Sell me on AMEX

American Express forum. Talk about AmEx credit cards like Blue, Gold, Platinum, Centurion, and more.
16 posts
freyj6
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Sell me on AMEX

Postby freyj6 » Wed Feb 26, 2014 11:06 pm

I just don't get it. Why are AMEX cards so popular? At least to me, it seems that very few cards can justify their annual fee, unless you just really love lounge access or some other elite service perk.

Green Card - Seems like a $95 annual fee for a 1% back card. Or can you make MR points go a really long way?

Gold Card - Big annual fee for 3% on airfare. I feel like it's easy to get 3% out of CSP, and travel = almost everything under the sun, not "flights booked with airlines".

Platinum Card - Mercedes version seems good if you like Mercedes. Otherwise hard to justify a $500 annual fee imo.

Blue Cash - Preferred makes sense if you have a big family that spends a lot on groceries. Sallie Mae with a 2 or 3 percent backup card seems to make a lot more sense for most people though.

Starwood - Seems good if you often stay at starwood properties. I've heard a lot of good things about this card, so I guess if you're big on starwood hotels it's a good general spending card.

Am I missing something? What would be a realistic example of someone who would benefit more from one of these cards than CSP or Arrival?

Thanks!
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Chase Freedom + Discover IT + Churning


PowerMan572
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Postby PowerMan572 » Thu Feb 27, 2014 2:23 am

LoL I was thinking the exact same thing about 3 weeks ago when I was looking for credit cards to apply for! I even Google'd this exact question to see what people said and what the fuss is all about regarding Amex.

From what I gathered, people really liked the customer service. Secondly, people think it's prestigious to be carrying an Amex card. Personally I thought this was ridiculous. When I worked retail, I could care less what card people were swiping with and the color of credit cards didn't mean anything to me.

I never thought I would own an Amex card since they are not accepted everywhere, and the annual fees. HOWEVER, after looking at the Blue Cash Preferred card, it was too good to pass up. In my opinion, this is the only Amex card that is worth it for my lifestyle. It provides 6% (yes, SIX PERCENT) cash back on groceries! Shopping at Whole Foods every week, that 6% is going to add up fast. Secondly, come summer time when gas prices are high and driving a Nissan Murano, that 3% cash back on gas is going to be pretty nice too. I only use this card for gas and grocery.

lexrj
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Postby lexrj » Thu Feb 27, 2014 2:36 am

PowerMan572 wrote:HOWEVER, after looking at the Blue Cash Preferred card, it was too good to pass up. In my opinion, this is the only Amex card that is worth it for my lifestyle. It provides 6% (yes, SIX PERCENT) cash back on groceries! Shopping at Whole Foods every week, that 6% is going to add up fast. Secondly, come summer time when gas prices are high and driving a Nissan Murano, that 3% cash back on gas is going to be pretty nice too. I only use this card for gas and grocery.



+1
Charge cards are horrible, revolvers are great!
I have the BCP also and it's great! I max out the 6% category easily every yr.
AMEX revolvers are great to raise your CL very quickly with their soft 3xCLIs, I went from 1k to 25k in less than 2yrs.

I would say the Platinum might make sense for some big travelers, even so, AMEX is poorly accepted in europe for instance.
Green Card is pathetic, Golds are a little better but there are still much better cards out there for way cheaper.
Not familiar with the SPG program but doesn't sound very exciting, unless you are a big spender on their hotel network.
---------------------------------------
Current in my Wallet
Amex BCP - 25K (02/12)
Barclaycard Arrival WMC - 15K (10/13)

Future
US Bank Cash +

Socks drawer
Crap One Quicksilver - 1.7K (04/11)
CSP - 15K (03/13)

Scores
FICO EX 772 / TU 765 / EQ 762 - (09/14)
AAoA 2.1

PowerMan572
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Postby PowerMan572 » Thu Feb 27, 2014 2:39 am

BCP is only $75 annual fee too. Pretty cheap considering how much you get back on gas and grocery :-) I just wish the card looked better. I don't like the clear look with blue square.

thom02099
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Postby thom02099 » Thu Feb 27, 2014 9:33 am

freyj6 wrote:I just don't get it. Why are AMEX cards so popular? At least to me, it seems that very few cards can justify their annual fee, unless you just really love lounge access or some other elite service perk.


