My 4 Favorite American Express Charge Cards

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American Express has many great cards, and I typically have at least five of their products at any given time. However, one thing they have more of than other issuers is charge cards. For example, most of the lucrative Chase and Citi cards are credit cards, while Amex has a good mix of lucrative charge cards and credit cards.

What’s the difference between a charge card & credit card?

If you pay your balance in full every month (which you absolutely should do if you’re using a points earning credit card), then there’s not much of a difference.

But the basic distinction is that a credit card allows you to finance charges over time, while a charge card requires you to pay off your balance in full each month. Furthermore, while credit cards have a credit limit, charge cards don’t. That’s not to say that you can charge an unlimited amount (they’ll cut you off at some point), though there isn’t a published limit.

Why should you care about Amex charge cards?

I’ve written in the past about the limit on how many Amex cards you can have at a given time. Most people can have at most five Amex credit cards at a time, and if you’re like me, you typically have that many cards with Amex. For example, I’m “maxed out” on Amex credit cards right now, as I have the following credit cards from them:

Most consumers are limited to having five Amex credit cards at a time, though this limit doesn’t include charge cards. So that means applying for an Amex charge card is a great option if you’re maxed out on how many credit cards you can have with them.

Furthermore, anecdotally I find that Amex charge cards are quite easy to be approved for, including both the personal and business versions of cards.

My favorite Amex charge cards

In this post I wanted to share four of my favorite Amex charge cards. I love some of these for the return they offer on spend, and others for the ongoing perks they offer. In no particular order:

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Sign-up bonus: 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first three months
Annual fee: $550 annual fee

This card has a big sign-up bonus of 60,000 Membership Rewards points, though the annual fee was also recently increased by $100, to $550, though  more perks were introduced as well. I think the card offers perks that more than offset the annual fee. Among other things, these include:

There are other benefits as well, though those are the ones I consider to be most valuable. To crunch the numbers a bit, I value the $200 airline fee credit and $200 Uber credit at close to face value, though let’s apply some sort of discount, and say they’re worth $350 combined.

Then I easily value Centurion Lounge access at $200 annually, given how often I use the lounges. That already covers the annual fee on the card.

All of this doesn’t account for the other perks, like the 5x points on airfare purchases (which is huge for me), as well as hotel status, Global Entry fee credit, etc.

I know parting ways with a $550 annual fee isn’t fun, but I do think the perks more than offset that fee.


Access Amex Centurion Lounges with the Amex Platinum Card

The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN

Sign-up bonus: Up to 75,000 Membership Rewards points — 50,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $10,00, plus a further 25,000 points after spending an additional $10,000, all within the first three months
Annual fee: $450 annual fee

The business version of the Amex Platinum Card is fairly similar, though the card has an annual fee that’s $100 less. The card has many of the same perks, including:

On top of that, the card offers a big perk that the personal card doesn’t. Specifically, you receive 10 free Gogo wifi passes per year. For many this alone will be worth $150+ per year.


Receive 10 Gogo wifi passes annually with the Amex Business Platinum Card 

Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express

Sign-up bonus: 25,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first three months
Annual fee: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $195

For the average consumer, I’d say this is the most well rounded Amex charge card in terms of the return it offers on spend. As far as bonus categories go, the card offers 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines, and 2x points at US restaurants, US gas stations, and US supermarkets.

The card’s annual fee may seem high, though the card also offers a $100 annual airline fee credit, which for many is more or less worth face value. This works very similarly to the airline fee credit on the Amex Platinum Card.

You also receive this based on the calendar year rather than the cardmember year, meaning you can get $200 worth of airline credits before you even have to pay the first annual fee. That’s a heck of a deal that further adds to the sign-up bonus on the card.


