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There are lots of aspects to maximizing your credit card strategy, including taking advantage of the best welcome bonuses, spending categories, and card perks.
Sometimes I think it’s interesting to break down credit card strategies by card issuer, so in this post I wanted to share my American Express card strategy for the year, given that they have lots of great rewards cards. Which cards do I have, which do I spend money on, etc.?
Restrictions On Applying For Amex Cards?
American Express has some rules in place when it comes to being approved for their cards. Let’s take a look at what those are, as they impact your approval odds, and also can help you decide on the best strategy for applying for their cards.
Credit Cards Vs. Charge Cards
The first thing to understand about Amex cards is the distinction between credit cards and charge cards:
- A credit card has a credit limit, and you can finance charges over time if you want to (though you should avoid doing so, given the high interest rates charged)
- A charge card doesn’t have a pre-set spending limit, but you can’t finance charges over time
Five Credit Card Limit
Generally speaking, American Express limits you to having at most five of their credit cards, though this limit doesn’t include charge cards. It doesn’t matter how many of those are personal or business cards, but rather just whether they’re credit cards or charge cards.
Two Amex Cards Every 90 Days
You typically can’t be approved for more than two Amex credit cards in any 90 day period. Again, that doesn’t include charge cards.
Once In A Lifetime Rule
Lastly, it’s worth understanding that American Express welcome bonuses are all “once in a lifetime,” meaning that you can’t earn the bonus on a given card more than once. However, do note that “lifetime” doesn’t necessarily mean your lifetime or Amex’s lifetime. In some cases people report that resetting after you haven’t had a card in seven years, though that’s not a published policy.
Which American Express Cards Do I Have?
At the moment I have seven American Express cards.
I have the following two charge cards:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express (review), which has a $550 annual fee (Rates & Fees)
- The Business Platinum® Card from American Express (review), which has a $595 annual fee (Rates & Fees)
I also have the following five credit cards:
- The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express (review), which has no annual fee (Rates & Fees)
- The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express, which has a $95 annual fee
- Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, which has a $450 annual fee
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, which has a $450 annual fee
- Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card (review), which has a $125 annual fee (Rates & Fees)
Which Amex Cards Do I Use Most?
For me, the single most rewarding American Express card for spending is the Blue Business Plus Card. This no annual fee card offers 2x Membership Rewards points on the first $50,000 spent every calendar year, and it has no annual fee.
So I consider this to be the single best card for the first $50,000 of non-bonused spending every year.
On top of that I also quite like the Amex EveryDay Preferred Card. This is a card I use both for the bonus categories, and also for the return it offers on everyday spending. The card offers:
- 3x points at U.S. supermarkets, up $6,000 per year
- 2x points at U.S. gas stations
- A 50% points bonus when you make at least 30 purchases per billing cycle
That means if you make 30 transactions per billing cycle you earn:
- 4.5x points at U.S. supermarkets
- 3x points at U.S. gas stations
- 1.5x points on everyday purchases
The Amex Platinum Card was a card I used to use for airfare purchases since it offers 5x points on airfare purchased directly with airlines, though with the Citi Prestige offering 5x points on all airfare purchases, I’ve switched much of my airfare spending to that card.
Which Amex Cards Do I Have For The Perks?
I have the Bonvoy Business Amex because it offers an anniversary free night certificate valid at a property costing up to 35,000 points per night, which to me more than justifies the annual fee.
Then the Bonvoy Brilliant Amex offers a $300 annual statement credit for purchases at Marriott properties, as well as a free night award valid at properties costing up to 50,000 points per night, which combined more than justify the $450 annual fee.
Redeem your anniversary free night certificate at the Marriott Kigali
The Hilton Aspire Card is also one that I have for the perks, and at this point is the Amex card that I find to have the richest benefits. The card offers Diamond status for as long as you have the card, a $250 airline fee credit every calendar year, a $250 Hilton resort credit every cardmember year, and a weekend night reward every cardmember year as well.
I’ve used my Hilton resort credit at the Conrad Bora Bora
However, this year I’m thinking I’m going to be canceling the business card and just keeping the personal card. Why?
- The annual fee on the business version of the card increased
- The $200 annual airline fee credits seem to be more restrictive than in the past in terms of what you can use them for
I do still think it’s worth having the personal card for the $200 annual airline fee credit, $200 annual Uber credit, $100 annual Saks credit, access to Amex Centurion Lounges, access to Delta SkyClubs when flying Delta same day, and more.
I value the Amex Platinum Card for Centurion Lounge access
Which Amex Cards Do I Want?
Overall I’m quite happy with my Amex card portfolio at the moment.
I’d note that Ford has the American Express® Gold Card, which offers 4x points on dining globally. This is a card I could get since it’s a charge card, though I don’t feel like it makes sense for me right now. That’s because I earn 5x points on dining globally with the Citi Prestige.
However, for someone who spends a lot on dining and wants to earn Amex points, it’s an excellent option.
I’m at my current Amex credit card limit, so my only other constant consideration is getting a couple of Delta Amex cards, and then spending money on them in order to earn status on Delta.
This is something I keep going back and forth on, but up until now I haven’t pulled the trigger. If I did decide to do that, I’d probably cancel my Amex EveryDay Preferred and one of my Marriott card to make room for two Delta cards.
Amex Card Strategy Summary
At this point I think I have a pretty good mix of Amex cards in terms of some cards helping me maximize my spending, and other cards helping me maximize my perks.
- I love the 2x points offered with the no annual fee Blue Business Plus Card
- I’ll continue to hold onto the Amex Platinum Personal Card for the perks it offers (lounge access, a $200 annual airline fee credit, a $100 annual Saks credit, and more), though not the business version
- The Hilton Aspire Card is probably my favorite Amex card of all, given all the perks that it offers
- The Bonvoy Business Amex and Bonvoy Brilliant Amex are worth it to me for the perks they offer, including the anniversary free night certificate
How does your Amex card strategy compare to mine?
The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express (Rates & Fees), The Business Platinum® Card from American Express (Rates & Fees), The Platinum Card® from American Express (Rates & Fees), and Marriott Bonvoy Business Card From American Express (Rates & Fees).