In a word -- backdating. THIS is a feature that sets AMEX apart from all other card issuers. This becomes important in 2 ways;

1 - For a customer that previously had an AMEX card, let it lapse or perhaps burned AMEX, reapplying and getting a card backdates the membership date to the year of the original card and the month in which one applies. Hence, on my 3 AMEX cards, I have a "member since" date of 1991. My BCP in my siggy is my most current, having just acquired it (replacing a Clear that is still active). So I will have a total of 4 AMEX cards showing a MSD of 1991. This factors in to my AAofA and, with this new addition, change my AAofA positively.

2 - For a person just starting out in their credit journey, getting an AMEX card early on will have the same benefit. Let's say a 25year old consumer gets their first AMEX card this year, uses it judiciously, reaps some of the benefits that they have with their card. In a year or so, or maybe in a few years, they may decide to apply for another card. Again, that MSD would then backdate to 2014 as the year, but whatever month they apply in. So, theoretically, a card that they apply for in January of 2016, could appear to be older than a card issued in March of 2014!

For many folks, this backdating is the prime reason to have an AMEX card.

One other aspect; for many of us with the chargers, since they are PIF cards, it forces us to pay up at the end of the billing cycle when that due date approaches. Many folks anecdotally report that they use their AMEX chargers like a debit card, since it has to be paid. Why not reap some benefits from it? Yes, there are cards with better bennies. But the above reasons are what, for many, make AMEX desirable.
Retired, and in the process of retiring cards!
EQ = 846 EX=828 TU = 836 as of 02/2016

Spunky
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Postby Spunky » Thu Feb 27, 2014 11:05 am

Chase and a couple others seem to have aggressively closed the gaps in benefits with American Express for casual consumer use and rewards gaming.

There are a couple differentiators, particularly for business travel, significant purchases, and specific spending levels. The card obviously does not automatically confer some magically innate privilege or spending power. You have to be able to take advantage of the benefits.

1) On rewards, it really depends on how your spending tends to be distributed. Amex tends to focus on groceries and travel (with Gold Premier Rewards you can get 4 points per dollar on airfare). The Blue Cash Preferred is unbeatable for cash back if you are in the spending sweet spot. You could pick up a Mercedes Amex credit card for dining points.

2) The game breaker on rewards is the 15,000 point bonus at $30K spend per year with Gold Premier Rewards. If you reach this it basically jumps to 1.5 points per dollar on everything, which should easily cover the annual fee in value. Then you get bonuses on gas, groceries, and airfare. If you are spending at least that much, the rewards really exceed anything else out there.

3) I haven't used Chase but the Amex statements are really handy for business expenses. Each line item provides full business and category info, data, etc, in a nicely formatted and individually printable view. I can save these off as PDFs and submit in place of receipts.

4) People have cited customer service. This may vary between card products. I've never had to wait on hold with the Platinum service line--straight to an articulate human rep. This means a lot to me.

5) Special event ticket protection?

6) Platinum does still have some very unique perks--Premium Global Assist, primary rental insurance, Global Entry reimbursement... all oriented toward international travel.

7) Lastly the thing that no credit card reviews seem to cover in detail are the various consumer protection benefits. Most cards have something in place, but there are some significant differences in coverage lengths and amounts. Purchase Protection on Chase Sapphire Preferred for example is like $500/item I believe--the Gold Premier is $1000 and Platinum is $10,000. Warranty extension on Gold and Platinum are an additional year up to 5 years (vs 3 with Chase I believe) and $10,000 per claim/$50,000 per year.

