Best American Express Cards of May 2021

Top-notch offers, plus how Membership Rewards work

We publish unbiased reviews; our opinions are our own and are not influenced by payments from advertisers. Learn about our independent review process and partners in our advertiser disclosure.

Among the best American Express cards, you’ll find credit and charge cards of all sorts, including cash-back, general travel, and airline cards. All from a company known for its customer service. Ready to add an American Express card to your wallet? Review the offers below first. These are the Amex cards we’ve deemed the best.

Best American Express Cards of May 2021

Best Overall, Best for Cash-Back Rewards With No-Annual-Fee, Best for Financing Large Purchases : Cash Magnet Card

Our Rating Among American Express Cards
4.8
Cash Magnet® Card
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
Foreign transaction fee (%) 2.7%

See rates and fees

  • Why We Chose It
  • Pros & Cons
  • Highlights
Why We Chose It

We find this multi-purpose, no-annual-fee Amex card quite attractive. If you want to spread out the cost of a large purchase, the Cash Magnet card gives you 15 months to pay off your balance interest-free, which is a solid offer these days, even considering cards from other issuers. The simple rewards program makes this an ideal go-to card for someone seeking low-maintenance rewards. You’ll earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase, a competitive rate among similar rewards cards. To top it off, there’s a nice little bonus for new cardholders, too. 

Read full review of Cash Magnet® Card

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Long 0% APR offer for purchases is competitive for a no-annual-fee cash-back card

  • Cash back rewards are simple to earn and unlimited

  • No annual fee

Cons
  • Cash back can only be redeemed through statement credits and only when you’ve earned at least $25

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.
  • Use Membership Rewards(R) Pay with Points for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 35% of the points back, up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year when you book on amextravel.com.

Best for Travel With No-Annual-Fee, Best With Low APR : Amex EveryDay Credit Card

Our Rating Among American Express Cards
4.7
Amex EveryDay® Credit Card
Current Offer

Earn 10,000 Membership Rewards Points after you use your new Card to make $1,000 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 (%) 12.99% - 23.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 2 points per $1 at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year. Earn 1 point per $1 for other eligible purchases.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 15 Months
Foreign transaction fee (%) 2.7%
  • Why We Chose It
  • Pros & Cons
  • Highlights
Why We Chose It

This rewards card offers Amex Membership Rewards points, which are most valuable when used for travel. Cost-conscious travelers who don’t want to pay an annual fee will also love the option to transfer points at a 1-to-1 rate to partner hotel and airline loyalty programs. If you’re more interested in saving money on interest costs, this card is still a good option. Transfer a balance within 60 days of opening your account to get 15 months with no interest, and you won’t pay a balance transfer fee. Or, you can finance a big purchase interest-free for 15 months. When the promotional offers end, those with excellent credit may qualify for an ongoing APR that is well below average. 

Read full review of Amex EveryDay® Credit Card

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Chance to earn valuable

  • Membership Rewards points without paying an annual fee

  • 20% boost in rewards points any billing period you use your card at least 20 times

Cons
  • Only grocery purchases earn bonus points, and there’s a cap on the higher earning rate

  • Foreign transaction fee

Highlights
  • Earn 10,000 Membership Rewards Points after you spend $1,000 in qualifying purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Use your Card 20 or more times on purchases in a billing period and get 20% more points on those purchases, less returns and credits.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months.

Best for Cash-Back Rewards : Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express

Our Rating Among American Express Cards
4.3
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
Current Offer

Earn 20% back on Amazon.com purchases on the Card in the first 6 months of Card membership, up to $150 back. Plus, earn $100 back after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months of card membership. You will receive cash back in the form of statement credits.

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
Foreign transaction fee (%) 2.7%

See rates and fees

  • Why We Chose It
  • Pros & Cons
  • Highlights
Why We Chose It

If you want a card that rewards several common types of purchases without charging an annual fee, this is a great option. You’ll earn 3% back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year), 2% back at U.S. gas stations and select department stores, and 1% back on everything else. To top it all off, new cardholders get a 0% APR on purchases for 15 months, which is a decent stretch of time for a cash-back card.

