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The power of the Amex trifecta: Platinum, Gold and Blue Business Plus

July 27, 2021
12 min read
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with the latest credit card information.


Some things just work well in threes and the travel world is no exception, whether it's the "Middle East Three" airlines to the main three airline alliances.

Another trio loved by many of us at TPG is the Chase trifecta — the Chase Sapphire Reserve (or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card), the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card and the Chase Freedom Unlimited (or Chase Freedom Flex). Used together, owning these three cards offer a powerful combination of earning rates, sign-up bonuses and perks.

Thanks in part to Chase's competitive offerings, we've seen American Express step up its game by introducing new cards and adding benefits to existing products.

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A few years ago, Amex refreshed the personal American Express® Gold Card and its business counterpart -- the American Express® Business Gold Card. These changes make it possible to construct a similar "Amex trifecta" with three cards that complement each other in nearly every way — providing outsized value with a reasonable price tag.

Each of these cards is great on its own, but they can unlock serious value for even infrequent travelers when combined. Let's dig a bit deeper.

Related: Choosing the best American Express credit card for you

The Platinum Card® from American Express

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

The Amex Platinum is one of the most valuable cards available, thanks to a hefty welcome bonus and a long list of luxury travel perks that can more than offset its $695 annual fee (see rates and fees).

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The current welcome offer is 80,000 Membership Rewards Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases within the first six months of card membership.

In addition to regularly running transfer bonuses to select partners, Membership Rewards transfer to 20+ airline and hotel partners at the following rates:

ProgramTransfer ratio (Amex MR points:airline/hotel program)
Aer Lingus AerClub1:1
Aeromexico Club Premier1:1.6
Air Canada Aeroplan1:1
Air France-KLM Flying Blue1:1
Alitalia MilleMiglia1:1
All Nippon Airways Mileage Club1:1
Avianca LifeMiles1:1
British Airways Executive Club1:1
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles1:1
Delta SkyMiles1:1
Emirates Skywards1:1
Etihad Guest1:1
Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles1:1
Iberia Plus1:1
JetBlue TrueBlue1.25:1
Qantas Frequent Flyer1:1
Singapore KrisFlyer1:1
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club1:1
Choice Privileges1:1
Hilton Honors1:2
Marriott Bonvoy1:1

Thanks to a recent revamp of the Amex Platinum, cardholders can enjoy four new annual statement credits (for a total of seven annual credits):

  • Up to $200 in annual airline incidental credits, valid for baggage fees, seat assignments, lounge access and other incidental charges.*
  • Up to $200 in Uber Cash annually. Cardholders receive $15 in credits each month, with a $20 bonus in December.*
  • Up to $100 in annual Saks Fifth Avenue statement credits: $50 for purchases made between January and June and another $50 for purchases made between July and December.*
  • Up to $200 back in prepaid hotel bookings on Fine Hotels + Resorts or The Hotel Collection properties made through Amex Travel on stays of two or more nights.
  • Up to $189 in Clear membership statement credits per calendar year.*
  • Up to $240 in digital entertainment statement credits per calendar year*
  • Up to $300 in Equinox statement credits per calendar year.*
  • Terms apply.

*Enrollment required for select benefits.

And then of course, you'll receive up to a $100 statement credit for Global Entry or an $85 fee credit for TSA PreCheck every 4 to 4 1/2 years (depending on which application fee is charged to your card first). Whether you can maximize all of these credits or mix and match them to your own lifestyle, it's easy to cover the ongoing $695 annual fee (see rates and fees) from these statement credits alone.

I like to think of the "out-of-pocket cost" as a discounted lounge membership, and the Amex Platinum has the most comprehensive airport lounge benefits of any card. In addition to a Priority Pass Select membership, which is available through several other cards, you'll also receive access to Amex's exclusive global collection of Centurion lounges and access to Delta Sky Clubs when flying same-day Delta. Enrollment required for select benefits.

