5 Best American Express Cards

5 Best American Express Cards

Best for Families/Cash Back
#1
Blue Cash Preferred Card
  • Save on gas by racking up 3x cashback on related purchases
  • Earn on the groceries you already buy with 6x cashback at the supermarket
  • Redeem rewards as statement credits or gift cards—the specifics are up to you
Best Hotel Rewards
#2
Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card
  • NerdWallet claims that it’s their favorite hotel credit card and touts it as a “great pick for the luxury-hotel enthusiast”
  • Earn up to 5x the points at participating Starwood hotels and 2x more points at Marriott Hotels
  • Receive 1 point for every $1 spent using this card, but Starpoints are worth more than your average point at 2.4 cents each.
Best for Frequent Spenders
#3
AmEx Everyday Card
  • No annual fee and 0% APR for the first year
  • Earn money for frequent spending with 20% more points when you make 20 or more purchases in a billing period
  • 2x more points at US supermarkets (up to $6,000) and travel spending when booking through amexrewards.com
Best for Small Businesses
#4
SimplyCash Plus Business Card
  • According to Value Penguin, it’s “One of the best small business credit cards, especially for tech start-ups looking to save on software and hardware expenses"
  • Save on common business purchases with 5% cash back at US office supply stores and wireless telephone services purchased directly from US service providers
  • You get to choose a 3% cash back category of your choice that includes popular spending categories

Depending on the perspective of the person you’re talking to, the topic of American Express credit cards will either elicit a squeal of delight or a look of scorn. We're, of course, referring to the difference between an AmEx cardholder and a merchant accepting their credit cards.

But there are specific reasons why finding the best American Express card for your needs may reap lots of benefits.

Here’s the deal:

While most consumers are pretty satisfied with the credit card company, it’s important to realize that the best Amex card for you may result in higher swipe fees for merchants. It’s for this exact reason that they aren't as widely accepted as Visa or Mastercard (or maybe they charge a higher fee because they aren't as widely accepted as Visa or Mastercard? Who knows.).

It gets worse:

In addition to small business owner's slightly negative association with the brand, American Express credit cards tend to come with a higher APR than other comparable credit cards. Because of this, you may want to shy away from picking something from this list of the best American Express cards if you know you’ll carry a balance. That said, most of the credit cards on this list have generous 0% introductory APR offers that may help you pay down any existing debt.

What’s the bottom line?

If you can get past these two slightly negative aspects of being an American Express cardmember, you’ll be rewarded with a number of perks. First, there are the rewards. American Express credit cards offer some of the best rewards in the market today, in addition to offering credit cards for seemingly every kind of lifestyle. Options include travel credit cards, business credit cards, and gas credit cards.

Also, American Express knows that their customers are the key to their continued success, and as a result, their customer service is topnotch. Their website is also incredibly easy to use, whether you’re making payments, checking your statement balance, or redeeming rewards.

So where to start? What’s the best American Express card for your individual wants and needs? Read on for a diverse set of options!

Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.


Editorial staff

Quick Look: 5 Best American Express Cards
AmEx Platinum Card
  • Immediately justify getting a new credit card when you earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending at least $5,000 within the first 3 months of card opening
  • Make it rain with bonus offers that include airline fee credits, Uber credits, and other travel perks
  • Earn money from your travels with 5x membership rewards points on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com; and the same rewards rate when spending on eligible hotels
Check on Americanexpress
SimplyCash Plus Business Card
  • According to Value Penguin, it’s “One of the best small business credit cards, especially for tech start-ups looking to save on software and hardware expenses"
  • Save on common business purchases with 5% cash back at US office supply stores and wireless telephone services purchased directly from US service providers
  • You get to choose a 3% cash back category of your choice that includes popular spending categories
Check on Americanexpress
AmEx Everyday Card
  • No annual fee and 0% APR for the first year
  • Earn money for frequent spending with 20% more points when you make 20 or more purchases in a billing period
  • 2x more points at US supermarkets (up to $6,000) and travel spending when booking through amexrewards.com
Check on Americanexpress
Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card
  • NerdWallet claims that it’s their favorite hotel credit card and touts it as a “great pick for the luxury-hotel enthusiast”
  • Earn up to 5x the points at participating Starwood hotels and 2x more points at Marriott Hotels
  • Receive 1 point for every $1 spent using this card, but Starpoints are worth more than your average point at 2.4 cents each.
Check on Americanexpress
Blue Cash Preferred Card
  • Save on gas by racking up 3x cashback on related purchases
  • Earn on the groceries you already buy with 6x cashback at the supermarket
  • Redeem rewards as statement credits or gift cards—the specifics are up to you
Check on Americanexpress
5 Best American Express Cards

