Advertiser Disclosure

NerdWallet’s Best American Express Credit Cards of 2017

You can trust that we maintain strict editorial integrity in our writing and assessments; however, we receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners and get approved. Here's how we make money.
best-american-express-amex-cards-2015-story

American Express offers a card for every lifestyle. While AmEx has a reputation for great customer service and perks across the board, each of its cards offers a suite of benefits and perks tailored to the needs of different types of customers. For example, if you need to carry a balance, AmEx has credit cards in addition to its signature charge cards. If you want to travel in luxury, there’s a card for that. Let the Nerds help you choose the best American Express card for you.

NerdWallet’s best American Express cards

Best for … Card
Families Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Frequent spenders The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express
Travel rewards Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
Small business SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express
Premium perks The Platinum Card® from American Express
NerdWallet now offers American Express pre-qualification. See whether you’re eligible for even better offers from AmEx.

Best card for families: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Earn 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets, up to $6,000 in purchases per year (then 1%). Unlimited 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and U.S. department stores and 1% cash back on all other purchases. Limited Time Offer: Apply by 5/3/17 – Earn 10% cash back on purchases at U.S. Restaurants in the first 6 months, up to $200 back. Earn $150 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Terms Apply. 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 12 months, and then the ongoing APR of 13.49% - 23.49% Variable APR. $95 annual fee.

https://www.nerdwallet.com/lib/redirect.php?name=American-Express-Blue-Cash-Preferred&uv=JHl8I4WhKo5zllOibrYKB10bMHEMhIg89JYaUAEIzv39FSpe23MOqSZsLiVkVL0sxw%3D%3D&clickHeader_category=Credit%20Card&clickHeader_productId=1114

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Apply Now on American Express's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 690
    850
    Good - Excellent
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • Leading cash back rewards for groceries at US supermarkets
    • Sign-up bonus
    • 0% APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers

    Cons

    • Has annual fee - but if you spend more than $31/week the rewards offset the fees
    • American Express isn’t accepted at as many merchants as Visa or MasterCard

    Annual Fees

    $95

    APR

    • APR: 13.49% - 23.49% Variable APR
    • Penalty APR: Up to 29.74%, Variable
    • Cash Advance APR: 25.74%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    Limited Time Offer: Apply by 5/3/17 – Earn 10% cash back on purchases at U.S. Restaurants in the first 6 months, up to $200 back. Earn $150 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Terms Apply.

    Intro APR

    • 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 12 months
  • Additional Information
    • Limited Time Offer: Apply by 5/3/17 – Earn 10% cash back on purchases at U.S. Restaurants in the first 6 months, up to $200 back.
    • Plus, earn $150 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
    • Everyday Cash Back: 6% at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%); 3% at U.S. gas stations; 1% on other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.
    • No rotating reward categories. No enrollment required.
    • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit. You can only earn cash back on eligible purchases.
    • $95 Annual Fee. 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months, then a variable rate, currently 13.49% to 23.49%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors.
    • Terms Apply.


Benefits of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express:

  • You can earn 6% cash back on anything you purchase at the supermarket, including gift cards to your favorite restaurant, coffee shop, movie theater or whatever else is available — just keep in mind the $6,000 annual limit on spending eligible for the 6% rewards rate. You’ll earn only 1% after that.
  • The card has a long 0% APR period in case you need some time to pay off a large purchase or transfer a balance. However, balance transfers do come with a fee of 3% of the balance or $5, whichever is greater.
  • Its sign-up bonus has a relatively low spending requirement.

Drawbacks of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express:

  • It has an annual fee. Its sister card, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, has a $0 annual fee and offers 3% cash back on U.S. supermarket purchases up to $6,000 spent per year (then 1%) and 2% cash back at gas stations and department stores. However, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is a better choice if you spend more than $61 a week at the supermarket.
  • It’s not very useful if your grocery bill is low and you don’t drive a lot.

