The best American Express travel cards: 2021 review

Gabriela Peratello

A travel credit card helps you make the most of your spending, earning rewards you can put towards treats and travel in future. As a large card issuer, American Express has an impressive range of 11 consumer cards, and 3 further business travel cards.

Trying to find the best American Express card for travel? We have you covered.

Ths guide compares pros, cons, features and fees of 3 consumer and 2 business cards, including the popular American Express Platinum travel card. We’ll also introduce the Wise Multi-currency Account as another smart way to save when you travel.

📑 Table of Contents

Learn more about Wise

Overview: American Express travel cards

One of the most notable things about the range of American Express travel cards is just how many there are. You’ll be able to choose your favorite — but be prepared to be spoiled for choice. To help you out we’ve reviewed and profiled our top picks — keep reading for that.

    Here are some of the key facts about the Amex travel card range in general:
    • Broad range of 11 travel credit cards for individuals¹, and 3 business travel cards²
    • Some cards are offered in partnership with airlines and hotels to help you maximize your point earning
    • Choice of annual fee — from cards with zero annual fee to a maximum of 695 USD/year
    • All cards have opening offers on rewards and/or interest rates
    • Interest rates are variable — different cards have slightly different ranges on offer, based on your credit score
    • Many cards have extra perks like concierge services, insurance and airport lounge access

    Compare American Express travel cards with other providers

    Before you choose a travel credit card, compare the American Express travel card options with a few other providers. Here’s how the American Express Platinum card measures up to some other popular travel credit options.

    American Express Platinum Travel Card³Bank of America Travel RewardsDiscover it Miles Travel CardChase Sapphire Preferred
    Fees695 USD annual feeNo annual feeNo annual fee95 USD annual fee
    APR15.99% - 22.99% variable
      Intro APR of 0% for 12 months
      13.99% - 23.99% variable
      Intro purchase APR of 0% and balance purchase APR of 10.99% for 14 months
      11.99% - 22.99% variable
    15.99% - 22.99% variable
    Foreign transaction feeNo foreign transaction feeNo foreign transaction feeNo foreign transaction feeNo foreign transaction fee
    Recommended creditGood - excellentGood - excellentGood - excellentGood - excellent

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    American Express travel credit cards card full review

    To help you decide which American Express travel card is right for you, check out this detailed review of some of the most popular options for consumer and business customers.

    The Platinum Card

    ✅ Pros❎ Cons
    • Great opening offer for new cardholders
    • Get both membership reward points and statement credits based on your spending
    • Earn 5x points on flights and hotels
    • High annual fee
    • Variable APR, so the interest you pay may not be the best out there, depending on your credit score

    The American Express Platinum Travel Card⁷ is a popular option which has a high annual fee, but huge earning opportunities if you use it regularly. In fact you could get back up to 1,400 USD/year in statement credits across categories like hotels and travel.

    Features

    • Up to 100,000 new member bonus points based on spending patterns
    • Earn 5x reward points on hotels and travel, 1x on all other spend
    • Up to 1,400 USD statement credit based on your spend across different categories
    • 15.99% - 22.99% variable APR
    • No foreign transaction fees
    • Other travel related perks like lounge access and insurance

    Fees and charges

    Fee typeAmex Platinum Card fee⁸
    APR
    • Variable APR - 15.99% to 22.99%
    • Cash advance APR - 25.24%
    • Penalty APR - 29.99%
    Annual fee695 USD
    Foreign transaction feeNone
    Late payment feeUp to 40 USD
    Returned payment feeUp to 40 USD

    American Express Gold Card

    ✅ Pros❎ Cons
    • Lower annual fee compared to Platinum card
    • Earn extra points on dining, groceries and flights
    • 0% APR for the first 12 months
    • No additional points on hotel spend — lower point earning possibility on flight category
    • Check the APR you’ll be offered after the opening offer — it may not be the best available

    The American Express Gold Card⁹ is a good card for people who will be spending across a range of categories — you’ll earn more points on groceries, dining and flights booked through Amex. There’s also a good 0% APR offer for new cardholders, the opportunity to earn extra rewards as a new member, and a lower annual fee of 250 USD.