Earn 2x points on supermarket purchases with the Premier Rewards Gold Card

The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN

Sign-up bonus: 50,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first three months
Annual fee: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $175

This is basically the business version of the Premier Rewards Gold Card, but the rewards structure works differently. The card offers a very generous sign-up bonus with the first year’s annual fee waived, and a nice return on spend. Specifically, the card offers 3x points on one category of your choice from the following:

  • Airfare purchased directly from airlines
  • US purchases for advertising in select media
  • US purchases at gas stations
  • US purchases for shipping
  • US computer hardware, software, and cloud computing purchases made directly from select providers

Then you earn 2x points in the other four categories. If you’re a business that spends a lot in one of the above categories, that’s some big points earning potential. The bonus applies to the first $100,000 spent in each of the above categories.


Redeem Amex Membership Rewards points for travel in Singapore Suites

Bottom line

Amex has a lot of fantastic cards, some of which are credit cards, and some of which are charge cards. I know a lot of people are focused on Amex’s credit cards, though there are lots of great reasons to pick up one of their charge cards as well. If you don’t have one yet, I’d seriously consider getting one, given the great perks and bonuses they offer on spend.

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Comments

  1. Aside from the corporate style cards, aren’t these basically their only charge cards? You left out the Mercedes platinum, so why not just title it your 5 favorite and sell them all?

  2. Lucky, I love some of your articles but this article is a perfect example of marketing sub-prime sign-up bonuses so you can pad that wallet. 25k on the PRG.. are you kidding me? 60k on the personal? No mention of getting targeted or incognito offers? Kind of sad.

  3. You missed to me the top perk of the business platinum card from Amex, the 35% rebate on all business class or one partner airline economy. This alone has more then paid back the yearly fee, just have to make sure you have the membership reward points to get it done.

  4. I’d have to agree with Justin, you have some great articles but you’re not helping your readers with this article. People can get higher signup bonuses with incognito offers, for instance at least 50k points on the Premiere Rewards Gold Card. I understand the point of your article but you should at least mention that people can get higher bonuses if they didn’t use your links.

  5. These are pretty much all charge cards.
    “Favorite” means a small number of subset from a larger set and not the whole set Lucky…

  6. Can you work write an article on if we should keep the Chase Sapphire Reserve card? Given many of us are coming up on the anniversary and wondering if the $450 annual fee is worth it…

  7. AMEX needs to make their credit cards more flexible; otherwise they lose it to their competitions. As an example, the Uber credit, it is a use it or lose it. They need to credit it on annual basis rather than monthly basis. They can call it Transportation credit and let customers choose between Uber or any other provider.
    Another difficult thing to use is their $200 annual airline fee…

  8. On the Business Gold Rewards Card, does the 3X at Gas Stations kick in on $500 Gas Station purchases?

  9. I also understand that the Platinum business gives you 5x for airline tickets purchased via their portal

  10. Does AmEx even offer any other charge cards?!

    Maybe a post of your 50 favorite states next? (And obv don’t forget to actually include D.C., Puerto Rico and our other territories 🙂

  11. Thanks, Lucky. Timely article for me. Just completed my Chase portfolio of cards and moving into AMEX. For all you who don’t like the shilling, give Lucky a break. He’s got to make a living, too, and he has an up-front disclaimer. And his information appears accurate, which is all I ask. El caveat emptor, I say.

  12. The charge cards not mentioned are the personal and business Green Cards and the Business Plum Card.

  13. The Amex Plat $200 travel credit isn’t the useful to many flyers. I usually fly first or business, or I have status, so I’m not paying baggage fees anyway. It can’t be used as a credit for buying tickets, and while it does apply for lounge access, I usually have that anyway and Amex Plat includes Priority Pass.

    So for me, it’s only useful for the on-board wifi fees, and I rarely have a need to use that when flying anyway.

  14. Like @Justin @Jade and @Lan mentioned better sign-up bonuses are availible.
    Here’s how:
    1) Use CardMatch to see if there is a juicy bonus waiting for you.
    OR
    2) Go incognito. Better yet go incognito and use a good link. While it may take a few minutes to find an acceptable link it’s worth it. I was holding out for a while to try finding a Platinum 100,000 mile link I missed it, so when I decided it was time to get the Platinum I used a 75,000 link. It worked out well and my timing was good; the card changes were anounced about a week later but my first year is only $450 with all the new benefits.

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