Note: NerdWallet strongly discourages traveling in the near future while the coronavirus continues to spread. Check the CDC and State Department websites for current guidance and travel restrictions. Please use the content of this article only to help inform future travel plans.
There are plenty of great rewards credit cards available, but none of them fit every need that you have. That’s why it makes sense to combine the features and rewards of multiple credit cards to maximize your benefits. With Membership Rewards from American Express, having three rewards credit cards provide valuable perks while maximizing your spending. This is known as the AmEx Trifecta.
What is the AmEx Trifecta and why should you have it?
The AmEx Trifecta uses the different features of each credit card to optimize your benefits and rewards. Users of this strategy pick three American Express credit cards that earn Membership Rewards. The Platinum Card® from American Express or the American Express® Green Card are your cards of choice for travel. The American Express® Gold Card is used for dining and groceries. The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express will cover all of your other purchases.
Plus, these cards also offer valuable benefits that improve travel — including complimentary airport lounge access, up to $100 in reimbursed airport security memberships and hundreds of dollars in annual credits. Terms apply.
Redeeming Membership Rewards points
With the AmEx Trifecta, you’ll earn a lot of Membership Rewards points by maximizing the money you’re already spending. There are many options when it comes to redeeming American Express Membership Rewards points. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Transferring points to 22 airline and hotel airline partners.
- Booking flights and prepaid hotel rooms through AmEx Travel.
- Upgrading eligible flights through AmEx Travel.
- Redeeming for gift cards.
The value of your points vary widely based on the type of redemption you choose. In general, you’ll receive the most value when you transfer points to a partner to book a flight or hotel reservation. Your goal should be to receive at least 1 cent per point in value from the rewards you’ve earned.
Up to 5x on travel – The Platinum Card® from American Express or American Express® Green Card
When picking a rewards credit card to pay for travel, you have two solid options from American Express. You’ll choose between them based on your budget, benefits and the rewards they earn. The Platinum Card® from American Express is a luxury travel credit card with a premium price. The American Express® Green Card is more budget-friendly, but still packs a ton of benefits.
The Platinum Card® from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American Express is a luxury card that offers a lot of perks for its $550 annual fee. You’ll earn 5 points per dollar when booking flights with airlines or through AmEx Travel. Plus, you’ll also earn 5 points per dollar on AmEx Travel prepaid hotel reservations. Upon approval, you’ll earn Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months. Terms Apply.
The Platinum Card® from American Express offers up to a $100 reimbursement on Global Entry or TSA Precheck and another $500 in annual credits with Uber ($200), airline fees ($200) and Saks Fifth Avenue ($100). Cardholders also receive automatic Gold elite status with Hilton and Marriott. Terms apply.
The American Express® Green Card
The Platinum Card® from American Express earns up to 5 points per dollar and offers a lot of benefits, but its pricey annual fee is outside many budgets. At $150, the American Express® Green Card is a solid travel credit card that earns 3x points on travel and dining worldwide. Most notably, it earns 3x points on a wide range of travel purchases. The Platinum Card® from American Express, in comparison, earns 5x points only on flights and prepaid hotels bought from airlines or AmEx Travel. Terms apply.
The American Express® Green Card also includes a $100 annual credit toward a Clear membership and $100 in annual LoungeBuddy airport lounge credits. It also has no foreign transaction fees and includes trip insurance to cover delays, rental car damage and theft, and baggage. Terms apply.
Earn 4x on dining and groceries – American Express® Gold Card
The American Express® Gold Card rewards cardholders for their eating habits. You will earn 4 points per dollar on all of your dining purchases worldwide. Plus, when you’re buying groceries, you’ll earn 4 points per dollar on the first $25,000 you spend each year at U.S. supermarkets. Terms apply.
New cardholders can earn the following welcome bonus: Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months. Terms Apply.
The American Express® Gold Card has an annual fee of $250. However, annual airline fee credits ($100) and dining credits ($120) cover the majority of that cost. Plus, there are no foreign transaction fees when making purchases internationally. Terms apply.
» Learn more: Benefits of the American Express® Gold Card card
Bonus points on everyday spending – The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
For all of your spending that doesn’t fall into the above spending categories, The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express has you covered. It has no annual fee and earns 2 points per dollar on all of your purchases (up to $50,000 each year), which should be your minimum earning goal for all purchases. If you reach the $50,000 annual limit, you’ll continue to earn 1 point per dollar on everything else. The card is eligible for AmEx Offers, just like all of your other American Express credit cards. Terms apply.
Because this is a business credit card, some people may think that they don’t qualify for it. However, in today’s economy, many people have side hustles, rental properties and other sources of income in addition to their main job. You don’t have to be a multimillion-dollar business to be eligible for a business credit card. In fact, you don’t even need an EIN to apply if your business is registered as a sole proprietorship.
The bottom line
Because each credit card offers different benefits and earning power, it makes sense to carry more than one card. By using the AmEx Trifecta of credit cards, you’ll earn maximum points on travel, dining, groceries and other purchases. All of the Membership Rewards points you earn from the AmEx Trifecta are deposited into one account. This makes tracking your points easier and accelerates your ability to redeem for travel, gift cards or other rewards.
How to maximize your rewardsYou want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2020, including those best for:
- Airline miles and a large bonus: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- No annual fee: The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
- Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
- Premium travel rewards: The Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
- Business travelers: The Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice:
Find the best travel credit card for you
AmEx Membership Rewards: How to earn and use them
More details on American Express Membership Rewards points