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

2d ago

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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

In This Post

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).

The current welcome offer is 100,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $6,000 on purchases in your first six months of card membership. Earn 10x points on eligible purchases on the card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your 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:

Program Transfer ratio (Amex MR points:airline/hotel program)
Aer Lingus AerClub 1:1
Aeromexico Club Premier 1:1.6
Air Canada Aeroplan 1:1
Air France-KLM Flying Blue 1:1
Alitalia MilleMiglia 1:1
All Nippon Airways Mileage Club 1:1
Avianca LifeMiles 1:1
British Airways Executive Club 1:1
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles 1:1
Delta SkyMiles 1:1
Emirates Skywards 1:1
Etihad Guest 1:1
Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles 1:1
Iberia Plus 1:1
JetBlue TrueBlue 1.25:1
Qantas Frequent Flyer 1:1
Singapore KrisFlyer 1:1
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club 1:1
Choice Privileges 1:1
Hilton Honors 1:2
Marriott Bonvoy 1:1

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.
  • Up to $179 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, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and participating 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 Platinum Amex Gold Card Blue Business Plus Amex
1x All non-bonus purchases All non-bonus purchases
2x First $50,000 in annual spending (then 1x)
3x Flights booked directly with the airline and on Amex Travel
4x Dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in annual spending per calendar year for U.S. supermarkets, then 1x)
5x Flights booked directly with the airline, and airfare and prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
10x Restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined eligible purchases, during your first six months of card membership.

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 100,000-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.

Featured photo by The Points Guy. 

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.  

The Platinum Card® from American Express

WELCOME OFFER: 100,000 Points Terms Apply.

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $2,000

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: Delta Sky Club and Centurion lounge access, up to $200 annual airline fee credit and up to $200 in Uber Cash annually (only for use in the U.S.)  (Enrollment required for select benefits)

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Plus, earn 10x points on eligible purchases on the Card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • $200 Hotel Credit: Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 in statement credits each month when you pay for eligible purchases with the Platinum Card® at your choice of one or more of the following providers: Peacock, Audible, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • New! American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. Now there are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status available to Basic Card Member only.
  • $300 Equinox Credit: Get up to $25 back each month on select Equinox memberships. Enrollment required.
  • $179 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $179 back per year on your CLEAR® membership.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
See Pay Over Time APR
Annual Fee
$695
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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