The Four American Express Cards I Have, And What I Do With Them

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I carry (4) different American Express cards in my wallet. Some would consider that a lot from one issuer, probably, however:

  • they have some of the most valuable points of their own (Membership Rewards) which can be transferred to a selection of airline and hotel points
  • and they have cards that let you earn those points quickly — I’ve said many times that you should never earn just one point per dollar for your spending.

I have the new premium Marriott Card for the Platinum status option and I put airfare spending on my Platinum Card, 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

Here are the American Express cards I’m currently carrying, and how I use each:

  • American Express® Gold Card: I use this to earn 4 points per dollar at restaurants and at US supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year).

  • Platinum Card from American Express: I use this card to earn 5 points per dollar on airfare. It lets me opt in for Hilton Honors Gold status and National Car Rental Executive status (I don’t need the Marriott Gold status as a Platinum already).

    The reason I keep it in my wallet, though, is lounge access. If I happen to fly Delta the card gets me into Delta’s lounges. It works with Plaza Premium, Escape, and Airspace lounges. I use it most, though, to get into American Express’ outstanding Centurion lounges.

    American Express Centurion Lounge Dallas.. which like Miami has a complimentary spa

  • Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card: I upgraded my Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card which I had since 2001 to the Luxury Card as it was called at the time since I’d already spent $75,000 on the card last year before the new loyalty program launched last August. That gave me Platinum status for 2019.

    W Doha

  • Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card: I have had the card for some time and keep it for the annual free night (redeemable at hotels which run 35,000 points per night or less).

What cards from American Express do you carry?

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, 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 »

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  1. Hey Gary thanks – you don’t really say why you carry the two Bonvoy cards (vs keep em
    In a drawer). And what about the Amex Blue Biz Plus for 2X on everyday spend (up to $50K/year)? Seems like a no-brainer, no?

  2. Amex Gold and Hilton Aspire. I may drop the Gold card in the future, but the Aspire is a keeper- has yielded huge benefits that pay for the card several times over, as many blogs have noted.

  3. when you convert Amex points to Delta our American is there a 3 to 1 ratio, or you get 1 mile for i Amex point? I currently use the delta Reserve Amex card to get the MQM, but dislike the 1 mile for $1.

  4. @IAN points from AMEX membership rewards go 1-1 to Delta. They dont transfer to American. Now you can earn those bonus points with some of these AMEX cards.

  5. Do you spend the $75k at Marriott hotels? You certainly don’t use it for non-bonused spend, I would assume?

  6. I have the Amex personal platinum for flights and centurion and the blue business plus for all my non bonuses business spend. I find this to be a good and sufficient combo without too many annual fees. My other cards are all chase cards.

  7. I am confounded by spending 75k on that card. I need to read a post on that.

  8. @ Gary — Your four AMEX cards can pretty much be replaced by just the Ciri Pretige. Not a great selection of AMEX cards. The Hilton Aspire and Blue Biz Plus are by far their best products. DL Reserve is also outstanding for top status DL flyers.

    I don’t know why anyone would carry any of the Bovoy cards beyond earning the initial bonus. I also don’t know why anyone bothers with Bonvoy or Marriott at all.

  9. It seems like Gary spent $75,000 on the Starwood card because it gave him Platinum status, but he spent it on the old earning structure. Would be interested to see if he is spending a similar amount on the new card in 2019 in order to retain Platinum status.

    In general you should replace one of your Marriott cards with a Hilton card to balance things out

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