The 6 best American Express cards of 2021

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In a Nutshell

American Express offers a variety of credit cards with competitive bonus offers and other rewards. Save yourself some time on comparison shopping by checking out our favorites for the best American Express credit cards for travel, balance transfers, business cash back rewards and more.
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Hear from our editors: The 6 best American Express cards of December 2021

Updated November 30, 2021

This date may not reflect recent changes in individual terms.

Editorial note: Credit Karma receives compensation from third-party advertisers, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions. Our marketing partners don’t review, approve or endorse our editorial content. It’s accurate to the best of our knowledge when posted.

Written by: Sarah Brady

American Express offers a variety of credit cards with competitive bonus offers and other rewards. Save yourself some time on comparison shopping by checking out our favorite American Express credit cards for travel, restaurants, business cash back rewards and more.



Best for travel: Platinum Card® from American Express

Here’s why: You get a strong welcome bonus of 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening.

Plus, you’ll earn …

  • 10 points per $1 on up to $25,000 spent on purchases at eligible restaurants and small businesses during your first 6 months of card membership
  • 5 points per $1 when you book at amextravel.com and prepay for hotels
  • 5 points per $1 spent on flights booked directly with the airline or American Express (on up to $500,000 spent per year, then 1 point per $1)
  • 1 point per $1 spent on other purchases

The Platinum Card® from American Express also comes with a seemingly endless roster of additional perks, including complimentary access to a handful of airport lounge networks and a $200 annual airline fee credit for checked baggage fees, in-flight meals and more with the qualifying airline you choose.

If you really value the perks and rewards, you might not sweat the $695 annual fee. But if that sounds high, you might want to consider a travel card with a more affordable annual fee.

Read our review of the Platinum Card® from American Express to learn more.

Best for restaurants: American Express® Gold Card

Here’s why: Whether you’re dining out, grabbing takeout or ordering delivery, the American Express® Gold Card offers four points for every $1 you spend on all sorts of dining purchases.

You’ll also get up to $240 in dining credits each year.

First, you can earn $120 in credits via $10 monthly statements at select restaurants and delivery apps (like Grubhub, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Cheesecake Factory and some Shake Shack locations). And if you add the card to your Uber account, you’ll automatically get $10 each month in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., up to $120 per year.

You’ll also earn …

  • 4 points per $1 at U.S. supermarkets on up to the first $25,000 you spend each year
  • 3 points per $1 on flights purchased from airlines or through American Express Travel
  • 1 point per $1 on other purchases

And you can earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points for spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 6 months your account is open.

Of course, you’ll have to weigh all this against the $250 annual fee to see if it’s worth it for you.

You can learn more in our review of the American Express® Gold Card. And if you dine out a lot, compare offers in our picks for the best restaurant credit cards.

Best for groceries: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is geared toward people who prefer to cook at home.

It offers a whopping 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (1% after that).

You’ll also get …

  • 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions
  • 3% cash back on purchases at U.S. gas stations
  • 3% cash back on transit purchases, like taxis, rideshares, trains and buses
  • 1% cash back on other purchases

Plus, you’ll earn a $300 statement credit when you spend $3,000 on purchases within 6 months after opening your account.

Keep in mind that there’s a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.

Check out more details in our review of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express.

Best for no annual fee: Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Here’s why: For the $0 annual fee, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express is pretty rewarding.

You’ll get a $200 welcome bonus in statement credits after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 6 months from account opening.

Add that to 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 spent, and then 1% after that), 2% back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores, and 1% back on other purchases.

Learn more from our review of the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express.

Best for business cash back: American Express® Blue Business Cash Card

Here’s why: You’ll get 2% cash back on eligible purchases on up to $50,000 spent each calendar year, then 1%. The cash back you earn is applied as a statement credit.

While some of the other American Express business cards offer points rewards or cash back from certain vendors, this card earns you automatic cash back rewards (via statement credit) — without having to jump through hoops to redeem it.

Plus, the annual fee is $0.

Read our review of the American Express® Blue Business Cash Card to learn more.

Best for business travel: The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

Here’s why: If you travel for business on a regular basis, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express will lavish you with rewards.

You’ll start off with a big welcome bonus: 120,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $15,000 on qualifying purchases in the first 3 months of card membership.

You’ll also get …

  • 5 points per $1 when you book flights and prepay for hotels on amextravel.com
  • 1.5 points per $1 on purchases of $5,000 or more (on up to $2 million of these purchases per year)
  • 1 point per $1 on other purchases

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express offers a long list of rewards and luxury travel perks. Among them are a $200 annual airline fee credit, a credit to cover the cost of Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, and complimentary access to numerous airport lounges.

As with anything else, when you’re running a business, you need to look at the bottom line. We recommend you compare the card’s rewards and perks to the $595 (10/14-1/12/22) annual fee to see if it’s worth it for your company.

Read our review to learn more about The Business Platinum Card® from American Express.


How we picked these cards

To choose the best card for each category, we took a comprehensive look at all the credit cards offered by American Express and identified which one presented the largest or most valuable reward in the respective category. Where there wasn’t a clear winner, we considered the following:

  • The value of additional perks
  • Fee structures
  • Complexity of rewards categories and restrictions

We excluded co-branded cards, or cards that primarily offer points and rewards for purchases made through specific vendors, like the Hilton Honors American Express Card or the Amazon Business American Express Card. We also excluded luxury American Express cards, which may not be available to the general public.

How to make the most of these cards

If you’re preparing to apply for a new American Express card, be sure to review all fees and restrictions to see if the card matches your habits and needs.

For instance, luxury cards often come with hefty annual fees. The Platinum Card® from American Express has an annual fee of $695. And while this card’s perks are abundant, they only make up for the fee if you’re proactive about using perks like airline fee credits or lounge access.

For points cards, be aware of how American Express categorizes vendors and how that could affect your rewards earnings. Superstores and warehouse clubs, like Walmart, Target and Amazon, aren’t always considered grocery stores, so you won’t earn that high cash back rate when you use the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express for purchases there.

As with any credit card application, be sure to do your homework first. If you understand the fees and restrictions upfront, you’ll be better equipped to get the most out of whichever credit card you choose.


About the author: Sarah C. Brady is a San Francisco–based financial consultant, workshop facilitator and writer. In addition to writing for Credit Karma, Sarah writes for Experian, LendingTree, Magnify Money, MSN News and more. In her … Read more.