5 Best American Express Cards

Read Video Infographic Tips

Depending on the perspective of the person you’re talking to, the topic of American Express credit cards will either elicit a squeal of delight or a look of scorn. We're, of course, referring to the difference between an AmEx cardholder and a merchant accepting their credit cards.

But there are specific reasons why finding the best American Express card for your needs may reap lots of benefits.

Here’s the deal:

While most consumers are pretty satisfied with the credit card company, it’s important to realize that the best Amex card for you may result in higher swipe fees for merchants. It’s for this exact reason that they aren't as widely accepted as Visa or Mastercard (or maybe they charge a higher fee because they aren't as widely accepted as Visa or Mastercard? Who knows.).

It gets worse:

In addition to small business owner's slightly negative association with the brand, American Express credit cards tend to come with a higher APR than other comparable credit cards. Because of this, you may want to shy away from picking something from this list of the best American Express cards if you know you’ll carry a balance. That said, most of the credit cards on this list have generous 0% introductory APR offers that may help you pay down any existing debt.

What’s the bottom line?

If you can get past these two slightly negative aspects of being an American Express cardmember, you’ll be rewarded with a number of perks. First, there are the rewards. American Express credit cards offer some of the best rewards in the market today, in addition to offering credit cards for seemingly every kind of lifestyle. Options include travel credit cards, business credit cards, and gas credit cards.

Also, American Express knows that their customers are the key to their continued success, and as a result, their customer service is topnotch. Their website is also incredibly easy to use, whether you’re making payments, checking your statement balance, or redeeming rewards.

So where to start? What’s the best American Express card for your individual wants and needs? Read on for a diverse set of options!

Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.


Editorial staff

Quick Look: 5 Best American Express Cards
AmEx Platinum Card
  • Immediately justify getting a new credit card when you earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending at least $5,000 within the first 3 months of card opening
  • Make it rain with bonus offers that include airline fee credits, Uber credits, and other travel perks
  • Earn money from your travels with 5x membership rewards points on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com; and the same rewards rate when spending on eligible hotels
Check on Americanexpress
SimplyCash Plus Business Card
  • According to Value Penguin, it’s “One of the best small business credit cards, especially for tech start-ups looking to save on software and hardware expenses"
  • Save on common business purchases with 5% cash back at US office supply stores and wireless telephone services purchased directly from US service providers
  • You get to choose a 3% cash back category of your choice that includes popular spending categories
Check on Americanexpress
AmEx Everyday Card
  • No annual fee and 0% APR for the first year
  • Earn money for frequent spending with 20% more points when you make 20 or more purchases in a billing period
  • 2x more points at US supermarkets (up to $6,000) and travel spending when booking through amexrewards.com
Check on Americanexpress
Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card
  • NerdWallet claims that it’s their favorite hotel credit card and touts it as a “great pick for the luxury-hotel enthusiast”
  • Earn up to 5x the points at participating Starwood hotels and 2x more points at Marriott Hotels
  • Receive 1 point for every $1 spent using this card, but Starpoints are worth more than your average point at 2.4 cents each.
Check on Americanexpress
Blue Cash Preferred Card
  • Save on gas by racking up 3x cashback on related purchases
  • Earn on the groceries you already buy with 6x cashback at the supermarket
  • Redeem rewards as statement credits or gift cards—the specifics are up to you
Check on Americanexpress

Best Premium Card

Best Premium Card: AmEx Platinum Card
Apply Now
On Card Issuer’s Secure Website
  • Variable APR
    n/a
  • Cash Advance APR
    n/a
  • Rewards Rate
    1 Point for Every Dollar
  • Annual Fee
    $550
  • Intro APR
    n/a
  • Bonus Offers
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months. Terms Apply.

