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Are you trying to figure out if it’s worth owning an American Express (Amex) credit card? These cards are no longer only for the rich and famous. More importantly, more merchants accept Amex. Plus, in recent years, the American Express credit card lineup has rolled out more benefits to offer some of the best rewards credit cards. So, if you’ve ever asked, “why get an American Express credit card”, hopefully, this post will answer that.
Why Get An American Express Credit Card?
You may be hesitant to apply for an American Express card. However, these cards let you access perks your current Visa and Mastercard don’t offer. Also, depending on what you want out of a card and where you travel, one of the Amex cards may go further than another card.
Premium Travel Benefits
Most Amex credit cards are ideal for travel rewards. American Express, Chase, and Citi both offer a premium travel credit card offering perks like travel fee credits, airport lounge access, and flexible point redemption options.
The Platinum Card® from American Express (Read our in-depth Platinum Card from American Express review for more details) offers the most benefits for the various premium credit cards. These are some of the most valuable benefits, at least to some extent.
To qualify for the Platinum Card, you will need to have a minimum 740 credit score and past experience with managing credit responsibly. You don’t need to wait for an invitation.
Airport Lounge Access
The Amex Platinum gives you complimentary access to over 1,200 airport lounge worldwide. Partner networks in the Global Lounge Collection include:
- International American Express
- Priority Pass
- Delta Sky Club
- Plaza Premium
- Air Space
Some of these networks require you to be flying the respective airline to gain access. You must have an active Delta Air Lines itinerary to enter Delta Sky Club, for example.
$200 Uber Ride Credits
Each month, Platinum Card members get up to $200 in annual Uber credits for U.S. rideshares. You get $15 per month from January through November. In December, you get a $35 credit.
Membership Rewards Point Transfers
Most American Express credit cards earn Membership Rewards points on all purchases. These points are most valuable when redeemed for award travel or gift cards. Each card is worth 1 cent when booking award flights on AmexTravel.com. A better option can be transferring them to an airline or hotel partner and booking your next trip directly from the travel brand.
Many of these partners let you transfer Membership Rewards at a 1:1 ratio to your linked loyalty account:
- Aer Lingus
- Air France KLM
- Asia Miles
- Avianca LifeMiles
- British Airways
- Delta Air Lines
- El Al Israel Airlines
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Singapore Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
- Choice Privileges
- Hilton Honors
- Marriott Bonvoy
American Express offers more transfer partners than Chase, Citi, or Capital One. You can get the best redemption value by redeeming your Membership Rewards points for award flights.
One more premium benefit that is worth mentioning, especially if you’re into aesthetics is that some of the best metal credit cards you can have in your wallet are also Amex cards.
Co-Brand Airline and Hotel Credit Cards
If you’re loyal to certain airline and hotel brands, you will need to own an Amex credit card. Right now, American Express is the exclusive issuer for Delta Air Lines credit cards and Hilton Honors credit cards.
American Express also manages the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card and the personal premium Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card. Chase manages the other Marriott Bonvoy credit card products.
These cards give you enhanced loyalty program status and other loyalty perks. For instance, the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card lets you and up to 8 travel companions check one bag for free.
Learn more: Airline Credit Cards
Some of the American Express cash rewards credit cards have some of the highest cash back rates. One of the best is the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express. You get 3% back on the first $6,000 spent at U.S. supermarkets annually, then 1%. Purchases at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores earn unlimited 2% back. Plus you get 1% back everywhere else. There is no annual fee (See Rates & Fees).
On the business credit card side, the American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card earns 2% back on the first $50,000 in annual spending then 1% back. It doesn’t have an annual fee (See Rates & Fees) so it can be a good addition for any entrepreneur.
Learn more: Best cash back credit cards
Limited-Time Welcome Bonuses
American Express is more likely to offer limited-time bonus offers on their various travel credit cards.
The co-brand credit cards for Delta Air Lines, Hilton Honors, and Marriott Bonvoy are the most likely to offer enhanced welcome offers. However, you should always look for revamped cards like the American Express® Green Card.
Longstanding cards like the Platinum Card from American Express offer limited-time offers too. For instance, you might be able to qualify for 100,000 bonus Membership Rewards targeted offer when applying through CardMatch™. But, applying directly through American Express means you may only earn up to 60,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months of account opening. The 100k bonus offer is worth $1,000 in award travel versus $600 for the 60,000 points offer.
