american express benefits

American Express Benefits Levels — The Definitive Guide

American Express offers more than 30 different cards if you include all the hotel and airline cards (business and personal) available. Each card has its own set of rates, terms, and conditions. This massive array of cards can make it a challenge to choose the best card for you. The good news is that you can categorize all these cards into four broad categories. This article explains what perks and benefits you can expect from each category.

Note: Although we do our best to keep this article current, American Express can change the terms of its rewards programs at any time.

What benefits and perks come with an American Express card?

All American Express cardholders can earn rewards points with the Membership Rewards program. But credit card benefits aren’t limited to points.

There are a ton of other perks available for American Express cardholders. And not every American Express credit card has the same rewards and perks. At each benefits level, more sophisticated and luxurious perks become available.

Which American Express benefits level is right for you? Let’s take a look at the perks available to American Express cardholders.

American Express benefits levels

There are four different benefits levels: Basic, Gold, Platinum, and Centurion. Let’s take a look at what you can expect at each level.

Basic card benefits

What benefits can basic cardholders expect?

General
  • American Express App. This streamlined mobile platform makes online banking a snap for all U.S. cardholders.
  • Instant card number. If American Express can validate your identity, you’ll receive an Instant Card Number. Then you can use this number to make purchases, even before you receive your physical credit card.
  • Return protection. If a vendor refuses to accept an item that you return, American Express may refund you for the purchase.
  • ShopRunner. The ShopRunner program gets you free two-day shipping and returns with select retailers. But you aren’t automatically enrolled — you’ll have to register to use this benefit!
  • Roadside assistance. Need a jump? Or did you blow a tire halfway through the desert? Not to worry! You can get roadside assistance from American Express. Plus, it won’t cost you — the first four calls each year are free!
Travel and Entertainment
  • American Express seating presale(s). American Express reserves tickets for cardholders and offers them during specified sales periods.
  • Destination family. Cardholders who book their flights and hotels through American Express Travel are eligible for benefit packages provided by partnered providers. These providers include Royal Caribbean International, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, and more.
  • Entertainment access. American Express offers tickets for various shows in select cities.
  • Global Assist Hotline. Need help with customs? Or just need info about exchange rates before a big trip? Call American Express’ Global Assist Hotline with all your burning questions.
  • Lowest hotel rates guarantee. Say you book a qualifying prepaid hotel through American Express Travel. If you later find that room available for a lower price, American Express will reimburse you for the difference.
  • Pay with points. If you charge an eligible purchase through American Express Travel, you can pay for it with Rewards Points.

Gold Card Members

American Express benefits ramp up with the Gold Card. Gold-level Cardholders receive the following:

General
  • All Basic Card Member benefits, plus 4x Membership Rewards earning.
  • $120 dining credit. Spend this credit with participating partners, including delivery platforms like Grubhub and Seamless, as well as food vendors like The Cheesecake Factory and Shake Shack.
  • Welcome bonus. If you spend $2000 in the first 3 months, you’ll earn 35,000 Rewards points.
Travel and Entertainment
  • $100 airline fee credit. To receive this credit, you must choose a qualifying airline at www.americanexpress.com/selectafc.
  • $100 hotel credit. Get $100 with a 2-night stay at qualifying hotels.
  • American Express Preferred seating. This credit reserves Preferred plane seats for American Express cardholders. To redeem this offer, just purchase your plane ticket through any primary channel. Then, when prompted, provide the 10-digit Customer Service phone number located on the back of your card.
  • Gold Card destinations. Get a $100 credit on vacation packages that cost $3,000 or more. To get this credit, you must book your vacation through American Express Travel.
  • The Gold Card Membership Rewards. Earn one point for every dollar you spend on eligible purchases. And earn even more for money you spend on qualifying restaurants, flights, and more.
  • The Hotel Collection. Book a hotel stay of at least two nights through American Express Travel, and get a $75 hotel credit. Plus, get complimentary room upgrades when available.

