I Can’t Decide Which Amex Card To Apply For…

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Update: The special welcome offer for the The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express has expired, but you can learn more about best available offers here.

Update: The below links for the Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card from American Express are expired, but you can learn more about best available offers here.

Update: The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express has a limited time offer through 11/1/2017. Learn more about best available offers here.

American Express typically has a limit of allowing consumers to have up to five of their credit cards at a time. This specifically excludes charge cards, which includes products like The Platinum Card® from American Express, The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN, etc.

I’m typically maxed out on how many Amex cards I have, given how good many of their products are. Last week I canceled one American Express credit card I wasn’t getting all that much value out of, bringing me back down to four credit cards with them. The reason I canceled the card was because I was going to apply for the Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card from American Express before the great limited time sign-up bonus expires on May 31, 2017.

The four Amex credit cards I have right now

For what it’s worth, my current four American Express credit cards are as follows:

So, which card do I apply for?

As stated above, my intention was to cancel an existing card so that I can pick up the incredible Hilton Honors Surpass Card before the increased bonus ends. The card has just a $75 annual fee and offers 100,000 Honors points upon completing minimum spend, plus a free weekend night on the card’s first anniversary. This is a really compelling sign-up bonus.

However, we also just saw the Blue Business Plus Credit Card introduced, which has no annual fee and offers 2x Membership Rewards points on the first $50,000 spent annually. This is the single best credit card out there for the first $50,000 spent annually in non-bonused categories, so I tend to think just about every business owner should try to get this card.

Eventually I’ll cancel the Amex Blue for Business Card, which has since been discontinued, but not until next year at the earliest. The card has no annual fee and offers a 30% annual points bonus, so I’d be giving up the 30% bonus on the points I earned on the card (and I’ve put a lot of spend on the card already) if I canceled it before next year.

So I guess I have to look at this decision at the margins.

Do I apply for the Hilton Honors Surpass Card, which has a sign-up bonus that I value at roughly $650?

Or do I apply for the Blue Business Plus Credit Card, which offers an incredible return of 2x points on the first $50,000 spent annually? That’s a return I value at ~3.4%. On top of that, the card has a sign-up bonus of 20,000 Membership Rewards points, which I value at ~$340.

However, I guess the Blue Business Plus Card has to be looked at compared to the next best option. Currently my favorite card for everyday, non-bonused spend is the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, which earns me 1.5x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent. I value Membership Rewards and Ultimate Rewards points at ~1.7 cents each, so to me the incremental return on the Blue Business Plus Credit Card over the Chase Freedom Unlimited® is 0.85% on the first $50,000 spent annually. That’s a difference in return of $425.

Anyone else in a similar situation to me, and can’t decide which of these great offers to apply for? I envy those of you who have three or fewer Amex cards, and can pick up both of these….

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  1. None of the US bloggers seem to be covering “Delta-like” meltdown with BA? Do you have any information? Do you think these meltdowns are organized attacks or just the result of aging technology? Apparently they are blaming a “power failure” which sounds very familiar.

  2. Approved for the surpass a few days ago. Hit my cap so just cancelled my blue for biz to make room for the Blue Plus. Anticipated application date 1 month from now or whenever Amex decides to pull the 20k signup

  3. Apply for the Hilton Honors Surpass. The generous welcome bonus is going away in a few days. While the Blue Business Plus will stick around for a few years at a minimum. So you’ll definitely have lots of time to apply for that one.

  4. @Eric J.

    Hundreds of BA flights were canceled and delayed yesterday evening and you @Lucky don’t mention that anywhere? It seems a bit strange to me.

  5. I applied for both the Surpass and new Biz Plus yesterday and got approved. I already have the SPG Biz, Blue for Biz and Everyday Preferred. I ditched the SPG Personal a few weeks ago when the AF came due as I don’t need the nights/stay credit (never get near to Platinum anyway).

  6. @ Jim — I have the Amex Platinum, but that’s a charge card and not a credit card, and this post was specific to the credit card limit. 🙂

  7. @ Mark — I have the nights, just not the years. Have to be an SPG Platinum member for 10 years to get Platinum for life, and I’m not even old enough to have been elite for 10 years.

  8. Unless you are really maximizing the bonus categories of the Everyday Preferred, I’d cancel that as well and get both the Surpass and the Blue Business Plus.

  9. Being on the road so much, do you even spend that much at grocery stores and gas stations? If not, swap the Everyday Preferred out for the Blue and save $95 per year while you’re at it. (Plus, for three months a year, you get 5x at each via the Chase Freedom, so it’s really only 2.5 additional points on spend at grocery stores for 9 months and 1x additional point on gas for 9 months that you’d be giving up.)

  10. Exactly in the same boat as you.
    Guess what makes the decision difficult is that it is trying to compare equitably 2 completely different “currencies.” Hilton points vs. AX Rewards. You seem to gravitate towards the flexibility of transferable points vs. classic loyalty programs. Blue makes more sense based upon your recent use of currencies.
    For whatever it is worth, we look forward to your blog every day. Thank you for allowing us into your brain 😉

  11. Go for the Surpass. Honors points may not be as revered as SPG pts, but Hilton has way more properties than Starwood, has a nice spread of brands for different budgets, the bonus categories are freakin awesome, and with all the different points earning opportunities this summer, the potential is there for a mega point haul this summer.

  12. What % of your spend is unbonused and not going towards a signup bonus minimum spend? Probably no more than 5%. As is the case for most other churners, a 0.5% marginal earning rate on 5% of your spend is probably not worth more than the higher signup bonus on the Hilton card, so the Hilton card is the way to go.

  13. Haha you already convinced me to forego the Hilton with $75 fee and to apply for the The Blue Business Plus Credit Card. So I’m just following your advice.

  14. hey there lucky. you mentioned in your post “This is the single best credit card out there for the first $50,000 spent annually in non-bonused categories, so I tend to think just about everyone should try to get this card.” yet im always confused if people who dont have businesses like me can get approved for business credit cards. did you mean “just about everyone [who has a business] should try to get this card.” instead? bonus points on $50,000 spending for a card with no annual fee is fantastic and really enticing. thanks.

  15. I’m having a really tough time deciding. How quickly does the bonus on the surpass show up after meeting spend? I’m running low on hotel points, but I am concerned that the hilton points won’t stretch that far. I also did a bunch of redemptions and need to replenish some of my Amex MRs so that 20k point signup would be nice. I have the older blue card and its pretty new so I am not close on the first year being done with that card yet. Obviously after the first year I would need the new blue card. And then there is the fact I picked up a couple of personal cards recently and I was trying to stick mainly to business cards. I’m really not sure which to go for at this point.

  16. K.m you can have a “business” and apply for a card. amex is pretty relaxed on brand new businesses. I got the chase ink that way although that wasn’t nearly as easy.

  17. Does being an Authorized User on someone else’s AMEX count as one of the five? Only because it gets reported on your credit reports…

  18. The other day applied for the new Biz + but was declined because I already have 4 Amex credit cards. So not everyone can push to five credit cards

  19. @ Jeff — Hmmm, did you try calling? When I applied for my fifth I was also initially denied, but after a phone call they sent it to a different desk, and then eventually I got approved.

  20. love this blog……question though. Of all the cards do you know which one gives the best extended warranties for newly purchased products. It is always a great option to have in a card as well as the other points. I am about to buy a new computer and watch and was curious about this option in a card.

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