My American Express Credit Card Strategy (2022)

My American Express Credit Card Strategy (2022)

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There are lots of aspects to maximizing your credit card rewards, including taking advantage of the best welcome bonusesspending 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 2022. In separate posts I wrote about my Capital One card strategy, Chase card strategy, and Citi card strategy.

For those in the points world, American Express is known for its cards earning Membership Rewards points, which is one of the major transferable points currencies. On top of that, Amex issues co-branded credit cards for Delta, Hilton, and Marriott.

Here’s a rundown of what you need to know to be approved for an Amex card, a summary of my strategy, and then which Amex cards I’m most interested in applying for.

Restrictions on applying for Amex cards?

All cards issuers have some application restrictions in place to get approved for cards. Let’s take a look at what those restrictions are for American Express, as they can impact your approval odds, and can also dictate the best strategy for applying for cards.

Amex credit cards Vs. hybrid cards

The first thing to understand about Amex cards is the distinction between credit cards and hybrid 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 unless there’s a special offer, given the high interest rates charged)
  • A hybrid card (historically this would have been known as a charge card) doesn’t have a pre-set spending limit, but the big difference is unlike a traditional credit card, this card will allow you to carry a balance for certain charges, but not all

Amex five credit card limit

Generally speaking, American Express limits you to having at most five credit cards. This limit also only applies to credit cards, and not hybrid cards. It doesn’t matter how many of those five cards are personal or business, it’s just all about whether they’re credit cards.

Two Amex credit cards every 90 days

You typically can’t be approved for more than two Amex credit cards in any 90 day period. Hybrid cards are excluded from this limit.

Once in a lifetime rule

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, “lifetime” doesn’t necessarily mean your lifetime or Amex’s lifetime. In some cases people report that limit resetting after you haven’t had a card in seven years, though that’s not a published policy.

Which Amex cards do I have?

At the moment I have nine American Express cards, including credit cards and hybrid cards.

I have the following four Amex hybrid cards:

I also have the following five Amex credit cards:

How do I use my Amex cards?

As is the case with all card issuers, I have different cards for different reasons. In the case of the Amex cards that I have:

  • Some I have for the ongoing perks that they offer
  • Some I have for the return on spending that they offer
  • Some I have for a combination of the two factors
  • Some cards I’m trying to decide what to do with

Below I’ll break down the reasons I have each of the Amex cards in my wallet.

Amex cards I have for the perks

I have several American Express cards specifically for the perks they offer, even though I don’t spend much money on the cards. Let’s start with hotel credit cards.

I have both the $125 annual fee (Rates & Fees) Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card and the $650 annual fee (Rates & Fees) Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, even though I don’t spend much on them:

  • The Bonvoy Business card offers 15 elite nights toward Marriott Bonvoy status annually, whereas the Brilliant card (in addition to outright granting Bonvoy Platinum status) offers 25 elite nights towards status. Having those two cards gives me 40 elite nights toward status annually; that provides a great head start to Marriott Bonvoy Titanium status, as well as Choice Benefits
  • Each card offers an anniversary free night certificate — the business card certificate is valid at a property costing up to 35,000 points, while the personal card certificate is valid at a property costing up to 85,000 points
  • The personal card offers some credits that go a long way to offset the annual fee

Between all those perks, I have no issues justifying those two credit cards.

Each Marriott card offers an annual free night award

I also have the $450 annual fee Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card (Rates & Fees), and find it to be one of the easiest to justify cards out there. The card offers amazing benefits, including Hilton Honors Diamond status for as long as you’re a cardmember, an annual free night award, a $250 annual airline fee credit, and a $250 annual Hilton resort credit.

I’ve used my Hilton resort credit at the Conrad Bora Bora

There’s a $695 annual fee (Rates & Fees) on The Platinum Card® from American Express, and I primarily justify having this card based on all the perks it offers. Among other things, the card offers comprehensive airport lounge access, up to $200 in annual airline fee credits, up to $200 in annual Uber credits, up to $200 in annual hotel credits, up to $189 in annual CLEAR credits, and up to $100 in annual Saks credits. Enrollment required.