    Features

    • Up to 60,000 new member bonus points based on spending patterns
    • 0% opening APR for 12 months, then 15.99% - 22.99% variable APR
    • Earn 4x on dining, 4x on groceries, 3x on flights, 1x on all other spend
    • No foreign transaction fees
    • Other travel related perks like Global Concierge and baggage insurance

    Fees and charges

    Fee typeAmex Gold Card fee¹⁰
    APR
    • Variable APR - 15.99% to 22.99%
    • Cash advance APR - 25.24%
    • Penalty APR - 29.99%
    Annual fee250 USD
    Foreign transaction feeNone
    Late payment feeUp to 40 USD
    Returned payment feeUp to 40 USD

    American Express Green Card

    ✅ Pros❎ Cons
    • Good opening offer with reward points and a 0% APR
    • Earn on travel and transit — makes this a good all rounder
    • Lower annual fee
    • Earning opportunities are broader but at a lower rate than the other cards
    • APR based on creditworthiness — check the rate available to you to make sure it’s the best out there

    The American Express Green card¹¹ is a good all rounder which pays extra points on both international travel and transit — so you can earn as you commute. It also rewards eating out — so this might be the right one for you if you’re looking for a low fee card with a broad reward earning opportunity. Great offers for new cardholders add to the appeal.

    Features

    • Up to 45,000 new member bonus points based on spending patterns
    • 0% opening APR for 12 months, then 15.99% - 22.99% variable APR
    • Earn 3x on transit, travel and restaurants, 1x on all other spend
    • No foreign transaction fees
    • Other travel related perks like Global Concierge, trip delay, car rental and baggage insurance

    Fees and charges

    Fee typeAmex Green Card fee¹²
    APR
    • Variable APR - 15.99% to 22.99%
    • Cash advance APR - 25.24%
    • Penalty APR - 29.99%
    Annual fee150 USD
    Foreign transaction feeNone
    Late payment feeUp to 40 USD
    Returned payment feeUp to 40 USD

    Business Platinum Card

    ✅ Pros❎ Cons
    • Good APRs available for customers with a high credit score
    • Opening offers and enhanced earning for high value purchases
    • Point earning is only maximized if you book travel through Amex and charge expensive items to the card

    A business travel credit card can offer good reward point earning opportunities — and the Amex Business Platinum Card¹³ is particularly good for points on travel and high ticket items. If you have a high credit score you may be able to access a low APR, as an extra bonus.

    Features

    • Relatively low APR for customers with a high credit score
    • 595 USD annual fee
    • 120,000 extra reward points as an opening offer
    • 5x rewards on flights and hotels through Amex travel
    • 1.5x rewards on purchases of 5,000 USD or more
    • 1x rewards on other spend
    • No foreign transaction fee
    • Hotel and airline benefits including premium memberships
    • Some trip and travel insurance available

    Fees and charges

    Fee typeAmex Business Platinum Card fee¹⁴
    APR
    • Variable APR - 14.24% to 22.24%
    • Penalty APR - 29.24%
    Annual fee595 USD
    Foreign transaction feeNone
    Late payment fee39 USD or 2.99% of amount owed, whichever is greater
    Returned payment fee39 USD

    Business Gold Card

    ✅ Pros❎ Cons
      Lower annual fee compared to Platinum card
    • Add employee cards to earn more points
    • Flexible ways to earn more points
    • Add extra employees and maximize the total spend — or this card may not pay back as well as others

    The Business Gold Card¹⁵ is a good pick if you’ll be adding employee cards to the same account. This way you can earn points on your combined total spending for a greater earning opportunity. Bonus rewards aren’t in fixed categories, but rather the 2 categories you’ve spent the most in in a given billing cycle. This adds extra flexibility to the card.

    Features

    • 4x rewards on 2 categories where you spend the most each billing cycle
    • 1x points on all other spend
    • Lower annual fee of 295 USD
    • Add employee cards to earn additional points
    • Choose to pay any charges immediately or at a later stage with interest
    • Variable APR - 14.24% to 22.24%

    Fees and charges

    Fee typeAmex Business Gold Card fee¹⁶
    APR
    • Variable APR - 14.24% to 22.24%
    • Penalty APR - 29.24%
    Annual fee295 USD
    Foreign transaction feeNone
    Late payment fee39 USD or 2.99% of amount owed, whichever is greater
    Returned payment fee39 USD

    Rewards

    Here’s how the reward opportunities line up side by side.

