American Express Credit Cards: The Best Pick for You

Three American Express credit cards offer big bonuses and perks for travelers and foodies.

A bearded man holds a gold credit card and orders on a computer at an ocean-side cafe.
(Image credit: Praetorianphoto for Getty Images)

Rates checked as of October 10, 2023.

This article only compares American Express credit cards. All information about the American Express® Green Card has been collected independently by Kiplinger. We may get compensation if you visit partner links on our site. We may not cover every available offer. Our relationship with advertisers may impact how an offer is presented on our website. However, our selection of products is made independently of our relationship to advertisers. Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit to learn more.

Now is a great time to cash in on some hot intro bonus offers if you have a good to excellent credit score. But shopping around for a rewards credit card can quickly get overwhelming. So, here are just three cards from American Express at the color tiers of green, gold and platinum. All three cards are offering intro deals on bonus Membership Rewards® Points starting at a $400 value when booked for travel. 

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These credit cards are designed for travelers, commuters and diners, earning up to three and five points per dollar spent. Cardholders earn more points per dollar depending on the tier (green, gold or platinum) and in turn, will pay a higher annual fee for cards at higher tiers. 

To redeem points, you can use them on travel, trips, gift cards, or shop via the platform. But to get the best value, you should stick to travel or transit purchases and keep track of the best redemption rates by category. If you redeem points at Amazon or other online retailers, for example, you will only get 0.7 cents per point, but buying a trip from a New York taxicab will get you the full one cent per point.

You may also transfer points to partner airlines or hotel chain rewards programs, typically for about one cent per point. The transfer partner airlines skew toward international carriers like AirFrance, but three domestic carriers participate, including Delta, JetBlue and Hawaiian Airlines.

Assessing the average value of American Express Memebership Rewards® is tricky, because there are so many ways to redeem them. American Express values each point between a half-penny to a penny. The Points Guy values each point at two cents, but assumes cardholders will employ redemption strategies that may be more complicated than some consumers will tolerate. For the purposes of this comparison article, we assume each point is worth a penny.

These cards offer excellent travel benefits. For example, a WalletHub study found that American Express cards provided some of the best rental car insurance benefits**, second only to Chase cards. In addition to standard coverage, American Express offers Premium Car Rental Protection ** for a small fee per rental period, not per day. This benefit also extends to SUVs and luxury cars, unlike many other plans.


American Express® Green Card Variable rewards

This is a solid travel card, offering three points per dollar spent on travel, transit and restaurants. The card recently reduced its welcome bonus from 60,000 points to 40,000 points, but it's still worth considering for consumers who want American Express rewards without a high annual fee. See rates and fees.

  • Intro offer: Earn 40,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership, worth about $400. 
  • Interest rate: Pay Over Time APR: 21.24% to 29.24%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors as determined at the time of account opening.
  • Annual fee: $150
  • Foreign transaction fee: None
  • Rewards: Earn three Membership Rewards® points for every dollar spent on travel and transit (airfare, hotels, cruises, tours, car rental, campgrounds, vacation rentals, trains, taxis, rideshares, ferries, tolls, parking, buses and subways). Also earn three points for every dollar spent on eligible dining, including takeout and delivery in the U.S.
  • Airport Security Clearance: Receive up to $189 per calendar year in statement credits when you pay for your CLEAR Plus membership (subject to auto-renewal) with the American Express® Green Card.
  • Other Travel Benefits: Trip delay insurance up to $300 for certain expenses on a round-trip ticket paid for exclusive with your card - see terms for limitations; plus get a $100 annual statement credit toward LoungeBuddy, and app that helps you gain access to travel lounges.
  • Redemption: There is no option for cash back; the greatest value comes from booking travel with points, and from the many discounts and other perks.
  • Disclosure: All information about the American Express® Green Card has been collected independently by Kiplinger.
  • Terms apply


American Express® Gold Card Variable rewards

Amex Gold has a hefty annual fee of $250, but it comes with a helping of side benefits for those who dine out frequently. Plus, new cardholders can get 60,000 points after spending $6,000 in the first six months, worth about $600.

This is a great card for foodies who like to travel or cook. The card has no foreign transaction fee and a host of perks like travel protections, up to $120 in Uber cash and dining credits and three points for flights booked through the American Express travel portal. If travel rewards are your main objective, however, we recommend a card with more flexible travel booking options. See rates and fees

  • Intro offer: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points if you spend $6,000 in the first six months, worth about $600.
  • Interest rate: Pay Over Time APR: 21.24% to 29.24%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors as determined at the time of account opening. 
  • Annual fee: $250.
  • Foreign transaction fee: None.
  • Rewards: Earn four Membership Rewards points per dollar spent at restaurants or on take-out and delivery in the U.S.; earn four points at per dollar at U.S. supermarkets up to a maximum of $25,000 spent in a calendar year, then U.S. supermarkets purchases earn one point per dollar; earn three points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or with Amex Travel; two points per dollar on other eligible Amex Travel purchases; and one point per dollar on other spending.
  • Experience creditAmerican Express Experiences include access to music, theater, sports, dining and fashion events, some of which are exclusive or early access for cardholders; now you can get a $100 experience credit with a minimum two-night stay when you book The Hotel Collection through American Express Travel; experience credit varies by property.
  • Additional rewards: get up to $10 in monthly statement credits for purchases with certain restaurants and delivery services, including The Cheesecake Factory, Grubhub, Goldbelly and select Shake Shack locations, plus $10 in monthly Uber Cash that you can put toward Uber Eats purchases or Uber rides.
  • Redemption: Points are redeemable at a rate of 1 cent each for flights booked through Amex and certain gift cards (points are worth less for most other redemption options).
  • Terms apply


The Platinum Card® from American Express variable rewards

At nearly $700, Amex Platinum’s annual fee has climbed to a level that may seem out of reach for the typical card user. But the card packs in a laundry list of perks to overcome the fee. Points are redeemed for travel, not cash back, so this card is intended for the serious traveler.

