Best American Express Cards

Our Objective Rating of the Best American Express Cards

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American Express is a world leader in charge cards and credit cards targeting higher-end consumers and small-business owners, with compelling travel and entertainment rewards. We have researched Amex's most popular cards and applied our objective screening criteria to rate the company's best cards across multiple categories. Below are our picks for the best in class.

Best American Express Cards for August 2020

  • Cash Magnet Card: Best Overall
  • Blue Cash Everyday: Best Bonus
  • Blue Cash Preferred: Best for Groceries
  • Hilton Honors American Express Card: Best for Hotels
  • American Express Blue Business Cash Card: Best for Business
  • Delta SkyMiles Blue Card: Best for Airlines
  • The Platinum Card from American Express: Best for Travel

Best Overall

Cash Magnet® Card

Rating as an American Express Card
4.4
Cash Magnet® Card
Full Review
Apply Now
On American Express' Website

Current Offer:

Earn $150 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new card in your first 3 months.

Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 13.99% - 23.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate 1.5% cash back on your purchases.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 15 Months
Balance Transfer Fee If eligible, either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 2.7%
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    The Cash Magnet Card ranks as our top-rated American Express card due to its solid cash rewards structure on all spending, no annual fee, and overall annual earnings potential based on typical spending patterns. This is an excellent option for those who favor simple cash back earnings irrespective of spending category without the need to justify an annual fee.

  • PROS & CONS

    Pros

    • Competitive bonus offer and no annual fee
    • Cash back without having to remember categories
    • 15-month 0% APR introductory purchase offer

    Cons

    • Foreign transaction fee
    • Penalty APR
    • Limited acceptance
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • Earn a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 or more in purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
    • Unlimited 1.5% Cash Back on your purchases.
    • Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed for statement credits.
    • Don’t wait for your Card in the mail. Start earning cash back before your Card even arrives, if eligible for Instant Card Number.

Best Bonus

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Rating as an American Express Card
4.1
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
Full Review
Apply Now
On American Express' Website

Current Offer:

Earn up to $300 back. Earn 20% back on Amazon.com within the first 6 months of card membership, up to $200 back. Plus, earn $100 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the card within the first 6 months of card membership. You will receive cash back in the form of statement credits. Apply by 10/07/2020.

Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 13.99% - 23.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 3% at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year in purchases), 2% at U.S. gas stations & select U.S. department stores, and 1% on other purchases.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 15 Months
Balance Transfer Fee If eligible, either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 2.7%
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    The Blue Cash Everyday is our choice for the best one-time bonus option from American Express because of its impressive offer of $300 after cardholders meet initial spending requirements from the date of account opening. This is a significant bonus opportunity for a no-annual-fee card.

  • PROS & CONS

    Pros

    • Generous cash back rewards at supermarkets, with no annual fee
    • It's an Amex card on which you can carry a balance
    • Decent 0% APR offer on purchases

    Cons

    • Grocery rewards are capped and some stores are omitted
    • Less suitable for foreign travel than many cards
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • Earn up to $300 back. Earn 20% back on Amazon.com within the first 6 months of card membership, up to $200 back. Plus, earn $100 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the card during the same period. You will receive cash back in the form of statement credits. Apply by 10/07/2020.
    • 3% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%).
    • 2% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores, 1% back on other purchases.
    • Over 3 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express Cards in 2017 and 2018.
    • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise.
    • No annual fee.

Best for Groceries

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Rating as an American Express Card
3.9
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Full Review
Apply Now
On American Express' Website

Current Offer:

Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership.

Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 13.99% - 23.99% variable
Annual Fee $95
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 6% back at US supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases), 6% back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, 3% back on eligible transit and US gas stations, and 1% back on other purchases.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 12 Months
Balance Transfer Fee If eligible, either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 2.7%
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    The Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express is Investopedia's choice for the best grocery earnings card with its eye-popping bonus for purchases at U.S. supermarkets. Blue Cash Preferred also offers bonus earnings on purchases at U.S. gas stations. The annual fee is $95, but that can be easily justified if this is used as a primary card, especially for grocery spending.

  • PROS & CONS

    Pros

    • Outstanding 6% cash-back rewards at U.S. supermarkets up to $6,000 per year in spending and on select U.S. streaming services
    • Generous $250 bonus offer for spending $1,000 in the first 3 months of card membership
    • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on purchases and for balance transfers initiated within the first 60 days of account opening

    Cons

    • $95 annual fee, where many cards in this category have none
    • 2.7% foreign transaction fee
    • Cashback rewards on groceries are capped, and some wholesale and superstore chains excepted
    • American Express isn't as widely accepted as Visa or Mastercard outside of the U.S.
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • Receive a $250 statement credit after spending $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
    • You may be elgible for an instant card number, allowing you to earn cash back before you card arrives in the mail.
    • Your cash back is earned in the form of American Express Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.
    • $95 annual fee.

Best for Hotels

Hilton Honors American Express Card

Rating as an American Express Card
4.1
Hilton Honors American Express Card
Full Review
Apply Now
On American Express' Website

Current Offer:

Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership.

Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 15.74% - 24.74% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate 7 points per $1 for eligible Hilton purchases. 5 points per $1 for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations. 3 points per $1 for all other eligible purchases.
Balance Transfer Fee If eligible, either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    The Hilton Honors American Express Card is the best Amex hotel option because of its rich rewards structure with high points multiples for Hilton purchases as well as those at U.S. gas stations, U.S. restaurants, and U.S. supermarkets. The base earning rate of 3 points per dollar on all other purchases is particularly impressive given that the card charges no annual fee. Other Hilton cards from American Express do provide higher bonus points for Hilton purchases, but those come with high annual fees.

  • PROS & CONS

    Pros

    • Rewards are competitive
    • Easy to stack rewards as a Hilton Honors loyalty program member
    • Fast track your way to Hilton Honors Gold status

    Cons

    • Short on premium travel perks
    • No introductory APR for purchases or balance transfers
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
    • Complimentary Silver Status
    • 7 points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a participating hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio.
    • 5 points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations
    • 3 points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.

Best for Business

American Express® Blue Business Cash Card

Rating as an American Express Card
3.6
American Express® Blue Business Cash Card
Full Review
Apply Now
On American Express' Website

Current Offer:

Earn up to $300 in statement credits. You can earn up to $100 in the form of statement credits per merchant after you make an eligible purchase on your new card during your first 3 months of card membership at each of these merchants: Dell Technologies, DocuSign and FedEx.

Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 13.24% - 19.24% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 2% cash back on all eligible purchases on up to $50,000 per calendar year, then 1%.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 12 Months
Balance Transfer Fee If eligible, either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Cash Advance Fee This product does not offer cash advances.
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    We selected the American Express Blue Business Cash Card as the best business card option from Amex because of its generous 2% cash back on all purchases for up to $50,000 in business spending each year, then 1% after that. This high level of cash back on all purchases can allow small-business owners to earn over $400 a year, based on average spending levels. The Blue Business Cash Card also has no annual fee.

  • PROS & CONS

    Pros

    • Earn 2% rewards
    • Flexible credit limit
    • 0% introductory offer

    Cons

    • Restrictive redemption options
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • Earn 2% cash back on all eligible purchases on up to $50,000 per calendar year, then 1%. Cash back earned is automatically credited to your statement.
    • From workflow to inventory to floor plans, your business is constantly changing. That’s why you’ve got the power to spend beyond your credit limit with Expanded Buying Power§.
    • Just remember, the amount you can spend above your credit limit is not unlimited. It adjusts with your use of the Card, your payment history, credit record, financial resources known to us and other factors.
    • No Annual Fee

Best Airline

Delta SkyMiles® Blue Card

Rating as an American Express Card
3.7
Delta SkyMiles® Blue Card
Full Review
Apply Now
On American Express' Website

Current Offer:

Earn 10,000 Bonus Miles after spending $500 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership.

Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 15.74% - 24.74% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 2 miles per dollar at restaurants and on eligible Delta purchases, and earn 1 mile per dollar on all other eligible purchases.
Balance Transfer Fee If eligible, either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    The Delta SkyMiles Blue Card scored highest among American Express co-branded airline cards due to its bonus miles on Delta and restaurant purchases in combination with its lack of an annual fee. While the card doesn't carry the travel-related perks of other Delta Amex cards, it can be a good fit for those who have Delta loyalty but don't fly often enough to justify the higher annual fees involved.

  • PROS & CONS

    Pros

    • Matches the rewards of the Delta Skymiles Gold Amex in some key categories
    • No annual fee
    • Miles can can be used through Delta on more than 20 airline partners

    Cons

    • Lacks travel benefits
    • Small welcome offer
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • Get 10,000 miles after spending $500 in your first 3 months.
    • Earn 2 miles per dollar at restaurants and on purchases made with Delta.
    • Earn 1 mile on all other eligible purchases.
    • Pay no foreign transaction fees.

Best for Travel

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Rating as an American Express Card
3.6
The Platinum Card® from American Express
Full Review
Apply Now
On American Express' Website

Current Offer:

Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.

Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) N/A variable
Annual Fee $550
Rewards Earning Rate 5X Membership Rewards points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com. 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.
Balance Transfer Fee This card does not offer balance transfers.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    The Platinum Card from American Express is our choice for the best travel card available from Amex because of its huge bonus earnings on airfare purchased directly from airlines or through Amextravel.com and on prepaid hotel purchases. The Platinum card also provides an array of valuable travel perks, including airport lounge access, primary auto rental insurance, and TSA Pre/Global Reentry fee offsets. There is a lofty $550 annual fee, but that can be justified for frequent travelers.

  • PROS & CONS

    Pros

    • Outstanding rewards on flights and hotel stays
    • Generous one-time offer for new cardholders
    • Exceptional luxury travel benefits

    Cons

    • $550 annual fee, which is high even for a premium travel card
    • Restrictive options for booking airlines and hotels
    • No non-travel high-rewards categories
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • Enjoy a welcome bonus of 60,000 Membership Rewards points after making $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
    • Get Uber credits each month for rides in the U.S. $15 each month, with a bonus $20 in December.
    • Chose an eligible airline and recieve a $200 annual airline fee credit.
    • Enjoy Global Lounge Collection access as a cardholder, which includes access to the Centurion Lounge.

What Is the History of American Express?

American Express is a storied and diversified global financial services powerhouse with roots reaching back to the 19th century. It was launched in 1850 to provide express shipments of goods, securities, and currency within New York state. The company is currently a leader in charge card, credit card, and traveler's check lines of business.

What Kinds of Credit Cards Does American Express Issue?

Since American Express is both a network and a card issuer, it issues cards exclusively on its network-branded platform and doesn't issue Visa, Mastercard, or Discover network-branded cards. Amex primarily offers rewards charge cards and credit cards with cash back, generic travel points, and points tied to co-branded partner loyalty programs. It also has several cards catering to the small-business community.

What Type of Credit Is Required for American Express?

American Express generally requires excellent credit for its card products but also offers a few cards aimed at those with merely good credit. Amex does not offer cards for fair or bad credit and doesn't have options for student or secured credit cards.

How Does Amex's Membership Rewards Program Work?

American Express Membership Rewards are offered on purchases with a select number of Amex cards. Some provide a flat number of points on all purchases, while others offer bonus points on certain spending categories like airfare, prepaid hotels, restaurants, gas, or groceries.

The following American Express cards offer Membership Rewards:

  • American Express Green Card
  • American Express Gold Card
  • The Platinum Card from American Express
  • Amex Everyday
  • Amex Everyday Preferred
  • Blue Business Plus Credit Card
  • Business Green Rewards Card
  • Business Gold Card
  • Business Platinum Card

For more details on Membership Rewards, please see our Ultimate Guide to American Express Membership Rewards.

Aside from the American Express rewards program, Amex offers other rewards cards that include cash back (both flat-rate rewards and those with bonus cash back on specific spending categories) and partner-based programs like airline, hotel, and retailer loyalty points.

How Good Is American Express Customer Service?

American Express receives excellent marks for its customer service, scoring 838 out of 1,000 points in the 2019 J.D. Power U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study, putting it second among national card issuers. (The average score among major national issuers was 806.) Only Discover, with 842 points, ranked higher for credit card satisfaction. 

Methodology

Information Gathering

In order to track and assess the U.S. domestic credit card market, we gather scores of data points on nearly 300 cards. This data is collected manually from both card-issuer websites and publicly available sources. 

To ensure that our information is as up-to-date as possible, we deploy automated tools that monitor changes in such key data as annual percentage rates, introductory rates, introductory periods, bonus offers, rewards earnings rates, fees, and card benefits. We then rapidly make any needed updates to our card listings, reviews, and recommendations to ensure that readers have the most reliable information and advice. 

Initial Scoring

Once we collect credit card data we organize it in our database according to features, which roll up into feature sets (such as rewards, interest, fees, benefits, and security/customer service). Each individual card feature is assigned a star rating score on a 1 to 5 scale using a prescribed formula. For instance, for a one-time bonus score we would use a formula like: If bonus is $500 or greater, then assign a score of 5; if $300-$499, then 4; and so forth. 

Weighting of Scores

Once all of a card’s features have received a score we apply a weighting factor to each feature to arrive at a weighted average score for the card (according to the general category in which it resides, such as travel rewards). 

This weighting process allows us to assign significantly more emphasis to the attributes important to a particular category and downplay those that are less relevant to it. That lets us objectively identify cards that stand out in their category and indicate why they do. For example, with travel rewards cards we apply significantly more weight to such travel-specific features as airport lounge access or primary rental car insurance than we do to attributes such as interest rates or fees that might be more strongly considered for other categories, such as balance-transfer cards.

Earnings Rates

Another critical factor we consider when rating and ranking travel cards and other types of rewards cards are the cards’ effective earnings rates. We first calculate the average value of points or miles for all the rewards cards in our database, a painstaking process that entails collecting all airline fare data by carrier across scores of popular domestic and international city-pairs along with per-night hotel charges at all major hotel brands. 

The required points and miles for air travel or hotel stays from the various reward programs is then used to calculate an effective earnings rate for each card. That allows our readers to make the most informed choices. By putting a card’s large one-time bonus or earnings rates into context across many dimensions and card features, readers can more readily weigh the card’s benefits relative to its costs. Uncovering the true but often opaque redemption value of rewards points or miles is, we feel, the only reliable way to make cogent choices among competing value-based cards.  

Card Features We Score

As mentioned above, we place significant weight on certain travel-related features in determining our ratings for each rewards card. Specifically, we base over 50% of our overall assessment score on the combination of the following factors:  

  • Maximum value of any one-time bonus, whether in points or miles.
  • Initial card spending required to earn any bonus.
  • Redemption value of the bonus miles or points.
  • Global card acceptance, as detailed by the four card networks (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover).
  • Options to redeem points or miles with travel partners, both airline and hotel.

Another consideration is the cards’ coverage, if any, in these travel-related areas: 

  • Car-rental collision insurance, whether primary or secondary.
  • Travel accident insurance.
  • Lost or delayed luggage insurance.
  • Insurance for trip cancellation, interruption, or delay.
  • Cell phone loss or damage coverage.
  • Roadside assistance and towing.
  • Emergency travel medical/dental benefits.

General, non-travel related features that we consider and score include:

  • Interest rates, including both introductory and regular APRs for purchases and balance transfers.
  • Fees, including those for annual membership, late payments, cash advances, and foreign transactions.
  • Security/customer service features.
  • Other non-travel benefits, such as access to credit scores, ID theft protection, and contactless payment capability.

How We Reach Our Final Assessments

We rely primarily on the objective scores created by our rating algorithms to determine which card is chosen as the best in each category or subcategory.

However, we may make some adjustments from time to time, to both features and weightings that could affect rankings, based on subjective input from our credit card experts. Any potential modifications will be consistent with Investopedia’s belief that consumers are best served by cards that:

  • Provide superior value in earning awards.
  • Charge reasonable interest rates in the event that the cardholder carries a balance from month to month.
  • Charge fewer and/or more reasonable fees.
  • Provide solid customer service, based on the number and quality of customer service features.
  • Have helpful and protective security features.