Pros

  • Immediately justify getting a new credit card when you earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending at least $5,000 within the first 3 months of card opening
  • Make it rain with bonus offers that include airline fee credits, Uber credits, and other travel perks
  • Earn money from your travels with 5x membership rewards points on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com; and the same rewards rate when spending on eligible hotels

Cons

There’s no way around it—this card comes with a fairly substantial annual fee of $550. CreditDonkey speaks highly of it but warns applicants to make sure they’ll actually use the rewards before committing to the card. For most, this will be more than enough to ensure that they never add this AmEx card to their wallets. Another interesting “quirk” of this card is the fact that you don’t have to pay a monthly interest fee, but that’s only because you do have to pay your monthly balance in full each month.

Details

  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Up to $200 for Uber rides annually. Credit and Uber VIP status available to Basic Card Member only.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • As a Platinum Card Member, you can enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Terms Apply.

Application Process: Easy-as-pie online form.

Annual Fee: $550, which is the highest annual fee of any of the best American Express cards on this list.

APR: None, because you pay your balance in full each statement.

Rewards: Membership rewards points are redeemable as statement credit, gift cards, travel, merchandise or entertainment. Additionally, points are transferrable to major frequent flyer programs.

Bonus Offers: If you think the annual fee is a bit steep, you’ll understand how people justify it through the following cardholder bonuses:

  • $200 Airline Fee Credit
  • $200 Uber credits ($15 per month and $35 in December)
  • Complimentary access to Centurion, International American Express, and Delta Sky Club lounge networks (over 1,000 lounges worldwide)
  • $100 Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck
  • $550 worth of complimentary benefits from Fine Hotels & Resorts
  • Starwood Guest Gold membership status
  • Hilton HHonors Gold Status
  • Complimentary Boingo wi-fi hotspot access

Best for Small Businesses

Best for Small Businesses: SimplyCash Plus Business Card
Apply Now
On Card Issuer’s Secure Website
  • Variable APR
    13.49% - 20.49%
  • Cash Advance APR
    n/a
  • Rewards Rate
    1.0%
  • Annual Fee
    $0
  • Intro APR
    0% on Purchases for 9 months
  • Bonus Offers
    Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $5,000 in qualifying purchases on your Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership. Plus, earn an additional $250 statement credit after you spend an additional $10,000 or more in qualifying purchases on

Pros

  • According to Value Penguin, it’s “One of the best small business credit cards, especially for tech start-ups looking to save on software and hardware expenses"
  • Save on common business purchases with 5% cash back at US office supply stores and wireless telephone services purchased directly from US service providers
  • You get to choose a 3% cash back category of your choice that includes popular spending categories

Cons

If your small business is growing fast, you may be deterred by the cap on bonus categories. The 5% and 3% cashback rewards only apply to purchases of up to $50,000 per year. Additionally, there’s no signup bonus, your customizable card categories are valid for just one year, and cashback is only applicable to US spending. Every rose has its thorns.

Details

  • Special Offer: Earn up to $500 cash back
  • Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $5,000 in qualifying purchases on your Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Plus, earn an additional $250 statement credit after you spend an additional $10,000 or more in qualifying purchases on your Card within the first year of Card Membership.
  • No Annual Fee. Plus, more buying power and more cash back. Get cash back on business purchases, even those above your credit limit.
  • 5% cash back on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. office supply stores.
  • 3% on the category of your choice from a list of eight and 1% cash back on other purchases.
  • 5% and 3% apply to the first $50,000 in purchases per calendar year, then 1% applies thereafter. Cash back received is automatically credited to your statement.
  • Terms and limitations apply

Application Process: You can apply for this card online.

Annual Fee: No annual fee! How awesome is that?

