American Express offers some of the best credit cards in the market today that can earn you really valuable rewards and set you on your way towards getting that next free trip you’ve been eagerly awaiting. American Express cards will give you access to some of the top reward programs and allow you transfer points to dozens of airlines and the ability to book a wide range of hotels at some of the best reward rates in the market.

On top of their stellar reward programs, Amex has some awesome perks that come with the cards such as purchase protection, extended warranties, car rental insurance, and more. I strongly recommend making large purchases on electronics with an Amex card as they offer great coverage and protection for your item long after you’ve made the purchase. They have fantastic customer service and their cards are so much easier to apply for by getting an instant approval decision on you card application. Some other credit card companies will mark your application is pending and take 7-10 business days to review your application before getting back to you, but Amex makes the card application process painless. Here are some of their great cards that I strongly recommend every person to consider applying for:

American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Card 

Screen Shot 2014-02-19 at 12.49.48 PM

In my opinion this is and has been one of the best cards on the market for some time now. The Amex SPG reward program allows you to transfer your points to dozens of airlines. For every 20,000 points you transfer, Amex will add on an additional 5,000 points free. So it makes sense to only transfer in increments of 20,000 if you need points in a particular airline program. Starpoints are also redeemable at over 1,000 hotel properties around the world at great rates that will often save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars. I would definitely value Starpoints at over 2 cents per point when redeeming for hotels. To read more about how much your points are worth, refer back to How Much are My Points Worth? If you don’t have enough points to book as many hotel nights as you’d like, Starwood also has a great Cash & Points award redemption program.

Frequent Flyer Program Exchange Ratio (Starpoints:Miles)
Aeromexico Club Premier 1:1
Aeroplan/Air Canada 1:1
Air Berlin 1:1
Air China Companion 1:1
Air New Zealand & Air Points 65:1
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan 1:1
Alitalia MilleMiglia 1:1
All Nippon Airways (ANA) Mileage Club 1:1
American Airlines AAdvantage 1:1
Asia Miles 1:1
Asiana Airlines 1:1
British Airways Executive Club 1:1
China Eastern Airlines 1:1
China Southern Airlines’ Sky Pearl Club 1:1
Delta Air Lines SkyMiles 1:1
Emirates Skywards 1:1
Etihad Airways 1:1
Flying Blue 1:1
Gol Smiles 2:1
Hawaiian Airlines 1:1
Japan Airlines (JAL) Mileage Bank 1:1
LAN Airlines LANPASS Kms 1:1.5
Miles and More 1:1
Qatar Airways 1:1
Saudi Arabian Airlines Alfursan 1:1
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer 1:1
Thai Airways International Royal Orchid Plus 1:1
US Airways Dividend Miles 1:1
United Mileage Plus 2:1
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club 1:1
Virgin Australia 1:1

I discussed in another article about how valuable ANA points can be and how their distance-based award chart can lead to some really great deal in economy, business, and first class. SPG and Membership Reward points are the best way to earn ANA rewards and can land you amazing Star Alliance availability. Starpoints are also great to transfer points to and book coveted first class suites and outstanding service from Singapore Airlines. Or, if you just need to top off a frequent flyer account to book an award ticket or have the flexibility to transfer to almost every major airline, Starpoints can give you that piece of mind.

Apply Here

  • Earn 10,000 after your first purchase and another 15,000 after you spend $5,000 within the first 6 months
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $65
  • Earn up to 5 Starpoints for each dollar of eligible purchases at participating SPG hotels and resorts. Plus, you will earn 1 Starpoint for all other purchases.
  • Free 2 stays/5 nights towards elite status with card opening

