Credit Cards » Compare Credit Cards » Best American Express Credit Cards of 2021
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Best American Express Credit Cards of 2021

American Express offers different types of credit cards for a variety of purposes. Here are The Smart Investor top 5 cards:

Some products that appear here are from companies from which this website receives compensation. This may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). It doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions. our opinions are our own.

American Express offers different types of credit cards for a variety of purposes, giving them one of the most diverse lineups of credit card offerings of any financial institution. Within each type of credit card, American Express also generally offers several different versions of the card, each with their own advantages and disadvantages for different kinds of users.

That way you’re able to customize the kind of credit card you use to better fit your exact needs.

The result is a wide cards library that can be a little difficult to grasp when you’re first getting one of their cards. That huge library is also why it’s critical to research American Express cards instead of signing up for the first one that’s offered to you. There are pretty good odds that the first card on offer isn’t actually the best card for your situation.

Don’t worry though, this section will help you understand the different kinds of American Express cards.

Here are The Smart Investor Select’s picks for the top 5 American Express credit cards:

American Express Blue Cash

On AMEX Secure Website

American Express Blue Cash Preffered

Reward details

1-6% cashback

Current Offer

$300 statement credit

Credit Rating

Good – Excellent

Annual Fee


0% Intro

12 months


13.99% – 23.99%
  • Overview
  • Card Features
  • Pros & Cons

This card offers an outstanding 6% cashback rewards for streaming services, and spending’s at the supermarkets, an amazing 3% rate on transit purchases and gas, making it a suitable choice for commuters and a 2.7 % fee on foreign transactions.

However, warehouse clubs and superstores are not included. The American Blue Cash Preferred Card charges an annual fee of $91, but you can justify this if you can spend $31 a week on groceries alone. This makes the card suitable for individuals that buy or purchase their groceries at traditional supermarkets. New cardmembers can earn up to $300 statement credit after making a purchase of $3000 or more within the first six months of being a member.

  • Rewards Plan: Earn 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets and selected U.S. streaming subscriptions, 3% cash back on transit and gas stations, 1% cash back on other purchases
  • APR: 13.99% - 23.99%
  • Annual Fee: $95
  • Balance Transfer Fee: $5 or 3%
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 2.70%
  • Sign Up bonus: $300 back in the form of a statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • 0% APR Introductory Rate Months: 12 months
  • Sign-up cash back bonus: $250
  • $250 Cash Back Sign-Up Bonus
  • 6% Cash Back at Supermarkets, 3% at Gas Stations
  • 3% at Selected Department Stores, 1% on All Other Purchases
  • 0% APR on Balance Transfers and Purchases in the First 12 Months
  • Redeeming Options
  • Extended Warranty on Purchases
  • $95 Annual Fee
  • High APR
  • Short Introductory Rates
  • Balance Transfer Fee
  • Foreign Transaction Fee
  • Minimum Redemption Amounts
  • Not as Widely Accepted as Other Cards

American Express Everyday

On AMEX Secure Website

American Express Everyday

Reward details

Up to 2X Points for every $1 you spend

Current Offer

10,000 Membership Rewards® Points

Credit Rating

Good – Excellent

Annual Fee


0% Intro

15 months


12.99% – 23.99%
  • Overview
  • Card Features
  • Pros & Cons

The Blue Cash Everyday from the American Express is a very good option among rewards cards for individuals that rank up spending at the grocery checkout and gas pump. The Blue Cash Everyday offers an amazing 3% cash back rate at the united state's supermarkets once you spend up to $6,000 in a year, as well as a 2% competitive rate at any gas station for a zero-dollar annual fee card.

The Blue Card Everyday also offers new cardmembers a $200 statement credit bonus. However, to qualify for this bonus, you need to spend up to $1000 on eligible purchases in the first three months of obtaining the card.In 2019, American Express ranked 2nd overall for customer satisfaction according to the J.D. Power U.S. Credit Card satisfaction survey.

