The best American Express cards, no matter what kinds of rewards you want to earn

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Crystal Cox/Business Insider

Here are the best Amex cards in 2019:

No matter your lifestyle and your priorities, American Express has a credit or charge card to match. Amex is most famous for its travel connections and premium “experiential” offerings like concierge service, but it also offers credit cards with other perks and lower annual fees.

Whether you want a cash-back card or one that earns frequent flyer miles or hotel points, Amex has you covered. Its cards also offer various benefits like travel insurance and purchase protection.

If you’re looking for the best Amex card for you, here are the ones you should consider.

Keep in mind that we’re focusing on the rewards and perks that make these credit cards great options, not things like interest rates and late fees, which will far outweigh the value of any points or miles. It’s important to practice financial discipline when using credit cards by paying your balances in full each month, making payments on time, and only spending what you can afford to pay back.


The best Amex card overall

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Crystal Cox/Business Insider

Why you’ll love it: The Platinum card offers incredibly valuable benefits and rewards, and is a must-have for any frequent traveler.

Welcome offer: 60,000 points (after you spend $5,000 in the first three months)

Annual fee: $550

Pros: Valuable perks, useful benefits, possible to get outsized value

Cons: High annual fee – even though you can make it back, and more, you’ll still have to float that at first

At $550, the Platinum Card has one of the highest annual fees of any mainstream card. However, as long as you’re willing to float it up front, you can get way more value back from the card – for instance, it’s possible to get more than $2,000 in value from it during your first year.

The card offers 5 points per dollar spent on flights booked directly with the airline, as well as flights and pre-paid hotels booked through Amex Travel. It earns 1x point on everything else. It also offers up to $200 in Uber credits each cardmember year, as well as up to $200 in airline credits each calendar year – if you open the card mid-year, it’s possible to earn that twice in your first cardmember year.

The card comes with a number of perks, including access to more than 1,200 airport lounges within the Priority Pass network, as well as Delta Sky Clubs (when you’re flying Delta) and proprietary American Express Centurion Lounges. It also offers complimentary Gold elite status with Marriott and Hilton hotels, as well as up to $100 per year in shopping credits at Saks Fifth Avenue, access to special events, and other perks at hotels.

The annual fee may turn a lot of people off from this card, but if you can get past that, the return it offers is tough to beat.

Click here to learn more about the Platinum card.


The best Amex card for dining rewards

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Crystal Cox/Business Insider

Why you’ll love it: The Amex Gold card has a lower annual fee than the Platinum Card, but it offers stellar rewards on dining and groceries and solid benefits.

Welcome offer: 35,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months.

Annual fee: $250

Pros: Stellar rewards on dining and groceries, useful benefits, lower annual fee than the Platinum card

Cons: High annual fee compared to some other cards

American Express recently launched a massive reboot of its Premier Rewards Gold card, or “PRG,” rebranding it as the American Express Gold Card, releasing a new metal design, and totally overhauling the rewards and benefits on the card.

Right now, this is one of best cards available for dining, unless you’re only interested in cash back, rather than potentially more valuable rewards points, and unless you find yourself abroad at restaurants often.

The Gold Card earns 4x points at restaurants worldwide and on up to $25,000 per year at US supermarkets (and 1x point after that), 3x points on flights booked directly with the airline, and 1x point on everything else. Based on the fact that you can easily redeem Membership Rewards points for more than 1 cent of value each, that makes this the highest-earning card for everything food-related.

The Gold Card offers up to a $100 airline fee credit each calendar year, and adds up to $120 of dining credits – split into $10 each month – at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Steak House, or participating Shake Shack locations.

New card members – those who haven’t previously had the Premier Rewards Gold – can earn a welcome bonus of 35,000 points when they spend $4,000 in the first three months.

While it’s difficult to assign an exact value to Membership Rewards points, The Points Guy subjectively estimates each point as worth 2 cents. That makes the welcome bonus worth $700. Even without factoring in the annual credit benefits, that’s more than enough to make up for the card’s $250 annual fee.

Check out our full review of the Amex Gold card for more details.

Click here to learn more about the Amex Gold card.


The best cash-back Amex card

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The Points Guy

Why you’ll love it: The Blue Cash Preferred earns cash back quickly, with several bonus categories.