APR: 0% introductory APR for 9 months—not the best or worst on this list of the best American Express cards. After 9 months of opening an account, you’ll be assessed an APR of 13.24%, 18.24% or 20.24%.

Rewards: When using this card, you’ll benefit from normal AmEx cardholder perks like travel benefits and purchase protection. Here’s how the rest of the rewards break down:

  • 5% cash back at US office supply stores and wireless telephone services purchased directly from US service providers
  • 3% cash back from a category of your choice, which could include:
    • US gas stations
    • US restaurants
    • US purchases for advertising in select media
    • US purchases for shipping
    • US computer hardware, software, and cloud computing purchases made directly from select providers
    • Airfare purchased directly from airlines
    • Hotel rooms purchased directly from hotels
    • Car rentals purchased directly from select car rental companies
  • 1% cash back on everything else

Bonus Offers: None at this time, but the rewards more than make up for a lack of a signup bonus. Depending on the time of year, there may be a signup bonus available.

Best for Frequent Spenders

Best for Frequent Spenders: AmEx Everyday Card
Apply Now
On Card Issuer’s Secure Website
  • Variable APR
    14.24% - 25.24%
  • Cash Advance APR
    26.49%
  • Rewards Rate
    1.0%
  • Annual Fee
    $0
  • Intro APR
    0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months
  • Bonus Offers
    Earn 10,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 months. Terms Apply.

Pros

  • No annual fee and 0% APR for the first year
  • Earn money for frequent spending with 20% more points when you make 20 or more purchases in a billing period
  • 2x more points at US supermarkets (up to $6,000) and travel spending when booking through amexrewards.com

Cons

It’s hard to find something bad to say about one of the best American Express cards, but one thing’s for sure: it’s not for travelers. The 2.7% foreign transaction fee is something to be avoided if you’re looking for a travel-specific credit card (and there are better options for that on this list).

Details

  • Earn 10,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate, currently 14.49% to 25.49%.
  • $0 balance transfer fee. Balance transfers must be requested within 60 days from account opening.
  • No annual fee.
  • 2x points at US supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1x); 1x points on other purchases.
  • Use your Card 20 or more times on purchases in a billing period and earn 20% more points on those purchases less returns and credits.
  • Expanding merchant acceptance: Over 1 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in the last year.
  • Terms Apply.

Application Process: Online, with an easy to complete form.

Annual Fee: None! Not ever!

APR: You’ll enjoy that there’s a 0% introductory APR for the first 12 months, then a variable APR of 13.99% to 23.99% after that time period.

Rewards: Rewards are fairly straightforward, and are redeemable as statement credit, gift cards, travel, merchandise, or entertainment rewards that occur in (and start at) $25 increments.

Bonus Offers: With a minimum spend of $2,000 within the first three months of opening the account, you’ll earn 25,000 reward points. Additionally, you’ll earn 20% more points when you make 20 or more purchases in a single billing period.

Best Hotel Rewards

Best Hotel Rewards: Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card
Apply Now
On Card Issuer’s Secure Website
  • Variable APR
    16.49% - 20.49%
  • Cash Advance APR
    26.49%
  • Rewards Rate
    1.0%
  • Annual Fee
    $0 for the first year, then $95
  • Intro APR
    n/a
  • Bonus Offers
    Earn 25,000 Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Terms Apply.

Pros

  • NerdWallet claims that it’s their favorite hotel credit card and touts it as a “great pick for the luxury-hotel enthusiast”
  • Earn up to 5x the points at participating Starwood hotels and 2x more points at Marriott Hotels
  • Receive 1 point for every $1 spent using this card, but Starpoints are worth more than your average point at 2.4 cents each.

Cons

What’s the catch? If you could call it that, there’s the fact that the signup bonus isn’t quite as generous as similar hotel credit cards or travel credit cards. There’s also the fact that as far as redeeming free hotel stays, you’ll need to visit a Starwood or Marriott property to make use of your rewards. If you don’t frequent these chains, you might want to consider a different credit card.