  • APR: 12.99% – 23.99%
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: Unknown
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 2.70%
  • Rewards Plan: Earn 2X Points at U.S. Supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year in purchases) and 1X Points on Other Eligible Purchases
  • Sign Up bonus: 10,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $1,000 in qualifying purchases on the Card within your first 3 months
  • 0% APR Introductory Rate period: 15 months
  • 10,000 Points Sign-Up Bonus
  • Rewards Plan
  • 20% Bonus Points
  • No Annual Fee
  • 0% APR Introductory Rate on Balance Transfers and Purchases in the First 15 Months
  • No Balance Transfer Fee
  • High APR
  • Foreign Transaction Fee
  • Variations in Reward Points’ Worth
  • There are Better Rewards Cards
  • Not as Widely Accepted as Other Cards
  • Flexible Redemption

American Express Cash Magnet®

American Express Cash Magnet
On AMEX Secure Website

American Express Cash Magnet®

Reward details

1.5% cash back

Current Offer


Credit Rating

Good – Excellent

Annual Fee


0% Intro

0% intro on purchases for 15 months


13.99% – 23.99%
  • Overview
  • Card Features
  • Pros & Cons

The American Express Cash Magnet Card is a simple cash back credit card that offers you 1.5% flat-rate cash back on all eligible purchases you make with the card. It is a great choice for people who want easy, uncomplicated rewards and aren’t high spenders. There is an attractive signup bonus if you meet the spending requirements in the first three months.

Compared to other credit cards, the American Express Cash Magnet Card does not offer any significantly special reward you can’t find elsewhere, but its good intro APR, modest fees and clear-cut rewards system make it beneficial to anyone looking to earn rewards without having to track spending categories. If you own another rewards credit card, it’s a good idea to use this one on regular purchases that normally would not attract bonuses there.

  • APR: 13.99% - 23.99%
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: N/A
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 2.70%
  • Rewards Plan: 1.5% cash back
  • Sign Up bonus: $200 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • 0% APR Introductory Rate period: 0% intro on purchases for 15 months
  • Sign-Up Bonus
  • Unlimited 1.5% Cash Back
  • Car Rental Insurance
  • No Annual Fee
  • 0% APR Intro for 15 Months
  • Pay It Plan It
  • Limited Redemption Options
  • Foreign Transaction Fee
  • There are Better Rewards Cards
  • Not as Widely Accepted as Other Cards
  • Flexible Redemption

Delta SkyMiles® Gold

Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card Review
On AMEX Secure Website

Delta SkyMiles® Gold

Reward details

2X miles on dining and Delta purchases

Current Offer

35,000 miles on $1000 spent in first 3 months + waive annual fee in the first year

Credit Rating

Good – Excellent

Annual Fee


0% Intro



15.74% – 24.74%
  • Overview
  • Card Features
  • Pros & Cons

The Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card, as the name suggests, is a niche travel rewards card that will appeal most to people who frequently fly with Delta. A neat signup bonus, potential annual rewards, an ongoing miles rewards system, priority boarding, and the opportunity to pay with earned miles when you fly Delta are some reasons you may want to consider this card. If you fly Delta, this card probably ticks many of the right boxes.

The miles earned through regular purchases with this card are modest for the most part, but if you make in-flight purchases, you get up to 20% back in form of statement credits. The rewards on this card are laser-targeted towards a specific audience. Therefore, it goes without saying that if you don’t fly often or don’t patronize Delta much, there is little to enjoy from this card. You probably won’t even earn enough rewards to offset the annual fee.

  • APR: 15.74% - 24.74%
  • Annual fee: $99
  • Balance Transfer Fee: N/A
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: None
  • Rewards Plan: 2X miles on dining and Delta purchases
  • Sign Up bonus: 35,000 miles on $1000 spent in first 3 months + waive annual fee in the first year
  • 0% APR Introductory Rate period: None
  • Sign-Up Bonus
  • Attractive rewards for Delta flyers
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Free Checked Bag
  • Priority Boarding
  • Annual Fee
  • Limited Acceptance
  • No Path to Elite Status
  • Too Niche

American Express® Gold

American Express Gold Card Review
On AMEX Secure Website

American Express® Gold

Reward details

Up to 4X points for every $1 you spend

Current Offer

60,000 points

Credit Rating

Good – Excellent

Annual Fee


0% Intro



15.99% – 22.99%
  • Overview
  • Card Features
  • Pros & Cons

American Express Gold Card is a credit account that offers a myriad of benefits to clients. First-timers stand a chance to earn 60,000 points in the first six months if they can spend up to $4,000 worth of goods within the time frame. There are 4x points for shopping at supermarkets on items up to $25,000, eating at restaurants or ordering take-out.  You can also enroll to win up to $10 statement credits every month for dining at the top spots in the country and 3x points when you book flights with your American Express Gold Card.