Read full review of Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Competitive cash-back rate on common purchase categories with no annual fee

  • Intro offer on purchases reduces interest costs for 15 months

Cons
  • Higher cash-back rate on groceries is capped annually

  • No option to earn or redeem

  • Membership Rewards points for use toward travel

Highlights
  • 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 Businesses : The Platinum Card from American Express

Our Rating Among American Express Cards
3.6
The Platinum Card® from American Express
Current Offer

Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 6 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 (%) 15.99% - 22.99% 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.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%

See rates and fees

  • Why We Chose It
  • Pros & Cons
  • Highlights
Why We Chose It

Yes, it comes with a $550 annual fee, but if you travel frequently and appreciate comfort, this card may be well worth it. You’ll get airport lounge access, premium travel insurance benefits, travel-fee reimbursement for eligible expenses, and elite hotel membership status, just to name a few of its perks. Plus, based on our calculations, the 75,000-point Membership Rewards bonus could be worth $855 when transferred used for travel with Amex.

Read full review of The Platinum Card® from American Express

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Lots of high-value travel perks, such as access to participating airport lounges

  • Great rewards rate on eligible flights and hotel stays

  • Great rewards rate on eligible flights and hotel stays

  • Many ways to redeem rewards, including options to transfer to participating frequent flyer programs

  • No foreign transaction fee

Cons
  • Low rewards rate for non-travel purchases

  • Financing options are limited

  • High annual fee

Highlights
  • Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 6 months.
  • Chose an eligible airline and receive a $200 annual airline fee credit.
  • Enjoy Global Lounge Collection access as a cardholder, which includes access to the Centurion Lounge.

Best for Luxury Travelers, Best Bonus for New Cardholders : American Express Blue Business Cash Card

Our Rating Among American Express Cards
4.3
American Express® Blue Business Cash Card
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
Cash Advance Fee This product does not offer cash advances.

See rates and fees

  • Why We Chose It
  • Pros & Cons
  • Highlights
Why We Chose It

If you're a small-business owner looking to keep your monthly expenses to a minimum, you may appreciate this a low-maintenance card that offers automatic cash back without an annual fee. You’ll get a solid 2% back on all purchases for the first $50,000 spent each year, and then 1% back after that. If you need to finance a large purchase, the year-long 0% intro APR offer can help make that happen, too.

Read the full review of American Express® Blue Business Cash Card

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Single cash-back rate is competitive and keeps rewards simple

  • Cash back is automatically credited to your card account

  • New accounts get a 0% APR on purchases for 12 months—as long or longer than competing business cards

Cons
  • Cap on 2% cash-back earnings limits rewards potential for big spenders

  • Foreign transaction fee

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

FAQs

What Is American Express? 

American Express has been around for a long time. Back in the late 1800s, it gained popularity by issuing its first financial product: traveler’s checks. Charge cards came a few decades later. 

Today, American Express is a credit card issuer and a card network, and one of the biggest. American Express credit card spending accounted for 20% of U.S. credit card spending in 2019.

Its duo issuer-network role means American Express is the primary source for all your needs and questions as a cardholder. As an issuer, American Express is the bank that offers credit cards to consumers and maintains the card accounts—just as other issuers such as Chase and Citi do. As a network, it assists with card payment processing for merchants that take Amex payments, just as Mastercard does for merchants who take Mastercard payments.

Who Should Get an American Express Card?

American Express cards aren’t for everyone. To start with, you need good, if not excellent, credit to be approved for most Amex cards. American Express doesn’t have secured or student cards for people with low or no credit. 

Because American Express cards offer cash-back and travel rewards, they are best for consumers who can pay off their balance in full each month. Rewards cards tend to have higher interest rates than non-rewards cards, and when you pay interest, any value earned from credit card rewards is quickly lost. Plus, most American Express rewards cards charge annual fees, which add to your cost burden if you carry debt month-to-month.

In addition, American Express card acceptance still pales outside of the U.S. when compared to Visa and Mastercard acceptance . So, international travelers may want to use a different card when going overseas. If an Amex sounds right for you, here's another rundown of the ones we think are the best:

Best American Express Credit Cards
Credit Card Category Annual Fee
Cash Magnet Card Best Overall $0
Cash Magnet Card Best for Cash-Back Rewards with No-Annual-Fee $0
Cash Magnet Card Best for Financing Large Purchases $0
Blue Cash Everyday Card  Best for Cash-Back Rewards $0
Amex EveryDay Credit Card Best for Travel With No-Annual-Fee $0
Amex EveryDay Credit Card Best With Low APR $0
The Platinum Card from American Express Best for Luxury Travelers $550
The Platinum Card from American Express Best Bonus for New Cardholders $550
American Express Blue Business
Cash Card
Best for Business $0

How Do American Express Membership Rewards Work?

