Whether it’s the trio of legacy airlines in the U.S. or the main airline alliances, some things just work well in threes.
For example, many of us at TPG love the Chase trifecta in our wallets: the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Ink Business Preferred Credit Card and Chase Freedom Unlimited. Used together, owning these three cards offers a powerful combination of earning rates, welcome offers and perks.
Thanks in part to Chase’s competitive offerings, the issuer has constructed a similar “Amex trifecta,” with three cards that complement each other in nearly every way — providing outsized value with a reasonable price tag.
Each of these cards is great on its own, but they can unlock serious value, even for infrequent travelers, when combined. Let’s dig a bit deeper.
Related: Choosing the best American Express credit card for you
The Platinum Card from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American Express is one of the most valuable cards available, thanks to a hefty welcome offer and a long list of luxury travel perks that can more than offset its $695 annual fee (see rates and fees).
The current welcome offer is 80,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $8,000 on purchases within the first six months of card membership. TPG values Amex points at 2 cents apiece when you maximize the program’s airline and hotel partners — especially with a transfer bonus.
Beyond the rewards side of the equation, cardholders can enjoy the following annual statement credits:
- Up to $200 in annual airline incidental credits, valid for baggage fees, seat assignments, lounge access and other incidental charges*
- Up to $200 in Uber Cash annually. Cardholders receive $15 in credits each month, with a $20 bonus in December*
- Up to $100 in annual Saks Fifth Avenue statement credits: up to $50 for purchases made between January and June and another up to $50 for purchases made between July and December*
- Up to $200 back in prepaid hotel bookings on Fine Hotels + Resorts or The Hotel Collection properties made through Amex Travel on stays of two or more nights
- Up to $189 in Clear Plus membership statement credits per calendar year*
- Up to $240 in digital entertainment statement credits per calendar year*
- Up to $300 in Equinox statement credits per calendar year*
- Terms apply
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*Enrollment is required for select benefits.
You’ll also receive up to a $100 statement credit for Global Entry or up to $85 fee credit for TSA PreCheck every 4-4½ years (depending on which application fee is charged to your card first). Whether you can maximize all of these credits or mix and match them to your own lifestyle, it’s easy to cover the ongoing $695 annual fee (see rates and fees) from these statement credits alone.
I like to think of the “out-of-pocket cost” as a discounted lounge membership, and the Amex Platinum has the most comprehensive airport lounge benefits of any card. In addition to a Priority Pass Select membership — which is available through several other cards — you’ll also receive access to Amex’s exclusive global collection of Centurion lounges and access to Delta Sky Clubs when on same-day Delta flights (though this will be limited to 10 Sky Club visits per year starting Feb. 1, 2025). Enrollment is required for select benefits.
The perks don’t stop there. The Amex Platinum also offers 5 points per dollar (a 10% return according to TPG’s valuations) on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel (on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year) and 5 points per dollar on prepaid hotels booked with Amex Travel.
Hotel stays are also rewarding, whether you take advantage of the complimentary Hilton and Marriott Gold elite status or book through Amex Fine Hotels + Resorts to earn property credits and room upgrades. Finally, you’ll enjoy a range of shopping protections and travel coverage when you charge eligible purchases to the card.
American Express limits welcome offers to once-per-lifetime; therefore, if you’ve held the Amex Platinum before and received the bonus, chances are you won’t receive the bonus if you apply for the card again. If you’re looking to take advantage of the Amex trifecta, I would suggest applying for the American Express® Gold Card first for the sake of welcome offer eligibility, but more on that later.
Related: Full review of the Amex Platinum
American Express Gold Card
The second part of this trio is the American Express® Gold Card, a powerful mid-tier option that pairs lucrative earning rates with value-added perks — which can easily cover the card’s $250 annual fee (see rates and fees).
For starters, the Amex Gold offers up to $120 in annual dining credits at select merchants (up to $10 per month) and up to $120 in Uber Cash for U.S. services annually (distributed in $10 monthly increments). Enrollment is required for select benefits.
The annual dining credit is broken up into $10 monthly statement credits that can be used at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. If you max out this credit, you’ll get $120 a year, lowering your out-of-pocket cost for the card to $130.
Then, you’ll receive $10 per month in Uber Cash, which is directly added to your Uber account once you add the card to your Uber account. You can use this toward Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S. Maxing out this benefit will then result in another $120, which means you are theoretically paying just $10 for the card per year.
Related: 6 ways to make the most of the Amex Gold Card benefits
The bonus categories on the Amex Gold are:
- 4 points per dollar on dining at restaurants
- 4 points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in spending per calendar year, then 1 point per dollar)
- 3 points per dollar on flights booked directly with the airline or on amextravel.com
- 1 point per dollar on other eligible purchases
- Terms apply
The welcome offer is currently 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases with your new card within the first six months of card membership, worth $1,200 according to TPG’s valuations. However, many readers have been targeted for a 75,000-point bonus (after spending $6,000 in the first three months) through CardMatch (targeted offer subject to change at any time).
Not only does Amex’s once-per-lifetime rule for welcome offers apply to the Amex Gold, but prospective cardmembers should also note their policy on card family restrictions. In October 2023, Amex added language in the terms and conditions that makes applicants ineligible to earn the welcome offer if they previously had the Amex Platinum card.
Suppose you’re keen on taking advantage of the Amex trifecta by holding both the Amex Gold and Amex Platinum. Applying for the Amex Gold first is a good idea, so you’re more likely to be eligible for the Platinum’s welcome offer later.
Related: Full review of the Amex Gold
The Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express
The Blue Business Plus® Credit Card from American Express is one of the most valuable cards for everyday non-bonus spending. This no-annual-fee card (see rates and fees) earns 2 points per dollar on the first $50,000 in annual spending (per calendar year) with no bonus categories to worry about; it earns 1 point per dollar after that.
Related: Here are some ways you might be eligible for a business credit card without realizing it
As with the other cards on this list, you’ll also get access to valuable Amex Offers, which can help you save money (or give you bonus points) on purchases you were already planning to make.
You may be surprised to learn that to be eligible for a business card, you don’t need a brick-and-mortar storefront. You could be eligible for a business card even if you have a side gig, such as selling items online, driving for a ride-hailing company or running vacation rentals. You can apply for a business card as a sole proprietor and use your social security number.
Related: Full review of the Amex Blue Business Plus
The total cost in annual fees of the Amex trifecta comes out to $945. While the annual statement credits can go a long way to offset that, the long-term value of this combo comes from the complementary bonus categories. Let’s take a look.
|Amex Platinum Card
|Amex Gold Card
|Amex Blue Business Plus
|5 points per dollar
|Flights booked directly with the airline, and airfare and prepaid hotels booked with amextravel.com
4 points per dollar
|U.S. supermarkets and dining at restaurants (on up to $25,000 in annual spending per calendar year for U.S. supermarkets, then 1 point per dollar)
|3 points per dollar
|Flights booked directly with the airline and through Amex Travel
|2 points per dollar
|The first $50,000 in annual spending
|1 point per dollar
|All non-bonus purchases
|All non-bonus purchases
|All purchases after spending $50,000 in a calendar year
The Amex trifecta allows you to supercharge your Membership Rewards points balance. If you can only get one of these cards, you can pick the perks and bonus categories that work best for you without compromising anything on the redemption side. But if you can get the entire trifecta, you’ll end up earning anywhere from a 4% to a 10% return (based on TPG valuations) on almost all your purchases.
Apply here: Amex Platinum
Apply here: Amex Gold
Apply here: Amex Blue Business Plus
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Gold, click here.
For rates and fees of the Blue Business Plus, click here.