I put most of my airfare spending on this card, as it offers 5x points on airfare booked directly with airlines (up to $500K per year, then 1x points). I value Membership Rewards points at 1.7 cents each, so that’s like an 8.5% return on airfare spending, which is great.

The Amex Platinum is great for airport lounge access

Amex cards I have for the spending bonuses

For me, the single most rewarding American Express card for spending is The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express. The card has no annual fee (Rates & Fees), and offers 2x Membership Rewards points on the first $50,000 spent every calendar year (and then 1x points). That makes this one of the best cards for everyday spending.

The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express has a $95 annual fee, and it’s a card I’ve had for many years. The card offers the following return on spending:

  • 3x points at U.S. supermarkets, up to $6,000 per calendar 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

However, with bonus categories on other credit cards having been improved considerably, this card isn’t quite as great as it used to be, in my opinion. I’m still deciding what to do with this card in the long term.

The Amex EveryDay Preferred Card is great for groceries

Amex cards that I’m trying to figure out what to do with

As you can tell, there are a few Amex cards that I don’t have for the perks and don’t have for the spending bonuses, and that frankly I’m trying to figure out what to do with.

The American Express® Green Card is one of those cards — it’s a fantastic card, I’m just not sure how exactly it fits into my card portfolio. It has a $150 annual fee, and offers 3x points on dining and travel, a $100 annual CLEAR credit, and a $100 annual LoungeBuddy credit.

So, why don’t I use it more for spending? Well, the spending bonuses categories are mighty similar to the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card (review), so I end up putting most of that spending on my Chase card.

I haven’t yet canceled this card, though, because the Amex Offers program alone tends to more than justify the annual fee on this card for me. Even though this is one of the best cards for earning Amex points, it just doesn’t add too much to my overall portfolio.

The Amex Green Card offers 3x points on travel

That leaves two more cards — The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, which has a $695 annual fee (Rates & Fees), and the American Express® Business Gold Card, which has a $295 annual fee (Rates & Fees). I picked up both of these cards last year with great welcome offers.

These cards are both potentially extremely lucrative, though I’m not sure they’re a perfect fit for me:

  • The Amex Business Platinum has great perks, but since I also have the personal version of the card, there’s quite a bit of overlap between the benefits
  • The Amex Business Gold has some fantastic 4x points categories, but they’re not categories that I spend a lot in, and aside from that the card doesn’t offer too much value; personally I think the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card (review) is more lucrative

I have to decide what to do with them when the annual fees are due…

The Amex Business Gold potentially offers bonus points on shipping

Which Amex cards do I most want?

Overall I’m quite happy with my Amex card portfolio at the moment, especially given my overall card strategy. I have some cards that help me maximize Amex points, while other cards help me maximize perks.

I recognize that I can’t get any more Amex credit cards right now (since I’m at the limit), though I could potentially get some hybrid cards. The card that most tempts me is the American Express® Gold Card (review), which I consider to be one of the most valuable cards out there. The card has a $250 annual fee (Rates & Fees), and offers the following, in addition to a great welcome offer:

  • 4x points at restaurants
  • 4x points at U.S. supermarkets, on up to $25,000 in purchases annually
  • Credits for both dining and Uber

I can’t help but feel like this should probably be part of an overall card strategy shift for me, and that I should:

  • Get rid of the Citi Prestige, which I currently use for dining, and replace it with the lower cost Citi Premier® Card (review)
  • Get rid of the Amex EveryDay Preferred, which I currently use for groceries, and open up a new Amex credit card “slot”
  • Pick up the Amex Gold, which I could use for both restaurants and supermarkets
The Amex Gold Card is great for restaurants

Bottom line

There’s not a single right or wrong way to maximize credit card rewards, and this can get even more complicated if you’re splitting cards between different issuers. I’m pretty happy with my current Amex card strategy, though there are some cards I’m on the fence about.

