American Express issues some of the best travel credit cards in our hobby, like The Platinum Card® from American Express, the American Express® Gold Card, and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express. These are unlike typical credit cards, in that the card allows you to carry a balance for certain charges, but not all. All of which are offering incredible bonuses right now — we’re talking tens of thousands of points! So it’s important to make the most of your applications, your ability to earn points and the benefits they can give you.
To do so, you’ll need to understand Amex’s application rules and some of the mistakes people often make when it comes to earning rewards with the best American Express cards.
Let’s have a look at the rules surrounding American Express cardholder limits and some of the common errors folks make when applying for Amex cards.
How many Amex cards can you have?
Over the years American Express has been fairly lenient when it came to limiting the number of cards an individual could hold at once. But somewhat recently they’ve implemented a four-card limit on Amex credit cards.
The Points Guy confirmed this change, with an Amex spokesperson saying this regarding the four credit card limit:
Yes, we made that change, because, in general, we see very few of our customers actively using four or more cards at the same time. If a Card Member has four or more cards already with American Express and some of them are inactive, we will recommend they consider consolidating.
Amex also confirmed that the limit was ten on cards that have no spending limits. Here’s what you need to know regarding Amex cards with and without spending limits:
Spending limits vs. no spending limits
Cards like the American Express® Green Card have a fixed spending limit. This means you can only spend up to your credit card limit each month. You can stretch your payments out over time, but we never recommended this because the interest you’ll end up paying will negate any rewards you earn.
In comparison, cards like The Amex Business Platinum Card have no fixed spending limit. But the bank will evaluate the maximum purchase which you can make. And with a this type of card, you have to pay your balance in full every month (something you should always do to avoid paying interest anyway).
Other issuers with similar restrictions
American Express isn’t the only issuer that limits the number of cards a single cardholder can have. And compared to Chase’s rules, Amex’s limits are quite liberal.
For example, Chase won’t approve you for most of their cards if you’ve opened five or more cards from any bank (not counting certain business credit cards) in the past 24 months. This restriction is known as the Chase 5/24 rule.
Which Amex cards should you get?
With a fantastic lineup of American Express credit cards to choose from, you’re sure to find the card (or cards!) that’s right for you.
Spend a lot at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets? The American Express® Gold Card would be a great choice, especially given it’s offering a 60,000-points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first six months of account opening. The card has a $250 annual fee (see rates & fees).
Prefer premium travel perks like lounge access and annual travel credits? The Business Platinum Card® from American Express is the card you’re looking for. Right now, you can earn 100,000 bonus points after $15,000 in spend in the first three months of card membership.
Be sure to check out our full guide to the best Amex credit cards to find a card that aligns with your particular spending habits and travel goals.
Other things to consider to make the most of your Amex credit cards and rewards
You can only earn a welcome bonus once per card, per lifetime
Welcome bonuses go up and down but you can only earn a bonus once per card, per lifetime, on all American Express cards. So it makes the most sense to apply when there are increased limited-time offers because you never know if or when a bonus will increase again.
Keep in mind, you can still earn the bonus on different card products. For example, you’re eligible for a bonus on both The Platinum Card® from American Express and the Amex Business Platinum Card because one is a personal card and the other is the small business version.
Amex has additional rules that may restrict you from earning a bonus if you’ve already applied for lots of cards:
Welcome offer not available to applicants who have or have had this Card. We may also consider the number of American Express Cards you have opened and closed as well as other factors in making a decision on your welcome offer eligibility.
Fortunately, Amex will now tell you up front if you’re not eligible for a welcome offer when you’re applying online.
Know which cards earn transferrable Amex Membership Rewards points
Not all American Express cards earn Membership Rewards points. Some, like the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, earn cash back. And others, like the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card earn airline miles.
Know all of the Amex transfer partners
Once you’re collecting Amex Membership Rewards points, come back to our guide to Amex Membership Rewards and we’ll take you step by step on how to transfer and which partners are your best bet for different destinations.
Here’s a look at the transfer ratios and estimated transfer times for each of the airline partners:
|American Express Membership Rewards Airline Transfer Partners|
|Airline||Transfer Ratio||Estimated Transfer Time|
|All Nippon Airways||1:1||48 Hours|
|Asia Miles||1:1||48 Hours|
|Flying Blue (Air France & KLM)||1:1||Instant|
|Iberia||1:1||1 to 3 days|
|Singapore Airlines||1:1||~1 to 2 days|
Not all Amex airline transfer partners are equal. You’ll want to think about your travel goals, airline preferences, home airport and award availability before you consider transferring points.
Note: The transfer ratios in the table are the standard ratios. However, Amex frequently offers limited-time bonuses when you transfer points to different airline partners.
Here’s a look at the transfer ratios and estimated transfer times for each of the hotel partners:
|Hotel||Transfer Ratio||Estimated Transfer Time|
Note: Transferring Amex Membership Rewards points to Choice Hotels (1:1 ratio) or Hilton (1:2 ratio) isn’t typically a good deal.
Choice Hotels are usually inexpensive so you won’t often get a good value for your Amex Membership Rewards points, and there are lots of ways to easily earn Hilton points, so we prefer saving our Amex Membership Rewards points for transfers to airline partners.
- There’s a small excise fee of 0.06 cents per point, up to a maximum of $99, for every transfer you make to US airlines.
- Transfers are final. Once you’ve moved points to an airline or hotel partner, you can not move them back.