Bottom line:

Large families will appreciate the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express’s high rewards rates at supermarkets and gas stations. But if you can’t get past the annual fee or you don’t spend a lot in those categories, it might not be worth it.

Best card for frequent spenders: The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express

Earn 2 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent at U.S. supermarkets, up to $6,000 in purchases per year; Unlimited 1 point per dollar on all other purchases; Make 20 or more purchases with your card in a billing period and get 20% extra points on those purchases; Earn 10,000 Membership Reward® points after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Terms Apply; 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 12 months, and then the ongoing APR of 13.49% - 23.49% Variable APR; The annual fee is $0.

https://www.nerdwallet.com/lib/redirect.php?name=American-Express-Amex-EveryDay&uv=JHl8I4WhKo5zllOibrYKB10bMHEMhIg89JYaUAEIzv39FSpe23MOqSZsLiVkVL0sxw%3D%3D&clickHeader_category=Credit%20Card&clickHeader_productId=1115

The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express

Apply Now on American Express's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 690
    850
    Good - Excellent
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • High rewards rate
    • No annual fee
    • 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 12 months

    Cons

    Annual Fees

    $0

    APR

    • APR: 13.49% - 23.49% Variable APR
    • Penalty APR: Up to 29.74%, Variable
    • Cash Advance APR: 25.74%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    Earn 10,000 Membership Reward® points after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Terms Apply

    Intro APR

    • 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 12 months
  • Additional Information
    • Earn 10,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
    • Use your Card 20 or more times on purchases in a billing period and earn 20% more points on those purchases less returns and credits. Terms and limitations apply.
    • 2x points at US supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1x); 1x points on other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.
    • You can use Membership Rewards® points for all or part of your flight, hotel booked and paid in advance, vacation or cruise booking.
    • No annual fee. Plus, 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months, then a variable rate, currently 13.49% to 23.49%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors.
    • Terms Apply.


Benefits of The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express:

  • The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express is one of the only cards on the market that gives you a bonus based on how often you use it.
  • You’ll earn Membership Rewards points, which you can redeem for travel, gift cards and shopping. You can also transfer your points to one of the program’s eight airline and hotel partners: Aeroplan, British Airways, Alitalia, Asia Miles, Delta Skymiles, Etihad Airways, Hilton HHonors and Starwood Preferred Guest.
  • It has a lengthy 0% APR period, making it a great option to finance a large purchase.

Drawbacks of The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express:

  • It has a low sign-up bonus when compared with other cards.
  • It charges a 2.7% foreign transaction fee, making it a bad choice for globetrotters.

Bottom line:

The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express doesn’t give the Nerds too much to complain about. The Membership Rewards program offers a lot of flexibility and the card rewards you for using it frequently. However, it’s likely not going to compete with some of the heavy-hitting rewards cards in terms of its sign-up bonus.

Best card for travel rewards: Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

Earn up to 5 Starpoints per dollar on purchases at participating SPG hotels, 2 Starpoints per dollar at Marriott Rewards properties, and 1 Starpoint per dollar on all other purchases. Earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Limited Time Offer- Earn an extra 10,000 bonus Starpoints® after you make an additional $2,000 in purchases within the first 6 months. Offer ends 4/5. Terms Apply. Transfer your points to more than 30 airline partners. The annual fee is $0 for the first year, then $95.

https://www.nerdwallet.com/lib/redirect.php?name=American-Express-Starwood&uv=JHl8I4WhKo5zllOibrYKB10bMHEMhIg89JYaUAEIzv39FSpe23MOqSZsLiVkVL0sxw%3D%3D&clickHeader_category=Credit%20Card&clickHeader_productId=1015

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

Apply Now on American Express's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 690
    850
    Good - Excellent
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • No foreign transaction fee

    Cons

    • Has annual fee
    • Rewards only valuable if you stay at Starwood properties frequently

    Annual Fees

    $0 for the first year, then $95

    APR

    • APR: 15.74% - 19.74% Variable APR
    • Penalty APR: Up to 29.74%, Variable
    • Cash Advance APR: 25.74%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    Earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Limited Time Offer- Earn an extra 10,000 bonus Starpoints® after you make an additional $2,000 in purchases within the first 6 months. Offer ends 4/5. Terms Apply.