Other benefits include no charges on international transactions and a hundred dollar credit for hotel expenses when you book two nights or more with your Gold Card. Instead of the traditional method of using credit cards, the American Express Gold Card can be used for contactless transactions by facing the symbol to the screen of a pos machine. There is also a global assistance feature for emergencies when you travel out of the country.

  • APR: 15.99% – 22.99%
  • Annual fee: $250
  • Balance Transfer Fee: N/a
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: None
  • Rewards Plan: - 4X points at supermarkets
    - 4X points at restaurants
    - 3X points on flight bookings
    - 1X Points on other eligible purchases
  • Sign Up bonus: 60,000 points for purchases up to $4000 within the initial six months
  • 0% APR Introductory Rate period: None
  • Sign-Up Bonus
  • Great Travel Benefits
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Social Benefits
  • Annual Fee
  • High Requirements
  • Penalty APR

How to Compare American Express Credit Cards

About American Express

American Express is one of those financial institutions that’s been around seemingly forever, at least when compared to the length of US history. The company was originally founded in 1850 and has maintained a commitment to excellence in their products the whole time they’ve been in business.

American Express didn’t start as a financial institution, they were a freight forwarding company first. It wasn’t until just before the 20th century that American Express introduced their first financial management products.

Today, the company is one of the United State’s foremost credit card companies and is the world’s largest global payments network.

It's no wonder they can offer such a wide range of highly sought after credit cards for all levels of the consumer market.

American Express Credit Card Types 

Here are the basic types of cards you can find on American Express website:

1. Standard Credit Cards

Standard credit cards have a pre-set balance limit. You can use them anywhere and for any transaction up to the posted limit (through fraud prevention services may sometimes lock the card for safety reasons if your purchasing habits change suddenly). These cards have no interest if you pay off the balance every month, but will change some interest on any balance carried from month to month.

Interest rates vary depending on the credit card and your own credit score and credit history. Standard credit cards (and most other credit cards) require that you make a monthly payment of at least 1-3% of the total balance on the card.

2. Rewards Credit Cards

Rewards credit cards have similar features and functionality as regular credit cards, but they also have some reward system for using the card. Typically rewards are cashback, travel miles, or redeemable points.

Almost all American Express credit cards offer some level of a rewards program. Their travel cards offer rewards in miles, but American Express also has standard and business credit cards that offer cashback or points-based rewards, depending on the card.

The exact level of rewards depends in part on your credit score and which cards you can qualify for, as well as your willingness to pay annual fees and other high-cost cards that offer higher value rewards programs.

3. Charge Cards

A charge card is a little different from a typical credit card. They generally don’t have credit limits, but you are also typically required to pay the full balance on the card each month. You can’t let balances carry over from month to month.

American Express currently doesn’t offer any charge cards. However, they do offer prepaid cards, which serve a similar purpose.

4. Business Credit Cards

Business credit cards are only to be used for business expenses and can be used by businesses, business owners, and some employees. These cards should never be used for personal expenses, even by the business owner.

These cards may also have different rewards structures that are more focused on providing business benefits.

American Express has a wide selection of business cards, including but not limited to:

  • American Express Platinum Business
  • American Express Gold Business
  • American Express Plum Card
  • American Express Green Business Rewards Card
  • The Blue Business Plus Credit Card
  • The Lowes Business Rewards Card

These cards are all tuned to offer different kinds of rewards and benefits to the business. The Platinum Business card is a good option for larger more profitable enterprises, while the Lowes Business Rewards card might be a good option for construction businesses and contractors.