Current American Express rules only let you earn a credit card’s welcome offer once. Even if you cancel your card and wait at least 24 months, you won’t qualify to earn a repeat bonus. Timing your application to earn a limited time offer is a great idea as you will never earn that card’s bonus offer again.
Charge Card Don’t Have a Preset Spending Limits
Certain American Express cards don’t have a preset spending limit since they are actually charge cards. However, you don’t have unlimited spending ability. Amex will let you know if you are close to overspending.
You will need to pay your balance in full each month to avoid late payment fees. Since you don’t have a fixed credit limit, these cards give you more spending flexibility. And, it’s possible they may negatively affect your credit score less often.
Also, most American Express charge cards require you to have excellent credit. This means your personal credit score is at least 740 and you have a positive history of managing credit accounts.
Some of the American Express charge cards include:
The business versions of these products are also charge cards with no preset spending limit.
- Business Platinum Card® from American Express
- American Express® Business Gold Card
- Business Green Rewards Card from American Express
Flexible Application Rules
The American Express credit card application rules are less restrictive than other banks. For example, Chase will decline your application if 5 or more credit card accounts have been added to your credit report in the last 24 months.
The two “best practices” you should be aware of. First, only apply for two Amex credit card every 90 days. Also, wait at least 5 days if you apply for two cards within a week.
Like several other banks, Amex only lets you own up to five American Express credit cards at one time.
Once again, the biggest restriction can be their welcome offer restriction. Because you can only earn a card’s welcome bonus once, it can be worth waiting until Amex offers a larger-than-usual offer.
Another shopping benefit of an American Express credit card is their Amex Offers program. You will receive curated offers for stores, restaurants, and travel to earn cash bonuses. Chase has a similar rewards program for the branded and Ultimate Rewards credit cards.
These offers plus access to unique experiences and ticket pre-sales for Amex-sponsored events are some fringe benefits of your American Express credit card.
Many people are hesitant to get an American Express credit card because they might think you must wait to get an invitation to apply. Or, they don’t realize that the Amex portfolio is so diverse. In reality, American Express has some of the credit cards with the best rewards.
What credit score do you need to get an American Express credit card?
Most American Express credit cards only need a credit score above 670 to qualify. Although, it’s possible to qualify with a credit score in the mid-600s. It’s worth looking at credit card preapproval before submitting an official application. The most rewarding credit cards like the Platinum Card from American Express or Delta Reserve Credit Card usually require a score above 740 to have the best approval odds.
What are the benefits of an American Express credit card?
The main benefit of owning an American Express credit card is the ability to earn Membership Rewards points. Most Amex credit cards earn these rewards points. They are most valuable when redeemed for award flights on AmexTravel or transferring to airline partners like Delta, Emirates, British Airways, or Singapore Airlines.
Some cards have special travel benefits. These include the Platinum Card from American Express which gives you free airport lounge access, upgraded hotel and rental car loyalty status, and travel purchase credits.
Also, the co-brand Delta SkyMiles, Hilton Honors, and Marriott Bonvoy credit cards offers special loyalty programs benefits.
Is American Express better than Visa?
A growing number of U.S. and international merchants accept American Express. However, Visa and Mastercard are still more widely accepted worldwide.
Besides merchant acceptance, American Express credit cards have similar benefits to Visa. You will need to decide which credit card offers the best rewards and additional benefits that match your spending and travel habits.
What is the best American Express credit card for travel rewards?
The best Amex credit card for travel rewards is the Platinum Card from American Express. It has many benefits including:
- $200 airline fee credit
- Up to $200 in Uber credits
- Complimentary airport lounge access
- Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit
- Accelerated hotel and rental car loyalty status
- Special discounts at Fine Hotels and Resorts
- Up to $100 annual statement credits for Saks Fifth Avenue
There is a $550 annual fee, easily offset by the card benefits (See Rates & Fees).
What is the best American Express credit card for cash rewards?
The best American Express credit card for cash rewards is the Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express. It has no annual fee and you get up to 3% back on purchases:
- 3% back at U.S. supermarkets (on the first $6,000 in annual purchases then 1% back)
- 2% back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores
- 1% back on everything else
For rates and fees of the American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express Blue Cash Everyday® Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Platinum Card from American Express, please click here.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
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