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Want an American Express Card? Here are Our Picks

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Since the issuer formally entered the card business back in 1958, the American Express credit card has become widely thought of as choice plastic among the rich and the famous. One of its earliest cardholders, after all, was the king of rock ‘n roll himself, Elvis Presley. However, in recent years, the issuer/network has made clear efforts to widen its target demographic. (Case in point: American Express launched its first prepaid debit card back in 2012.) And, while there are still a host of American Express credit cards and charge cards aimed at big spenders, frequent fliers and Beyoncé (another famous cardholder), there are cards with features geared toward the average consumer as well. Of course, what card is right for you, American Express or otherwise, varies by your aim and spending habits. Here we’ll provide some need-to-knows when it comes to American Express credit card offers and review our picks for the best American Express credit cards on the market based on overall appeal and value.

How to Get An American Express Card

Yes, American Express has a few cards that carry no-to-low(ish) annual fees that a person on an average income could easily afford — but virtually all of them still require good credit. So, if your credit score is in rough shape, you have a bit of work to do. You can see where you stand by viewing your free credit report snapshot, including two free credit scores on Credit.com. If you’re below a 700 — the general line in the sand when it comes to a good credit score — you may want to pay down high credit card balances, dispute any errors on your credit report and, yes, even wait a bit before applying. Otherwise, that American Express credit card application could generate a hard inquiry on your credit report, which will ding your score, in exchange for a rejection.

Is an American Express Card a Real Credit Card?

One other important thing to note before we jump into the forthcoming American Express credit card reviews: Many American Express products aren’t actually credit cards. They are charge cards, meaning you’re expected to pay your purchases back in full at the end of each month. That’s one of the reasons most American Express cards carry an annual fee — theoretically, if a cardholder is using their charge card responsibly, the issuer isn’t making any money on interest.

Charge cards do build credit, since your payment history gets reported to the credit bureaus, but they don’t generally factor into your credit utilization rate. So, if you were hoping a new piece of plastic was going to provide a credit limit cushion, you may be better off looking for a traditional credit card. You also may be better off looking for a traditional credit card if you need to carry a balance every now and then. American Express does have a Pay Over Time program that charge cardholders can use in a jam, but there are restrictions. Besides, virtually all American Express cards on the market (prepaid products included) are rewards cards and it’s a good idea to avoid a revolving balance on those in general. Otherwise, all the perks and points are just getting rendered null and void by interest. (If you’re prone to carrying a balance, you’re better off looking into a low-interest credit card.)

With that in mind, here are our picks for the best American Express credit cards based on overall value and appeal. Remember, the following reviews just address the card’s major terms and conditions; for full details, please refer to the card agreements.

Our Picks for American Express Credit Cards

Blue Cash Preferred Card From American Express

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Apply Now
on American Express's secure website
Card Details
Intro Apr:
0% for 12 months on purchases

Ongoing Apr:
14.49%-25.49% Variable

Balance Transfer:
14.49%-25.49% Variable

Annual Fee:
$95

Credit Needed:
Excellent-Good
Snapshot of Card Features
  • $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%.
  • Over 1.5 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in 2017.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.

Card Details +

Click here for full rates and fees

Why We Picked It: Because it’s pretty tops as far as cash back credit cards go, offering cardholders a sizeable 6% cash back on up to $6,000 per year at U.S. supermarkets, 3% at U.S. gas stations and 1% everywhere else.

Card Details: Cardholders are eligible for a $200 statement credit after they spend $1,000 in purchases on the new Card within the first 3 months.

Alternative: The Blue Cash Everyday from American Express might be a better fit for anyone scoffing at that $95 annual fee. The standard Blue Cash Everyday comes with fewer rewards: 3% back on up to $6,000 in purchases at U.S. supermarkets each year (then 1%), 2% back at U.S. gas stations and one 1% back everywhere else. Cardholders can earn a $150 signup bonus when they spend $1,000 in the first three months; APR terms are identical.

The Amex EveryDay Credit Card From American Express

The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express

Apply Now
on American Express's secure website
Card Details
Intro Apr:
0% for 15 months on purchases

Ongoing Apr:
14.49%-25.49% Variable

Balance Transfer:
14.49% - 25.49% Variable

Annual Fee:
$0

Credit Needed:
Excellent-Good
Snapshot of Card Features
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Over 1.5 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in 2017.
  • No annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.

Card Details +

Why We Picked it: Because it has a feature that lets you earn 20% extra points when you use the card 20 or more times in a billing period.

Card Details: In addition to the potential bonus points, cardholders earn 2x the points on up to $6,000 in purchases at U.S. supermarkets (then 1x) and 1x the points everywhere else. Cardholders also earn 10,000 points if they spend $1,000 on the card in the first three months.

Alternative: As an alternative to above, bigger spenders looking for more rewards should know there’s a premium version called the — you guessed it — Amex EveryDay Preferred credit card. It carries a $95 annual fee, but you’ll earn 3x the points on up to $6,000 in purchases at U.S. supermarkets (then 1x), 2x the points at U.S. gas stations and 1x the points everywhere else. You’ll also get 50% extra rewards when you use your card 30 times in a billing cycle and a 15,000 point signup bonus if you spend $1,000 on the card in the first three months. APR terms are identical.

The Platinum Card From American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Apply Now
on American Express's secure website
Card Details
Intro Apr:
N/A

Ongoing Apr:
N/A

Balance Transfer:
N/A

Annual Fee:
$550

Credit Needed:
Excellent-Good
Snapshot of Card Features
  • 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.

Card Details +

Why We Picked It: Because this American Express flagship charge card got an upgrade in 2016, now offering 5x the points for flights booked directly with airlines or through American Express in addition to (already standard) 1x the points everywhere else.

Card Details: The Platinum Card (see full review here) also touts a 60,000-point signup bonus, achievable if you spend $5,000 on the card in your first three months; an annual $200 airline fee credit, a $100 or $85 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check every four years and a bevy of other travel benefits, including access to airport lounges in American Express’ The Centurion network, the International American Express lounges, Delta Sky Clubs and Airspace Lounges.

Alternative: The Platinum’s makeover followed the introduction of the Chase’s Sapphire Reserve credit card, another piece of premium plastic that offers a pretty sweet sign-up bonus: 50,000 bonus points if you spend $4,000 in your first three months. But its base rewards program is a bit different than the Platinum: cardholders earn 3x the points on travel and at restaurants, 1x the point everywhere else, an annual $300 travel credit, a $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check every 4 years and a bevy of other travel benefits, including airport lounge access worldwide. Plus, since it’s not a charge card, there is an APR — — so frequent fliers would have some number-crunching to do if trying to decide which of the two premium cards, based on their travel and spending habits, might be right for them.

At publishing time, the American Express Blue Cash Preferred, Blue Cash Everyday, AmexEverday, AmexEveryday Preferred and Platinum cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

This article was last updated on September 21st, 2017


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