    Intro APR

    • N/A
  • Additional Information
    • Earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
    • Limited Time Offer- Earn an extra 10,000 bonus Starpoints® after you make an additional $2,000 in purchases within the first 6 months. Offer ends 4/5.
    • Earn 2 Starpoints® for each dollar of eligible purchases spent on the Card at participating SPG® & Marriott Rewards® hotels. Earn 1 Starpoint for all other purchases.
    • No Foreign Transaction Fees on International purchases.
    • Redeem Starpoints® at over 1,300 participating hotels and resorts in over 100 countries and for flights on more than 150 airlines with SPG flights, all with no blackout dates.
    • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
    • Terms Apply.


Benefits of the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express:

  • Starpoints are worth 2.3 cents each when redeeming for free hotel stays, making it one of the most lucrative rewards programs out there.
  • The Starwood Preferred Guest program offers more flexibility than most co-branded travel cards with its transfer partners.
  • It waives the annual fee the first year, giving you time to rack up rewards before it costs you anything.

Drawbacks of the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express:

  • Starwood offers a limited selection of hotels compared with other hotel chains. Starwood has more than 1,300 hotel properties worldwide, while Marriott lists more than 3,700 properties and Hilton has more than 4,300.

Bottom line:

The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express is a must-have for any domestic traveler. Its point value puts other rewards programs to shame and it offers big redemption flexibility for travelers who need it.

Best card for your small business: SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express

5% cash back at U.S. office supply stores and on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers; 3% cash back on the category of your choice from a list of select categories and 1% cash back on other purchases; Earn a $200 statement credit after you spend $5,000 in qualifying purchases on your Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership. Plus, earn an additional $200 statement credit after you spend an additional $10,000 or more in qualifying purchases on your Card within the first year of Card Membership. Terms apply. Introductory APR of 0% on Purchases for 9 months, and then the ongoing APR of 12.74% - 19.74% Variable APR; The annual fee is $0.

https://www.nerdwallet.com/lib/redirect.php?name=american-express-simplycash-plus-business&uv=JHl8I4WhKo5zllOibrYKB10bMHEMhIg89JYaUAEIzv39FSpe23MOqSZsLiVkVL0sxw%3D%3D&clickHeader_category=Credit%20Card&clickHeader_productId=1119

SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express

Apply Now on American Express's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 690
    850
    Good - Excellent
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • Bonus cash back categories
    • No annual fee

    Cons

    Annual Fees

    $0

    APR

    • APR: 12.74% - 19.74% Variable APR
    • Penalty APR: Up to 29.74%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    Earn a $200 statement credit after you spend $5,000 in qualifying purchases on your Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership. Plus, earn an additional $200 statement credit after you spend an additional $10,000 or more in qualifying purchases on your Card within the first year of Card Membership. Terms apply.

    Intro APR

    • 0% on Purchases for 9 months
  • Additional Information
    • Special Offer: Earn up to $400 cash back
    • Earn a $200 statement credit after you spend $5,000 in qualifying purchases on your Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
    • Plus, earn an additional $200 statement credit after you spend an additional $10,000 or more in qualifying purchases on your Card within the first year of Card Membership.
    • No Annual Fee. Plus, more buying power and more cash back.
    • 5% cash back on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. office supply stores.
    • 3% on the category of your choice from a list of eight and 1% cash back on other purchases.
    • 5% and 3% apply to the first $50,000 in purchases per calendar year, then 1% thereafter. Cash back received is automatically credited to your statement.
    • Terms and limitations apply


