5 Best American Express Cards

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I frequently offer appraisals of the very best cards, and the very best signup bonuses, but in doing so only offer one or two cards per bank. That means I don’t get down further — what card should you get next, or if you aren’t going to get the one I prefer for whatever reason?

And thanks to Chase’s ‘5/24’ limits where they won’t approve most people for new rewards cards if they’ve had 5 or more new cards in the last 24 months, American Express is increasingly where frequent flyers have looked to.

Here are the 5 best American Express rewards cards: And it’s worth noting that I have only two of these, and two of the Amex cards I have for niche or legacy reasons aren’t among the five best.

  1. American Express® Gold Card is great for earning Membership Rewards points quickly since it offers 4 points per dollar at restaurants worldwide and at US supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year) and 3 points per dollar on airline purchases. The card has a $100 annual airline fee credit and the up to $10 a month in statement credits using the card at participating dining partners.

    The Fat Duck Restaurant

  2. The Business Platinum® Card from American Express is unmatched for airport lounge access, offering Delta SkyClub access when flying Delta same day; Plaza Premium, Escape, and Airspace lounges; and American Express Centurion lounge access. It offers Hilton Honors and Marriott Gold status and National Car Rental Executive status.

    You get up to $200 a year in statement credits for airline incidental fees like checked bags fees, flight change fees, and onboard snack purchases. There’s a $100 Dell credit and one year of Platinum Global Access from WeWork to access 300+ workspaces in 75+ cities (enroll by 12/31/19). And the card comes with a $100 credit for Global Entry every 4 years or $85 credit for TSA PreCheck every 4.5 yars.

    There’s currently a limited-time 100,000 point initial offer — valid through 12/14/19 and with a high spend requirement — that is not targeted.

      You earn 50,000 points after you spend $10,000 and an additional 50,000 points after you spend an additional $15,000 on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of cardmmbership.

  3. The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express earns 2 Membership Rewards points per dollar on your first $50,000 in purchases per year making this the best most rewarding card for otherwise-unbonused spend.

    Etihad First Apartment, Airbus A380

  4. Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card has an initial bonus of 125,000 Hilton Honors points after $2,000 in eligible purchases with the product in your first 3 months of card membership.

    Each year you spend $15,000 on the card you’ll earn a weekend night reward, and $40,000 in a calendar year earns Hilton Diamond status through the end of the next calendar year.

    Ongoing earn is 12 Hilton points per dollar on purchases directly with a participating hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio; 6 per dollar at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations; and 3 per dollar for all other eligible purchases.

    The real winner here is that it’s just a $95 annual fee card (See Rates & Fees) and still offers Priority Pass airport lounge access, 10 free visits every year.

    Escape Lounge, Reno

  5. Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card comes with Diamond status and also a free weekend night each cardmember year. $60,000 in purchases in a calendar year earns another weekend night. The card is providing a lot of value but bear in mind that Diamond status doesn’t promise much beyond what Gold offers (no commitment of suites or late check-out). This is not my referral link to the card, information is neither provided nor reviewed by American Express.

    You get a $250 airline incidental fee credit per calendar year (which no longer works with gift cards) and a $250 Hilton resort statement credit per cardmember year, and of course Priority Pass (which no longer includes restaurant credits when it comes via American Express).

    The card is actually worth using at Hilton properties where it earns 14 points per dollar which I value as being worth 5.6 cents (or a 5.6% rebate, edging out the 5.4% rebate on hotel spend from Chase’s Sapphire Reserve).

    Conrad Koh Samui

I put airfare spending on my Platinum Card by American Express, and restaurant and grocery spend on my American Express® Gold Card, and I can transfer the points from those latter two cards to:

  • Star Alliance: Aeroplan, ANA, Singapore, Avianca
  • oneworld: AsiaMiles, British Airways, Iberia
  • SkyTeam: Aeromexico, Alitalia, Air France KLM, Delta
  • Non-alliance: Etihad, Emirates, El Al, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Aer Lingus, Virgin Atlantic
  • Hotels: Choice, Hilton, Marriott

I keep saying I should get The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express which is the most rewarding card for unbonused spend. I just haven’t done it. I get my Hilton status from the The Platinum Card® from American Express already so haven’t gone in for a Hilton card.

For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express, click here.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »

Editorial note: any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. Comments made in response to this post are not provided or commissioned nor have they been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any bank. It is not the responsibility of any advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either. Terms and limitations apply to all offers.


  1. These non-stop credit card pushing articles by Gary and company are pretty amusing and sad. The content here is close to nil (and I’m only reading because I’m killing time at work) and they don’t really provide context.

    Unless you are a pretty high spender and/or MS on cards most of these are not good deals. Get the Blue Cash Preferred for $95 and get 6% at grocery stores and 3% at gas station. That requires only a $30 weekly spend at grocery stores to break even. Unless you are valuing Amex points at 2+ cents a dollar I don’t see the point of the gold card unless it has a nice sign up bonus which it doesn’t.

    Lets be honest here, Gary is only looking for referrals not really helping anyone with these posts.

  2. @rich

    “Get the Blue Cash Preferred for $95 and get 6% at grocery stores…”

    I have and like that card but the 6% cashback is limited to $6K spend a year. Let’s just say that $500 a month is not very much for many of us.

  3. Rich
    – The AMEX gold is well worth it for anyone that spends a lot on dining, which a lot of people on these blogs do

    – The best version of the Amex Platinum is the Charles Schwab version. Yet you and all the other bloggers ignore it.

  4. @rich

    i spend a lot more than 6K a year on groceries, so the amex gold 4% is a perfect product with the 25k cap, and i especially like the extra point i’m getting enrolled in amex extra point at Shoprite, netting 5 points, and the 4 points for restaurant spend is great value.

    the plat business, and personal are great for benefits, and as Gary mentioned worth the 5 points on direct airfare spend.

    i put all the non bonused spend on the amex blue cash cards, 3 @ 50K max, no annual fee trade off with no sign up, and if you can accumulate, you have no ongoing annual fees, non requirement for churn either.

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