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American Express is one of the major rewards programs that I think everyone should try to get on board with at some time. There’s an enormous amount of value to be had with American Express cards and plenty of ways to save with special Amex Offers. Here are 7 reasons why I love American Express.
1) Great transfer partners
American Express Membership Rewards has some of the top transfer partners.
They’ve got partners from every major alliance: Star Alliance, oneworld, and SkyTeam and even have prized airlines like Emirates and Etihad that don’t belong to a major alliance.
Three airlines that help Amex stand out are:
- ANA – Super cheap redemptions, such as 88,000 miles in business class to Europe and very reasonable prices to other destinations like Asia (Japan), South America, Africa, etc.
- Aeroplan – Good redemption rates to places like Europe and an easy way to avoid surcharges on Star Alliance partners, such as United Airlines.
- Delta – Even though I’m not a huge fan of Delta Sky Miles, Amex has several Delta credit cards making it easy to top off your balance and redeem for awards.
Amex has some other powerhouse programs like Asia Miles, Singapore Airlines, Flying Blue, Virgin Atlantic, and Avios now that it’s back at a 1:1 ratio. In fact, Amex runs so deep with quality airline partners that I’ve argued that they probably have better transfer partners than Chase.
Here are all of the current airline and hotel transfer partners:
- Aeromexico 1:1.6
- Air Canada (Aeroplan) 1:1
- Air France KLM (Flying Blue) 1:1
- Alitalia (Millemiglia) 1:1
- ANA 1:1
- Cathay Pacific (Asia Miles) 1:1
- British Airways 1:1
- Delta Air Lines (SkyMiles) 1:1
- El Al Israel Airlines 1,000: 20
- Emirates 1:1
- Etihad 1:1
- Hawaiian Airlines 1:1
- Iberia Plus 1:1
- JetBlue Airways 250: 200
- Singapore Airlines 1:1
- Virgin Atlantic 1:1
Hotel Transfer Partners:
- Choice Privileges Rewards (1:1)
- Hilton Honors (1:1.5)
- Starwood SPG (1000:333)
2) Bonus transfers
One thing I really love about American Express is its bonus transfer specials.
On occasion, Amex will allow you to transfer Membership Rewards to other partners with bonus transfer rates that increase the transfer rate up to 50%. Amex doesn’t offer bonus rates for all of their partners and some bonuses are much rarer than others, so you may not know when the next bonus is coming. However, you can view the breakdown of these bonus offers over the past few years on this thread on Flytertalk, where you’ll be able to pick up on some patterns and trends with the bonuses.
3) Many options for earning Membership Rewards
It’s true that in the vast majority of cases, you’re only given one bonus per lifetime for an Amex card and that would appear to be severely limiting. However, one thing that sets Membership Rewards apart from other programs is the buffet of options that Amex gives you for earning Membership Rewards. Compared to Chase or Citi, American Express blows them out of the water in terms of quantity offered.
Here are a number of different examples of Membership-earning cards.
- EveryDay Card (25K)
- EveryDay Preferred Card (30K)
- Green Card (25K)
- Gold Card (25K)
- Different versions of this card available
- Premier Rewards Gold Card (50K)
- Platinum Card from American Express (100K)
- There are about 6 versions of this card, although not all offer such great sign-up bonuses
- Business Platinum Card from American Express (100K)
- Business Rewards Gold Card (75K)
Now that Chase limits you to one Sapphire bonus and Citi limits you to one sign-up bonus per brand per two years, the number of earning options available from American Express is a significant advantage to the program that also goes along with my reason #6 below.
4) Amex Offers
Amex cards provide you with many special “Amex Offers” which can save you on everything from hotel stays to contact lenses.
Each year, between me and Brad, we easily recoup over a couple of hundred bucks in value from purchases of products and services we would normally make. So in some instances Amex Offers alone can offset the annual fee for an American Express card.
5) No hard pulls for rejections
Amex is known for only making a soft pull on your credit when they reject your card application. This helps to mitigate any damage done to your credit score and take some stress out of applying for new Amex cards.
Amex also usually allows you to receive credit limit increases without any hard pull to your credit so once again, Amex makes it easier to preserve your credit score.
6) Generous Approvals
This might be my #1 reason for getting on board with Amex.
Once you get on board with Amex and maintain a good relationship with them (along with a solid credit score), it’s incredibly easy to get approved for their credit cards and charge cards.
You just need to remember to play nice. If you take advantage of their kindness and hit them too hard or abuse them you might be hit with a financial review or have your points clawed back. But if you reciprocate the respect, Amex can be very good to you over the long-run.
7) Solid customer service
A lot of people complain that Amex customer service just isn’t where it used to be a several years ago. That might be the case in many instances but over the past three years, Amex has still surpassed the other major credit card issuers I’ve had to deal with.
While Chase is probably a very close second, Amex has gone out of their way to help me sort out some account issues and I’ve found them to be very reliable and willing to always give me the benefit of the doubt when something goes down. They also have been very knowledgable more times than not which is something that can get old very fast when a phone rep is misinformed.
I still think American Express is a terrific rewards program. You can’t beat all the options it gives you for earning sign-up bonuses and their approval policies are easier to contend with than some of the other issuers who are often more inconsistent with their approvals. I’ve received a ton of value from Amex over the past few years, and I think they are arguably the most lucrative rewards program for people looking to earn points primarily with sign-up bonuses.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and CNBC. Read my bio.