Dashia Starr is a staff reporter for NextAdvisor based in North Carolina. She has previously written for…
We’ve long been fans of pairing rewards cards to get the most value on every purchase, and the Amex trifecta is one of the best ways to do just that.
With mounting prices on everyday items and a returning interest in travel, maximizing your spending with credit card rewards can be as impactful as ever. And for savvy credit card users, the right card combination can lead to discounted travel, premium benefits, and everyday savings.
Like the Chase trifecta, combining a trio of complementary American Express cards allows you to strategically take advantage of a range of rewards categories, credits, and benefits, while offsetting the sometimes costly fees these cards charge. When you combine the American Express Platinum Card®, American Express® Gold Card, and the Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express you’ll have a card to earn rewards on almost everything. But the luxury cards come with hefty fees that may only be worth it if you’re a frequent traveler or rewards categories align with your spending.
Here’s how to use the Amex trifecta and how you can decide if this card strategy is right for you.
What is the American Express Trifecta?
To complete the Amex trifecta, you should have the following three Amex cards in your card portfolio. Each of these cards earn Membership Rewards points and have complementary rewards. Here’s a glance at each card and the best way to use them to maximize points.
As with all of our credit card reviews, our analysis is not influenced by any partnerships or advertising relationships.
Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year. Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
The Amex Platinum is one of NextAdvisor’s best travel credit cards. It’s one of the highest-priced cards on the market, with a $695 annual fee and plenty of premium perks. You’ll earn 5X Membership Rewards points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or through American Express Travel (up to $500,000 in spending per calendar year), 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel, and 1 point per dollar on everything else. The Platinum card also comes with credits that can go a long way to offset the fee.
Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S. Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X). Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
The Amex Gold is another NextAdvisor travel card top pick, and comes with a $250 annual fee. It’s best suited for rewards and annual credits toward everyday spending, plus some travel benefits. You’ll earn 4X Membership Rewards points on dining at restaurants worldwide and at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 in purchases per calendar year, then 1X), 3X Membership Rewards points on flights booked directly with airlines or American Express Travel, and 1X points on everything else.
Earn 2X Membership Rewards® points on everyday business purchases such as office supplies or client dinners. 2X applies to the first $50,000 in purchases per year, 1 point per dollar thereafter.
The Blue Business Plus from Amex offers 2X points on all of your business expenses (up to $50,000 per year and 1X points after that). You can maximize your rewards by using this card for purchases that don’t qualify for the Amex Platinum and Gold cards’ bonus categories.
Unlike the other cards, this is a card for small business owners, which means you must have a business to qualify. However, that doesn’t mean you must be a brick-and-mortar entrepreneur — many freelancers, self-employed, or side gig workers can qualify for business credit cards.
How to Maximize Benefits With the Amex Trifecta
Before you apply for the Amex trifecta, first consider whether your spending and travel habits align with the cards’ rewards and if you’ll get enough value to offset the annual fees.
Together, these cards charge $945 annually. If you don’t travel often, or don’t already spend on the purchases that will earn you the annual credits that come with this card, you may want to consider other card combinations that better fit your spending and budget.
But if you do think you’ll get the most value from the Amex trifecta, start maximizing from the start by considering when to apply. First, think about the potential effect on your credit score. Too many applications within a short time can — at least temporarily — have a negative impact on your score. And since each of these cards require great credit, you’ll want to keep a close eye on any fluctuations in your score.
Also consider your upcoming spending. If you have any upcoming travel to book, that can help you work toward the bonuses and earn points at the same time. For instance, if you’re booking summer vacations now, you may apply for the Platinum card first to earn 5X points on your flights and hotels. Then, once you’ve met the spending threshold in a few months and your trip is approaching, you may apply for the Amex Gold to earn 4X points on dining while on vacation.
Over time, these cards’ added benefits will really go a long way in offsetting their high cost. Annual credits toward Uber and Uber Eats, Clear membership, TSA PreCheck/Global Entry, airline fees, Walmart+ membership, select dining, digital subscriptions, and more can help you upgrade your comfort and convenience while traveling and save money on frequent spending at home.
Finally, maximize your cards by strategizing which one to use for the highest value on each purchase. Here’s a few examples of purchases and the cards we recommend using to make the most of the Amex trifecta:
- Book flights and hotels with your Platinum card to earn 5X points
- Set up automatic payments for select digital subscriptions (Audible, The New York Times, SiriusXM and Peacock) to your Platinum card to automatically get the points
- Use the Gold card for your weekly grocery trips and any restaurant spending to earn 4X points
- Make your Gold card your preferred payment option on Uber so you don’t miss out on the monthly credit
- For all other purchases, use the Blue Business Card to get 2x points — like gas stations, your phone bill, or other expenses
Just remember, while points are valuable, it’s important to practice good credit habits to avoid accruing interest and debt. The Amex trifecta only adds value to your wallet if you can avoid the high interest payments that you’ll take on if you don’t pay your balances off each month. Pay your balance in full each month and only charge what you can afford to pay off.
You can redeem your points for gift cards and statement credits, but you’ll get the most from your Amex rewards when redeeming them for travel.
Amex Membership Rewards points values vary depending on how you use them. According to Amex’s rewards calculator, points are worth 0.6 cents when you use them to cover charges on your statement, but worth 1 cent per point when you use points to book flights, certain hotels, and make flight upgrades through Amex Travel.
The other most lucrative redemption option is point transfers to Amex travel partners. The exact redemption value will depend on the partner program and your itenerary, but points generally transfer at a 1:1 point ratio. Here’s the list of all of Amex’s travel partners:
The Platinum Card® from American Express
American Express® Gold Card
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
The Amex trifecta can be a great way for frequent travelers to maximize rewards and savings while enjoying some premium travel benefits. But it may not be the best choice for every traveler.
For one thing, the annual cost of all three cards comes in at $945 annually. If you don’t already spend money on the expenses included in these cards’ annual credits, or you only plan to take one or two vacations a year, the fees may not be worthwhile compared to other cash back cards with travel rewards.
Also keep in mind that the Blue Business Plus is a business credit card. To take full advantage of the Amex trifecta, you’ll need to own a business, freelance, or have side gig to qualify for the Blue Business Plus. This card rounds out the trifecta with 2X points on your expenses — like gas, business supplies, and software subscriptions.
If you have an upcoming summer vacation, for example, you can earn points on grocery trips and restaurants to earn the Amex Gold Card’s welcome bonus, then book your flights and hotels with the Platinum Card and continue making purchases outside of bonus categories with the Blue Business Plus. And in the meantime, you can earn the cards’ welcome bonuses to use towards other trips, and take advantage of the annual credits to maximize savings.
8 min read
6 min read
6 min read
8 min read
At NextAdvisor we’re firm believers in transparency and editorial independence. Editorial opinions are ours alone and have not been previously reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our partners. We do not cover every offer on the market. Editorial content from NextAdvisor is separate from TIME editorial content and is created by a different team of writers and editors.
Subscribe to our newsletter
Thanks for signing up!
We’ll see you in your inbox soon.