We think it's important for you to understand how we make money. It's pretty simple, actually. The offers for financial products you see on our platform come from companies who pay us. The money we make helps us give you access to free credit scores and reports and helps us create our other great tools and educational materials.
Compensation may factor into how and where products appear on our platform (and in what order). But since we generally make money when you find an offer you like and get, we try to show you offers we think are a good match for you. That's why we provide features like your Approval Odds and savings estimates.
Of course, the offers on our platform don't represent all financial products out there, but our goal is to show you as many great options as we can.
Hear from our editors: The 6 best American Express cards of 2020
Updated August 20, 2020
This date indicates our editors’ last comprehensive review and 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 it’s posted.
Written by: Sarah Brady
American Express offers its cardholders some of the most generous rewards on the market. If you’re looking to take advantage of an enticing offer from American Express, let us help you sift through the fine print to find the best card available in each category.
- Best for travel and sign-up bonus: Platinum Card® from American Express
- Best for cash back: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
- Best prepaid card: American Express Serve® FREE Reloads
- Best for no annual fee: Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
- Best for business cash back: American Express® Blue Business Cash Card
- Best for business travel: The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
Here’s why: Get five points per $1 when you book at amextravel.com and prepay for hotels, five points per $1 on flights booked directly with the airline or with American Express, and one point per $1 on other eligible purchases. Plus you get a strong welcome bonus of 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening.
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 credit for checked baggage fees, in-flight meals and more.
Read our review of the Platinum Card® from American Express to learn more.
Here’s why: Earn a $300 statement credit when you spend $3,000 on purchases within 6 months of opening your account.
Plus you can earn 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (1% after that), 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, 3% cash back on purchases at U.S. gas stations, 3% cash back on transit (including taxis/rideshares, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more) and 1% cash back on all other purchases.
You can also enjoy an intro 0% APR for the first 12 months from account opening on purchases. After that, the variable purchase APR jumps to 13.99% - 23.99%.
Check out more details in our review of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express.
Here’s why: Free withdrawals at MoneyPass® ATMs and free cash reloads at several major retail chains, including CVS, Rite Aid, Walmart and Dollar General.
American Express offers three prepaid card products, including one that comes with a 1% cash back reward. But this is its only card that allows you to load cash into your account without charging a $3.95 fee each time. Just three free reloads save you more money than you would earn from spending $1,000 on purchases at 1% cash back with the cash back version of the card.
Here’s why: For the $0 annual fee, you’ll get a $200 welcome bonus after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Add that to 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000, and then 1% after that), 2% back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores, and 1% back on other purchases.
Amex offers several great cards with no annual fees, but the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express comes with extra benefits, including a welcome bonus and cash back earnings for every $1 you spend.
Learn more from our review of the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express.
Here’s why: You’ll get 2% cash back on eligible purchases on up to $50,000 spent each calendar year, then 1%.
American Express offers 14 different business cards, but this is probably the card that’s easiest to use in terms of collecting your cash back. While other American Express cards offer points rewards or cash back from certain vendors, this is the only Amex business card that earns you automatic cash back rewards (via statement credit) — without having to jump through hoops to redeem it.
Read our American Express® Blue Business Cash Card reviews to see why our members rave about this credit card.
Here’s why: You’ll get five points per $1 when you book flights and prepay for hotels on amextravel.com, 1.5 points per $1 on purchases over $5,000 (up to 1 million extra points per year), and one point per $1 on all other eligible purchases. You can also earn a welcome offer: 75,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $15,000 on qualifying purchases in the first 3 months of card membership.
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 more than 1,200 airport lounges.
While other Amex business travel cards earn rewards for specific airlines and hotels, no other card offers a five-points-per-$1 multiplier that you can apply to any hotel or airline you book through amextravel.com.
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 $550. 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, lounge access, complimentary Wi-Fi, etc.
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.