American Express is consistently one of the highest rated credit card issuers. This could be because the customers are demographically different than average Visa and MasterCard customers. American Express customers are generally individuals and businesses with higher credit ratings, and they are more likely to make better financial decisions. Additionally, many American Express cards are charge cards. Charge cards don’t have associated interest rates, so every bill is due in full. As a result, American Express customers generally don’t buy what they can’t afford to pay back within 30 days.
In the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 credit card satisfaction survey this is the sixth consecutive year that American Express has taken the highest honors. American Express also won the highest accolades from personal finance bloggers, taking home the Best Credit Card in the First Annual Plutus Awards two years ago, with the Blue from American Express card.
Here’s an overview of the major credit and charge cards from American Express and reviews for each.
The Platinum Card® from American Express is the flagship charge card, offering the best benefits American Express can offer. When cardholders use AmEx’s travel services, they can benefit from up to $200 annually in a statement credit with the airline of your choice to use towards baggage fees, flight-change fees, in-flight food and beverage purchases and more. In addition, with Priority Pass™ Select, members will have access to private lounge areas at over 600 participating airport lounges worldwide to pass the time in comfort. AmEx has a 24/7 concierge available to assit with reservations, travel, gifts, and more. Businesses can receive similar features with the The Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN.
These benefits come at a significant cost. With an annual fee of $450, the Platinum Card is not for the faint of heart. The potential benefits could outweigh this annual fee, but this is a personal decision.
Sitting in between the Platinum Cards and the regular Gold Card is the American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card. This card currently offers a welcome bonus offer for new cardholders 25,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $2,000 in the first three months of Card membership. On purchases, cardholders earn points quickly, with three points per dollar for flights booked with airlines, two points per dollar on gasoline at US gas stations, two points per dollar at US supermarkets, and one point per dollar on other purchases. Terms and limitations apply. These points can be used for gift cards for dining, entertainment, and to shop at over 300 brands. You can also use Pay with Points to book your next trip by using the American Express Travel site for your travel related expenses such as airfare, car rentals, accommodations and more. Members receive exclusive access to buy tickets for popular events.
There is an introductory annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $175. The annual fee is much less than the Platinum Card, but the benefits are not as extensive.
The American Express® Gold Card offers some great features. Some of the benefits include, access to Membership Rewards Program where points can be redeemed for gift cards for entertainment, dining and to shop at over 300 merchants, in addition you have access to exclusive benefits such as Extended Warranty, Return Protection and Baggage Insurance Plan and all three are underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company. Use you card to get discounts and low rates at hotels and resorts plus when you book through Gold Hotel Collection you can get a $75 hotel credit. Note that terms and restrictions apply. With the business version, The Business Gold Rewards Card® from American Express OPEN, you can earn points faster, get rewarded for what your business already spends.
Both versions of the charge card have an introductory annual fee of $0 for the first year. Thereafter the American Express Gold Card comes with an annual fee of $125, while the business version comes with an annual fee of $175.
For travelers that fly on Delta Airlines frequently, the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express is one of the best ways to earn relevant and valuable rewards. With the welcome bonus offer you may be rewarded with 30,000 bonus miles toward Award Travel after your first $500 in purchases within three months of Cardmembership. You can continue to earn miles at the rate of two miles per eligible dollar spent on qualifying Delta purchases and one mile per dollar for all other eligible purchases. With the Gold Delta SkyMiles card you can check the first bag free on every Delta flights which can add up to a savings of up to $200 per round trip for a family of four.
While the annual fee for this credit card is $95, there is a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
For consumers with excellent credit, the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express offers one of the best cash back programs the issuer has to offer. Earn 150 Reward Dollars after spending $1,000 in purchases within the first three months of Cardmembership. With the cash back program consumers may earn 6% cash back at US supermarkets on the first $6,000 of purchases per calendar year, 3% cash back on gasoline at US gas stations, 3% cash back for purchases at select US dept stores, and 1% on other purchases. Terms and limitations apply. In terms of how much cardholders can earn in cash back on their purchases, this is the best cash back offer that American Express has, and it is better than offers from many other issuers, as well.
The Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express comes with a $75 annual fee.
Consumers with good credit can consider the Blue Cash Everyday® from American Express, offering consumers one of the better cash back programs the issuer has available. Earn 3% cash back at US supermarkets on the first $6,000 of purchases per calendar year, 2% cash back on gasoline at US gas stations, 2% cash back at select US department stores and 1% cash back on other purchases. Terms and limitations apply. And as a welcome for new cardmembers you can earn 100 Reward Dollars after spending $1,000 in eligible purchases in the first three months of Cardmembership. Unlike the Gold and Platinum cards, Blue Cash Everyday is a credit card, so purchases are subject to interest fees if the bills are not paid in full. Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.
There is no annual fee for being a Cardmember of Blue Cash Everyday.
The Blue Sky from American Express® and the Blue Sky Preferred from American Express are credit cards, not charge cards, focused on travel rewards. With the Blue Sky card, spenders can earn one point for virtually every dollar spent on the card, but those points are about 33% more valuable than typical rewards programs. You need only 7,500 points to qualify for a $100 statement credit. The Blue Sky Preferred card has the additional feature of earning two points for every dollar spent at U.S. restaurants, hotel rooms and car rentals, as well as offering an annual $100 airline allowance to cover airline fees such as airline meals and baggage fees. Points are earned only on eligible purchases.
The Blue Sky has no annual fee, and The Blue Sky Preferred Card comes with a $75 annual fee.
Without fail, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express is the readers’ favorite at Consumerism Commentary. This credit card currently features a welcome bonus offer where you may earn up to 25,000 bonus Starpoints as follows receive 10,000 Starpoints after your first purchase and an additional 15,000 Starpoints after you spend $5,000 in the first six months of card membership. Starpoints can be redeemed with more than 350 airlines with SPG Flights and more than 1,100 hotels in nearly 100 countries around the world who are participating in the SPG program. The business version of this card, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express, offers the same features for small businesses and their owners.
The Starwood card offers a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then after the first year there is a $65 annual fee.
The TrueEarnings® Card from Costco and American Express is another favorite among Consumerism Commentary readers. There is no bonus offer with this credit card, but the cash back arrangement is solid. Approved applicants can immediately begin receiving cash back at the rates of 3% on gasoline purchases at US gas stations and on gasoline at Costco, for purchases up to $4,000 annually (then 1%); 2% on eligible purchases at US restaurants; 2% on eligible travel purchases, including at Costco and 1% on other purchases, including purchases at Costco. Terms and limitations apply. Cash back is issued in the form of an annual reward coupon.
For Costco members in good standing, this credit card has no annual fee.
The above American Express cards, both credit cards and charge cards, offer access to the same security features, extended warranty benefits, and purchase protection. Welcome bonus offers are not available to applicants who have had the product within the last 12 months or any other similar American Express products within 90 days of application. Cash back and points are earned only on eligible purchases. Terms and Restrictions Apply.
This content is not provided or commissioned by American Express. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of American Express, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express. This site may be compensated through American Express Affiliate Program.
Important Note! The information in this article is believed to be accurate as of the date it was written. Please keep in mind that credit card offers change frequently. Therefore, we can not guarantee the accuracy of the information in this article. Please verify all terms and conditions of any credit card prior to applying.
Updated May 16, 2013 and originally published August 29, 2011. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @flexo on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.