5. Prepaid Cards

Prepaid cards aren’t credit cards in the technical sense. These cards are paid for in advance, and can only be used while there is a balance on the card. However, they can be helpful for monthly budgeting, gift-giving, and limiting certain kinds of spending, and you can generally add more money onto pre-paid cards as long as you keep the card’s account open.

American Express offers three different versions of their charge card, the basic American Express Serve, the American Express Serve with Free Reloads, and the American Express Serve Cashback charge card. All three versions offer free ATM withdrawal services, an easy online portal to check your budget and reload the cards, and are direct deposit compatible.

6. Student Credit Cards

Typically these cards are for college students who are learning how to use a credit card and who are starting to build their personal credit for the first time. They tend to have lower fees but may not offer as many benefits as other kinds of personal credit cards.

American Express currently doesn’t offer any specialty College Student cards, but their Amex Everyday card can be a good student card alternative, especially if you go for a low starting limit.

Reputation & Customer Satisfaction

838/1000 on J.D Power: American Express ranks in the 1st place in 2020 research,  got 838 out of 1000 available points on J.D. Power credit card satisfaction survey. J.D Power offers the most comprehensive and independent study of customer satisfaction of card issuers. The study aims to help consumers and issuers to understand user opinions and ratings of the largest bands. It covers terms, benefits, services, communication, rewards, and more.

J.D. Power U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study 2020

The Different Levels of American Express Cards

It's also important to remember that there are usually several credit cards of each type, and there may be different rewards and benefits levels to each card as well. More premium cards typically come with higher annual fees and bigger penalties for missed payments, but they also offer better rewards and other cardholder perks that can be worth the extra cost.

Knowing which card is right for your financial situation and needs depends on which cards you qualify for and the value of the card’s benefits vs the cost of its interest rates and fees. If you aren’t sure a banker or financial adviser can usually help you choose.

Right now the platinum level is the top level of any American Express credit card, including the Platinum Card, and the Business Platinum Card. Gold is the next level down, and all other cards are usually at the same level of exclusivity, though there is a wide range of benefits to different cards.

What Credit Score Do I Need To Be Approved for American Express Credit Cards

There isn’t an exact credit score that will guarantee you can get any particular American Express credit card. After all, your credit history and current income levels also influence what cards you’re eligible for. However, being within a certain score range is an important part of getting approved.

Here are the general credit score ranges you need to know:

  • 300-579 Poor
  • 580-669 Fair
  • 670-739 Good
  • 740-799 Very Good
  • 800-850 Excellent

Those ranges vary a little bit from rating agency to rating agency and also vary slightly depending on the credit scorer, but these will at least put you in the right ballpark for your own credit rating.

Now that you know what the ranges are, here's the credit range American Express looks for in their credit cardholders.

FICO scores influence whether you may be accepted for credit.  A good FICO score can determine whether you obtain mortgage or finance approval, attractive auto insurance rates or even acceptance for a lease.

In this chart using Experian data, you can see the average FICO score has increased significantly over the last decade. While there was a dip in 2013, the average score has consistently increased year on year.

Average FICO Score 8

Generally, all American Express cards require good or better credit. For some cards, like anything Platinum rated, it’s better to have a Very Good or Excellent credit score, but it’s possible for people in the Good credit range to get a card.

If your credit is only in the Fair range you may need to opt for a Secured credit card. American Express doesn’t give many people with Poor credit a credit card unless there is other evidence of them being a safe borrower in their credit history.

How Do American Express Cashback Offers Work?

Cashback is a great way to get a small percentage of your spending back over time, but the rewards don’t just pay out automatically after every purchase. You’ll have to wait to get cashback rewards until you’ve accumulated a certain amount to help minimize the number of transactions on your account and make it easier to keep track of your rewards.

Cashback rebates a small percentage of the cost of qualifying charges on your credit card. Most cashback offers range from 1-5%, and American Express is no different. Your cards will accumulate a small amount of cash back on most purchases. Some cards offer a higher cashback rate for certain purchase types, like groceries or gas. It’s also common for there to be a higher cashback tier that changes every quarter, that way you can get better rewards some of the time.

