American Express Credit Cards - Compare & ApplyBy Joe Taylor Jr.
Do you remember Karl Malden holding up a green AmEx charge card and warning "don't leave home without it"? If that was before your time, American Express aims to change the way you use plastic. With a philosophy quite different from its competitors, AmEx focuses on making business and travel easier for its cardmembers every day. A global customer support network, a comprehensive purchase protection program, and a fast-growing roster of membership rewards make American Express cards attractive for consumers of all ages.
The changing face of American Express
Since the late 1950s, American Express has issued a series of charge cards bearing the profile of a Roman Centurion. The company launched its cards to fight competition from Diners Club that could have eaten into its valuable travelers cheque business. Primarily used for business expenses, American Express charge cards offer varying benefits based on their color:
- Green Card. The "entry level" charge card includes access to Membership Rewards and AmEx's purchase protection program.
- Gold and Platinum Cards. Graduating to higher status results in more rewards points and better perks, such as luggage fee reimbursement and airport lounge access. A product revamp recast Platinum Cards as no charge overseas cards in 2011.
- Centurion Card. The invite-only "black card" includes a dedicated concierge team and access to exclusive events.
- ZYNC Card. An alternative charge card (white) for younger consumers allows you to customize your rewards.
You must pay the full balance of your American Express charge card at the end of every month, unless you want to risk paying late fees and the suspension of your charging privileges.
By the 1970s, AmEx updated the back of its cards with a modern, stylized logo in a blue box. That new logo would show up in a bigger way when the company launched its own version of the revolving credit card during the next decade.
AmEx takes on banks with rewards credit cards
By the late 1980s, American Express officials recognized that they were losing market share to their competitors' zero interest credit cards. A former charge card customer could use a no-interest credit card at no risk, while enjoying the flexibility of carrying a balance when necessary. The company countered with its own credit cards, rewarding members' high credit scores with even loftier rewards. By the late 1990s, AmEx launched "Blue," a series of credit cards that replaced the Centurion logo with a vibrant, blue field.
Today, American Express offers some of the industry's best credit card reward programs, with "Blue" cash back cards that offer rebates as high as 6 percent on qualifying purchases. Business travelers consistently rank the company's hotel and airline credit cards among the industry's best. American Express even offers its own zero interest balance transfer credit cards to lure customers away from mainstream banks.
American Express innovates with heritage at its core
American Express doesn't act like a typical bank, because it doesn't think of itself as a bank. Even though the 2008 financial crisis forced the credit card issuer to seek a commercial bank charter, AmEx still calls itself a "global service company" in all of its public-facing communication.
During the 19th century, while banks were figuring out how to lend money more effectively, American Express agents rode the rails and trails, delivering cash and securities to clients from coast to coast. Connecting buyers and sellers while minimizing everyone's risk led the company to develop a unique approach to financial security and customer satisfaction.
That "spend vs. lend" philosophy means it makes most of its profit from membership fees instead of finance charges. The company's cash back cards often leapfrog the rewards offered by gas rebate cards and grocery credit cards, encouraging retailers to recognize card loyalty despite higher transaction fees. If you're looking for a card that offers superior purchase protection and increasingly valuable reward offers, compare the American Express cards on this page to see if there's a fit for your lifestyle.
- Earn 100 Reward Dollars after you make $1,000 in purchases in the first three months of Cardmembership.
- Earn Cash Back: 3% at US supermarkets, up to $6,000 per year in purchases, 2% at US gas stations & select US dept stores, 1% on other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.
- Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.
- Simple and Straightforward: With the Blue Cash Everyday Card, you can start earning cash back. No rotating reward categories. No enrollment required.
- No annual fee, 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months. After that, your APR will be a variable rate, currently 12.99%-21.99% with flexibility to pay over time.
- Terms and Restrictions Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Get 25,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $5,000 in the first three months of Card membership
- Enroll and select a qualifying airline to receive up to $200 annually in statement credits for incidental fees, such as checked bags and in-flight refreshments, charged by the airline
- 20% Travel Bonus when using Membership Rewards® Pay with Points
- Take advantage of 40 premium benefits to help power your business
- Complimentary access to 600+ participating airport lounges through Priority Pass™ Select
- Business Platinum Concierge is like your own assistant, ready to help you with just about anything personal or professional, 24 hours a day
- Purchasing power that can adjust as your business evolves
- Terms & Restrictions Apply*
- Access to Exclusive Benefits: Baggage Insurance Plan* when you travel, and shop with confidence with Extended Warranty* and Return Protection
- Use points for gift cards for dining, entertainment, and to shop over 300 of some of your favorite merchants
- Get discounts and low rates at hotels and resorts, plus a $75 hotel credit when you book through Gold Hotel Collection
- $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $125
- Terms and Restrictions Apply
- Earn More: earn 25K Membership Rewards® points after you spend $2K during your first three months of Card membership; earn 15K points after you spend $30,000 within one calendar year
- Earn Fast: 3X points for flights booked with airlines, 2X points at US gas stations and US supermarkets, 1X points on other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.
- Use points for gift cards for dining, entertainment, and to shop over 300 of some of your favorite brands
- 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. Restrictions may apply
- $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $175
- Terms and Restrictions Apply
after $2,000 spend in 3 months - additional 15,000 bonus Membership Rewards(R) points for $30,000 annual spend
- Welcome Bonus: earn 7,500 points after you spend $1,000 within the first 3 months of Cardmembership - redeemable for a $100 statement credit.
- Flexible Ways to Earn: earn 1 point for virtually every dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
- Unlimited Travel Options: Travel with any airline, hotel, cruise, car rental and travel package - with no blackout dates.
- Flexible Bill Payments: pay your bill all at once or over time.
- No annual membership fee and 0% intro APR on purchases for the first 12 months, after that, your APR will be a variable rate, currently 17.24%- 22.24%.
- Terms and Restrictions Apply.
when you spend $1,000 within 3 months - redeemable for a $100 statement credit
- Earn 25K Membership Rewards® points after you spend $2,000 during your first three months of Card membership
- Premium travel benefits: access over 600 lounges worldwide when you enroll in Priority Pass™ Select, no foreign transaction fees
- Receive up to $200 annually in a statement credit with the airline of your choice to use towards baggage fees, flight-change fees, in-flight food and beverage purchases and more
- 24/7 Platinum Card® Concierge service for assistance with reservations, travel, gifts, and more
- Entertainment benefits: get Advance Tickets before the public and access once in a lifetime events with By Invitation Only®
- Terms and restrictions apply
after $2,000 spend in 3 months
- Starpoints® bonus: earn up to 25,000 bonus points: 10,000 after your first purchase and another 15,000 after you spend $5,000 within the first 6 months of Cardmembership
- That's enough for a weekend getaway to a Category 4 Hotel like the Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa, or six free nights at a Category 2 Hotel
- Earn up to 5 Starpoints® for each dollar of eligible purchases at participating SPG hotels and resorts -- that's 2 Starpoints for using the Card in addition to the Starpoints you earn as an SPG member. Earn 1 Starpoint for all other purchases.
- Free Hotel Nights: redeem Starpoints at over 1,100 hotels in nearly 100 countries worldwide -- with no blackout dates
- Free Flights: redeem Starpoints on over 350 airlines with SPG Flights -- with no blackout dates
- Get 5,000 bonus Starpoints after you transfer 20,000 Starpoints to a frequent flyer program with more than 30 airlines
- No limits on the number of Starpoints you can earn
- $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $65
- Terms and Restrictions apply.