My 2 Favorite Amex Cards For Maximizing Points

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Reader Victor asked the following question by email:

I’m a bit new to this frequent flyer travel world. I got the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Chase Freedom® Card. Got the bonuses on both cards. I’m just under 90k ultimate rewards points. I’m looking to get another credit card and I’m leaning towards the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card. I’ve pretty much learned the combination of Sapphire and Freedom to maximize my value of points. I really want to start traveling the world starting in 2017. I was wondering if you can help out by guiding to which Amex’s would you say work best like the Sapphire and Freedom, or if you can give me any pointers.

It sounds like Victor is off to a great start. In general American Express sign-up bonuses aren’t quite as generous as those offered by Citi, though on the plus side there are a few Amex cards that offer an exceptional return on everyday spend.

In general, there are two personal Amex cards that offer the best return on everyday spend. Together these cards offer bonus points on purchases at U.S. supermarkets, gas stations, and dining, as well as airfare purchases.

Here are the details:

Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card

This $95 annual fee card is probably the all around most rewarding American Express credit card for everyday spend, when you consider the return on bonused and non-bonused spend. The Amex EveryDay Preferred 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

I value Membership Rewards points at 1.7 cents each, so to me the return on spend is worth:

  • 7.65% at U.S. supermarkets
  • 5.1% at U.S. gas stations
  • 2.55% on everyday purchases

While the supermarket and gas station return is of course awesome, earning a return I value at 2.55% on everyday spend is incredible.

Groceries-6
Earn bonus points on grocery store purchases with the EveryDay Preferred Card

Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express

This was hands down the best Amex rewards card for everyday spend before the EveryDay Preferred was introduced, though even today it’s still a card that’s worth considering. The Amex Premier Rewards Gold Card offers:

  • 3x points on flights booked with airlines
  • 2x points at U.S. gas stations, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. dining

The card has a $0 intro annual fee the first year, and it’s $195 per year thereafter. That being said, the card comes with a $100 annual airline credit, so if you value that anywhere close to value, it makes the real “out of pocket” on the card closer to $95 per year.

As you can see, though, this card offers some very nice bonus categories that cover the categories many average Americans do most of their spending in, and is also great for frequent travelers, given the triple points on airfare.

Singapore-A380
Earn triple points on airfare with the Premier Rewards Gold Card

Bottom line

In my opinion you can’t go wrong with the EveryDay Preferred Card or Premier Rewards Gold Card. Personally I slightly prefer the EveryDay Preferred, since it offers 1.5x points on non-bonused spend when you make at least 30 transactions per billing cycle. However, I’d say both cards are excellent, so if you’re looking to branch out I’d start with either one.


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Comments

  1. Ben, how many times do I have to correct you when you repost about the Amex EDP every few months. You do NOT earn 4.5x points at grocery stores when swiping 30+ times per month.

    Yes, I know Amex states you earn 50% bonus on points when swiping 30+ times per month, but this does not stack on top of the bonus categories.

    Trust me, I’ve tried numerous times on my SO’s EDP card and mine over the last 2 years. I go to my local grocery store each year and pick up $6k in gift cards to maximize the bonus category in one shot. I have NEVER, EVER earned 27k points from that purchase (6,000 x 4.5.) It always ends up being just 18,000 points (6,000 x 3.)

    PLEASE, I have corrected you now 2-3 times over the last year. Correct this info in your posts!

  2. @Richard, not sure what you’re doing wrong but I earn 4.5x at grocery stores. Are you sure you are checking the right credit? AmEx does not post final points until some time after your statement closes.

  3. @Gaurav – After discussing with Lucky, I have no idea what is going on with the bonus category. Maybe that’s why I’m not noticing the 4.5x points if they’re not posting right away. I will look at my statement, and I’m not seeing the entire bonus posted after closing.

    People can disregard my post above. Looks like I may be in the wrong and bonus points pay post afterwards.

  4. Hi Lucky,

    Does the Amex premier reward gold or platinum cards’ flight delay/cancellation insurance cover flights booked with miles?

  5. I would check at membershiprewards.com. It’s unfortunate that AmEx does not clearly show bonus points like Chase does on a per transaction level.

  6. Any chance the EDP might have a bigger sign up bonus soon. I got the PRG last year with a 50k bonus, but with the bulk of my spending coming from groceries, the EDP would get me a better return. I just can’t bring myself to sign up when the bonus is just 15k, and Amex bonuses are just once ever.

  7. @Anna, I just got the EDP with a 30K bonus. There is info on FT about trying to click thru to the landing page using your browser’s private mode. Apparently it can take a number of tries before you see the 30K offer. I got it almost right away, so I guess I got lucky.

  8. Under the summary section of AMEX online points, total points earned in let’s say June 2016. At some later date, it shows 50% bonus for the points earned in June 2016. When I have checked it it appears to be exactly 50%. Therefore, 3x becomes 4.5x.

  9. @Gaurav
    Amex does show the bonus points. Its not entirely clear because of when you post the transaction and when they show the bonus (usually more than a month behind). The entire UI is a bit blah but it does show the breakdown of the bonus. Its also a bit hidden and you have to dig through the menu a bit.

  10. Hi Ben – Thanks for all of your articles. You may want to point out to Victor that he needs both of those cards if he wants to transfer the Amex miles from the Everyday Preferred card to an airline partner, and the two cards need to be linked.

  11. The biggest difference is that one is a CREDIT card with a pre-set limit (of which counts against credit utilization) and the other is a CHARGE card with no pre-set spending limit and charges do not show against a credit utilization on the credit reports. There is a big distinction between these. If you’re looking for a charge card (I think AmEx is the only to offer one), the Premier Rewards Gold is the way to go.

  12. @Chris Jensen – “You may want to point out to Victor that he needs both of those cards if he wants to transfer the Amex miles from the Everyday Preferred card to an airline partner”

    That’s not true. You can transfer MR points to airlines with only the Everyday Preferred card (or even the plain Everyday card).

  13. This still cant beat my Chase Ink which when purchasing my grocery and gas gift cards get 5pts per dollar.

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