American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card

Screen Shot 2014-02-19 at 4.15.46 PM

The American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card will earn you valuable Membership Reward points that are transferrable to over a dozen great airlines and a couple of hotel chains. This card is especially great for the bonus points you earn for spending on every day purchases. 3x points per dollar spent on airlines, 2x points at US gas stations and US supermarkets, and 1 point on everything else. If you tend to travel a lot for business and/or pleasure, then this card can rack you up a ton of points. It is also a preferred card to use for all your grocery purchases and gas stations as these places also carry gift cards and can earn you double points for gift cards to other stores. Often times, the Membership Rewards program will offer promotions that allow you to transfer your points to an airline at a bonus rate. For example, transfer your points to British Airways Executive Club program and receive a 30% bonus on points transferred. These promotions run throughout the year with different programs, so keep an eye and an ear out for some of these great deals.

Screen Shot 2014-02-19 at 4.32.04 PM

This is a charge card so no interest applies and you must pay your balance in full every month. The Gold card carries the same great purchase protection, free extended warranty, return protection, and more offered by Amex. The points can also be used to receive gift cards and merchandise but that would definitely not be the efficient and cost-effective use of these points. Membership Rewards gives another option to transfer points to ANA and British Airways, which are two of my favorite award programs that have distance-based award charts and can save you a bunch of points when booking in the Star Alliance and OneWorld Alliance programs respectively. The card does have a $175 annual fee after the first year and I recommend upgrading the card at that time to a Platinum card, which I will discuss in my next card report.

Apply Now

  • Earn 25,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $2,000 during your first three months of Card membership; earn an 15K points after you spend $30,000 in one calendar year (Some people have reported receiving higher sign up bonuses in targeted offers and sometimes there are better promotional offers so keep your eyes and ears opened!)
  • 3X points for flights booked with airlines, 2X points at US gas stations and US supermarkets, 1X points on other purchases
  • Access to Benefits: Baggage Insurance Plan* when you travel, and shop with confidence with Extended Warranty* and Return Protection.*Underwritten by Amex Assurance Company
  • Book two consecutive hotel nights through American Express Travel and receive $75 back at checkout
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $175

Platinum Card From American Express

Screen Shot 2014-02-19 at 6.08.57 PM

The Platinum Card from American Express offers many great perks for its cardholder. Besides the fact that you will be earning Membership Reward points that can be used for over a dozen airlines and a bunch of hotel chains as listed above. The Platinum Card gives you complimentary lounge access to the Priority Pass network, the Delta Sky Club lounges, and the Centurion lounges. The card will refund you $100 statement credit for your application to the Global Entry government program that expedites your clearance upon re-entrance to the United States. Best of all, receive a $200 statement credit per calendar year on incidentals such as checked baggage, flight changes, and in-flight purchases spent at any airline of your choice. If you receive this card towards the end of the calendar year, receive the $200 statement credit, and do it again early the next calendar year, then you are essentially receiving a $400 statement credit that almost offsets the $450 annual fee.

Screen Shot 2014-02-19 at 6.47.05 PM

Also, receive one free year of Amazon Prime with your Platinum Card. You receive automatic Starwood Gold status just for having this card! So many great perks and great value can be had with the Platinum Card from American Express, so don’t wait to get your card ASAP and earn valuable points towards more free travel. If you’re interested in getting all 3 cards but don’t want to take a big hit to your credit score, then read about 2, 3, or 4 Browser Method and our latest App-O-Rama: January 2014

Apply Now

  • Earn 40,000 Membership Reward points after you spend $3,000 in three months
  • Get one year of Amazon Prime after you sign up for a new membership with your Card and meet the spending requirement in the same time period
  • $200 statement credit toward airline incidental spending each calendar year
  • $100 statement credit towards the Global Entry program application
  • Free lounge access at Priority Pass, Delta Sky Club, and Centurion lounges
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Free automatic Starwood Gold elite status
  • 24/7 Platinum Card Concierge service for assistance with reservations, travel, gifts, and more

If you are having trouble meeting the spending requirements for any credit card you’ve recently opened, make sure to check out Ways to Help You Meet Your Spending Threshold.