- You can only transfer Amex Membership Rewards to loyalty accounts under your name or the name of an authorized user on your card
You can book nearly any airline through the Amex travel portal
The standard redemption value when you redeem Amex Membership Rewards points for travel through the Amex Membership Rewards travel portal is 1 cent per point. For example, a $300 flight will cost 30,000 points.
Using your points through the Amex travel portal can be a very good deal for cheap fares. However, this isn’t the best way to book fancy Business Class flights and luxury hotels — that’s when you’ll want to transfer your points — unless you’ve got the Amex Business Platinum Card (more on that below).
Don’t forget about the 35% rebate for Amex Business Platinum cardholders
When you use Amex Pay With Points, you get 1 cent per point toward your ticket. But those with the Amex Business Platinum Card can get a 35% points rebate (up to 500,000 points back per calendar year):
- 35% of your points back for ALL First Class or Business Class flights booked through the Amex travel portal
- 35% of your points back for all flights, including coach tickets, booked with your selected airline through the Amex travel portal
The card has a $595 annual fee (see rates & fees).
This table shows how earning 95,000 Amex Membership Rewards points from the welcome bonus and minimum spending on the Amex Business Platinum can get you nearly $1,400 worth of airfare.
|Points||Value of airfare through the Amex Travel Portal||35% points rebate amount|
|95,000 Amex Membership Rewards Points||$950||33,250 Amex Membership Rewards points|
|33,250 Amex Membership Rewards points||$332.50||11,638 Amex Membership Rewards points|
|11,638 Amex Membership Rewards points||~$116.38||~4,073 Amex Membership Rewards points|
Just note, you must redeem at least 5,000 points to use Pay With Points. And keep in mind, getting 35% of your Amex Membership Rewards points back is automatic, but you’ll have to wait 8 to 10 weeks to see them in your account.
Use ALL of your credits before they expire
Some of the most generous perks that American Express offers its customers come in the form of credits, like the credits you’ll get with the Amex Platinum card. They’re a great way to help offset annual fees.
For example, with the Amex Platinum card, you’ll get annual credits in the form of:
- Up to $200 for airline incidental fees on your selected airline
- Up to $200 in annual U.S. Uber credits ($15 credit each month and a $20 bonus in December)
- Up to $100 in Saks Fifth Avenue credits
- $85 TSA PreCheck or $100 Global Entry Credit (every 4 years)
That’s an easy way to offset the $550 annual fee (see rates & fees)
Make the most of your spending categories
Whether you’ve got one or five Amex cards, knowing when to use them and for what purchases is paramount.
Aside from using a card for everything to meet minimum spending requirements, you should have a strategy for when to use each card.
For example, Amex Platinum cardholders will earn 5x Amex Memberships Rewards points per dollar spent on airfare booked directly through airlines or Amex Travel (on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year, starting Jan. 1, 2021), whereas American Express® Gold Card cardholders will only earn 3 points per dollar for flights booked directly through airlines or Amex Travel. So make sure you use the right card in the right situation.
Or for large expenses, the Amex Business Platinum earns 1.5x points per dollar on qualifying purchases of $5,000 or more (up to 1 million additional points per calendar year).
I like to keep a note on my phone that reminds me of what cards to use. That way I don’t forget which card earns the most for buying that chocolate donut.
Plan how you’ll meet the minimum spending requirement and avoid the interest trap
Remember, your annual fee does not count toward your minimum spending. Neither do cash advances, cash-like instruments like certain gift cards or money orders. Returns don’t count, either. And the clock starts ticking on your minimum spending time period when you are approved, not when you receive or activate your new card.
Definitely go in with some kind of plan. Each of these credit cards offers you a welcome bonus. To get the bonus, you’re required to spend a certain amount on purchases within a certain amount of time from being approved for the card. So be sure you have upcoming expenses that you’d be making anyway.
For instance, this time of year you might know you’ll be paying for summer camps or buying sports gear for the kids, and maybe you have birthday and anniversary gifts coming up too. And of course, you’ll have your usual grocery shopping and other expenses.
Basically, put all your expenses on the card until you’ve unlocked the bonus. If you get stuck, check out our resource full of ideas to help you meet your spending requirements. Get your bonus because that’s the fastest way to start traveling.
Paying interest will negate any rewards you earn
We all want to sleep well at night, so please, please, please do NOT get into this hobby if you’re the kind of person who falls behind on your bills. The interest charges on these cards are very high.
Folks who follow Million Mile Secrets already know this and pay their bills on time and in full. If you take care of your credit and avoid carrying a balance, you’ll be rockin’ this miles-and-points hobby in no time!
You can only have four Amex cards with spending limits, and ten Amex cards with no spending limits, open at any given time.
While the decision to approve you for a card is ultimately up to the bank, now that you know some of the most important Amex rules, you can get out there and start collecting rewards with any of the best American Express cards to achieve your travel dreams.
For rates and fees of the Amex Gold card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Business Platinum card, click here.
For the latest tips and tricks on traveling big without spending a fortune, please subscribe to the Million Mile Secrets daily email newsletter.
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
Welcome Offer: Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That’s an extra half point per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year.
35% Airline Bonus: Use Membership Rewards® Pay with Points for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 35% of the points back, up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year when you book on amextravel.com.
Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.
Enroll to get up to $200 in statement credits annually by getting up to $100 semi-annually for U.S. purchases with Dell. Terms apply.
Pay Over Time Option: A flexible payment option to help manage cash flow on purchases of $100 or more.
See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on purchases
14.24% – 22.24% Variable
Balance Transfer Fee
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