American Express Overview and Review

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Good Things about American Express

Amex Offers- "Amex Offers" are bonuses that you can load onto your card online for shopping at different retailers. For example, spend $50 at Boxed.com and get $15 cash back/statement credit or 1,500 membership rewards points. You can find a list of all of the current offers here.

Easy Approval- As long as you have good credit, American Express will likely approve you. American Express does not have any rules like Chase's 5/24 Rule or the inquiry sensitive issuers such as Bank of America or Barclays.

Transfer Bonuses- American Express regularly offers transfer bonuses for membership rewards points to various partner airlines. (i.e. a 30% bonus f0r Virgin Atlantic that turns 1,000 American Express Membership Rewards points into 1,300 Virgin Atlantic points). You can find a history of transfer bonuses on our Using Membership Rewards page.

Centurion Lounges- If you have a Platinum card, you will have access to American Express' Centurion Lounges in DFW, IAH, LAS, MIA, LGA, SEA, SFO, HKG, PHL, and several international lounges as well. Centurion Lounges are an amazing experience with free everything: food, premium drinks, showers (some locations), and massages (some locations).

Large Portfolio of Cards- Despite American Express' lifetime language (detailed below), their large portfolio of cards allows you to generate a lot of points very quickly. For example, their Platinum card has 6 different versions, which you can get a bonus from each.

Customer Service- American Express has always been known for their great customer service and in most cases, they have the best customer service of all of the card issuers. 

Early Access to Tickets- For many shows, including Hamilton, American Express has the best access to upcoming shows via their Preferred Seating program as a benefit for some cards. American Express also has card member presales, which are open to all American Express cardholders. I personally have bought Hamilton tickets twice for myself and family, and the prices and selection were great compared to buying the tickets later or through a secondary market. 

  • Preferred Seating Cards- Platinum, Gold, Centurion, Delta Platinum/Reserve, SPG, Hilton Ascend/Aspire, and Premier Rewards Gold. (including business versions of those cards)

Bad Things about American Express

Cracking Down on Rewards Abuse- American Express recently starting cracking down on people who manufacture spend to hit a sign up bonus and then cancel. If you are going to manufacture spend, (1) put some regular spending on the card and (2) keep the card open for at least six months. 

  • New Application Language- "If we in our sole discretion determine that you have engaged in abuse, misuse, or gaming in connection with the welcome bonus offer in any way or that you intend to do so (for example, if you applied for one or more cards to obtain a welcome bonus offer (s) that we did not intend for you; if you cancel or downgrade your account within 12 months after acquiring it; or if you cancel or return purchases you made to meet the Threshold Amount), we may not credit the welcome bonus to, we may freeze the welcome bonus credited to, or we may take away the welcome bonus from your account. We may also cancel this Card account and other Card accounts you may have with us."

Lifetime Language- American Express only allows you to obtain a card bonus once per lifetime, which in reality is about 7 years after canceling a card. Other issuers allow you to immediately get another bonus or get a bonus once every two years.

Certain Aspects of Platinum Card- The American Express Platinum card has outstanding benefits and I recommend everyone hold the card, but it is lacking in a few areas. First, almost all of the premium cards, except the Platinum card, offer free trip delay insurance when purchasing the airfare with that card. You do earn 5x points for airfare, so you have to conduct a cost-benefit analysis to decide whether to put it on the Platinum or the Chase Reserve card that offers 3x points plus trip delay insurance. Second, the Platinum card does not offer primary rental car insurance, which would be nice considering its' high annual fee. Third, spending on the Platinum card is cannibalized by another great American Express card, the Blue Business Plus. The Platinum card earns 1x points on non-flight purchases, whereas the Blue Business Plus card earns 2x points on everything (up to $50,000 in spending per year).


Company Information

CEO: Stephen Squeri

More Information: American Express Wikipedia Page