American Express (Amex) is an American company in the finance and insurance industry. They were founded in New York in 1850 and are headquartered there today. Amex employs over 10,000 people around the world.
Experts estimate that out of all the credit card transactions in the United States, Amex charges account for nearly a quarter. The company is worth an estimated $14.97 billion dollars and is one of the top companies is the world. Additionally, they have $159 billion in assets, there are nearly 112.2 million of their cards in circulation, annual revenues reach $34.4 billion, and their net income is $5.89 billion. Amex offers high-end cards for individuals, small businesses, and larger corporations. They also specialize in travel, rewards, and business.
To own an American Express (AMEX) card, one gets an Introductory 0% APR for the first 12 months. AMEX’s ongoing APRs then range from 13.24% to 23.24%. When compared to major competitors such as Chase and Citi, AMEX seems to have taken their APRs from the same playbook. Chase has ongoing APR rates ranging from 13.24% to 23.24% while Citi’s range from 13.24% – 23.24%. Both Chase and Citi have longer introductory APR periods of 15 months compared to AMEX’s 12 months. All in all, AMEX is on par with the competition. Getting an AMEX card will not be more expensive than any of the credit card companies out there offering similar cards.
Annual fee range
When it comes to annual fees, AMEX cards are extremely diverse, ranging from as little as $0 to as much as $450. These are, in fact, the extremes of AMEX’s cards. Seven of their cards have zero annual fees, while their American Express Serve® card has a $1 monthly fee ($12 per year). The other cards fall somewhere imbetween on the spectrum, typically $75, $95, and $195. Several of these cards offer an introductory $0 annual fee with the higher annual fee (as mentioned) kicking in every year afterwards. Their highest annual fee comes with the Delta Reserve® Credit Card which charges $450 per year. (The same goes for their business cards, with $450 being the highest annual fee). Overall, regarding annual fees, AMEX’s cards offer plenty of variety to meet each customer’s needs.
When it comes to customer support, AMEX is available 24 hours, 7 days a week. Although their general customer support number has limited hours, their credit card toll-free number is 24/7. They also offer 24/7 phone numbers for the prepaid AMEX card as well as for making payments, hearing impaired and for new customers applying for a credit card. We liked AMEX’s “Chat With Us” feature, which is a live chat box tab located on the side of their website page. This feature is for those who have questions before applying for a card. It lets you apply for a credit card by phone or you can leave your number and have AMEX call you.
Foreign Transaction Fees
AMEX’s personal credit cards have a foreign transaction fee of 2.7% of each purchase after conversion to US dollars. Even better, none of their business credit cards carry no foreign transaction fees. 2.7% is more competitive when compared with most credit card companies who offer on average 3% on foreign transactions in other currencies.
AMEX offers one of the longest lists of credit cards in the industry. Their credit card list is comprised of the following:
- Blue Cash Preferred® Card
- Blue from American Express®
- Amex EveryDay® Credit Card
- Platinum Card® from American Express
- Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express
- The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card
- Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card
- Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card
- Blue Cash Everyday® Card
- Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card
- Hilton HHonorsTM Card from American Express
- American Express® Green Card
- Gold Card from American Express
- Plenti® Credit Card from Amex
- Blue Sky from American Express®
- Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express
- Hilton HHonorsTM Surpass® Card from American Express
- The Mercedes-Benz Credit Card from American Express
- Blue Cash® from American Express
- American Express Serve®
- American Express Serve® FREE Reloads
- American Express Serve® Cash Back
Here are AMEX’s Business Cards:
- SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card
- Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card
- The Plum Card®
- The Business Gold Rewards Card
- Business Platinum Card®
- Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card
- Business Green Rewards Card
- Blue for Business® Credit Card
- Lowe’s Business Rewards Card
- Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card
- Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card
- Corporate Platinum Card®
Options for Rewards
With so many rewards card choices, AMEX’s rewards options are plentiful. After reviewing all of the rewards (and bonus offers) in total, here are some rewards we found to be superior:
- Amex EveryDay® Credit Card offers 2x points at US supermarkets.
- Blue Cash Preferred® Card offers 6% Cash Back at US supermarkets,
- Blue Cash Everyday® Card offers 3% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets, up to $6,000 per year in purchases, 2% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and 2% Cash Back at select U.S. department stores
- American Express® Green Card lets you use Membership Rewards® points to book a trip on the American Express Travel site. These points can cover airfare, hotel stays, and more.
- The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card gives you free nights at over 1,200 hotels and resorts in over 100 countries with no blackout dates
- Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card offers 2 miles on every dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta.
- Lowe’s Business Rewards Card: 3x Points at restaurants and office supply stores in the US, and on wireless telephone services purchased directly from US service providers plus 2x Points at Lowe’s
- Bonus Offer: Currently at the time of this review writing, AMEX’s Blue Cash Preferred® Card has an annual fee Bonus offer which reduced their normal $95 annual fee is reduced to $75 if your application is received by 8/3/2016.
These are just some of AMEX’s rewards, which carry higher points earnings than many of their competitors, who typically offer 1% on purchases. AMEX also has offers as high as 6% cash back on supermarket items, which is unheard of. Typically cashback ranges from 1-3%. Overall, depending on what you would most benefit from rewards-wise, AMEX offers more than the competition.
You don’t want to make late payments with an AMEX card. Although they offer cards with flexible payment options, most of their cards require full payment each billing cycle. Their penalty charges range from 1.5% then 2.99% of the past due amount (minimum: $38). This means a late payment will cost you $38 or 2.99% of your past due amount, whichever is greater. So if you have a balance of $300, the late payment is $300 plus 2.99% of $300. This means 2.99% of $300 is $8.97. The unfair part is that in this case, where the late fee comes out to less than $38, AMEX charges you $38—which is more than most credit card companies with high late fees charge. Most companies we reviewed charge late fees up to $35 or $37 as their ceiling. With American Express, $38 is the floor.
AMEX offers its members the following security measures and policies:
- Dispute Resolution policy: ensures that American Express will work with you to help resolve fraudulent or incorrect charge(s) on your statement.
When researching each of AMEX’s individual personal cards, the Dispute Resolution feature is the only security measure we found. Even worse, we did not find this feature listed for every card. The company seems more focused on offering traveling policies, like travel insurance and extended warranties. If there are more, AMEX does not display it openly in their list of benefits or terms of agreement. This is surprising for a company as prominent as AMEX to be devoid of a long list of security measures and policies. Other companies appear to outweigh AMEX in this area.
What makes AMEX different is that most of their cards have no interest or APR due to the fact that the full balance has to be paid every month. For example, if your balance is $200 for that month (or billing cycle), you have to pay the full balance by the due date. Unlike cards offered by other credit card companies, there is no minimum payments.
Building Credit/Student Cards
If you’re a college student needing a “starter” card or looking for a secured card to help you fix or build your credit, AMEX only offers a prepaid option, their American Express Serve® cards. They offer 3 prepaid cards in total: American Express Serve®, American Express Serve® FREE Reloads and the American Express Serve® Cash Back card. These cards offer prepaid benefits in varying degrees. Using these card at various locations can get pricey as they come with monthly fees ranging from $0 (if you put in a direct deposit of $500 or more) to $5.95. Prepaid cards do not help build your credit, so it is not helpful to those needing this option. We were hoping AMEX offered a secured card or a student card similar to other companies, but they do not.