Platinum Card Members

Platinum cardholders rake in a ton of American Express benefits. If you pick up a Platinum card, expect the following:

General
  • All Basic Card Member benefits, plus 5x Membership Rewards earning.
  • Welcome bonus. Get 60,000 Membership Rewards points if you spend $5,000 in the first three months.
  •  Free Membership Rewards. For Platinum cardholders, American Express waives the annual fee for their Membership Rewards program.
  • Rideshare credit. Get a $200 Uber credit every year.
  • Global dining collection. Get special access to reservations at fine dining restaurants around the world.
Travel and Entertainment
  • Premium access. This program offers members free access to luxurious American Airlines Admirals Club® lounges, Delta Sky Club® lounges, and more.
  • Annual air travel credit. Get a $200 credit for baggage fees and in-flight purchases every year.
  • Global entry. Get $100 for Global Entry or $85 for TSA Pre-Check to expedite your travel.
  • Gold Card destinations. Get a $100 credit on vacation packages that cost $3,000 or more. To get this credit, you must book your vacation through American Express Travel.
  • The Hotel Collection. Book a hotel stay of at least two nights through American Express Travel, and get a $75 hotel credit. Plus, get complimentary room upgrades when available. And enjoy elite status at a number of hotels, including Starwood, Hilton and more.
  • Platinum car rental privileges. Corporate platinum cardholders save on car rentals with their free enrollment to Hertz #1 Club Gold.
  • American Express Preferred seating. This credit reserves Preferred plane seats for American Express cardholders. To redeem this offer, just purchase your plane ticket through any primary channel. Then, when prompted, provide the 10-digit Customer Service phone number located on the back of your card.

Centurion Card Members

The Centurion card is a luxurious, invitation-only charge card offered to Platinum cardholders who meet certain criteria. If you are offered a Centurion card, you can expect the following:

General
  • All Basic Card Member benefits, plus 5x Membership Rewards earning.
  • Centurion auto program. This program offers access to luxury rentals and premium car purchases.
  • Centurion dining program. AmEx reserves tables for Centurion members at 1,000 of the world’s top restaurants every day. Reservations are first-come, first-served.
  • Centurion Wine. If restaurants aren’t your thing, Centurion Wine offers private tours and tastings in Napa.
Travel and Entertainment
  • American Express Preferred seating. This credit reserves Preferred plane seats for American Express cardholders. To redeem this offer, just purchase your plane ticket through any primary channel. Then, when prompted, provide the 10-digit Customer Service phone number located on the back of your card.
  • Premium access. This program offers members free access to luxurious American Airlines Admirals Club® lounges, Delta Sky Club® lounges, and more.
  • Delta SkyMiles Platinum Medallion. Valued at over $4,000, this airline status wins you complimentary upgrades, priority waitlisting, and more.
  • Annual air travel credit. Get a $200 credit for baggage fees and in-flight purchases every year.
  • Platinum car rental privileges. Corporate platinum cardholders save on car rentals with their free enrollment to Hertz #1 Club Gold.
  • Gold Card destinations. Get a $100 credit on vacation packages that cost $3,000 or more. To get this credit, you must book your vacation through American Express Travel.
  • The Hotel Collection. Book a hotel stay of at least two nights through American Express Travel, and get a $75 hotel credit. Plus, get complimentary room upgrades when available.
  • Centurion hotel program. Enjoy early check-ins, room upgrades, free breakfast, and credits for hotel amenities.
  • Centurion international arrival services. When traveling internationally, a personal guide will expedite you through customs and immigration. They may also coordinate free ground transport.

Which American Express benefits level is right for you?

If you’re considering getting an American Express credit card, it’s important to do your research. First, check your budget and make sure you can afford each card’s fees. Then, consider your spending habits. Do you travel enough to need access to premier lounges? Or are you simply looking to maximize your points?

For more details, check out American Express’ Terms and Conditions. Or click here to compare leading credit cards side-by-side to find the right offer for you.