Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Review: Best American Express Credit Cards

Here is a list of the best Amex Cards.

All the Amex cards shown on this page come with all the benefits and security features that Amex is famous for. (Read this article to see all the benefits that come with Amex cards). The main difference between all the following cards is the rewards benefits. Look at the pointers for each card, and see which rewards program will benefit you the most. Whatever you decide, make sure you have at least one Amex card!

There are two general types of Amex cards:
1)
Points/mileage cards: Get miles/points for all your purchases. Great for those who want to collect miles/points, and for those who like churning cards – and getting signup bonuses. All these miles/points cards have an annual fee but are free the first year.
2) No annual fee - Cash-back cards: Get cash back on all your purchases. Great for those not interested in collecting miles/points. There is no annual fee for these cards.

Note: If you are interested in a no-annual-fee card, then you can still sign up for a card with a signup bonus (Delta or Starwood) and then after a few months, call Amex and change over to the Clear Card.

If you are getting only one Amex card, then get a personal card. Personal cards help your credit. I would also be a bit uncomfortable if my only card from Amex was a business one, and I used it for personal purchases.


Miles / Points Cards - First Year Free

  • Starwood
    Personal - 10,000 Points Signup Bonus - Up To 25,000!

    Business - 10,000 Points Signup Bonus

    Benefits of the Starwood card:
    - Best points/mileage program!
    - Hotel nights start at just 2,000 points!
    - Points equal miles in over 30 airlines!
    - Transfer 20,000 Starwood points into 25,000 miles in many airlines!
    - Low annual fee - $45/year. Excellent value.
    - With the consumer card, if you spend $15,000 in the first 6 months you get an additional 15,000 points, making it 25,000.
  • Gold Rewards Charge Card
    Personal - 10,000 Points Signup Bonus
    Business - 5,000 Points Signup Bonus

    Benefits of the Gold Rewards card:
    - No preset spending limit. You can often spend way more than with a regular credit card.
    - Points equal miles in many airlines
    - Roadside assistance, like AAA
    - Balance is due in full every month (they do have an extended payment plan for large purchases).
    - The Business card has lots of bonus points for big spenders.
    - Downside: $125 annual fee from the 2nd year. Most people will benefit more from the Starwood, unless you really spend a lot.

No Annual Fee - Cash-Back Cards
  • Amex Blue Sky
    - One point per dollar spent. You can use 7,500 points to take off up to $100 from any single travel related charge. So, if you rent a car for $90, 7,500 points will take off the $90 charge. If the charge was $140, 7,500 points will knock off $100. If you use this card right and you travel often, you could be getting 1.33% cashback, which is great!
    - Bottom Line: Up to 1.33% Cashback. 5,000 point signup bonus. If you don't want the annual fee that comes with the Starwood, get this one.
  • Business American Express SimplyCash
    - 5% cash back on office supplies and wireless service
    - 3% cash back on gas. Only on the first $12,000 spent on gas, after that its 1%.
    - 1% cash back on all other purchases
    - Cash back will appear as statement credit every month
    - Besides for being an Amex card, it is a pretty good cash-back card.
  • Clear From American Express:
    - Get a $25 American Express gift card each time you have spent $2,500. Basically you are getting 1% cash back on all purchases.
    - Free credit report and credit score every year.
    - No late fees, no over-limit fees, no balance transfer fees, no cash advance fees.

    If you want an Amex card for it's security and features, then there is no need to get any other card, this card is perfect. If you want a better rewards program or a card with a signup bonus, then look at the other cards.
  • American Express Blue Cash:

    Update:
    They lowered the maximum earning on regular purchases to 1.25%. Not as good anymore.


    - First $6,500 of annual purchases: Receive 1% cash back on gas, supermarkets and drugstores. Receive 0.5% for all other purchases.
    - Once you have reached $6,500.01 or more during the year: Receive 5% cash back on gas, grocery and drug stores. Receive 1.5% for all other purchases. You will only receive the higher cash back on future purchases, NOT on the first $6,500.
    - The “year” starts from when you sign up for the card, not the calendar year.
    Cash back will appear as statement credit at the end of the year!


    Note:
    Until you reach $6,500 in spending, better use another card for gas, such as SimplyCash. Or the Chase Freedom Visa Card for supermarkets and drugstores.

    If you spend over $13,000 a year on ‘all other purchases’, then you should get this card. If not, get the Simplycash, or Clear

Business credit cards: To apply for a business credit card, just pick any business name (could even be your own name) and you can put your Social Security number as your Tax ID.
Business credit cards have an added benefit: Save 3-25% on business purchases at companies like FedEx, Delta, Hertz and more.

Amex has a Platinum card as well, which has more benefits but comes with a steep annual fee.

Note: All the Amex cards with a good miles/points program have an annual fee. (Some no annual fee cards may seem like they have a good points program. They don’t!)

If you don't know which card to get, email me at dealreviews@gmail.com.

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