To summarize my big picture Amex strategy:

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: American Express® Business Gold Card (Rates & Fees), American Express® Gold Card (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), Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card (Rates & Fees), Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card (Rates & Fees), and Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card (Rates & Fees).

Conversations (24)
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  1. Ahnubis Guest

    Nothing can replace the Green because it offers different things than the Gold & Platinum. It’s the only one that offers points for flights on 3rd party websites like Expedia, etc. the other 2 are based on direct airlines or Amex travel. Having the green allows you to shop around for the best value. The green is best suited for small time travelers who travel way less than a Platinum traveler. I call it the...

    Nothing can replace the Green because it offers different things than the Gold & Platinum. It’s the only one that offers points for flights on 3rd party websites like Expedia, etc. the other 2 are based on direct airlines or Amex travel. Having the green allows you to shop around for the best value. The green is best suited for small time travelers who travel way less than a Platinum traveler. I call it the NYC travel card because it has perks for folks in cities like that who use the subway, ferry, the bus, Amtrak/path/metro north trains, tolls, etc. It’s misunderstood for those in areas that do not benefit from those perks.

  2. Danielle F Guest

    I agree with your idea to use the Amex Gold to replace the Citi Prestige and downgrade the Amex Everyday Preferred. I didn't have the Prestige, but I downgraded my Every Preferred in favor of the Amex Everyday and I don't regret the choice at all.

  3. Tom Guest

    The Green card is the only card with multiple MR's (3 times) on cruises. Drop $10k to $15k on a cruise and reap 30k to 45k MR's.

  4. iamhere Guest

    You and Ford should consider your overall strategy together. Amex platinum offers to add free Gold cards to the account as authorized users, for example.

    1. Kevin Guest

      Adding that Gold card to the platinum isnt the same gold card you earn the 5x on flights when you add as an authorize user.

      I have the MS Platinum (you can add on one authorize user for free), 2 Gold's (credits and having a corporate card I get $100 off), Delta Platinum, Amex BCE, Amex BBP.

      I think he should get the Gold and I think they are in Miami so they probably fly American so Delta probably isn't as good for them.

  5. iamhere Guest

    Disagree. The spending bonus is not similar between Green Amex and Reserve for dining and travel, depending how you redeem the reserve points due to the 50% bonus. This is even easier to use with the Pay Yourself Back feature and you still earn the points for the transaction. Also, many of Amex's airline and hotel partners do not transfer at the 1:1 ratio. Amex offers is only useful if you spend the money at...

    Disagree. The spending bonus is not similar between Green Amex and Reserve for dining and travel, depending how you redeem the reserve points due to the 50% bonus. This is even easier to use with the Pay Yourself Back feature and you still earn the points for the transaction. Also, many of Amex's airline and hotel partners do not transfer at the 1:1 ratio. Amex offers is only useful if you spend the money at the retailers they are promoting. I think those cards that you mentioned you have trouble justifying you should get rid of because they cost a lot of money and I think there too much overlap with other cards (e.g. platinum personal vs business). Consider that Reserve is a good card partly because it is a visa card. Many merchants do not accept Amex.

  6. Stvr Guest

    Why would you go from 5x to 4x on dining? Is up down? Is left right?

  7. Dominic Guest

    The Gold card has been incredible for the 3 years that I've had it. We spend a lot on eating out and groceries (and have a big family home we entertain at) so I really rack up the points.

    This card is staying in my wallet so long as this earning keeps going.

  8. James Guest

    You forgot to mention the Amex blue cash preferred card. I absolutely love this cash back card. I get 6% cash back on groceries 3% cash back on transportation including gas and streaming services. 1% cash back for any purchase. I mostly use this card for food shopping and transportation. No other CC is giving you 6% cash back this card is amazing. Once you have it you would not regret it trust me.