Benefits of the SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express:

  • The card offers big-time cash back on regular business expenses, including the flexibility to choose your own 3% category. Categories you can choose from include airfare purchased directly from airlines, hotel rooms purchased directly from hotels, car rentals from select companies, U.S. gas stations, U.S. restaurants, U.S. purchases for advertising in select media and U.S. purchases for shipping. Keep in mind that the 5% and 3% apply to purchases up to $50,000 per rebate year then 1% thereafter.
  • It’s one of the few business credit cards that comes with a respectable sign-up bonus and a $0 annual fee.
  • You’ll have access to American Express OPEN, a valuable community for business owners that offers tools and a forum to help you grow your business.

Drawbacks of the SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express:

  • The card has a cap on its bonus categories, which some businesses may reach fairly quickly.
  • Its introductory 0% APR period is relatively short. Other business cards offer longer terms.

Bottom line:

The SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express offers small-business owners a chance to rack up serious rewards and get help building their business without adding unnecessary expenses. But if your business spends more than $50,000 on its bonus categories every year, there are annual-fee business credit cards that offer better ongoing rewards.

Best premium card: The Platinum Card® from American Express

Earn 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel; 2 points per dollar spent on other travel booked through AmEx; and 1 point per dollar on everything else; Earn 40,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases in your first 3 months. Terms Apply; Receive up to $200 per calendar year in statement credits for airline incidental fees; $100 credit toward Global Entry application; Complimentary access to more than 900 airport lounges worldwide; $450 annual fee.

https://www.nerdwallet.com/lib/redirect.php?name=American-Express-Platinum&uv=JHl8I4WhKo5zllOibrYKB10bMHEMhIg89JYaUAEIzv39FSpe23MOqSZsLiVkVL0sxw%3D%3D&clickHeader_category=Credit%20Card&clickHeader_productId=1003

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Apply Now on American Express's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 690
    850
    Good - Excellent
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • No foreign transaction fee

    Cons

    • Has annual fee

    Annual Fees

    $450

    APR

    • Purchase: N/A

    Bonus Offers

    Earn 40,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases in your first 3 months. Terms Apply

    Intro APR

    • N/A
  • Additional Information
    • Earn 40,000 Membership Rewards ® points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
    • 5X points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
    • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 a year for baggage fees and more at one airline. Terms Apply.
    • As a Platinum Card Member, you can enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations worldwide. Terms Apply.
    • Enroll to enjoy the benefits of complimentary Hilton HHonors™ Gold Status with your Platinum Card. ®
    • No interest charges because you pay your balance in full each month.
    • Terms and Conditions apply.


Benefits of The Platinum Card® from American Express:

  • The card offers elite travel perks that are worth far more than the annual fee, including access to posh airport lounges, statement credits for airline incidental fees, a credit toward a Global Entry or TSA Pre✓™ application fee, Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status, concierge service and more.
  • It has a killer sign-up bonus and generates Membership Rewards points, which you can redeem for travel, gift cards and shopping, or transfer to one of the program’s eight airline and hotel partners: Aeroplan, British Airways, Alitalia, Asia Miles, Delta Skymiles, Etihad Airways, Hilton HHonors and Starwood Preferred Guest.
  • It charges no foreign transaction fees, a big plus for when you travel abroad.

Drawbacks of The Platinum Card® from American Express:

  • The annual fee is steep, making the card useful only if you plan to take advantage of all its luxury features.
  • It doesn’t offer a bonus rewards rate like most travel cards, and its ongoing rewards rate is unexceptional.
  • American Express isn’t widely accepted internationally.

Bottom line:

If you can afford the annual fee and you travel often, The Platinum Card® from American Express is one of the best ways to ensure you’ll travel in luxury. But if you’re more interested in earning rewards, check out some of the Nerds’ top travel card picks.

Last updated Dec. 31, 2016.

Ben Luthi is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: bluthi@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @benluthi.