Many of AMEX's cards are really just centered on non-point-related benefits, which means they're pretty much impossible to review in a useful non-subjective manner. Green card? It's a 1 MR per dollar spent card with a $95 annual fee, which is abysmal in terms of rewards. Platinum is nice if you really value lounge access or other membership benefits, but like the green card, the rewards rate is terrible. I don't think a review of these cards would be particularly helpful -- just get them if you think the non-rewards benefits are worth $95-450 a year.
The Ink Plus is, in many ways, very similar to the CSP. It's mostly useful as a point converter, but may also hit some useful categories for certain people.Pros:
-Huge sign-up bonuses
-Insanely good if you actually do spend a lot of money at office supply stores
-Covers internet, TV and cellular at 5%, which are categories almost everyone uses
-Improves value of Ink Cash and Freedom
-Sometimes offers retention bonuses (unlike CSP) and lounge accessCons:
-$95 annual fee
-Other categories aren't particularly useful for most people
For those who can get good value out of UR points, Ink Plus is a great card -- potentially even better than CSP. Let's first look at what it takes for the card to actually be worth getting (to justify the annual fee, assuming you'd otherwise have a base 2% on everything from DoubleCash) and then we'll compare it to CSP.
Basically, justifying the annual fee works the same as justifying CSP's annual fee, which is described in detail on the last page. You need to figure out what value you can get out of UR points, and then determine whether Ink's bonus categories and converting Freedom/Ink Cash bonus points puts you ahead. For instance, if you got a value of 1.5 out of UR points, you could cover the annual fee by spending $5000 in Freedom bonus categories and converting them, spending $5000 in Ink's 5% categories and converting to UR points, or some combination. This is explained in a lot more depth in the CSP post the last page -- you just need the conversion of UR points to cover the $95 annual fee.Ink vs CSP
The real question here, however, is whether Ink is better than CSP. That is, whether you'll get more out of Ink's categories and potential fee waivers and retention bonuses than you'd get out of CSP's.
At first glace you'd think it's just whether your spending on dining/travel nets you more than your spending at office supply stores and on cell, TV and internet. But it's not that simple. The catch is that there's also the Ink Cash and Freedom cards, which cover those categories some or all of the time.
So what we're really looking at is Ink Plus/Ink Cash/Freedom vs CSP/Ink Cash/Freedom.
Ink Cash covers Ink Plus's same 5% categories, plus gas and restaurants at 2%. So essentially, with CSP you're getting the travel category (minus hotels, since those are covered under Ink Plus) and with Ink Plus you're getting lounge access, retention bonuses and higher spending potential in your 5% categories.
For most people it's ultimately about whether CSP's travel category minus hotels (so airlines, parking, taxis, buses, etc) is more valuable than lounge access and potential fee waivers and retention bonuses.
Here's a list of retention offers for the Ink. http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/chase-ultimate-rewards/1106796-chase-retention-bonus-fee-waiver-reports-all-cards-162.html#
It seems that, a fee waiver and a 10k UR bonus for 5k spent are common, but not ubiquitous.
As a general rule of thumb, I'd say that if you can get a retention bonus, Ink Plus is generally better, and if you can't, CSP is generally better. However, if you spend enough to justify the annual fee simply on airlines, parking and ground transportation, then CSP still comes out on top.
For example, if you got a value of 2.0 out of UR points and you spent $5000 a year in those 3 categories, it would actually be worth getting CSP even if you got a fee waiver on Ink Plus.Who Should Get Ink Plus
-Anyone who actually spends over $25000 in the 5% categories
-Anyone who doesn't spend much on travel, but wants to convert Freedom/Ink Cash points to UR
-Anyone who doesn't cover CSP's annual fee with spending in the travel category
-Those planning to grab the sign up bonus and downgrade to Ink CashWho Shouldn't Get Ink Plus
-Anyone who can't get good value out of UR or doesn't travel
-Anyone who could get better value our of Ink Cash + CSP
-Those who can get better value out of MR or a fixed point system like the Arrival+'s
So again, if you can get good enough value out of UR points to be considering CSP or Ink Plus, then it's really about whether you want CSPs travel category or Ink's options for retention bonuses and 2 lounge visits
. If you're a big spender and you're pretty sure you can get a fee waiver (or better yet, 10k UR for spending) then Ink Plus is probably better unless you're really getting good mileage out of CSP's travel category (no pun intended).
A case could be made for getting both, but really only if a) you spend a ton on both travel and Ink's 5% categories, or b) if you're a big spender and you're sure you can take advantage of the 10k UR for 5k spent retention bonus each yet.