  9. Derek Guest

    I really like the Green Card. I don't have any cards with Priority Pass, but I like the LoungeBuddy credit because it doesn't incentivize me to spend too much time in airports. I had the Alaska Boardroom subscription, and what I found was that I felt FOMO if I didn't go early enough to use the lounge. With an allowance instead, I only use the lounge when I need it (like when I was stuck...

    I really like the Green Card. I don't have any cards with Priority Pass, but I like the LoungeBuddy credit because it doesn't incentivize me to spend too much time in airports. I had the Alaska Boardroom subscription, and what I found was that I felt FOMO if I didn't go early enough to use the lounge. With an allowance instead, I only use the lounge when I need it (like when I was stuck in AMS for an extra 5 hours because of Delta canceling my connection). The CLEAR credit covers my annual subscription fee entirely with the various discounts I have for it.

    I have the $150 Green as my primary, and it competes with my $95 CSP as my go-to for travel and restaurant spending. In the US, it's always the Green, but abroad I lean on the CSP because of Visa being actually useful ex-US. The Green is quite nice because Amex is more generous with the 3x points on travel, than Chase, and it usually includes public transport, ferry fares, and toll roads.

    I have the $0 fee Blue Cash and Amex EveryDay cards, but I don't use them. I won't upgrade the Blue to the $95 Blue Preferred because most of my gas purchases are at Costco. Costco famously only has Visa, and I have their Citi Costco card with 4% on gas purchases to cover me there. Blue is useful for groceries when there aren't active rotating categories with the Chase Freedom or Discover cards.

  10. Pam Guest

    I’m surprised you haven’t received attractive-enough upgrade offers for your Green to the Gold you want anyway. Mine was 100k last year.

    The Blue Business Plus & Citi DC overlap 2x nb spend. I realize both are no AF but why have both (other than the BBP cap or maybe an old cl?).

    Thanks for laying out your strategies for us, very helpful!

    1. Pam Guest

      (my thinking is keep BB+ for 2x & PC your 2x Citi DC to get back a Rewards+ for 10% back or a 5x Custom
      Cash for Groceries, Gas, or Dining)

    2. Luis Guest

      I've been hanging out for an upgrade offer from Green to Gold but have only received 15k offers so far. Anyone else seeing higher offers?

  11. MikeyInOregon Guest

    I feel the same way about the AMEX Gold, just between the Uber credit and dining credit, the card basically pays for itself. The 4x restaurant and supermarket just seals the deal for me.

  12. Anthony Diamond

    Through high points earning possibility, benefits (ability to get / earn status, lounge access), retention offers, and various credits, Amex delivers more value to me than any other bank, consistently...

    My current cards are:

    Amex Platinum X 2 (one regular, one Charles Schwab)
    Amex Gold
    Delta Reserve
    Hilton Aspire
    Hilton NO Fee
    Marriott Bonvoy

    The must haves for me are at least one Amex Platinum, Amex Gold and a...

    Through high points earning possibility, benefits (ability to get / earn status, lounge access), retention offers, and various credits, Amex delivers more value to me than any other bank, consistently...

    My current cards are:

    Amex Platinum X 2 (one regular, one Charles Schwab)
    Amex Gold
    Delta Reserve
    Hilton Aspire
    Hilton NO Fee
    Marriott Bonvoy

    The must haves for me are at least one Amex Platinum, Amex Gold and a Delta Reserve. Lucky, I had an Amex Green, but it's effective fee is now actually higher than Amex Platinum (negative fee due to the credits) and Amex Gold (effective $10 fee). Amex Platinum's CLEAR benefit basically killed the Amex Green credit. In addition, 3x on general travel isn't enough compared to 2x earned on Chase Sapphire Preferred or 2x on everything from a card like Venture/Venture X.

