Review: American Express Credit Cards

American Express offers probably the biggest range of cards, in that you can choose from a variety of credit cards (that allow you to carry a balance) or charge cards (that you must pay off each month). Below are profiles and short reviews of the most popular American Express credit cards:

  • Blue Cash Everyday from American Express – American Express cash back credit card offers 3% cash back on supermarket purchases, 2% back on gas station purchases, 2% back at department stores, and 1% cash back everywhere else. If you spend at least $1000 with the card in the first 3 months, you’ll get an extra $100 statement credit. No annual fee.
  • Blue Cash Preferred Card – If you are a heavy credit card spender, this card could make sense for you as an alternative to the card above. While it does have a $95 annual fee, it offers a more generous cash back formula. You get 6% cash back at supermarkets (on up to $6000 in groceries), 3% cash back at gas stations and major department stores including JCPenney, Kohl’s, Macy’s, etc. (but not Walmart or Target), and 1% cash back on all other purchases. If you are regularly spending $500 or more per month in the groceries/gas/department store categories, this is actually a better deal despite the annual fee, but be sure to do the math based on your personal spending.

  • Blue from American Express – This is the original American Express credit card — meaning the first Amex that let you carry balances from month to month. In addition to that obvious advantage (or disadvantage depending on your preferences), Blue from American Express offers Membership Rewards points — 1 point per dollar — that you can redeem for a wide variety of gift cards, travel rewards and the like. While we think the Membership Rewards program is still a decent points program in comparison to similar competitors’ programs, we would recommend the Blue Cash card discussed above over this card.
  • American Express Green Card – The original American Express Card is actually a charge card, meaning you must pay off your balance each month instead of having the option to make a partial payment and accrue interest on your balances. In our eyes, the main reason to have it is to stop yourself from overspending and getting deeper into debt. Yes, it has a beefed up Membership Rewards program that earns a point per dollar and has somewhat better rewards than the Blue cards, and, yes, it has decent travel benefits if you travel frequently (including 2 points per dollar on travel booked through American Express), but in our eyes the $95 annual fee isn’t worth it for most people’s spending habits.
  • Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express – A step up from the American Express green charge card but with a higher annual fee ($195 but $0 first year), this card offers 3 points per dollar on flights booked with airlines, 2 points per dollar on purchases at U.S. gas stations, supermarkets and restaurants, and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. Again, some nice perks but not necessarily worth the $195 fee.
  • Platinum Card from American Express – An annual fee of $550 immediately makes this card not for everyone. However, the $200 airline fee credit and $100 Global Entry/ TSA Pre reimbursement take away some pain, and the 5 points per dollar on airline purchases is super competitive. Plus, those airport lounges. As you can see, this one is aimed at the frequent traveler who is willing to pay a bit more to make their travels more comfortable. While this is the most expensive of the American Express charge cards, it is actually our favorite — all of the Amex cards with an annual fee are targeted toward travelers, so if you travel frequently this one gives you the most perks despite the bigger fee.
  • Blue Sky from American Express – This no-annual-fee travel rewards credit card offers you one point per dollar spent with the card, which sounds boring, but every 7500 points you earn translate into $100 off any travel-related expenses (airline tickets, hotel, car rental), so your points are actually worth 1/3 more than many rewards cards.
  • Amex EveryDay Credit Card – American Express made a big fuss when this newest Amex credit card was introduced in 2014, but we don’t see that it has such a great upside. It offers 2 points per dollar on supermarket purchases and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases, and, if you use it 20 or more times in a billing period, you’ll get a bonus of 20% of the points earned that month. It’s an OK perk, but not nearly as exciting as Amex seems to think it is.
  • Plenti Credit Card from Amex – Plenti is a points program that allows you to earn reward points from a variety of different merchants and use those points for rewards at other merchants within the network, thereby giving you more flexibility to both earn and redeem points. At least that’s the idea — the network of participating stores is pretty small right now. Anyway, this credit card gives you one Plenti reward point for every dollar charged to it, and these points are on top of the points you earn when buying from merchants in the network. (Note that this card does not double as a Plenti membership card, meaning you’ll still need to show your regular Plenti card when you buy at a merchant in the network.)