Earn five points per dollar on air travel and hotel bookings made through the company's travel booking program, up to a value of $500,000 per year. Earn one point per dollar for all other purchases.

The card boasts a strong introductory offer of 80,000 points if you spend $8,000 in the first six months, worth about $800. Plus, you get up to $200 in hotel credits annually. Terms Apply. See rates and fees.

  • Intro offer: Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $8,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership, worth about $800.
  • Interest rate: Pay Over Time APR: 21.24% to 29.24%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors as determined at the time of account opening.
  • Annual fee: $695, plus $195 for up to three authorized users and $195 per card for each user beyond three.
  • Foreign transaction fee: None.
  • Rewards: Earn five Membership Rewards® Points per dollar for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn five Membership Rewards® Points per dollar on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel. Earn one point per dollar on other spending.
  • Annual Hotel Credit: Get up to $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®. Hotel Collection requires a minimum two-night stay.
  • Cruise benefits: Cardholders can receive exclusive benefits through the Cruise Privileges Program, available on cruise bookings of 5 nights or more with participating cruise partners; qualified cardholders can also get two rewards points per dollar when booking through the American Express travel portal.
  • Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 in statement credits each month when you pay for eligible purchases with the Platinum Card® at your choice of one or more of the following providers: Disney+, ESPN+, Hulu, The New York Times, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The Wall Street Journal; enrollment required.
  • Airport Security Clearance: Get up to $189 in yearly credits to reimburse the membership fee for the CLEAR® Plus airport security program (subject to auto-renewal); or receive either a $100 statement credit every 4 years for a Global Entry application fee or a statement credit up to $85 every 4.5 years for a TSA PreCheck® (through a TSA official enrollment provider) application fee, when charged to your Platinum Card®; card Members approved for Global Entry will also receive access to TSA PreCheck at no additional cost.
  • Other benefits: Select one qualifying airline and then receive up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year when incidental fees are charged by the airline to your Card;  free access to many airport lounges; discounts on many subscriptions and other services, such as Walmart+, Uber, Equinox, SoulCycle-at-home, Saks; enrollment required for select benefits.
  • Redemption: There is no option for cash back; the greatest value comes from booking travel with points, and from the many discounts and other perks.
  • Terms apply
Swipe to scroll horizontally
American Express Credit Cards Bonus and Annual Fee by Tier
American Express Credit Cards - Tier LevelsGREENGOLDPLATINUM
Annual Fee$150$250$695
Intro Offer40,000 Membership Rewards® Points 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points
Value of Intro Offer for Most Travel Purchases$400$600$800
Additional Offer ValueNoneNone$200 Annual Hotel Credit*
Value of Intro Offers Less Annual Fee$250$350$305
Points Earned Per Dollar Spent on Air Fare at AmexTravel3x3x, plus 4x points on restaurant and grocery purchases5x
Points Earned on Other Purchases (Not Included in Promoted Categories)1x1x1x

*The Platinum Card from American Express offers many other credits and benefits not listed here.

Where are American Express credit cards accepted?

You may have heard that many merchants refuse to accept American Express cards. While this used to be true, the company's U.S. acceptance rate is now on par with Visa and Mastercard, and its international acceptance rate has almost caught up. One retail exception worth noting — Costco does not accept American Express cards for in-store or online shopping. 

Rewards cards dos and don'ts

As with any rewards credit card, be sure to weigh these benefits against annual fees. Take some time to understand how to use your credit card effectively. 

In addition, while reward credit cards are great if you use them wisely, always pay them off in full each month to avoid interest, which can dwarf anything you might gain from rewards. And don't increase your spending to hit a required minimum that triggers a bonus; otherwise, these cards can be a false economy as you’d be overspending. 

**Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions, and Limitations Apply. Please visit for more details. Underwritten by Amex Assurance Company.

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As an independent publication dedicated to helping you make the most of your money, the article above is our view and is not the opinion of any entity mentioned such as a card issuer, hotel, airline, etc. Similarly, the content has not been reviewed or endorsed by any of those entities. 

Ellen Kennedy
Personal Finance Editor,

Ellen writes and edits personal finance stories, especially on credit cards and related products. She also covers the nexus between sustainability and personal finance. She was a manager and sustainability analyst at Calvert Investments for 15 years, focusing on climate change and consumer staples. She served on the sustainability councils of several Fortune 500 companies and led corporate engagements. Before joining Calvert, Ellen was a program officer for Winrock International, managing loans to alternative energy projects in Latin America. She earned a master’s from the U.C. Berkeley in international relations and Latin America.