Why You Should Have As Many No Annual Fee Amex Cards As Possible

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There are many reasons to pick up credit cards. Some are worth applying for due to sign-up bonuses, others are worth acquiring for the return they offer on everyday spend, and others are worth keeping for the ongoing perks they offer just for holding onto them.

In terms of holding onto cards for ongoing perks, there are some specific co-brand cards that offer very lucrative benefits. For example, the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card and The Hyatt Credit Card offer free night certificates on their account anniversaries, which more than justifies the annual fee on the cards, in my opinion.

While some cards are worth holding onto for the specific benefits they offer, other cards are worth holding onto simply because of the card’s issuer. Specifically, I’m talking about American Express cards and the awesome Amex Offers program, which is one reason I always recommend having as many Amex cards as possible.

How Amex Offers works

I’m sure many of you are familiar with this already, but for those who aren’t, Amex Offers is a program run by American Express where you can earn bonus points, discounts, and other perks for making purchases with select retailers. Different cards are targeted for different offers, so it pays to have as many American Express cards as possible, so you can maximize the offers you have access to. Some offers are widely targeted, while others are much more narrowly targeted.

To me this is nearly free money, given the major retailers, hotels, and airlines, for which they sometimes offer promotions. I was just going through and doing the math on this, and realized that I saved over $1,000 last year thanks to Amex Offers. I take advantage of these offers strategically, and often it impacts which retailer I make a purchase with (for example, there are many brand name items that are sold for the same costs by many retailers, so I typically make the purchase with the retailer offering the best Amex Offers deal).

For example, recently there have been opportunities to save $40 on a JetBlue purchase, $60 on a Hilton purchase$75 on a Bloomingdale’s purchase, $15 on a 1-800-Flowers purchase, earn 3,000 bonus Membership Rewards points on a $200 Marriott purchase, etc.

Amex-Offers-Bloomingdale

The benefit of having no annual fee Amex cards

There are perks for holding onto many Amex cards, though another thing to consider is Amex Offers. Amex typically lets you have up to five credit cards and four charge cards at a time, so there’s no reason not to max that out, so you can maximize your odds of getting the best offers.

There are cards with annual fees that are worth holding onto long term, though the best of both worlds is to apply for a card with no annual fee, so you can keep it long term and use it for Amex Offers. The way I see it, Amex Offers turn many of these cards from no annual fee cards to cards that basically pay you for holding onto them.

To give a few examples of how great some Amex no annual fee cards are to begin with:

So this is yet another reason to consider any of these cards, as they have no annual fees, actually offer long terms perks, and make you eligible for Amex Offers. On some of my cards I save hundreds of dollars per year through Amex Offers.

Bottom line

While some people are great at maximizing Amex Offers, I know it’s something that many cardmembers overlook altogether. This is a huge opportunity to save a lot of cash and earn bonus points for purchases you’d make anyway. In the past I didn’t pay too much attention to these, though lately I’ve gotten more creative. In many cases I see Amex Offers for retailers I hadn’t otherwise made purchases with, but then realize that many of them sell the same things that I’d buy elsewhere at an identical price.

To what extent do you maximize Amex Offers promotions?

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Comments

  1. Hi Ben,
    When an offer for say, Ralph Lauren, comes up, do I need to use it only at Ralph Lauren shops, or can I use the offer to buy Ralph Lauren at say Macy’s?

  2. I don’t utilize them that often, as they don’t typically involve merchants that I normally use. When they do, then I’ll try my best to utilize them. Great offers are nice, but defeat the purpose if I have to go out of my way and spend extra to get them.

  3. Does anyone have any additional information about the apparent new trend of AMEX slow-rolling out most of the offers? ie. they may not show on all 5 or 10 of your accounts at once, you might get the offer on just 1 or 2 cards initially… if you add it, then you lose it on the other cards (unless you have separate accounts for every single card, I suppose) but if you wait, then the offer might hit max enrollment before it is rolled out to all of your cards… Sounds like a pretty effective way to combat our multi-tab trick. Does anyone know if this is the new norm?

  4. @Tom – I’ve noticed this, If I add an offer to one card, its no longer available on another. Also noticed offers (especially ones that I’m interested in) only being available to one card at a time, and not across the board. Don’t know if it’s just me, but definitely seems to be a lot of other people noticing.

    Also noticed extremely slow returns on points offers. Cash back “Spend x get x back” offers post the return the same day the spend amount posts, but points I’ve had to call and fight for. Most recently that huge Air France 20,000 point deal a few months back, the points didn’t post for months, and only after I called 3 or 4 times. They blamed it on Air France coding the booking wrong, as a 3rd party, even though it showed up on my statement directly with air france.

  5. Just be careful when you say you saved over $1,000 last year. I find that many of these promotions have a huge impact in triggering an impulse buy in many people where they end up buying something just becaus there was a discount available so you get the sensation of a good deal but most of the times you didn’t need to make that purchase.

  6. Hi Ben,

    do you know why I cannot access AMEX OFFERS from germany? This is very frustrating.

  7. @gurujanitor I took advantage of that massive Air France offer as well, and the points posted like 5 days later… so it’s definitely a YMMV situation.

  8. Agreed –

    AMEX offers have become a real money maker for me. Since I travel for work a lot of the restaurant and hotel offers fall right into my purchase pattern.

    Example – 4 of my 5 AMEX cards had the Hilton Garden Inn “Spend $175 and get $35 back” offer, seeing i stay at Hilton’s a lot, it was easy money. Got $140 cash in just one stay by spliting my folio across multiple cards.

    Tack that on with BankAmeriDeals offers from BOA for Hilton as well, I netted an extra $50.

    $190 with no effort other than showing up for work.

  9. @Lucky this article reminded me to check my offers. I hadn’t done so in a few weeks and am now glad I did. My AMAX Plat had one for a bonus 12,500 MR points with a purchase of $400 or more at Mont Blanc. I’d suggest going into the store (I went to the one at 600 Madison Ave) since the selection is far greater than online, the products are worth handling in person, and the store staff were very helpful. I got instant notification that AMEX recognized the transaction as redeeming the offer. 12,500 additional MR point is a very nice bonus!

  10. @Quest Bohman Fanning …. well crap. I checked my Amex Plat and don’t have that Mont Blanc offer. I was all set to buy a pen and, maybe, a new bracelet from them, too.

  11. Except that you’ll end up with max AMEX cards and won’t be able to cash in on any new large bonuses that come down the pipeline.

  12. @ Ben – Do all American Express cards except for those linked with a hotel or airline provide the same type of points? For example does the free cards provide the same type of Membership Reward points as the paid cards such as the Platinum card? I think utilizing the extra benefits as you suggested is good if there are merchants that you plan to do business with, but for most people it would not work if they do not do business at the recommended merchants.

  13. is it me or does my new Blue Business Plus card seem to be “light” on amex offers? Currently have 2 personal cards that have long list of offers, though most are not relevant to me. But the new card has a grand total of 4 items, and none are real spend/purchase offers.

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