You’ll typically have to customize how you want cashback to pay out in your account details. The amount will slowly accrue on your statement, and once you have a certain amount (it varies from card to card) you’ll be able to withdraw your cashback rewards.

Some people like to let cashback rewards build up over time instead of redeeming them all at once. It can be another way to help save for a big purchase or an expensive vacation.

Some retailers may also let you use cashback rewards directly on their websites by clicking the apply cashback rewards button at checkout.

How Does American Express Points Rewards Work?

Some American Express credit cards earn reward points instead of offering a cashback reward system. The points are also earned by paying for transactions with your credit card, though the points you earn can vary from transaction to transaction. Sometimes there may be specials that offer a temporary points boost for certain kinds of transactions.

Fortunately, American Express points do not expire as long as you keep the account open. That means you can wait to redeem your rewards points for as long as you like, including saving up for much larger rewards.

However, it’s important to note that the value of your American Express rewards points can vary quite a bit depending on how you redeem those points. For the most part, American Express points are worth somewhere between .5-1 cent per point. Redeeming for travel rewards can increase the value slightly, however, and you’ll usually get a 1:1 or 1:2 point to travel point ratio.

It’s also possible to redeem some points rewards directly with retailers. Right now American Express works with 16 different retailers that accept their points rewards, but you’ll have to select points rewards at checkout. Your points are never automatically applied to a purchase.

What Is The American Express Reward Program?

American Express also offers a Membership Reward Program that functions very much like their points-based reward system. Like the points system, you’ll slowly accrue membership rewards by using your cards for purchases over time. So long as you have your American Express card account those points won’t expire.

The Membership Reward program doesn’t have an upper limit on points either. You can continue earning points however long you use your card, and there is no maximum amount.

Membership Rewards points also have variable value depending on how you redeem them. You’ll have access to the same kinds of rewards as regular reward points, including using rewards for online checkout, turning them into travel points, and redeeming points for gift cards and other rewards.

At most retailers, 10,000 points can be redeemed for about $70 worth of goods, though they are worth more or less in other contexts. You’ll typically be able to get better value from Gift Cards than direct purchases though, up to $100 per 10,000 points.

Redeeming your points can be done either automatically online (with certain retailers) or by going into the rewards screen when you’re logged in one your American Express account.

Flights and other kinds of travel spending can earn rewards value similar to Gift Cards, which often makes travel rewards one of the best ways to redeem your Express Rewards program.

One of the biggest advantages of the American Express Rewards system is that your rewards account can have multiple cards attached. If you have two different cards on the account, then your rewards rate will be based on the higher rewards card. You’ll earn just as many points on both cards as you would earn with the higher rewards card. That can make it a good idea to have several different credit card offers from American Express.

American Express Redemption Options

There are a lot of different ways you can redeem rewards offers from American Express. The best place to learn about your rewards options are from your account screen. You can click on the rewards page to see what rewards are already ready and can look at the higher points rewards to make goals for the future.

There are several different rewards types with American Express:

Using Points At Checkout

American Express has a partnership with several different companies that let you use your rewards points directly during checkout when you’re paying with an American Express card.

Here are a few of the eligible retailers:

  • Amazon
  • Best Buy
  • Grubhub
  • Newegg
  • Paypal
  • Staples
  • Walmart

This isn’t a complete list, there are several other retailers that also take American Express points. American Express may also be able to add other companies to their retailer list in the future, so you should make sure you check the list occasionally.

Redeem for Gift Cards

American Express also works with many other retailers and companies to provide a wide variety of gift card options. You can choose from hundreds of different companies to redeem your points, but the value of your points does vary between different businesses.

There’s a wide list of hotels and restaurant gift cards, along with many retail stores. You’ll also have the option for paying for an American Express gift card that can be used anywhere. However, the American Express gift cards usually have some of the lowest value for the points.

Covering Card Charges

You can also use some of your points to cover charges on your account, including card fees. That can help reduce the cost of your cards.

Travel Bookings and Upgrades

Travel is another high-value area for your points. You can use it directly for bookings and other travel expenses, or to pay for upgrade charges on a previously booked reservation.

