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American Express credit cards

By Robin Saks Frankel · Bankrate.com
Monday, March 20, 2017
Posted: 5 am ET

Stewart Cohen/Pam Ostrow/Getty Images

American Express is a Bankrate advertising partner.

While there's no one-size-fits-all best credit card for everyone, the top American Express cards offer a little bit of something for everyone: higher cash-back rewards on everyday spending, travel point bonuses or credit to those who may not traditionally qualify.

Remember, the best card for you depends on your spending habits. Large families may find that groceries are their biggest credit card expense while young professionals may spend a lot on travel or dining out.

The experts at CreditCards.com picked their favorite credit cards from a number of categories. Here are the American Express credit cards on their list.

American Express credit cards
Card Why it's good Category
Blue Cash Preferred 6% cash back at grocery stores, 3% on gas and at select department stores. Terms apply. Everyday cash-back rewards
Starwood Preferred Guest Two points per dollar spent at Starwood hotels. Terms apply. Hotel rewards
USAA Secured Card American Express Security deposit placed in a CD; reports to all 3 major credit bureaus. Bad credit

Blue Cash Preferred from American Express

Very generous rewards -- among the best available in some categories -- make this card stand out.

Highlights:

  • Earn 6 percent cash back at grocery stores, up to $6,000 per year, and 3 percent cash back at gas stations and select department stores. All other purchases pay 1 percent. Bonus: Earn 10 percent cash back on restaurant purchases in the first six months, up to $200 back.
  • Earn a $150 statement credit after spending $1,000 within the first three months.
  • Pay no interest on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months.

Who should get this card
This card is best for those who spend big on groceries, gas and department stores. If you're looking for a card that rewards you for more general spending, another cash-back card may be more beneficial.

Blue Cash Preferred carries a $95 annual fee, which is on the high side. But the generous rewards program, when used properly, can offset that fee.

The $6,000 annual spending cap on groceries means the most you could earn is $360 at 6 percent before the relatively low 1 percent rate kicks in. In addition, American Express isn't as widely accepted as Visa or MasterCard. That might make it necessary to use this card strategically with others.

After the introductory period, the APR will be 13.74 to 23.74 percent.

But if cash-back rewards aren't your thing, consider a great hotel rewards credit card.

Starwood Preferred Guest

The Preferred Guest card issued by American Express is a legend in travel circles because of its outstanding rewards and perks, including a sweet sign-up bonus.

Highlights:

  • Earn two points for every dollar spent at a participating Starwood hotel and two points for every dollar spent at a Marriott property.
  • Earn 25,000 points when you spend $3,000 within the first three months.
  • Redeem points for free stays or upgrades at anyone of thousands of participating Starwood and Marriott brand hotels.

Who should get this card
The Preferred Guest credit card is ideal for the traveler who frequents Starwood and Marriott hotels. You can redeem points for free stays at more than 10 brands, and you can transfer points to more than 30 airline partners. There are no foreign transaction fees. The reward value declined after creditcards.com ranked the best cards in this category.

But while Starwood offers more than 1,200 hotels and resorts worldwide, you may find that you're limited in hotel options when traveling, which is the main disadvantage to this card.

The $95 annual fee is waived for the first year, and the APR is a variable 15.99 to 19.99 percent.

USAA Secured Card American Express

USAA membership is only available for U.S. military service members, veterans who have received an honorable discharge and their eligible family members.

Highlights:

  • You must open a USAA 2-year CD, which earns interest and functions as the card's security deposit.
  • Minimum opening deposit is $250, although you can deposit up to $5,000 to increase your card’s limit.
  • This card reports to all three of the major credit bureaus, so with regular on-time payments you can improve your credit score.

Who should get this card
Although this card is only available to honorably discharged veterans or U.S military service members and their families, for those who qualify, the card can help rebuild credit. The card has some other military-only perks, like a 4 percent APR for the first 12 months of deployment and finance charge rebates for those serving in a qualified military campaign.

Keep in mind, if you close the account in less than two years, you won’t earn the full amount of interest on your CD.

Follow me on Twitter: @robinsaks

This editorial content is not provided or commissioned by any of the referenced financial institutions or companies. Opinions, analysis, reviews or recommendations expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any financial institutions or companies, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any such entity. All products or services are presented without warranty. Bankrate.com is an independent, advertising-supported publisher and comparison service. This post contains references to our partners, and Bankrate may be compensated in exchange for featured placement of certain sponsored products and services, or your clicking on certain links posted on this website.

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