    How to earn RewardsHow to redeem Rewards
    The Platinum Card
    • 5x rewards on travel and hotels
    • 1x on all other spend
    • New member bonus available
    • Pay with points on Amex Travel or treat yourself with rewards from 500 brands
    • Statement credit also available on some spend categories
    American Express Gold Card
    • 4x rewards on groceries and dining, 3x on flights
    • 1x on all other spend
    • New member bonus available
    • Pay with points on Amex Travel
    • Transfer points to eligible schemes from international and domestic airlines¹⁷
    American Express Green Card
    • 3x rewards on travel, transit and flights
    • 1x on all other spend
    • New member bonus available
    Use the Membership Rewards Program to redeem gift cards, travel and immersive experiences
    Business Platinum Card
    • 5x rewards on flights and hotels through Amex travel
    • 1.5x rewards on purchases of 5,000 USD or more
    • 1x rewards on other spend
    • Redeem at the highest rate by booking travel through Amex or getting gift cards
    • Alternatively redeem against statement credits or Amazon purchases for a lower rate
    Business Gold Card
    • 4x rewards on 2 categories where you spend the most each billing cycle
    • 1x points on all other spend
    • Redeem at the highest rate by booking travel through Amex or getting gift cards
    • Alternatively redeem against statement credits or Amazon purchases for a lower rate

    Fees and charges

    Picking a card which balances rewards with fair fees is crucial - here is what you need to know about American Express Travel credit cards.

    Fee typeAmerican Express Travel credit cards
    APR
      APR is set by card and the credit score of the applicant:
        Consumer cards
        • Variable APR - 15.99% to 22.99%
        • Cash advance APR - 25.24%
        • Penalty APR - 29.99%
            Business cards
            • Variable APR - 14.24% to 22.24%
            • Penalty APR - 29.24%
            Annual feeVaries by card: None - 695 USD
            Foreign transaction feeNone
            Late payment fee
            • Consumer cards: Up to 40 USD
            • Business cards: 39 USD or 2.99% of amount owed, whichever is greater
            Returned payment fee
            • Consumer cards: Up to 40 USD
            • Business cards: 39 USD

            Spending internationally: exchange rate

            There’s no foreign transaction fee for the Amex travel cards we’ve profiled. However, you’ll need to watch out for cash advance fees which can be on the high side, and include both an upfront fee and an immediate interest charge.

            Your foreign purchases will be converted back to dollars using the Amex rate — just watch out for dynamic currency conversion (DCC). DCC is where you pay in US dollars abroad instead of the local currency. It seems to be a benefit because you can immediately see the USD value of your spending — but actually you’ll usually find yourself paying a high fee and getting a poor exchange rate. Avoid if possible, by paying in the local currency wherever you are.

            Use the mid-market rate on international purchases: meet Wise
              If you’re planning on spending in a foreign currency and want to net the best exchange rate out there, you need Wise and the Wise Multi-currency Account.
                Open a Wise Multi-currency Account online for free, and you can hold, spend and send dozens of currencies, with currency exchange that uses the mid-market exchange rate. You’ll only ever pay a low transparent fee to switch between currencies, and then it’s free to spend with your linked debit card. It couldn’t be easier.

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              If what you need is a travel credit card, there’s probably one in the American Express travel card range that’ll suit you. Check out the features and fees carefully while you choose to get the best options for your needs — and don’t forget to look at the Wise Multi-currency Account as a cheap, low risk way to spend while you travel.


              Sources:

              1. American Express - Travel rewards
              2. American Express - Business compare travel rewards credit cards
              3. American Express - Platinum card
              4. Bank of America - Credit cards
              5. Discover - Travel credit cards
              6. Chase - Pricing
              7. American Express - Platinum
              8. American Express - Platinum card fees
              9. American Express - Gold card
              10. American Express - Gold card fees
              11. American Express - Green
              12. American Express - Green card fees
              13. American Express - Business Platinum credit card
              14. American Express - Business Platinum charges
              15. American Express - Business Gold credit card
              16. American Express - Business Gold card
              17. American Express - Business Gold card fees

              Sources checked 08.25.2021.


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              This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

              We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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