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While I write quite a bit about credit card sign-up bonuses, that’s only one aspect of maximizing the rewards you can get from credit cards. I thought it would be useful to talk a bit about my credit card spend strategy with each of the major issuers. In this post I’ll cover American Express. Which cards do I have, which do I spend money on, etc.?
How many American Express cards can you have?
American Express limits you to a certain number of credit cards and a certain number of charge cards. It doesn’t matter how many of those are personal or business cards, but rather just the total number of each type.
Each person is definitely allowed to have four charge cards and four credit cards. Many have reported that the limit has been raised to five credit cards, though I haven’t found that to be the case across the board. For example, I got denied when I applied for my fifth card, on account of having too many cards.
For those of you not familiar with the distinction between a charge card and credit card:
- 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
In general charge cards are lower risk for the issuer, as there’s a lower risk of people not paying their bills, since they have to pay them off at the end of each statement. See my previous post for info on specifically which Amex cards are charge cards, and which are credit cards.
On top of that, you typically can’t be approved for more than two Amex credit cards in any 90 day period.
Which American Express cards do I have?
At the moment I have six American Express cards. I have the following two charge cards:
I also have the following credit cards:
- The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express
- Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
- Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express
- Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express
Which American Express cards do I use most?
My single favorite American Express card in terms of the return on spend is The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express. This is a card I use both for the bonus categories, and also for the return it offers on everyday spend. 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
That’s an amazing return that really helps me maximize my Amex points. Furthermore, I find the 1.5 points per dollar spent to be a fantastic return. For example, I often use this card to pay my taxes. You can pay taxes by credit card for a fee of under 1.9%, which makes this an opportunity to pick up Membership Rewards points for ~1.25 cents each.
In the past The Platinum Card® from American Express was a card I had just for the benefit, but the card now offers 5x points on airfare purchased directly with airlines. This is a huge category for me, so I’m earning a lot of points thanks to this new category.
The Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express used to be one of my favorite cards, as it offers triple points on airfare, and also double points on U.S. dining, U.S. groceries, and U.S. gas purchases. That’s a very well rounded card, though I’m not sure I’ll be renewing it:
- I get a better return on airfare with The Platinum Card® from American Express
- I get a better return on gas and groceries with The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express
- I get a better return on dining with the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ Card
Meanwhile the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express I have largely because of the two elite qualifying stays and five elite qualifying nights that they each offer towards status annually. However, they’re also great cards for everyday spend, given the value of Starpoints.
Meanwhile I picked up the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express during the last increased bonus they had on the card, though I haven’t put much spend on the card yet. I might keep it for the benefits, however. I still have about six months until the annual fee is due.
The American Express Cards I really want
Of the Amex cards I don’t have, there are two I really want — The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN and The Blue for Business® Credit Card from American Express.
I want the Business Platinum Card because it offers a 35% refund when using the “Pay With Points” option, which is essentially an opportunity to redeem all my Amex points for roughly 1.35 cents each towards the cost of airfare. That would greatly increase the value of all my points. It’s a charge card, so I should have no issues getting approved. However, I had the card a few years back, so wouldn’t be eligible for the sign-up bonus. At some point I may still get the card in spite of not getting a sign-up bonus.
For the Blue for Business Card, I really want it for reasons I explained yesterday. It offers a great return on spend, and has the best sign-up bonus I’ve ever seen on a no annual fee Amex business card. If only it weren’t a credit card, given that I’m maxed out on Amex credit cards at the moment.
Non-Affiliate Product Disclaimer: The information for the AmEx Everyday Preferred and Gold Delta Skymiles Business 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.