American Express rewards is a polarizing program that offers a blend of different credit cards each earning Amex Points(American Express Points). Rather than looking at co-branded cards, I’m going to focus on Amex Points and their in-house program as hole.
American Express currently issues a collection of Amex Points earnings cards with personal and business options for most of its offerings. Additionally, American Express also offers a wide range of products with premium, mid-tier, and fee free cards. The company also offers several co-branded credit cards that emphasize the brand’s strong partnership with Hilton and Delta Airlines. For this post, we will focus on American’s Express’ in house points earnings program! Here is the full scoop!
What are the Premium American Express Cards?
Currently American Express offers 3 premium credit cards earning Amex points. There is a business and personal version of the American Express Platinum card and the Black Card (Centurion). The Black Card is invite only and typically reserved for the ultra luxe or wealthy folks. This card carries an astronomical $10,000 annual fee. Talk about being a real high roller. (Side note, this card also made an appearance in a Daniel Craig James Bond Film). The more common option is the platinum card which carries a $550 (personal) and $695 (business) annual fee. Each card comes with a plethora of benefits that helped erase some of the painfully high annual fee while also providing exclusive access to the Centurion Lounge Network.
What are the Mid-Tier American Express Cards?
Mid-tier credit cards can have an annual fee between $95-$300, but mostly tops out at $250 a year. With American Express, the most popular mid-tier option is the American Express Gold card which offers 4 points per dollar on dining and groceries. This card also comes with notable credits such as the $120 dining credit and $120 Uber credit. This card also carries an annual fee of $250. Other mid-tier American Express options include the following: Amex Green Card ($150 annual fee), Amex Everyday Preferred ($95 annual fee), and the Amex Blue Cash Preferred ($95). Each of the three listed cards earns a solid amount of points with options to earn at least 3 points per dollar in certain categories. Mid-tier cards with American Express don’t seem as attractive to me so I currently do not carry one.
What are the Perks of having an American Express Credit Card?
For premium credit cards, complimentary access to the Centurion Lounge Network is amazing especially for frequent flyers in large hubs. I am based in San Francisco which has a solid Centurion Lounge, but have also visited other locations such as Seattle, Las Vegas, Houston, and even Hong Kong. For the moment, platinum card holders can still bring in 2 guests to the lounge for free, but that is changing in Spring 2023 as American Express seeks to reduce overcrowding. Guests will no longer be allowed unless you carry a Black Card or meet certain spend requirements on the platinum card.
In addition to lounge access, the platinum card also carry a variety of credits that make the annual fee more palatable. One undervalued area is the excellent customer service team. American Express has one of the best customer support teams among the major card issuers.
While mid-tier cards lack well rounded perks, the high earning rates on these cards provide exceptional value. Earning 6x back on groceries or both 4x on groceries and dining beat most competitions. In addition, mid-tier cards also have the option to transfer points to partners and the gold card even contains a similar fine hotels and resorts benefit.
How to Pick a Card?
Should you even get an American Express credit card? The answer to this question really depends on how much value you can get out of the card. If you think you can get fairly good value or if you live near an airport that has a Centurion Lounge, then a platinum card could be a good option. On the other hand, if you frequently travel for work and dine out, or you find yourself frequently taking clients to lunch, the American Express Gold Card could be a solid option. Earning 4 points per dollar on spend that could be reimbursed is an excellent way to quickly rack up points. Remember your miles may vary!
Quick Tip: Rakuten + American Express Partnership
If you have an American Express credit card that earn Amex Points, you can connect your account with the shopping portal Rakuten. This unique partnership allows you to earn Amex Points instead of standard cash back, granting the opportunity to get even more value from cashback.
While your miles may vary, American Express offers a nice collection of premium and mid-tier credit cards. While these cards carry an annual fee that is not waived for the first year, statement credits, high earning multipliers, and excellent customer support help offset some of the cost. I think there is certainly a good place in your wallet for these cards if you can maximize the perks and earnings, while also getting good value redemptions via transfer partners. If you rather book trip by exchanging points for fixed value, Chase Ultimate Rewards would be the superior option.