Depending on which card you have, you may earn rewards in three different ways:

  • Cash back 
  • Points or miles in a co-branded loyalty program (such as Delta SkyMiles) 
  • Travel rewards in Amex’s own loyalty program, Membership Rewards

Membership Rewards points can be redeemed in many ways, but they’re really meant for travel. Most cards allow you to use your points to book flights, hotels, rental cars, or cruises through American Express Travel. When you do that, your points are worth about 1 cent each. 

Note

A good rule of thumb with rewards cards is to aim for a points valuation of 1 cent per point (10,000 points buys you $100 worth of whatever you’re redeeming for). That’s what you get from most cash-back cards. If you’re redeeming for items that yield less than that, you might be better off using a cash-back card and paying for the item outright.

Most Membership Rewards cards also permit you to transfer points to airline and hotel partners’ loyalty programs. Research by The Balance found that when you transfer Membership Rewards points to a frequent flyer program in the Oneworld Alliance airline network, you’ll get as much as 2.04 cents per point. That’s about the best value you can get from this program.

These American Express cards currently offer Membership Rewards: 

Plus, three corporate American Express cards offer Membership Rewards.

Tip

You’ll lose any Membership Rewards points in your account when close your card, so be sure to transfer or use them before you do that.

What Are Some Common American Express Card Benefits?

Just like other payment networks, American Express offers travel and purchase perks on its cards. The exact array of benefits you’ll get will vary depending on the card, but overall, the perks may include: 

  • Extended warranties
  • Insurance for stolen or damaged purchases
  • Refund when merchant won’t accept returned item
  • Insurance coverage for lost or delayed luggage
  • Rental car collision insurance
  • Travel and emergency hotline 
  • Roadside assistance hotline
  • Travel accident insurance

Important

Benefit terms and coverage limits also vary between cards, so refer to your benefits guide or contact American Express to learn specifics.

How Good Is American Express Customer Service?

American Express is known for quality customer service. In 2020, J.D. Power ranked Amex No. 1 for customer satisfaction among major credit card issuers. Cardholders are big fans of the online and mobile app service options American Express offers, too. The card company also ranked first in the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Credit Card Online and Mobile App Satisfaction studies. 

American Express has a 24/7 customer service phone line you can call with questions. Or, send Amex a message through a secured, online chat via your online account. 

However, if Amex is the network and not the issuer (e.g., the Wells Fargo Propel American Express), Amex isn't going to handle your customer service questions.

Methodology

We collect data on hundreds of cards and score more than 55 features that affect your finances. We do this because it's our mission to give you unbiased, comprehensive credit card reviews.

Our reviews are always impartial: No one can influence which cards we review, the way we present them to you, or the ratings they receive.

About This List

The Balance compiled this list following the same process used for our best overall card rankings, but focused on cards issued by American Express cards. The cards selected for this list came from a pool of 14 Amex cards—this group excludes cards issued by other banks that use the American Express network, as well as co-branded airline and hotel cards. We re-evaluate this list on a monthly basis, or when Amex makes a significant change to its credit card offerings.

What We Score

We consider low APRs, big sign-up offers, rewards earning potential, and minimal fees some of the best card qualities, and our scoring model reflects this. Our full methodology includes further detail about how we evaluate credit card attributes.

Looking to compare credit cards from American Express? Here are all of the cards that we considered when compiling our best American Express credit card list, as well as others you might find a good fit. 

We estimate annual rewards value by determining the amount of rewards the average consumer would likely earn based on spending data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and other sources. The annual fee is then deducted, and any travel or dining reimbursement credits a card may offer are added in. Since the annual fee is subtracted, a card may receive a negative annual value.