    Delta Reserve is excellent for companion pass and MQM earning. I actually find the hotel cards, including Hilton Aspire, mediocre. but the fees aren't that high compared to benefits and companion passes. Aspire is overrated IMO as Diamond itself is overrated, the resort credit is restrictive, so for me it is a $450 fee for a free night, which seems expensive. Hilton No Fee + Amex Platinum (Hilton Gold + decent earnings on any Hilton spend) actually good enough for me. Amex Surpass works if you want to spend to a free night.

  13. Steve Guest

    How did you get all the business cards? Do you have a business?

    1. RichM Member

      You do realise this website is Ben's business and livelihood? It's owned by PointsPros, Inc, which I presume is a company that Ben owns.

  14. Russ Member

    Changing the Amex Green for Amex gold is a no-brainer. If you can use the Uber/Dinning credits the $250 fee goes to $10 a year really quick. I agree I put more dinning spend on the CSR, but being able to earn 4x on groceries or pump up my membership rewards earn by putting dinning spend on it.

  15. DM Guest

    @Ben - With Miles not far from turning 2+ (and needing his own seat when flying), you'll soon realize that it is much harder to find 3 business/first award seats on the same flight than finding 1 or even 2 that you are used to up until now. My family of 5 is finding is easier lately to find cheap paid fares through AMEX and use my Business Platinum to redeem points and get 35%...

    @Ben - With Miles not far from turning 2+ (and needing his own seat when flying), you'll soon realize that it is much harder to find 3 business/first award seats on the same flight than finding 1 or even 2 that you are used to up until now. My family of 5 is finding is easier lately to find cheap paid fares through AMEX and use my Business Platinum to redeem points and get 35% rebate on those redemptions, effectively getting 1.53c per AMEX MR point and no dependency on award availability. That was the main reason I ditched the personal platinum and applied for Business Platinum. Its not as glamourous as getting 5cpm+ value out of your points, but hey, some travel is better than no travel, right?

  16. Jan Guest

    AMEX MR requires ~$850-900 in annual fees to be effective. No thanks, AMEX.

  17. Quinn Guest

    Why would you get rid of the Prestige when no other card gets 5x on dining and its closed to new applicants. I realize its not as lucrative as before.

    1. Pam Guest

      Pick up/PC to some NF Citi Custom Cash cards for 5x dining/grocery/travel then use cheaper AF Premier to transfer points

    2. Anthony Diamond

      I get the sense Lucky (and many other readers) spend a lot more than $500 a month on dining (that's the Citi Custom Cash 5x category limit). Remember that dining can include food delivery, client lunches/dinners/drinks, bar tabs, nightclubs, etc...

    3. Zzz Guest

      The prestige is also way better for international dining than the Amex gold is. I believe his next best card for that is the CSR (or premier), so he would be giving up 2x rather than 1x.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Ahnubis Guest

Nothing can replace the Green because it offers different things than the Gold & Platinum. It’s the only one that offers points for flights on 3rd party websites like Expedia, etc. the other 2 are based on direct airlines or Amex travel. Having the green allows you to shop around for the best value. The green is best suited for small time travelers who travel way less than a Platinum traveler. I call it the NYC travel card because it has perks for folks in cities like that who use the subway, ferry, the bus, Amtrak/path/metro north trains, tolls, etc. It’s misunderstood for those in areas that do not benefit from those perks.

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Danielle F Guest

I agree with your idea to use the Amex Gold to replace the Citi Prestige and downgrade the Amex Everyday Preferred. I didn't have the Prestige, but I downgraded my Every Preferred in favor of the Amex Everyday and I don't regret the choice at all.

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Kevin Guest

Adding that Gold card to the platinum isnt the same gold card you earn the 5x on flights when you add as an authorize user. I have the MS Platinum (you can add on one authorize user for free), 2 Gold's (credits and having a corporate card I get $100 off), Delta Platinum, Amex BCE, Amex BBP. I think he should get the Gold and I think they are in Miami so they probably fly American so Delta probably isn't as good for them.

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