The perks don't stop there. The Amex Platinum also offers 5x points (a 10% return according to TPG's valuations) on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel (on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year) and 5x points on prepaid hotels booked with Amex Travel.

Furthermore, you can access a useful premium concierge service for all your travel and dining needs. Hotel stays are rewarding as well, whether you take advantage of the complimentary Hilton and Marriott Gold elite status or book through Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts to earn property credits and room upgrades. Finally, enjoy complimentary cellphone insurance protection — a great way to be reimbursed in the case of theft or damage to your phone.

Related: Full review of the Amex Platinum

Amex Gold Card

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)

The addition of up to $240 in statement credits make the reincarnation of the Amex Gold card incredibly compelling, even with the annual fee of $250 (see rates and fees).

Related: How the Amex Gold pays for my lunch twice a month

So how does this work? The Amex Gold offers up to $120 in annual dining credits and up to $120 in Uber Cash for U.S services annually ($10 monthly credits). Enrollment required for select benefits.

The annual dining credit is broken up into $10 monthly statement credits that can be used at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar, and select Shake Shack locations. If you max out this credit, you'll be getting $120 a year, lowering your out-of-pocket cost to $130.

Then, you'll receive $10 per month in Uber Cash which is directly added to your Uber account once you add the card to your Uber account. This can be used toward Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S. Maxing out this benefit will then result in another $120, which means you are theoretically paying just $10 for the card per year.

Related: How to maximize the Amex Gold in 2021

The bonus categories on the Amex Gold are:

  • 4x points on dining at restaurants
  • 4x points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in spending per calendar year, then 1x)
  • 3x points on flights booked directly with the airline or on amextravel.com
  • 1x on other eligible purchases
  • Terms apply

The welcome offer is currently 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new card within the first six months of card membership, worth $1,200 according to TPG's valuations, though many readers have been targeted for a 75,000 bonus (after spending $4,000 in the first three months) through CardMatch (targeted offer subject to change at any time).

Related: Full review of the Amex Gold

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

The Amex Blue Business Plus has emerged as one of the most valuable cards for everyday non-bonus spending. This no-annual-fee card (see rates and fees) earns 2x points on the first $50,000 in annual spending (per calendar year) with no bonus categories to worry about, and 1x after that.

Related: Here are some ways you might be eligible for a business credit card without realizing it

As with the other cards on this list, you'll also get access to valuable Amex Offers, which can help you save money (or give you bonus points) for purchases you were already planning to make.

The Blue Business Plus is currently offering an elevated welcome bonus of 15,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of card membership.

Related: Full review of the Amex Blue Business Plus

Bonus category review

The total cost in annual fees of the Amex trifecta comes out to $895. While the annual statement credits can go a long way to offset that, the long-term value of this combo comes from the complementary bonus categories. Let's take a look.

Amex PlatinumAmex Gold CardBlue Business Plus Amex
1xAll non-bonus purchasesAll non-bonus purchases
2xFirst $50,000 in annual spending (then 1x)
3xFlights booked directly with the airline and on Amex Travel
4xDining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in annual spending per calendar year for U.S. supermarkets, then 1x)
5xFlights booked directly with the airline, and airfare and prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.

Bottom line

One important advantage that the Amex trifecta has over its Chase counterpart is that all three of these cards earn transferable Membership Rewards points.

If you can only get one of these cards, you can pick the perks and bonus categories that work best for you without compromising anything on the redemption side. But if you are able to get the entire trifecta, you'll end up earning anywhere from a 4% to a 10% return (based on TPG valuations) on almost all your purchases.

Application link: Amex Platinum with a 80,000-point welcome bonus.
Application link: Amex Gold with a 60,000-point welcome bonus.
Application link: Amex Blue Business Plus with a 15,000-point welcome bonus.

Additional reporting by Stella Shon and Jennifer Yellin.

For rates and fees of the Platinum Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Gold Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Blue Business Plus, please click here.

Featured image by (Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023