Compare American Express Credit Cards
Card Name Annual Fee Rewards Annual Rewards Value Estimate
American Express Cash Magnet Card $0 1.5% cash back on your purchases. $364
Blue Cash Everyday Card $0 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. $353
Blue Cash Preferred Card $0 first year, then $95 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. $503
Amex EveryDay Credit Card $0 Earn 2 points per $1 at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year. Earn 1 point per $1 for other eligible purchases. $319
American Express Green Card $150 Earn 3 points per $1 spent on eligible travel and at restaurants. Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases. $422
The Platinum Card from American Express $550 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. $297
Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card $95 Earn 3 points per $1 at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year. Earn 2 points at US gas stations, and 1 point on other purchases. $297
American Express Gold Card $250 Earn 4 points per $1 spent at restaurants and at US supermarkets (up-to $25,000 per year). 3 points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com. 1 point per $1 on other eligible purchases. $515
Delta SkyMiles Gold Card $0 for the first year, then $99 Earn 2 miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta, at restaurants, and at U.S. supermarkets. Earn one mile for every eligible dollar spent on purchases. $405.69
Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card $125 Earn 6X points for every $1 spent at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 4X points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. purchases for shipping, and 2X points everywhere else. $529
Delta SkyMiles Blue Card $0 Earn 2 miles per dollar at restaurants and on eligible Delta purchases, and earn 1 mile per dollar on all other eligible purchases. $407
The Plum Card from American Express $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $250 Paying early can mean big savings for your business. Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back when you pay within 10 days. $198
Hilton Honors American Express Card $0 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. $459
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card $450 Earn 6X points for every $1 spent at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 3X points at U.S. restaurants and flights booked directly with airlines, and 2X points everywhere else. $455
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card $95 12 points per $1 for eligible Hilton purchases. 6 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. $427
Delta SkyMiles Platinum Card $250 Earn 3 miles per dollar spent directly with Delta, 2 miles per dollar at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets, and 1 mile per dollar on all other eligible purchases. $248
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card $450 14 points per $1 for eligible Hilton purchases. 7 points per $1 on eligible flight, car rental, and U.S. restaurant purchases. 3 points per $1 on all other eligible purchases. $560
Delta SkyMiles Reserve Card $550 Earn 3 miles per $1 spent on purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile per $1 on other eligible purchases. -$166
American Express Blue Business Cash Card $0 Earn 2% cash back on all eligible purchases on up to $50,000 per calendar year, then 1% $423
Amazon Business Prime American Express Card $0, Prime Membership Required Get unlimited 5% back on U.S. purchases at Amazon Business, AWS, Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market with an eligible Prime membership. 2% at U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, and on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers. 1% on other purchases. $477
American Express Business Gold Card $295 Earn 4 Membership Rewards points per $1 on the 2 eligible categories where your business spent the most each billing cycle, plus earn 1 point per $1 on other purchases $178
Blue Business Plus Credit Card $0 Earn 2 Membership Rewards points per dollar on purchases up to $50,000 annually, then an unlimited 1 point per dollar. $400
The Business Platinum Card from American Express $595 Get 5X Membership Rewards points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com. 1x for each dollar spent on other eligible purchases. $152
Business Green Rewards Card from American Express $0 first year, then $95 Earn 2 Membership Rewards points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases at amextravel.com. 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. $220
Delta SkyMiles Gold Business Card $0 for the first year, then $99 Earn 2 miles per dollar spent on eligible purchases made directly with Delta, U.S. shipping and advertising purchases, and at restaurants. Earn 1 mile on every eligible dollar spent on other purchases. $406
Hilton Honors American Express Business Card $95 12X at hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio, 6X on select business & travel purchases, 3X everywhere else. $381
Delta SkyMiles Platinum Business Card $250 Earn 3 miles per dollar on eligible purchases made directly with Delta and hotels. Earn 1 mile per dollar spent on other eligible purchases. $134
Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business Card $550 Earn 3 miles per dollar spent on eligible purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile on every eligible dollar spent on other purchases. -$185

To see the rates and fees of featured American Express Cards, please see the following links: Cash Magnet® Card rates and fees, Blue Cash Everyday® Card rates and fees, The Platinum Card® rates and fees, American Express® Blue Business Cash Card rates and fees.

Article Sources

  1. The Nilson Report, February 2020. "Market Shares (%) of Purchase Volume for Top U.S. Credit Cards." Page 1. Accessed Oct. 13, 2020.

  2. Nilson Report, October 2019. "Global Brand Card Acceptance Worldwide." Page 1. Accessed Oct. 13, 2020.

  3. J.D. Power. "Customers Losing Faith in Credit Card Issuers as COVID-19 Pandemic Lingers, J.D. Power Finds." Accessed Oct. 13, 2020.

  4. J.D. Power. "Bank and Credit Card Provider Investments in Easy-to-Use Digital Tools Pay Off, J.D. Power Finds." Accessed Oct. 13, 2020.