Transfer Points to Frequent Traveler Programs

You don’t necessarily have to redeem your rewards points directly with American Express either. You can always transfer points to a separate frequent travelers’ program. The exact rate and value of the transfer varies depending on the program you choose.

2021 Cashback Calendar

Instead of having a different cashback reward for each quarter like some card providers, American Express offers consistent cashback rewards. Some cards have a flat cashback percentage rate, while other cards offer a different percentage of cashback for different kinds of purchases.

How to Maximize American Express Rewards?

Making the most of your American Express rewards is one of the most important things to consider if you’re looking at one of their higher fees / higher rewards cards. Since there are several cards that have an annual fee and other higher cost items included, you'll likely need to maximize your rewards to make those cards worth owning.

In general, it's best to save your points when it comes to American Express. High-point items also tend to have a higher real dollar value and a higher point to dollar ratio. It can be tempting to cash out early on rewards and buy small offer items regularly, but it doesn’t usually pay off in the end.

Gift cards and travel are two of the most cost-efficient ways to use your American Express rewards points since you tend to get fairly high dollar value on those items. There’s also a much wider selection of gift cards than there are companies that accept American Express rewards points directly.

Paying with points at checkout can also be tempting since it lowers the cost of your bill, but it's generally not as valuable as using points in the rewards shop. Even if you're buying a gift card from the same retailer with your points, you'll usually get a better point for point value redeeming in the store.

It can also be tempting to buy American Express gift cards that let you use the money anywhere, or gift it to a friend. Unfortunately, those deals have some of the lowest point value in the store, and will quickly eat through points. It’s better to buy retailer-specific gift cards for your favorite restaurants, stores, and hotels than to buy an American Express gift card.

What are the Other Benefits of Having an American Express Cards?

American Express Cards come with several other benefits for cardholders, though the exact benefits do vary slightly for different kinds of cards and accounts. Here are some of the side benefits of having an American Express credit card.

One of the biggest advantages for American Express cards is that they don’t have any foreign transaction fees. That means you can use the card anywhere it’s accepted, and you don’t have to pay more than the cost of the transaction.

Some American Express cards, like the American Express® Gold Card, also give cardholders access to presale tickets for certain events. Some events also offer preferred seating to American Express cardholders.

Some restaurants, including The Cheesecake Factory, Grubhub, and Shake Shack are also eligible for a $10 statement credit when you pay with an American Express. The statement credit can only be paid out once a month, so you can earn up to $120 in restaurant credits from your American Express credit card.

How Many American Express Credit Cards Can You Have At One Time?

Since having multiple American Express cards can multiply the benefits of each card the company has to place limits on the number of cards each individual can own. Currently, a single account holder is eligible for up to 4 American Express credit cards.  Of course, your individual eligibility may vary depending on your credit score and credit history.

In some cases, you may also be eligible for additional charge cards on top of your 4 credit cards. You're not limited in the types of cards you can own, but since you can only have up to 4 separate cards, you’ll need to prioritize which kinds of cards best meet your financial needs.

How Do I Cancel an American Express Credit Card?

Individual credit cards are relatively simple to cancel if you need to close your American Express account. However, you can’t close your accounts online, you’ll need to call the customer service number on the back of your credit card.

It’s important to call that specific number because there are different customer service teams for the different kinds of cards.

American Express also offers a collect number for callers outside the US in case you need to close the account while you’re traveling.

Business accounts are a little different. Unless you’re running the business yourself, you’ll likely need to contact your Program Administrator to make changes to the account.

Credit Card Reviews Methodology

In order to determine the best possible credit cards, we look at things like fees, interest rates and rewards. We do this with companies that are associated with us as partners as well as other offerings. From there, we make a decision about what the best card is related to different categories and needs. We focus on interest rate cost & fees, especially the cost of carrying a balance, rewards – cards accumulate rewards in different currencies—points, miles, cash back—and their values vary widely usability – cards that accept a wide range of credit profiles and offer simple solutions for things like checking your credit score or contacting. We also consider customer reviews.

We look at cards related to good or excellent credit ratings that will then provide a range of different benefits and improvements for someone who has these scores. We also look at low fees when it comes to those who have lower credit scores.