Welcome offer: $250 statement credit (after you spend $1,000 in the first three months)

Annual fee: $95

Pros: Bonus cash back on useful categories, easy to earn enough cash back to offset the annual fee, introductory APR

Cons: High annual fee for a cash-back card

If you’re less excited about earning Membership Rewards points – which can be valuable, but also require some effort to redeem for maximum value – and want to stick with cash back, the Blue Cash Preferred is the best option, despite its $95 annual fee.

Amex recently announced a refresh to the card. New and existing cardholders can now earn 6% cash back on select US streaming services and 3% back on all transit. That’s in addition to the existing categories of 6% cash back at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 in purchases per year (and 1% after that), 3% back at US gas stations, and 1% cash back on everything else.

Like the EveryDay cards, the Blue Cash Preferred offers a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months, before switching to a variable 14.49-25.49% APR.

The Blue Cash Preferred comes with a handful of travel and purchase protections as well. Cash back comes in the form of a statement credit, so effectively you can use it to “erase” purchases.

Click here to learn more about the Blue Cash Preferred card.


The best Amex card for travel with a moderate annual fee

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Crystal Cox/Business Insider

Why you’ll love it: The Amex Green card earns bonus points on travel and dining – two very popular spending categories – and offers up to $200 in annual statement credits.

Welcome offer: 30,000 points (after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months). Plus, if you apply by January 15, 2020, get up to $100 in statement credits toward any eligible purchase made with Away luggage in the first three months.

Annual fee: $150

Pros: Great rewards for travel and dining, generous annual statement credits considering the annual fee

Cons: Annual fee recently increased, annual statement credit for CLEAR doesn’t cover the full cost of membership

The Amex Green card recently got a complete makeover, which saw it go from a card with very limited bonus categories to a top option for earning Membership Rewards points on travel and dining.

Now, you’ll earn 3 points per dollar on all eligible travel, which includes everything from subway fare to hotels to flights. You’ll also earn 3 points per dollar at restaurants worldwide. In terms of points-earning, this puts the Amex Green card on par with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which also offers 3x points in these spending categories.

Other new benefits include up to $100 in statement credits toward CLEAR membership each year, and up to $100 in statement credits per year toward LoungeBuddy purchases (for airport lounge access).

The Amex Green card now has a $150 annual fee, but that’s still relatively moderate, especially if you factor in those two annual statement credits (and three – if you apply by January 15, 2020, to get up to $100 toward an eligible Away luggage purchase).

Click here to learn more about the Amex Green card.


The best premium Amex business card

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The Points Guy

Why you’ll love it: The Business Platinum Amex has all the high-end benefits of the personal Amex Platinum, but with perks tailored to small-business owners.

Welcome offer: 50,000 Amex points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 all on qualifying purchases in the first three months

Annual fee: $595

Pros: Annual statement credits that can offset the annual fee, airport lounge access

Cons: High annual fee, lackluster bonus rewards

The Business Platinum is Amex’s top-of-the-line business credit card, and it has many of the same perks you’ll find on the personal Amex Platinum, including up to a $200 airline fee credit each year, access to airport lounges including Centurion Lounges and Priority Pass lounges, and up to a $100 credit to cover the application fee for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.

It also offers several benefits that cater to business owners, such as a 50% points bonus on purchases of $5,000 or more (up to 1 million additional points each year) and up to $200 in annual statement credits for Dell purchases.

If you use Amex points to book travel, you’ll appreciate the 35% Pay With Points rebate, which applies to business- and first-class flights or flights in any class with a selected qualifying airline booked through amextravel.com.

The personal Amex Platinum has the advantage when it comes to bonus categories – it earns 5x points on flights booked directly with the airline or through Amex Travel, while the Business Platinum only earns 5x points on flights and prepaid hotels booked with Amex Travel. For more info on the differences between the Business Platinum and the personal Amex Platinum, read our in-depth comparison.

Click here to learn more about the Amex Business Platinum.


The best Amex business card for everyday spending

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The Points Guy

Why you’ll love it: The Blue Business Plus is one of the best Amex cards for everyday spending, with no annual fee to boot.

Welcome bonus: None

Annual fee: None

Pros: High return on non-bonus spending, no annual fee

Cons: No welcome bonus, it’s a business credit card so not everyone will qualify

The Blue Business Plus card earns 2x Amex points on the first $50,000 you spend each year, then 1x points. Up until that $50,000 threshold, you’re effectively earning a 4% return on all your purchases, based on The Points Guy’s valuations.