I'm actually personally curious to put together a side by side comparison of these protection benefits and levels between some of the major cards...
MB Amex Platinum | Amex Premier Gold | Amex Everyday Preferred 25k | Citi Executive 22.5k | Barclay Arrival 12.5k | USAA Amex 10.5k | WF Platinum Visa 5k | Chase Visa | GECRB Visa

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HookEmHorns
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Postby HookEmHorns » Thu Feb 27, 2014 11:48 am

The Starwood isn't just for Starwood properties. They have a lot of of airline transfer partners. That's why that card is so popular.
AMEX PRG~1/14--backdated to 2012
AMEX BCE~6/13--backdated to 2012
Chase Freedom~5/13
Discover IT ~12/12

:cool:

takeshi
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Postby takeshi » Thu Feb 27, 2014 12:57 pm

It's not our job to sell you on anything. It's your job to find cards that suit you. If AmEx doesn't then move on to cards that do.

freyj6 wrote:Blue Cash - Preferred makes sense if you have a big family that spends a lot on groceries.

Doesn't take a big family. It's just me and my wife and we definitely benefit from 6% on groceries.

freyj6 wrote:Sallie Mae with a 2 or 3 percent backup card seems to make a lot more sense for most people though.

Citation? Don't just assume that your spend represents most people. Again, find whatever it is that suits you.

freyj6 wrote:Am I missing something?

Didn't see any mention of backdating in your OP. I added 2 new AmEx cards last year. Since my MSD is 1998 they both report as 16 year old tradelines which definitely helped to maintain my AAoA -- especially considering the 6 other new accounts that were also added last year.

I'd also +1 the comment on the 3x CLI.

freyj6
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Postby freyj6 » Thu Feb 27, 2014 2:48 pm

Cool thanks for the responses.

I suppose the Gold and Platinum cards are worth it for big spenders who can make use the perks. The backdating stuff is interesting -- guess I'll keep at least one no-fee AMEX card.

Anyone use Starwood over CSP or Arrival? In what situations would it be a better primary spending card?

I get it that BCP is great -- I have the card, but I'm going to downgrade it in favor of the BCE/Sallie Mae combo. I guess I underestimated the number of people who can benefit from it. If you spend more than around $4500 a year on groceries, it's worth it.

However, anyone who does most of their shopping at Costco, Walmart or another warehouse store wouldn't get much benefit.

Thanks again for the replies.
Current Strategy

Chase Freedom + Discover IT + Churning

MrMosby
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Postby MrMosby » Thu Feb 27, 2014 7:46 pm

Anyone use Starwood over CSP or Arrival? In what situations would it be a better primary spending card?


So I have both the Starwood and CSP card. It's really a tossup. I did a valuation of the points and the Starwood in some cases can be worth up to 3 cents/point when you do cash+points bookings with Starwood (versus a rough max redemption of 1.5 cents per point of CSP). Starwood also has the highest number of transfer partners (more than Ultimate Rewards or Membership Rewards).

With that said, I'm trying to amass Marriott/Ritz points right now for a trip I'm planning to take so I've been using my Ritz/CSP cards more frequently. Ultimately though with my home town being a Delta hub I would likely be using the SPG card all the time if it wasn't for that because there is so much value in the Starpoints.

Although it gets even more interesting yet - if you look at dining on First Fridays with CSP you would get 3x1.5 or 4.5 cents worth of points per dollar spent versus 3 cents per point on SPG. But on every day spend it would be 1.5 vs 3.

You really need to figure out what your goal is with the rewards.

Now on the Amex Platinum side, it's worth it if you use the Perks - from a spend perspective it's not the place to amass points through spend. But consider the trip insurance, $200 airline credit, $100 global entry fee reimbursement, SPG gold status it gives you etc. You're really paying the annual fee for status/perks, not earning points.
Everyday Preferred $45K | Amex Platinum NPSL | Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve $45K | Delta Platinum $30K | Chase Sapphire Preferred $64K | Citi Hilton HHonors $45K | Discover IT $25K



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