Details

  • Earn 25,000 Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • Earn 2 Starpoints® for each dollar of eligible purchases spent at participating SPG® & Marriott Rewards® hotels. Earn 1 Starpoint for all other purchases.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on International purchases.
  • Redeem Starpoints® at over 1,300 participating hotels and resorts in over 100 countries and for flights on more than 150 airlines with SPG flights, all with no blackout dates.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Planning a road trip? Rent your car, fill up your tank, book your hotel, and pay for it with your American Express® Card.
  • Terms Apply.

Application Process: Online, and you’ll have to login to your American Express account to get started.

Annual Fee: $95, which is graciously waived for your first year of card use.

APR: A variable rate between 16.24% to 20.24%.

Rewards: People love this card specifically because of the rewards it provides. Besides the ability to redeem Starpoints for free hotel stays, points earned through the credit card and the SPG loyalty program can also be exchanged for loyalty rewards at most airlines. It's perks like these that make the card especially appealing to travelers. Also because of this, the Starwood Preferred Guest program offers more flexibility than most co-branded travel cards with its transfer partners.

Bonus Offers: Earn 30,000 bonus points when you use your credit card to pay for purchases up to $3,000 within the first 3 months of opening an account. As an awesome additional bonus, if you spend $30,000 in a calendar year, you automatically get upgraded to the Gold tier of the Starwood Preferred Guest program.

Best for Families/Cash Back

Best for Families/Cash Back: Blue Cash Preferred Card
Apply Now
On Card Issuer’s Secure Website
  • Variable APR
    14.24% - 25.24%
  • Cash Advance APR
    26.49%
  • Rewards Rate
    1.0%
  • Annual Fee
    $95
  • Intro APR
    0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 12 months
  • Bonus Offers
    $200 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months. Terms Apply.

Pros

  • Save on gas by racking up 3x cashback on related purchases
  • Earn on the groceries you already buy with 6x cashback at the supermarket
  • Redeem rewards as statement credits or gift cards—the specifics are up to you

Cons

This card gets some flak for having a somewhat limited definition of “supermarket” and gas stations. For example, Walmart and Costco are not included as 6x cashback options—and neither are alcohol retailers. For your information, “gas stations” (in reference to rewards with this card) refer to standalone gas stations and not superclubs that sell gas. There’s also a high annual fee, but know that it’s offset if you spend at least $31 per week on groceries. Unlike the Starwood Preferred Guest credit card on this list of the best American Express cards, this is not a great card for travel given the 2.7% foreign transaction fee.

Details

  • $200 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%) - that means spending $60 a week at U.S. supermarkets could earn over $180 back per year.
  • 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores, 1% back on other purchases.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate, currently 14.49% to 25.49%.
  • Expanding merchant acceptance: Over 1 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in the last year.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise.
  • Terms Apply.

Application Process: Online, similar to the others on this list.

Annual Fee: This card will set you back $95 per year, but if you don't want to pay annual fees, there is a “cousin” available: the Blue Cash Everyday card from AmEx. Keep in mind that many of the perks will be different/lesser than those available with the Blue Cash Preferred Card.

APR: A nice 0% APR for the first 12 months (including balance transfers); after which, a variable rate between 13.99% to 24.99% is assessed. Additionally, there’s a 2.7% foreign transaction fee and a balance transfer fee of $5 or 3% (whichever is higher) of the amount to be transferred.

Rewards: You have a couple options for redeeming rewards when using this card on the list of the best American Express cards. Rewards are redeemable in statement credit, with a minimum redemption value of $25 that only comes in $25 increments. Other rewards include gift cards and merchandise with variable amounts.

Bonus Offers: Earn a quick bonus of a $250 statement credit when you spend a minumum of $1,000 within the first 3 months of opening your account. As with most of the credit cards on this list, there are additional travel benefits like insurance and shopping benefits. For example, AmEx’s return protection policy refunds you up to $300 per item and $1,000 per year should you attempt to return an item and the merchant does not receive it.

Maddy Osman creates engaging content with SEO best practices for marketing thought leaders and agencies that have their hands full with clients and projects. Learn more about her process and experience on her website, www.The-Blogsmith.com and read her latest articles on Twitter: @MaddyOsman.

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