Another bonus is that the Blue Business Plus card has no annual fee. Just remember that it is a business product, so if you don’t have a side gig or a small enterprise that would qualify you for a business card, you won’t be eligible.

One downside is that there’s no welcome bonus, but the return on spending could be reason enough to consider this card.

Click here to learn more about the Blue Business Plus card.


The best Amex card for families

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A shopper looks at items inside a Fresh & Easy store in Burbank, California October 19, 2012.
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Reuters

Why you’ll love it: The EveryDay Preferred earns bonus points at US grocery stores and gas stations, making it a strong product for families and others who spend a lot in these categories.

Welcome offer: 15,000 points (after you spend $1,000 in the first three months)

Annual fee: $95

Pros: Low annual fee, strong rewards structure, earns valuable points, 50% bonus when you make at least 30 transactions in a billing period

Cons: Relatively low welcome offer

The EveryDay Preferred is a strong option for anyone looking for a Membership Rewards card, but who’s not interested in a premium card like the Platinum or the Amex Gold. It also has a strong points-earning scheme and a lower annual fee of $95.

The card earns 3 points per dollar spent at US supermarkets (up to $6,000 each year – 1 point per dollar after that), 2x points at US gas stations, and 1x point on everything else. You can also get 2x points on reservations made through Amex Travel.

Best of all, if you make 30 or more purchases in a billing period, you’ll earn a 50% bonus. That means that those little $3 and $4 charges for things like coffee or a snack can help you get a ton of points quickly.

The card also offers a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months, before switching to a variable 14.49-24.49% APR. If you have a big purchase coming up and want some time to pay it off, but don’t want to pay interest fees, this is a great option.


The best no-annual-fee Amex card

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The Points Guy

Why you’ll love it: The Amex EveryDay has no annual fee, but still earns valuable bonus points.

Welcome offer: 10,000 points (after spending $1,000 in the first three months)

Annual fee: None

Pros: No annual fee, bonus points available

Cons: Earns points slower than most cards with annual fees

The Amex EveryDay is a no-annual-fee version, which still offers solid rewards. It earns 2x points at US supermarkets (again up to $6,000 of purchases per year, then 1x after that) and at AmexTravel.com, and 1x on everything else. It also offers 20% more points when you make 20 or more purchases in a billing period.

Like most Amex cards, it features a few travel and purchase protections, as well as access to the Amex Offers program.

While most people will be better off with the Preferred, the regular EveryDay is still a strong option – especially since there’s no annual fee.


The best Amex card with a 0% intro APR

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American Express/Instagram

Why you’ll love it: With cash back, no annual fee, and an introductory APR, the Blue Cash Everyday is the best option for paying off a big purchase over time.

Welcome offer: $150 statement credit (after spending $1,000 in the first three months)

Annual fee: None

Pros: No annual fee, introductory APR, solid cash-back earning rates

Cons: Lower cash-back earning rate than annual fee cards

The Blue Cash Everyday is similar to the Blue Cash Preferred, with a different earning structure and no annual fee.

The card earns a lower 3% cash back at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 each year – and 1% after that – 2% back at US gas stations and select department stores, and 1% cash back on everything else. While many people spend enough in the bonus categories to make the Blue Cash Preferred the better option, this remains a decent card for anyone who’s strictly opposed to paying an annual fee.

If you’re looking to make a major purchase and pay it off over time, like an appliance or an engagement ring, you can take advantage of the 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months (after that, it reverts to a variable 14.49-25.49% APR). You’ll earn cash back on the purchase, which you can put right towards paying it off.

Click here to learn more about the Blue Cash Everyday card.


Check out our guide to the best rewards credit cards

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Crystal Cox/Business Insider

Credit cards that offer valuable rewards and great new-member offers make it easier than ever to rack up a lot of points.

Since the 2016 launch of the Chase Sapphire Reserve by J.P. Morgan Chase, rewards credit cards have exploded into a mainstream obsession.

This was particularly evident among Millennials and Gen X-ers, as they jumped into the once-obscure world of credit card rewards and bonuses, drawn by the lure of high sign-up bonuses, special perks, and the opportunity to use points for free flights, hotel stays, and even first class tickets.

Now, more than two years after the debut of the Sapphire Reserve, what’s the best move for someone seeking to boost their stock of credit card points and frequent flyer miles? Here are some of the top credit cards currently available, based on sign-up bonuses, rewards earned on everyday spending, benefits, and overall value.

Here are our top picks for the best rewards credit cards in 2019: