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Are Amex Cards Worth It?

American Categorical playing cards are the Mercedes of bank cards. They’re not low cost, nor are they simple to get – however boy are they good…proper?

Amex’s stand out as having among the greatest perks and rewards within the {industry}, however they’re offset by excessive annual charges, excessive credit score necessities, and a barely decrease service provider acceptance price.

That’s fairly a listing of drawbacks – particularly the annual price – however is all of it price it for the excessive rewards? Will the perks and factors cowl the price of one in every of these playing cards, after which some? Or are you higher off sticking with a Toyota than a Mercedes?

What makes Amex playing cards stand out?

Usually talking, Amex playing cards stand out from different bank cards in 4 methods. And like The Rock’s character in Quick 5, I like my dessert first – so let’s begin with the great things.

Amex playing cards have industry-leading rewards

In a phrase, Amex rewards slap.

Not solely will you earn loopy money again with an Amex, but in addition some spectacular sign-up bonuses, too.

Listed here are only a few examples:

The Blue Money Most popular® Card

  • 20% again on Amazon.com purchases throughout the first six months of card possession.
  • $200 money again after spending $3,000 in purchases inside six months.
  • 6% money again at supermarkets and streaming companies.
  • 3% money again on transit purchases.

American Categorical® Gold Card

  • 75,000 Membership Rewards® Factors for spending $4,000 inside first six months of card possession.
  • 4x factors at eating places worldwide and U.S.-based supermarkets.
  • $120 Uber Money.

The Platinum Card®

  • 125,000 Membership Rewards® Factors after spending $6,000 inside first six months.
  • 10x factors on purchases at “Store Small” (i.e. small companies on this map) and eating places worldwide.
  • 5x factors on flights.
  • 5x factors on pay as you go lodges.
  • $200 Resort Credit score.
  • $200 Airline Charge Credit score.
  • $200 Uber Money.
  • $240 Digital Leisure Credit score.
  • $100 International Entry or $85 TSA PreCheck®.
  • And extra.

Even The Platinum Card®‘s eye-watering $695 annual price begins to make sense when you think about it comes with $1,400 in credit for Uber, Netflix, and extra.

Now that we’ve eaten dessert, it’s time for the cabbage, so to talk. What’s the dangerous information?

They’ve larger credit score necessities

I’ll simply come out and say it – you’ll want a 700+ credit score rating to have an excellent shot at getting permitted for an Amex. That’s as a result of Amex desires to draw “Lannister varieties” – those that spend huge however all the time pay their money owed.

Most Amex playing cards cost an annual price

Amex at present provides 17 rewards playing cards, and 11 of them have an annual price connected.

For reference, the six “freebies” are:

  • The Blue Money On a regular basis® Card.
  • The Money Magnet® Card.
  • The Hilton Honors Card.
  • Blue from American Categorical®.
  • The Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Categorical Card.
  • The Amex EveryDay® Credit score Card.

These playing cards are OK. They compete with different no-fee playing cards on rewards, however lose floor on perks, service provider acceptance, and required credit score.

Amex’s no-fee playing cards, then, are like a salad in a steakhouse; they’re completely nice, however they’re not why we’re right here.

As a substitute, we’re right here for the prime chops. Amex’s paid playing cards are extremely compelling, however they’re undoubtedly not low cost, with annual charges starting from $95 to $695.

No matter how tasty the steak is, the eye-popping invoice is an simple downside.

The acceptance price is healthier, however nonetheless missing

Nothing deflates an Amex holder’s day sooner than the next phrase:

“Sorry – Visa and Mastercard solely.”

Poof. All these potential reward factors, gone.

Traditionally, retailers have refused Amex’s due to excessive service provider charges. In 2017, Visa and Mastercard charged a median of two.12% in comparison with Amex’s 2.36%.

0.24% might not appear to be a lot, however if you’re working on razor-thin margins, it provides up. That’s why, till very just lately, solely 3.7 million out of 10.6 million U.S. retailers accepted Amex.

Since then the acceptance price amongst U.S. retailers has gotten a lot higher – from 35% to 99% in only a few years. Nonetheless, Amex nonetheless struggles internationally. Based on a 2020 Nilson report, whereas Visa and Mastercard at the moment are accepted by over 70 million retailers globally, solely 44.2 million of them settle for Amex.

It’s ironic, then, that Amex playing cards supply the {industry}’s greatest journey rewards – however there’s a 37% likelihood you may’t use them if you land.

Are Amex rewards definitely worth the annual price?

It relies upon!

If there’s an Amex that clearly suits your current spending habits and life-style, you’ll nearly definitely find yourself utilizing it sufficient to clear the annual price and earn severe rewards.

Right here’s a fast abstract of who’s (and isn’t) a match for an Amex card:

Amex playing cards are an excellent match for:

  • Large spenders.
  • Delta Frequent Fliers.
  • Hilton Honors or Marriott Rewards members.

Amex playing cards are not an excellent match for:

  • Frugal spenders.
  • Credit score-builders.
  • Steadiness transfers.

Which Amex is best for you?

As hinted above, the important thing to selecting the correct Amex, and rewards card usually, is to seek out the cardboard that matches your current life-style and spending habits. 

I emphasize current since you don’t need to make the identical mistake I did – I acquired a card in my early 20s that match my aspirational life-style – not the one I used to be already main. This led to me dropping $75 on the cardboard in 12 months One, and worse, overspending in 12 months Two to justify having it.

Don’t be like me!

Don’t get a rewards card that encourages unplanned or out-of-budget spending – as a substitute, get a rewards card that offers you 3x, 6x, even 10x factors again on stuff you’re already spending cash on.

The rewards card ought to match the life-style, not the opposite manner round.

Look at your current funds and spending habits

As you in all probability surmised from my mini-lecture above, step one in figuring out if an Amex is best for you is to get a clearer image of your current spending habits.

In case you use a budgeting device, check out your spending abstract for the previous few months. In case you desire to funds extra manually, pull up your present bank card assertion in its place.

Now, what widespread bank card rewards classes are you spending essentially the most in?

  • Flights?
  • Resorts?
  • Groceries?
  • Amazon purchases?

Making a listing of your high three spending classes will provide help to select the proper Amex card within the subsequent step.

Discover the proper Amex for you

Subsequent, check out Amex’s present steady of rewards playing cards and spend an excellent 15 seconds learning every one’s sign-up bonus and rewards.

The journey rewards playing cards would be the best to filter out

Do you fly Delta as soon as a month? The Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Categorical Card is perhaps a match. Do you fly Delta each week? You’ll nearly definitely get worth out of the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Categorical Card.

The identical applies to the Hilton and Marriott playing cards. In case you already frequent these resort chains, the factors and perks will justify the annual price nearly instantly.

If the journey playing cards aren’t a match, that leaves the extra normal rewards playing cards

Do you spend so much on groceries and streaming companies? The Blue Money Most popular® Card is perhaps a match.

Do you are taking Ubers steadily and will you profit from 0% APR for 12 months? Possibly the American Categorical® Gold Card could also be your literal golden ticket.

…otherwise you would possibly desire The Platinum Card®

Lastly, you is perhaps contemplating the “S-Class” of the Amex lineup – The Platinum Card®. Regardless of having the very best price of any Amex card, The Platinum Card® may very well be one of the best worth – if you’re already spending huge cash on flights, lodges, Uber, SiriusXM®, and so on.

In case you’re unsure for those who’ll have the ability to justify this or some other Amex’s excessive annual price, let’s transfer onto Step 3 and do some math.

Calculate what you’ll must spend to cowl the annual price

Let’s say you’re contemplating the Blue Money Most popular® Card, however you’re unsure for those who’ll spend sufficient to justify the $95 annual price.

Because of sign-up bonuses, you’ll don’t have any hassle justifying your price in 12 months One. It’s 12 months Two it’s a must to take into consideration.

So, to find out how a lot you’ll must spend to cowl the price in 12 months Two, use this easy equation:

Annual price / proportion money again rewards

For instance, the Blue Money Most popular® Card has a $95 annual price and 6% money again on supermarkets and streaming – amongst others, however for simplicity’s sake, we’ll concentrate on the most important rewards classes:

$95 / 0.06 = $1,650

You’ll need to spend $1,650 throughout the 6% money again classes to cowl your annual price.

Thoughts you, that is only a break-even level – you’ll need to spend one other $1,650, or $3,300 complete, to catch as much as what you would have earned with a no-fee, 3% money again card. So for those who spend lower than $3,300 yearly in these classes, a no-fee card is in all probability a safer guess.


Amex playing cards are the Mercedes of bank cards – costly, however feature-rich. They’re not for everybody – many received’t use them sufficient to justify the excessive annual charges. However these whose life-style and spending habits already justify the addition of an Amex are in for a deal with.

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