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. Which cards do I have, which do I spend money on, etc.?
How many American Express cards can you have?
The first thing to understand about American Express 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
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.
On top of that, 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.
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.
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 $550 annual fee (Rates & Fees)
- The Business Platinum® Card from American Express $595 annual fee (Rates & Fees)
I also have the following five credit cards:
- Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card $450 annual fee
- The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express $95 annual fee
- Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card $95 annual fee (Rates & Fees)
- Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card $125 annual fee (Rates & Fees)
- The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express no 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, but at this point I put those purchases on the Citi Prestige Card, since it offers 5x ThankYou points on airfare, and also offers excellent travel protection.
Which Amex cards do I have for the perks?
Nowadays I have both the Bonvoy Business Amex and Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card exclusively for the free night awards they offer on their account anniversaries every year. These can be redeemed at properties retailing for up to 35,000 points per night, and I find those can fairly easily be redeemed for properties costing $200+ per night. So those cards are keepers.
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, given that the annual fee on the business card is increasing to $595, without adding any benefits that are meaningful to me (the card will offer a complimentary year of access to WeWork, though that’s not something I’d personally use).
I value the Amex Platinum Card for Centurion Lounge access
Which Amex cards do I want?
Of the Amex cards I don’t have, there’s really only one card I’m potentially interested in at this point. That’s the Starwood Preferred Guest® Luxury Card, which has a $450 annual fee and offers a $300 annual statement credit for eligible purchases at participating Marriott properties, as well as an anniversary free night certificate valid at a property retailing for up to 50,000 points per night.
I value the $300 credit more or less at face value, so to me it’s like paying $150 per year for a night at a property costing up to 50,000 points, which I’d say is worth it, but isn’t a game changer.
I think at some point I’ll cancel one of the other SPG Amex Cards that I have in order to be able to get this.
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)
- The Hilton Aspire Card is probably my favorite Amex card of all, given all the perks that it offers
How does your Amex card strategy compare to mine?
Non-Affiliate Product Disclaimer: The information for The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express, Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, and Starwood Preferred Guest® Luxury Card has been collected independently by One Mile at a Time. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express (Rates & Fees), 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).