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 a couple of 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.
American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card Sitting in between the Platinum Cards and the regular Gold Card is the American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card. For new card holders this card currently offers 25,000 Membership Rewards® points after spending $2,000 on purchases with your new card 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 entertainment and to shop at over 500 leading brands or transfer points to over twenty frequent traveler programs. You can also use Membership Rewards® 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 are no interest charges because you pay your balance in full each month. Terms and Restrictions Apply.
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.
Platinum Card® from American Express The Platinum Card® from American Express is the flagship charge card, offering the best benefits American Express can offer. You can earn 40,000 points after spending $3,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. When cardholders select a qualifying airline, you 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. There are no foreign transaction fees with purchases made on your card. American Express has a 24/7 Platinum Card Concierge service for assistance with last minute restaurant reservations, travel, gifts, and more. As this is a charge card you pay your balance in full each month. If you are a small business owner businesses consider The Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN. Terms and Restrictions Apply.
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.
Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express 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 after your first $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within three months of Cardmembership and a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. 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. Terms and Restrictions Apply.
While the annual fee for this credit card is $95, there is a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
Blue Sky from American Express® and the Blue Sky Preferred from American Express 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 from American Express 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. According to the American Express website, “Each 7,500-point increment is equal to a statement credit of up to the amount of the eligible travel purchase capped at $100.” So you’ll want to maximize this by using it on purchases of $100 or more so as not to lose out on any reward benefit.
With the Blue Sky card, there is a welcome bonus: earn 7,500 points after you use your card to make $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of Cardmembership – redeemable for a $100 statement credit. The Blue Sky Preferred from American Express has the additional feature of earning two points for every dollar spent at U.S. restaurants, hotel rooms purchased directly from hotels and for car rentals purchased directly from select car rental companies, as well as offering an annual $100 airline allowance in the form of a statement credit to cover airline fees such as airline meals and baggage fees. Points are earned only on eligible purchases. Terms and Restrictions Apply.
The Blue Sky has no annual fee, and The Blue Sky Preferred Card comes with a $75 annual fee.
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express Without fail, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express is the readers’ favorite at Consumerism Commentary. This credit card currently features a limited time offer Starpoints® bonus offer where you may earn up to 30,000 bonus Starpoints as follows: receive 10,000 Starpoints after your first purchase and an additional 20,000 Starpoints after you spend $5,000 on the card in eligible purchases in the first six months of Card Membership. Limited time offer expires 6/30/2014. Starpoints can be redeemed with more than 150 airlines with SPG Flights with no blackout dates and more than 1,100 hotels in nearly 100 countries around the world who are participating in the SPG program. Some hotels may have mandatory service and resort charges. For small business owners American Express offers, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express. Terms and Restrictions Apply.
The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express offers a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then after the first year there is a $65 annual fee.
TrueEarnings® Card from Costco and American Express 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. Terms and Restrictions Apply.
For Costco members in good standing, this credit card has no annual fee.
American Express bonus offers are not available to applicants who have or have had the product. Also you may not be eligible for the bonus offer if you currently have an American Express Card, please see application page for further information. 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 cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information in this article. Please verify all terms and conditions of any credit card prior to applying.
Updated June 4, 2014 and originally published August 29, 2011. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.