel, Platinum cardholders will also enjoy complimentary airport lounge access to the Centurion Club, Airspace, Delta Sky Clubs, and International American lounge networks. There is also an annual $200 airline fee credit, and a $100 Global Entry reimbursement.

If you spend a lot of time in the air, it might be worth carrying this card in your wallet instead of the Amex Premier Rewards Gold.

Terms Apply

Amex Business Credit Cards

You might be in the position to consider applying for a business Amex instead of a personal card.  If so, there are four options to choose from that earn Membership Rewards.  Plus, applying for a business credit card will not count against Chase’s 5/24 rule, if you intend to apply for a personal Chase credit card in the near future. And there’s several limited time offers on Amex business cards currently!

Card NameBlue Business PlusBusiness GreenBusiness Gold RewardsBusiness Platinum Card
Annual Fee$0$0 first year then $95 annually$0 first year then $175 annually$450
Welcome OfferLimited Time Offer. Earn 10,000 extra Membership Rewards® points after you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer ends 9/26/2018.5,000 points after 1st purchase50,000 points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months of card membership50,000 points after spending $10,000 and additional 50,000 points after spending $15,000 on qualifying purchases within first three months
Purchase Rewards· 2X points on everyday business purchases such as office supplies or client dinners

· 2X applies to the first $50,000 in purchases per year, 1 point per dollar thereafter.

· 2 points on Amex Travel

· 1 point on all other purchases

·  3 points on one select category

·  2 points on 4 other categories

·  1 point on all other purchases

·  5x points on Amex Travel

· 1.5 points on purchases $5,000 or more

· 1 point for all other purchases

Additional PerksOption to earn additional MR points with select merchantsNo preset spending limitSimilar benefits as personal Platinum card
Foreign Transaction Fee2.7%2.7%0%0%

Terms Apply – Info about the Business Amex cards has been collected independently by JohnnyJet. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.”

The best card will largely depend on your spending habits, as each offers different purchase rewards.

Blue Business vs. Business Green

The Business Green won’t be worth the annual fee for most business owners and will most likely do better with the Blue Business Plus card all-around.

Each business has different needs, but the best Amex Business choices are the Blue Business, Business Gold, or Business Platinum to earn Membership Reward Points.

Business Gold Rewards

Deciding between the Premier Rewards Gold personal card or the Business Gold Rewards card will largely hinge on your spending habits.  The Business Gold doesn’t come with the $100 travel credit, but, rewards business spending.

Regarding its purchase rewards, you can choose one of the following five categories to earn 3% and the other four will earn 2%:

  • Direct purchases from airlines
  • Select advertising costs
  • S. Gas Stations
  • Shipping
  • Select computer hardware and software purchases

If you are responsible for business purchases, the purchase reward tiers might be an excellent way to accumulate Membership Rewards points on everyday purchases that can be redeemed for travel.

Enhanced Business Platinum Card (now expired)

The Enhanced Business Platinum Card® currently has a tiered welcome bonus of 100,000 points.  All spending must occur within the first three months, but, you receive 50,000 points after spending the first $5,000 and an additional 50,000 points after spending the second $5,000.  Which is a significantly better offer than the personal Platinum, if you can meet the minimum spending requirements.

Another new benefit is a 30% redemption bonus on air travel booked with the Amex Travel portal.  Amex will only award the bonus if the travel is on the same airline that you select to use the annual $200 air travel credit on, however.  In addition to these perks, the business Platinum enjoys the same benefits as the personal Platinum Amex including the $200 air travel credit, lounge access, Global Entry reimbursement, and complimentary Boingo wireless internet hotspot access.

The Best American Express Membership Rewards Credit Cards:

Terms Apply

Geoff Whitmore

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Comparing the American Express Membership Rewards Credit Cards
5 (100%) 3 votes

About the Author

Geoff Whitmore
Geoff writes about how to book travel with award miles & points, reviews top travel credit cards, and basic rewards news.

2 Comments on "Comparing the American Express Membership Rewards Credit Cards"

  1. Josh, the 50% redemption bonus also works for ANY airline for business or first class tickets. Cheers.

  2. I think the confusion might be in how the terms & conditions read: “The qualifying airline Business Platinum Card Members select for this $200 benefit and the 50% Airline Bonus must be the same.”

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